Summary of Recent Rule Changes

NCAA WATER POLO RULES CHANGES FOR 2011-2012

(References are to rule numbers and pages in the 2010-12 Rule Book)

Rules Changes as of 7-1-10

1.   Points of Emphasis and Instructions to Referees (Pages 10-14).  The Points of Emphasis were decreased in number from 22 to 11. The detailed instructions for officiating in a shallow-bottom pool are now located in Rule 20-5 and in new Appendix C.

      Rationale: Some points of emphasis were no longer needed, some duplicated material already in the rules, and others were moved either to a rule or to an appendix.

2.   Rule 1-2 Field of Play (Pages 21-22).  The layout and markings of the field of play in a pool with floating goals officiated by two referees shall be in accordance with the diagram on page 22. In accordance with this diagram, the score table should be located at the center of one side of the pool.

      Rationale: The location of the score table in the center of the course provides the optimum view of the field of play for the score table personnel and for communication between the referees and the score table personnel.

3.   Rule 1-6 Pool Markers (Pages 23-24).  If the pool width is more than 20 meters, properly colored side lines must be used. Interpretation: It is recommended that one or more of the following also be used to assist referees, coaches and players: cones, horizontal deck markers, or painted decks or pool sides.

      Rationale: This clarifies that more than one type of marking may be used, but that the correctly marked side lines are required if the pool width is greater than 20 meters.

4.   Rule 1-7 Reentry Areas (Pages 24-25)Note: It is recommended that the entire boundary line from the side line to the 2-meter mark be colored red

      Rationale: Marking the entire reentry area in red makes it easier for the referees and the exclusion secretary to verify that the excluded player is entering from the reentry area. This is in agreement with common practice.

5.   Rule 4-1, Rule 6 Description of Water Polo Caps Conforming to the Rules (Pages 28-30).  Caps may have piping of any color not to exceed a width of 1 centimeter around the cap or on the seams of the cap. The numbers on dark caps must be white, yellow or gold. White field players’ caps must be solid white. White field players’ caps may not have alternating colored panels or stripes, stars, checkerboard, etc. The caps of the goalkeepers may not be striped. The panels shall be of approximately the same size. The intent of the rule is that the caps of the visiting goalkeeper have red and white panels (thirds or quarters) and the caps of the home goalkeepers have red and dark panels (thirds or quarters) so that the caps of the goalkeeper are readily distinguishable from the caps of the field players. Referees must notify the conference commissioner of the use of non-conforming caps.

Rationale: This provides examples of the design of caps that conform and that do not conform to the rules.

6.   Rule 4-1 Requirement for Caps on Players on the Bench (Page 28).  Caps shall be worn throughout the entire game by all players on the bench and in the water. Interpretation: A player excluded for misconduct must remain on the bench with cap on for the remainder of the game.

      Rationale: This clarifies that a player excluded for misconduct must remain on the bench, whereas a player excluded from the remainder of the game for flagrant misconduct or for the receipt of a red card must leave the bench for the bleachers. This is the current practice.

7.  Rule 5-2 Co-Head Coaches (Page 33).  A team may have co-head coaches. One must be designated as the head coach before each game. The designated head coach is the only coach who can stand, speak to the referees at designated times, and move to 5-meter mark when on offense. The designation of head coach may vary from game to game. The referees must be informed prior to the game which coach is the head coach for that game. 

     Rationale: This change makes it clear that the referees must be notified which coach is acting as head coach during that game.

8.  Rule 5-2 Team Bench (Page 33).  The assistant coach may stand to throw in a counter ball, but must then immediately sit down. The trainer may move behind the bench to take care of a player.

      Rationale: This addition conforms with current practice and with the 2009-2010 case book.

9.   Rule 5-4 Description of Women’s Suits Conforming to Rules (Page 34).  The suit of the female field players must have a solid high back with broad straps. The suit of the female goalkeeper must be a one-piece competitive suit. This suit may either be of the same style as the field players or it may have an open back with shoulder straps at least one inch in width. The straps may not be spaghetti straps. Interpretation: The use of the term “solid back” does not preclude the use of a zipper in the suits of the field players.

