How To Play Kayak Polo – Canoe Polo?

How to play kayak polo?

How to play kayak polo? The sport often referred to as kayak polo or canoe polo, is played for both enjoyment and competitive sport in several nations across all continents. Every two years, the sport has a world championship. The International Canoe Federation’s Canoe Polo committee oversees the sport on a global scale as one of the canoeing sports disciplines.

The game is sometimes compared to a mix of water polo, basketball, and kayaking. With the added complication of the boats, which may be utilized to protect the ball, the game’s tactics and playing style are similar to those of water polo or basketball.

How To Play Kayak Polo?

The players pass the ball polo ball from hand to hand, with occasional use of the paddle on the ball also permitted. Pushing a player over on their back or shoulder while they are in possession might result in a hand-tackling. (Until you are confident with hand-rolling, we won’t push you over. Even seasoned players may request not to be pushed during practice and casual games.)

A player may only possess the ball for a maximum of five seconds. To reset the count, players may dribble the ball by tossing it into the water at least one meter deep. The majority of the rules are focused on the players’ safety.

It is specifically forbidden to put your paddle close to another player’s hand while they are catching the ball or tossing it. Additionally, it’s against the rules to ram another player’s boat at high speed at or almost at a straight angle. There may only be 5 players on a team at once. A player being added to the pitch is seen as an illegal substitute (see below).

Another regulation is illegal obstruction; you are not permitted to impede or obstruct a player unless you are opposing the ball or protecting your goal area (within a 6-meter zone). Loss of possession is the default punishment for breaking a rule, however, it is also possible to get penalty cards or goal penalty shots (similar to goal penalty kicks in soccer).

The opposing team momentarily retains the ball aloft after a violation in order to re-start the play by either throwing in from the goal or line or attempting a shot on goal (depending on the violation).

The player departing must pass the back line behind his team’s goal before another player may come on at any point throughout the game without the referee’s knowledge. A team that makes an illegal replacement receives a yellow card and must play the next two minutes with one less player.

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The Pitch

Canoe polo is played either outdoors on a pitch that should be 35 by 23 meters or inside in swimming pools. The sides of the pool, or better yet, floating ropes, serve as the pitch’s markings (similar to lane markers in swimming).

Officials Sports

On foot rather than in boats, there are two officials (one on each sideline). The scorekeeper records the results, while the timekeeper keeps track of the playing and departure times. Two-line judges keep an eye on the goal lines. Scrutineers inspect all equipment for conformity with rules before the start of play.


The goals are a structure with a net hung 2 meters above the water, measuring 1 by 1.5 meters. Special rules apply to the goalkeeper, such as the assaulting team cannot tamper with or jostle them. A player serving as goalie protects the goal with their paddle by putting it up vertically. Goalies often utilize paddles that are longer than those used by other players.


Officially, the game is played as a 20-minute game with two 10-minute halves. Halftime marks the conclusion of the team’s switches. Each half starts with a sprint in which the ball is tossed into the center of the pitch by the referee while each team lines up against its goal line. Each team sends one player sprinting to get possession of the ball.

Hand Tapping

When a player has the ball, you may hand tackle (try to knock down) that player. Keep in mind that possession on the water refers to the player gripping the ball or having it at arm’s length. By pressing an opposing player with an OPEN hand on the side, back, or upper arm, you may hand tackle them.

It is illegal to

  • If someone is not in possession of the ball, hand tackles them.
  • Onto another boat, the edge of the pool, or any other hard surface, push someone over.
  • Draw a person near you.
  • Push back against a hand tackle with your hand, arm, or elbow.
  • To stop an opponent from moving, grab their body, equipment, or boat.
  • Ensure that a person cannot roll or correct themself after a flip.

Tackling a boat

By ramming or shoving the opposing player’s boat with your own, you may perform a boat tackle. You might use boat gear:

A player on the other team who is in control of the ball. Whether or whether the opposing player possesses the ball, an opponent inside the defensive zone near the goal while you are lined up on defense.

It is illegal to

  • With your boat, strike the body or cockpit of another player.
  • Straight on at a 90-degree angle, strike the boat of another player.

Use of Paddle

You may rescue a ball that is dangling in the water or use your paddle to stop a pass or a shot.

A prohibited paddle foul is when you:

  • Use your paddle to strike any body part of an opponent.
  • If someone is reaching for the ball with their hands, you may retrieve it with your paddle.
  • Block so that a player holding the ball may throw with their hand perhaps hitting your paddle.
  • Make a paddle throw.
  • As if you were hitting a baseball, wind up and swing the paddle at the ball.
  • With your paddle or hands, push or brace yourself off of another player’s boat. (If you’re a new player and it prevents you from swimming, we could let you get away with it.
  • In general, avoid using the paddle in a manner that may cause you to accidentally strike someone.


