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Greg Johnson | NCAA.org | May 13, 2020

Water polo: Addition of 6-meter line proposed by Rules Subcommittee

Water polo rule changes

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Rules Subcommittee recommended proposals to align the game with national and international rules, including the addition of a 6-meter area.

All rules recommendations must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss water polo proposals June 24.

If approved, the 6-meter area would be where players can shoot immediately after being fouled. It would extend the area by 1 meter.

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Another recommendation made by the subcommittee is to specify that the ball must be put in play by demonstrating a clear separation of ball, hand and water as in passing, picking up the ball, swimming with it, dropping it and tossing the ball up in the air. This would replace current wording in the rules of having to make a “water polo related move.”

Subcommittee members think this proposed change will increase shots on goal and the pace of play.


Subcommittee members recommended that goalkeepers be allowed to move beyond and touch the ball past the half-distance line.

The rational for the proposal is for it to create opportunity for additional offensive play, while at the same time being a considerable risk for the offensive team.

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Subcommittee members think the risk-reward aspect of allowing goalkeepers to venture farther into the pool would create excitement from a spectator perspective in end-of-game situations.

Other rules recommendations:

  • Permit assistant coaches and players in the bench area to sit or stand during play. Only the head coach could move beyond the goal line during live play.
  • Allow replacement caps to be readily available in the team bench area.

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