      Rationale: The change is part of the effort to decrease the incidence of tearing of suits and zippers and to decrease exposure. This rule was previously published as an interpretation and is in the 2009-2010 case book. Illustrations are included.

10. Rule 5-4 Articles Likely to Cause Injury (Page 35).  A referee shall not allow a finger splint or a padded plaster of paris cast, for example. Interpretation: During a tournament, the student-athlete may present a signed copy of the Water Polo Release and Indemnification Form (Appendix F) to the score table. The score table will then show the form to the appropriate referees before each game.

       Rationale:  A player shall not be allowed to use a plaster of paris cast as this material is rigid and hard. However, other materials may be used that are more flexible if the waiver is approved by the appropriate authorities. The location of the form in Appendix F provides ready access for the form in the on-line publication of the rules book. This option of leaving the form at the score table during a tournament simplifies the process for both the student-athlete and the referees.

11. Rule 5-5 Substances on Body (Page 36).  If sunscreen is used, it must be a product that is not oily or greasy in its final form. 

      Rationale: Products have been developed that can be used in outdoor pools that comply with the rules against the use of oil or grease on the body.

12. Rule 5-5 Substances on Body (Page 36).  A player shall not use a substance on the hand(s) to improve the grip on the ball. If such a substance is found, the referee shall order the player to remove the substance and inspect the player’s hands before the player returns to the game. The referee shall warn both teams through the head coaches that if another player is found with this substance on the hand(s), the player will be removed for the remainder of game.

      Rationale: A strong rule is needed to prevent the use of such a substance.

13. Rule 5-6 Method of Substitution (Page 37). In a live-time direct substitution, the player leaving the pool may only leave the field of play at the reentry area. In the substitution for an excluded player, the excluded player may leave the field of play under the side line or the end line and then swim to the reentry area before the substitute may enter.

      Rationale: The improved wording clarifies an important difference between the method of substitution in a live-time direct substitution as compared with that for an excluded player. An excluded player may exit under the side line, in accordance with the 2009-10 case book.

14. Rule 7-1 Eligibility of Referees to Officiate NCAA Games (Page 41)Referees must register with the NCAA, and take and pass yearly the NCAA referee test in order to officiate.

      Rationale: This change will help ensure that all referees know the latest rules, points of emphasis, and rule interpretations. The test is available online.

15. Rule 7-1 Referee Uniform (Page 41).  Interpretation: A tournament director may authorize shorts due to weather conditions. If shorts are authorized, both referees must wear white shorts or both must wear long white trousers.

      Rationale: The rules already require that referees must be dressed in the same uniform. This change clarifies that this rule also applies to the use of shorts.

16. Rule 7-4 Requirement for Representative of the Institution on the Bench (Page 44)  There must be a representative of the institution available to oversee the team if the head coach receives a red card and is excluded from the bench for the remainder of the game. Persons eligible to serve in this capacity are defined.

      Rationale: The game will be forfeited if an IR is not available to move to the bench. This requirement was issued previously as an interpretation and is in the 2009-10 case book.

17. Rule 7-7 Reporting Requirements (Page 46).  Referees must report incidents of misconduct to the conference commissioner. Exclusion of a player for flagrant misconduct and fighting and exclusion of coaches, staff or players for the receipt of a red card, which are currently required to be reported to the conference commissioner, shall also be reported to the NCAA coordinator of officials. If required by a conference commissioner, the referee shall also report the issuance of a yellow card to the conference commissioner.

      Rationale: This change will ensure complete reporting and tracking of misconduct penalties. In the case of a red card, flagrant misconduct or fighting, the commissioner must also notify the appropriate athletics director of the offense.