The goalkeeper uses a paddle to stop shots while sitting in front of the goal. The goaltender becomes an ordinary player and is vulnerable to being attacked whenever he or she goes for the ball in an effort to obtain possession. The goaltender for your team should not be touched since it will cause him or her to lose position. An foul occurs when:

  • The opposing goalkeeper with a push or a touch.
  • Intimidate the opposing goalkeeper with a player from either team.
  • Stop the opposing goaltender from positioning himself below the goal.

Possession (5-second rule)

A player may only hold the ball for five seconds before dribbling, passing, or possession. If you are holding the ball or can reach it on the water, you have possession of it. You must throw the ball out of your reach, then paddle to it in order to dribble.

Not Allowed:

The opposing team receives the ball at the place on the sideline that is closest to where it went out of bounds if you are the last person to touch the ball with your hand, paddle, or boat before it crosses the sideline or hits the edge of the pool.

Safety in Kayak Polo

In the thrilling realm of kayak polo, mastering the art of defense and positioning is a journey in itself. However, before we navigate these complexities, there’s an undeniably paramount aspect we must address—player well-being. Much like any competitive sport, kayak polo isn’t without its hazards. A quintessential protective gear that stands out is the kayak helmet, often referred to as headgear.

Beyond merely shielding athletes from unforeseen accidents involving paddles or colliding kayaks, it’s a compulsory requirement as per the official rulebook. Equipping oneself with a resilient and snug-fitting kayak helmet isn’t just about compliance; it’s intrinsic to mastering the game. Such a high-octane activity warrants an unwavering commitment to personal safety.

Outside the lines and beyond the goal line

Goal Line Throw: If an offensive player throws the ball over the goal line out of bounds without the goaltender or another defensive player touching it and without scoring, the defense recovers the ball.

Corner Throw: The offensive team receives the ball from one of the corners of the goal line if an offensive player shoots on goal but is stopped by the goalkeeper or another defensive player, resulting in the ball going out of bounds.

Races: One player from each team sprints for the ball once the referee tosses it into the middle of the court at the start of each half. Only one player from each team may run straight for the ball, while other players may support the sprinter.

Presenting the Ball (Restarting Play): You must hold the ball at arm’s length above your head (presenting the ball) to indicate the resumption of play after a foul, out of bounds, goal, or other interruption of play.


  • A team’s additional players wait beyond the goal line of the goal they are defending if they have more than 5 players.
  • At any point, either one of the waiting players or one of the current players may replace the other.
  • When coming in as a replacement, you must wait until the complete boat of the player leaving the field has crossed the goal line before any portion of your boat enters the field.
  • In general, it is preferable to substitute while your team is making offensive strides rather than leaving defensive gaps. When substituting out, paddle ferociously so that the other player may enter the team fast.
  • Always remember to make regular substitutions to keep players fresh and ensure that nobody is out for an extended period of time.

Basic Infraction Canoe Polo

  • To play offensive, all five players usually advance up the court, and it is usually better to spread out so that there are players on both sides and in the center of the court.
  • In order to break up the defense and create openings for teammates to get in position for a clear shot, the fundamental goal of the offense is to drive in an attempt to break up the defense.
  • Move forward! When you are moving ahead, it is simpler to throw the ball, which forces the defense to constantly adjust.
  • Avoid gathering in the middle underneath the goal. In general, it’s better to have players switch between the inside and outside continuously.
  • Generally speaking, it’s advisable to avoid taking a shot on goal over a number of defenders since the chances of success are minimal and a turnover is probable.
  • When just the goalkeeper stands between you and a clean shot on goal at close range, it’s usually preferable to spread the ball about and keep moving.
  • It’s usually better to move the ball back up the court as fast as you can after your team scores a goal, giving the defense little time to prepare.

Read more: Kayak Helmet vs Bike Helmet

Basic game defense

The form of defense most often used in kayak polo matches is a zone defense. Following are explanations of common roles and responsibilities.

Goaltender: Since the goalie can see the whole game well, he or she will often shout directions to the rest of the defense.


The goaltender is somewhat in front of and to one side of the wings during play.
By boat tackling them, the wings often stop opposing players from getting near enough to shoot on goal.


  • Directly in front of the goaltender, the center plays. Avoid approaching the goaltender too closely to avoid throwing them off balance.
  • In order to prevent opponents from gaining access to the ideal shooting position right in front of the goal, the center works to maintain its position.
  • The center may yell orders to the defense, transmit information from the goaltender, and has an excellent vision of the game.


  • The chaser applies intense pressure on the offense in an effort to turn the ball over.
  • A chaser may approach the player who is in possession of the ball right now or the player to whom he or she will make the easiest next pass, depending on the number of chasers and the defensive plan.
  • The goal is to pressure the offense into fumbling the ball or making a risky pass attempt.


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