Get Inspired: How to get into Water Polo

Water polo is fast, furious and easy to understand, with players needing to combine skill and accuracy with endurance.

Why is it good for you?

Water polo combines the shooting skills of handball, the ball-handling skills of basketball or netball, and the speed and stamina of swimming.

Players can swim up three miles at a high tempo in the course of a match. You can burn up to 500 calories in a session, making it an excellent way to lose body fat.

Water polo also develops communication skills and learn to work effectively with other people.

Clubs also offer a variety of social events beyond simply playing the sport.

Water polo works many of the muscle groups in the body. The leg muscles are in constant motion as players keep themselves afloat, while the ball-throwing action strengthens arm muscles.

The effort of intensive swimming combined with fighting for possession helps boost cardiovascular fitness and lower blood pressure.

Get involved

For those looking to take part,  there are more than 300 water polo clubs in the United Kingdom. People in England, Wales and Scotland can visit the British Swimming team sports page  for details of where you can play.

The Swim Ulster  website contains information for where people in Northern Ireland can find their nearest club.

Further details about training schemes and events can be found on the Amateur Swimming Association,  Scottish Swimming  and Swim Wales  websites.

Water polo clubs provide balls, nets, referees and coaches to members. For beginners, all you will need is a swimming suit or swimming trunks, and a swimming cap.

Many clubs offer mini water polo sessions for children aged eight to 11. This activity teaches the fundamentals of aquatics and the sport as a whole.

A wide range of activities,  including competitive races, swimming lessons and aqua aerobics, are being put on in swimming pools throughout the country.

Sign up to British Swimming's mailing list  to be sent details of the latest events and use their pool finder  to find out where you can get started.

More on the British Swimming website 


So called because in its earliest days players rode on floating barrels that resembled mock horses, and swung at the ball with mallet-like sticks, water polo was developed in Europe and the United States as two differing sports.

The modern form of the game is based on the European version and made its Olympic debut at the Paris Games in 1900 when Great Britain won gold.

Did you know?

Wedgies - where players pull up an opponent's swimming costume to cause eye-watering discomfort - are so commonplace in the women's game that some teams, including the Spanish, have taken to giving themselves wedgies before matches in order to prevent them during play.

Their superiority over Belgium in the final was such that they limited the amount of shots they took to spare their opponents' embarrassment.

The early version of the sport bore a key difference to the one we now know - swimming was not necessary.

Instead, those first Olympic medals were contested in pools only deep enough for a spot of advanced wading. As a result many of the players could not actually swim.

During the 1920s, games were switched to larger, deeper pools. Swimming became a prerequisite and the sport advanced from little more than a holiday pastime to a skilled and physically demanding sport.

It was not included in 1904 but has appeared at each subsequent edition of the Games, with the women's event introduced in 2000.

More on the IOC website 

Are you inspired to try Water Polo? Or maybe you are a keen enthusiast already? Get in touch and tell us your experience of the game by tweeting us on @bbcgetinspired  or email us on

See our full list of activity guides for more inspiration.