18. Rule 7-8 Checking and Signing Scoresheet (Page 47).  The referee must verify after a game that all incidents of misconduct, flagrant misconduct, fighting, and red cards have been recorded on the scoresheet and that the appropriate coaches have been informed of the occurrence of these fouls. Note: It is not necessary to verify that the coach is informed of the occurrence of a yellow card, since there are no follow-up penalties for this card, unless required by the host conference. The yellow card must be recorded, however, on the scoresheet.

      Rationale: This will ensure that reportable offenses are recorded on the score sheet, the official record of the game. Since there are follow-up penalties for some offenses, it is essential that the coach is aware of the occurrence of these reportable offenses. If a conference requires that the issuance of yellow cards be reported to the conference commissioner, the referee must also verify that yellow cards are recorded on the score sheet.  .

19. Rule 7-10 Reporting of Protest (Page 51).  Protests must be reported to the conference commissioner.

      Rationale: The game referees may settle a game protest. However, they must be reported to the conference commissioner because, according to the rules, a protest may be referred to or appealed to the commissioner.

20. Rule 8-1 Location of Goal Judges (Page 53)If team benches are located on the same side as the score table, the goal judges shall be situated on the opposite side from the score table.

      Rationale: This provides instruction needed for the location of goal judges in an atypical pool setup. This is the current practice, but it was not included previously in the rules.

21. Rule 8-3 Penalty for Player Leaving Field of Play to Retrieve a Ball (Page 54).  If the player leaves the field of play to retrieve a ball without the permission of the referee, the player shall be excluded for 20 seconds.

      Rationale: This is a current rule (Rule 21-4) and is added into this rule as this is where the situation often arises.

22. Rule 11-5 Replay of a Game (Page 62).  If a game (or portion of a game) must be replayed, the goals, fouls and timeouts that occurred during the time to be replayed are removed from (lined through on) the scoresheet; however, notation of misconduct, flagrant misconduct, fighting, red cards and yellow cards must be retained on the scoresheet.  

      Rationale: This addition to the rules clarifies that an individual committing these offenses may not play or coach in any part of the game to be replayed, with the exception of a yellow card.  This is the procedure for replay of all or part of a protested game or for replay of a game for any other reason. This is an interpretation in the 2009-10 casebook.

23. Rule 12-1 Visible Record of Timeouts Remaining (Page 63-64). It is required to have a visual display of timeouts remaining, maintained by the score table. It is recommended that an exclusion board be used to provide a visible display of personal fouls in addition to the record of timeouts remaining.

      Rationale: This clarifies that an exclusion board is recommended, but not required.

24. Rules 12-4 Charging a Team with an Improperly Charged Timeout (Pages 65).  No timeout is charged against the team calling an improper timeout in Rules 12-4, 12-5, and 12-6. The penalty that is to be charged for calling an improper timeout is described in each of these three rules.

      Rationale: Although there is a penalty if a team calls an improper timeout (penalty throw or ball turn over), this additional wording clarifies that a timeout is not charged to that team. It does not change the current rule.

25. Rule 12-7 30-Second Timeout (Page 66)A 30-second timeout may be shortened by notification by the coach to the referee.

      Rationale: This clarifies that both regular and 30-second timeouts may be shortened.

26. Rule 12-8 Television Timeouts (Page 67).  A television timeout of no more than two minutes may be called once each period after four minutes of playing time have elapsed in that period. The timeout secretary will sound the air horn at the next possible time a television timeout may be taken according to the rules. The referee will then immediately blow the whistle and extend each arm straight out to the side to award the television timeout.

      Rationale: The use of the timeout secretary to notify the referee when to award the television timeout has been shown to reduce errors in the award of the television timeout.

27. Rule 13-1 Coin Toss (Page 68).  Note: Although ends may be preassigned, one coach may always request a coin toss for choice of ends. Note: In addition, if requested by one coach, the teams must change ends and benches after each period.

      Rationale: This information is already in the rules book, (see Rules 13-1 and 5-2) and in the 2009-10 casebook. Placing both notes in this rule clarifies that either or both of these is allowed.

