Basic ball handling in Water Polo


27th Myanmar Southeast Asian Games_2013_12_09_Siong San_020

Image credit: Siong San/SportSG

Passing the ball

As players need to be able to throw the ball across great distance to their teammates, it is important for beginners to practice dry passes. A dry pass is a pass between two players over water, where the ball does not touch the water at all.

Another type of pass is called the wet pass. Wet passes, as its name suggests, means that the ball touches the water. This is done when a player throws the ball so that the ball lands in the water near to the teammate. As  effective as a dry pass in getting the ball across the pool, wet passes can also be useful when the receiving teammate is guarded closely by an opposing defender, as the teammate can lunge towards the ball and take a shot at the goal or throw it to someone else.

Catching the ball

Catching the ball is as important as being able to throw the ball to your teammate over distance. Accuracy is important, as missing a throw by another player can mean that your opponent catches the ball instead. Players should hold their hand up above the water to signify that they are ready to receive the ball from their teammate.

Catching is especially important for the goalkeeper. Goalkeepers have to look out for incoming throws from opposing players, and adjust their position accordingly. If the ball is thrown from an unfavourable position, he should start swimming to a better position in order to catch the ball. Goalkeepers are the only players that are allowed to catch the ball with both hands. They can also punch the ball with their fist.


Dribbling in water polo involves a player moving the ball across the pool by propelling the ball in front of him, while swimming forward. The ball is moved as a result of the waves created by player’s swimming strokes, and the player is not touching the ball at all. By merely shepherding the ball across the pool without touching it, players are able to protect and keep possession ball, as opponents can only touch players when they are in contact with the ball.

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