Canoe polo is a thrilling game as teams jockey for position, passing and blocking the ball in an effort to score on the other team’s net. Nets are suspended two metres in the air at opposing ends of the court. Canoe polo matches can take place in a roped-off section of a lake, pond or in a swimming pool.
Polo is the only type of paddling where you’re likely to see intentional contact. While the sport is a bit aggressive, clear rules and a sense of sportsmanship among players keep the game under control. The game starts with one player from each team charging for the ball with the referee throws it into play. Players cannot paddle with the ball so must move it around the court by passing with other team members. A paddle can be used to block a shot or pass but cannot be used to bat the ball in another direction. Strategy, teamwork and boat skills are key to gaining a position for a clear shot on goal and for keeping opponents from scoring on your net. The sport is quickly gaining popularity at the international level. In addition to organized competitive matches, canoe polo is a great way to have some fun or even train your boat skills for other disciplines.
Catch, throw, shoot and score
The game is played five-on-five in kayaks. Regulation time consists of two 10-minute halves and in the case of a tied score there are usually two periods of overtime.
The game is played in kayak that are a maximum of three metres long and have bumpers on the front and back. A spray skirt keeps the player in the boat when they roll. Helmets, facemasks and protective lifejackets are important safety equipment.
Related to Polo:
Canoe Polo Lingo
Bumpers – cushioning on the front and back of a polo boat to absorb the impact of a collision.
Canoe or kayak polo? – a common question is why the sport is called canoe polo when it is played exclusively in kayaks. The International Canoe Federation uses the term ‘canoe’ to refer to the entire sport of canoeing and disciplines are named canoe sprint, canoe slalom, canoe marathon, etc. Both canoe polo and kayak polo are acceptable references to call the sport.
Dribble – not quite like basketball, but similar in the fact that the player cannot carry the ball so dribbles it it down the court by continually throwing it in front of them self and paddling to it. Passing the ball to a teammate is a more common way to move the ball.
Green, yellow or red card – in the case of a penalty against an individual player, the referee will show a coloured card and point at the player. The green card is a warning, the yellow card signals a 2-minute penalty and the red card takes the player out for the rest of the game.
Hand roll – rolling the kayak without use of the paddle. Hand rolls are used if the player drops the paddle or sometimes in pursuit of grabbing the ball.
Hand tackle – A move to push the player with the ball. This may cause the player to roll over into the water. Hand tackles are legal only against a player in possession of the ball.
Jostle – a player on the offensive maneuvering their kayak against an opponent’s to gain an advantage near the goal zone. Jostling is illegal in certain circumstances such as when the player is stationary or behind the goal line.
Referee – the official who calls the match. Hand signals and a whistle are used
Roll – the skill of flipping the overturned boat back upright while staying in the boat using the paddle and lower body.
Spray skirt – made of water resistant fabric or another material. In slalom boat, the skirt does not come off when a paddler overturns unless the paddler intentionally pulls the skirt.
Throw-in – the process of returning the ball to play after it has gone out of bounds