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Jpn J Biomechanics Sports Exercise 11(2):68-82, 2007

A review of the biomechanical studies of water polo


Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences University of Tsukuba


Water polo originated in the UK in the late 1800s. The sport had its Olympic Games debut in Paris in 1900, making it the earliest, and team competition in the modern Olympic Games. Water polo is a bit like handball in nature except that it is played in water of a minimum depth of 2 meters so that players cannot touch the bottom of the pool. The game involves a great deal of physical contact where teams quickly switch from offense to defense within a short time frame. Despite a large number of coaching publications on the technical and tactical aspects of water polo, research-based literature on the game is limited. Earlier studies focused on the morphological characteristics of players and the biomechanics of the 'egg-beater' kick, front crawl and overhead throwing techniques. However, there was no literature covering all aspects of water polo skills, e.g. passing, shooting, sculling, egg-beater kicking and swimming. This article tries to review the documented biomechanical researches of water polo so far, and to suggest applications for sports-specific training and areas for further biomechanical research in the sport. Four technical elements in water polo, i.e. motion of shoot, sculling, eggbeater kick and swimming stroke, are mainly discussed and some key factors of each element are summarized. The article aims to review not only about water polo but also about related sports, e.g. hand ball and synchronized swimming. The obtained key factors seem to be useful for improving the performance and preventing injuries in the coaching field.

Key Words: water polo, shoot motion, eggbeater kick, sculling, stroke motion

Submittted for Publication : Dec. 9, 2006,

Accepted for Publication : May 8, 2007



JJBSE バイオメカニクス研究