17 September 2019
| THE HEARTBEAT OF WOMEN'S SPORT

Getting started – Canoe Polo

September 23, 2010

The thought of playing polo whilst paddling around in a canoe – often inside a swimming pool – sounds rather strange. This little known team sport, however, is played in places as far away as Japan and Colombia with teams competing at international, national and regional levels.

Canoe poloWhat is it all about?

Canoe polo, sometimes called kayak polo because of the type of craft, is a team sport consisting of five players on each team, with up to three substitutes.  As with regular water polo, the aim of the game is to get to ball in the oppositions goal.  The difference is that you are, of course, in a kayak and the goal is suspended two metres above the water line.  You have the added challenge of manoevering your kayak round the pitch without capsizing whilst using you paddle or hand to throw or flick the ball into the goal.

The kayaks are shorter than standard river kayaks, making them lighter and easier to move.   The paddles are also specifically designed for canoe polo and like the kayak, are lighter with a smoother and slightly concave paddle.  This stops the ball rebounding in all directions.  Life jackets, helmets and face guards are compulsory.

The game is played in two halves of 10 minutes and starts with both teams lined up in front of their goal.  The referee throws the ball into the middle of the pitch and the fastest players from each team race to retrieve it and start play.

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The rules

Players may only hold the ball for five seconds after which they must either dribble it one metre, or pass.  Dribbling means putting the ball out of reach to allow for potential ‘steals’ from the opposing team.

Players can only be tackled when they have the ball and only to the body and using one hand.

The paddle cannot be brought within arms reach of the player in possession.

Canoe-polo-match

When and where?

Canoe polo is a year round sport.  During winter, teams typically play at indoor swimming pools whereas summer can see the sport move to lakes, canals or rivers.

Is it dangerous?

Because the sport is fast paced and played on water, there will always be some dangers.  With proper tuition and training, however, the risk of accident or injury is very low.  The main concern for players is capsizing but players will be trained in Eskimo rolls which allow you to turn yourself upright again.  Other players will always help as well if you are struggling to get on top of the water again.

How is it good for you?

Your arms, in particular your shoulders, biceps and triceps will benefit from a great workout.  You’re secondary muscles, particularly your core muscles, are also worked hard as you work to maintain balance.

What to wear?

A swimming costume is essential and a lot of players also wear shorts and a lightweight sports T-shirt.  You will need a lifejacket, helmet with faceguard and a spraydeck which is worn around the waist to prevent water getting into the kayak.  These are all generally provided by the club.

Costs

Club membership varies but is typically around £50 per year.  This doesn’t usually include entry to the swimming pool.  Kayaks costs around £600 and paddles £150 but clubs will provide the equipment to beginners as part of the membership cost.

For more information about canoe polo in the UK, visit www.canoepolo.org.uk

For info on clubs, visit www.canoepolo.org.uk/clubs/

British Canoe Union, www.bcu.org.uk/our-sport/canoe-polo/

Sarah Benton, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

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