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Water polo is a team water sport. The game consists of 4 quarters (or periods) in which the two teams attempt to score goals by throwing the ball into their opponent's goal, with the team with the most goals at the end of the game winning the match. A team consists of 6 field players and one goalkeeper in the water at any one time. In addition to this, teams may have substitute field players and one substitute goalkeeper who are not in the water. Water polo is typically played in an all-deep pool (usually at least 1.8m deep or 5.9 feet), and players require stamina and endurance to play the game.
Water polo is a contact sport. Minor fouls occur frequently and exclusion fouls (in which a player is suspended from the game for 20 seconds) are common.
Special equipment for water polo includes a water polo ball, which floats on the water; numbered and colored caps; and goals, which either float in the water or are attached to the side of the pool.
- Ball: A water polo ball is constructed of waterproof material to allow it to float on the water. The cover is textured to give players additional grip. The size of the ball is different for men's, women's and junior games.
- Caps: A water polo cap is used to protect the players' heads and ears, and to make them identifiable from afar. Home team field players wear numbered white caps; Visiting team field players wear numbered dark-colored or black caps. Both starting goalkeepers wear red caps (sometimes quartered), numbered "1" (substitute goalies' caps are numbered either "13" for FINA international play or "15" for NCAA play) Caps are fitted with ear protectors.
- Goals: Two goals are needed in order to play water polo. These can either be put on the side of the pool, or in the pool using floaters.
- Mouthguard: A mouthguard is not mandatory in most tournaments, but is recommended.
- Swimwear: Male water polo players wear either swim briefs or jammers (thigh-length trunks). Female players must wear a one-piece swimsuit. Suit-grabbing fouls are common, so players often wear tight-fitting suits, and may layer on several suits at a time for additional security. Many swimwear labels also sell specialized water polo suits that feature reinforced stitching and tougher fabric. Female water polo suits are generally one-piece outfits which do not have open backs, but zip securely up the back so as to not have straps that can be easily grabbed.
- Goggles: Goggles are not allowed in a game of waterpolo
- Hale (Ed.), Ralph (May 1986). The Complete Book of Water Polo: The U.S. Olympic Water Polo Team's Manual for Conditioning, Strategy, Tactics and Rules. Fireside. pp. 160 pages. ISBN 0-671-55563-4.
- Jones, Bryan (December 2004). SportSpectator Water Polo Guide (Basic Waterpolo Rules and Strategies). DLH Publishing. pp. 8 pages. ISBN 1-879773-07-4.
- Nitzkowski, Monte (1994). United States Tactical Water Polo. Sports Support Syndicate. pp. 379 pages. ISBN 1-878602-93-4.
- Norris (Ed.), Jim (April 1990). The World Encyclopedia of Water Polo by James Roy Smith. Olive Press. pp. 513 pages. ISBN 0-933380-05-4.
- Wiltens, Jim (August 1978). Individual Tactics in Water Polo. X-S Books. pp. 87 pages. ISBN 0-498-02002-9.
- "Tactical and Strategic Water Polo Articles". Tactical and Strategic Water Polo Articles. Water Polo Planet.com. ສືບຄົ້ນເມື່ອ 20 March 2010.