TO:  MWP Webmaster

RE:  Response to question on 2002-2003 High School Water Polo Rules

DATE: 6 March 2002

The "new" High School Water Polo Rules are not usually published and disseminated until approximately the first or second week of August each year.  Therefore we will not know exactly what the rules are until right before our season starts.

There are many reasons for this, foremost is the fact that the 2001-2002 rules are still in effect for those schools whose season is just now starting.  For example, Illinois Boys and Girls Water Polo is a spring sport.  The same for Girls Water Polo in most other states and for certain sections of California.  The powers that be will not normally publish new rules while the old ones still apply to the current season.

So how do we know what "new" rules will be applied for us next year?

We don't!  At least, not for certain.

But, we can figure out what the most likely rule changes are going to be by understanding how we come about our rules.

High School Water Polo rules are published by the NFHS, (National Federation of State High School Associations).  All high school sports balls, (water polo, volleyball, etc.), have to have the "NFHS" logo on them.  The NFHS is sometimes referred to as NISCA, (National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association), which used to publish all of the Aquatic Sports rules for High Schools.  Both acronyms are sometimes used interchangeably.

In the NFHS High School Water Polo Rule Book, the first paragraph states, "At its March 25, 1998 meeting, NISCA Rules committee adopted United States Water Polo rules with certain exceptions……".

So, High School Water Polo rules are the same as United States Water Polo rules, "WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS".  The NCAA does the same thing with college water polo rules.

What are the exceptions?  They are actually very numerous, but in some cases very minor.  For example, High School has 3-Time Outs of 2-Minutes each, USWP has 3-Time Outs of 1-minute each.  A few years ago, the NCAA Men had the rule that a live time goal shot from outside the 7-meter marker scored as 2-points!  It was changed back about 3-years ago.  For the past 2-years, High School and NCAA have been playing that after a foul, the free throw is taken at the spot of the ball.  USWP rules have been that if the ball has moved closer to the offensive goal, it must be brought back to the area of the foul.

It is the best guess of most of the senior water polo officials that I talked to that High School will most likely go back to the USWP version of how a free throw should be taken.

Also, in USWP, there is no longer a "Sudden Death Overtime".  After 2 Extra Time Periods, if the score is still tied, the teams shall have a "Penalty Shot Shoot Out".  Five players are designated from each team.  Each player will get a chance to shoot a penalty shot.  If the score is still tied after each 5 players have shot, then using other members from their rosters, each team shall have a shot until one misses and the other does not.

If you want to look at the full United States Water Polo Rules you can link onto it from the USWP web site at

So how do we get these rules in the first place?

As stated earlier, High School (NFHS & NISCA) and the NCAA follow the rules published by USWP, (United States Water Polo), "with certain exceptions".  USWP follow the rules set by FINA, (La Federation Internationale de Natation, {the International Federation of Swimming}).  FINA is the international governing body for all competitive aquatic sports, (swimming, diving, water polo and synchronized swimming).  It is FINA rules under which all international competition is played, like the Olympics.  For the sport of Water Polo, it is the "Technical Water Polo Committee" that hears all recommendations for rule changes, rules on them and publishes them.  They only meet to consider rule changes every two years.  In some cases, recommendations for rule changes are considered after a trial period at a lower level.  The example listed above on the "2-point" shot, was studied based on NCAA experience and rejected by FINA.

Sorry I digressed there, but sometimes it is helpful to understand the how's and why's of new rules.

So, the bottom line is, know the USWP Rules for your non-high school water polo and adapt to the NFHS/NISCA High School Rules when your team starts in the fall!

                                                           SUBMITTED BY:  Scott Sease

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