Is water polo a full contact sport?

Understanding Water Polo: A Primer

Water polo is an interesting and highly physical sport. It's the perfect blend of swimming, soccer, and basketball, all rolled into one. The game involves two teams trying to throw a ball into the opposing team's goal. It's fast-paced, requires extreme stamina, and is extremely entertaining to watch. But here's a question that many of us have - is water polo a full contact sport? In this article, we take a closer look at the nature of the sport and answer that question.

Defining Full Contact Sports

Before we delve deeper into the world of water polo, let's first understand what a full contact sport is. In simple terms, a full contact sport is one that allows physical contact between players as part of the game. This includes sports like rugby, American football, boxing, and wrestling. In these sports, tackling, blocking, and other forms of physical contact are not just allowed, but are integral parts of the game.

It's important to note that full contact sports often require protective gear to prevent injuries. The level of contact allowed, and the protective gear required, vary from sport to sport.

The Nature of Water Polo

Water polo is a physically demanding sport. Players need to be excellent swimmers, have great hand-eye coordination, and possess a high level of stamina. They need to tread water, often with only one hand, while trying to throw, catch, or block the ball.

But does all this make water polo a full contact sport? Technically, the answer is yes. There's a lot of physical contact in water polo. Players often push, pull, and grapple with each other to gain possession of the ball. However, unlike in many full contact sports, the contact in water polo is not typically aggressive or violent.

The Rules of Contact in Water Polo

While there's a lot of physical contact in water polo, it's important to note that there are rules in place to regulate this contact. For example, players are not allowed to hit or punch each other. They are also not allowed to pull an opponent's swimsuit or use their legs to kick or trip an opponent.

However, players are allowed to use their bodies to block or push opponents, as long as they don't use excessive force. This is where the physical contact in water polo comes into play. It's a strategic, skillful form of contact, rather than a chaotic, violent one.

The Role of Referees in Water Polo

Referees play a crucial role in regulating the contact in water polo. They are responsible for ensuring that the physical contact between players does not cross the line into violence or dangerous play. They watch the game closely and can award penalties for any actions that they deem to be foul play.

Referees can also award penalty shots for serious infractions, such as holding, sinking, or pulling back an opponent who is in a position to score a goal. This further ensures that the physical contact in water polo is kept within reasonable limits.

Protective Gear in Water Polo

In keeping with its status as a full contact sport, water polo players do wear some protective gear. This includes swimsuits, swim caps, and goggles. The swim caps, in particular, are designed to protect the players' ears from the impact of the ball or from other players during the game.

However, the protective gear used in water polo is minimal compared to many other full contact sports. This is because the water itself provides a certain level of protection. It cushions the impact of falls and collisions, reducing the risk of serious injury.

So, in conclusion, yes, water polo is a full contact sport. However, it's a sport where the contact is controlled and strategic, rather than violent or dangerous. It's a sport that requires both physical strength and tactical skill, making it a fascinating and exciting game to play and watch.

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