28. Rule 13-2 Position of Players at the Start (Page 66). No player may pull the end line forward. If a center sprint is used, the player sprinting may not push off the goal.

      Rationale: This provides additional directions for the start.

29. Rule 13-3 Position of Referees at the Start (Page 66).  If a center sprint is used with a ball-release device, the referees will position themselves on their respective 5-meter lines. The starting signal shall be given by the referee on the same side as the score table. Both referees will then move towards the center as the ball-release person releases the ball on the half-distance line.

      Rationale: This change in the position of the referees if a center sprint is used enables them to watch the position of players at the start and is in agreement with the FINA start.

30. Rule 14-3-g Direct Shot (Page 72, 73)  A player may not take a direct shot from a corner throw. 

      Rationale: This is not new as a shot from a corner throw, by definition, would have been taken from inside the 5-meter line and, therefore, would be an illegal shot.

31. Rule 18-1 Neutral Throw – When Awarded (Page 78).  A neutral throw shall be awarded:

b.     When one or more players of opposing teams commit an ordinary foul at the same moment, which makes it impossible for the referees to distinguish which offended first;

e.     When neither team has possession of the ball and one or more players of opposing teams commit an exclusion foul at the same moment. The neutral throw shall be taken after the offending players have been excluded.

      Rationale: Point b is a minor change in wording and point e is currently contained in a note to the rule. This language conforms to the FINA rule.

32. Rule 20-4 Holding or Pushing off from Pool (Page 82).  It is an ordinary foul to hold or push off from the sides or ends of the pool during actual play or at the start of a period. Note: An exception is made in a pool with wall goals at the start of a period if both teams are able to push off from the walls.

      Rationale: The rule has been reworded for clarity and to agree with the FINA wording. The note provides direction for pools with wall goals.

33. Rule 20-5 Using the Bottom (Page 83) and Appendix C.  It is an ordinary foul to take any active part in the game when standing on the bottom of the pool. This rule should be applied in deep pools (two or more meters deep). In the case of a shallow-bottom pool (a pool less than two meters deep), a defensive player who uses the bottom to otherwise impede or hold an offensive player and to prevent him/her from moving will be excluded for 20 seconds for holding under Rule 21-8.

      Rationale: This rule imposes a more severe penalty for use of the bottom in shallow-bottom pools, and is taken from the 2009-10 Points of Emphasis. A complete description of the rule is located in Appendix C.

34. Rule 20-15 Sending Ball Out of Bounds Over Side Line (Page 88).  It is an ordinary foul to send the ball out of the side of the field of play, including the ball rebounding from the side of the field of play above water level to last touch the ball that goes out of the side of the field of play (including the ball rebounding from the side of the field of play above water level) except in the case of a defensive field player blocking a shot over the side of the field of play, in which case a free throw is given to the defensive team. 

      Rationale: This replaces the term “sending” the ball out of the field of play with “last touch”. This language conforms to the FINA rule and is essentially the same as in the current rules.

35. Rule 20-16 Keeping Ball More Than 35 Seconds Without Shooting (Page 88) and Rule 9-2 (Page 57).  The ordinary foul of wasting time has been eliminated and there is no penalty for failure to advance the ball. However, if a team relinquishes possession of the ball by dumping the ball into a vacant area before the expiration of the shot clock, the referee shall blow the whistle, turn the ball over, and the shot clock is reset. 

Rationale: This change eliminates inconsistencies in how stalling is called, particularly in the last minute of the game. However, if a team relinquishes possession of the ball by dumping the ball into an empty area before the shot clock expires, the ball is turned over to the opposing team.

36. Rule 21-2, 21-4 Excluded Player Leaving the Water (Page 90, 94).  An excluded player shall move to the reentry area without leaving the water. An excluded player who leaves the water, other than after the entry of a substitute, is excluded for the remainder of the game.

      Rationale: The current rule stated the player would be excluded for misconduct. This change in wording retains the penalty of a game exclusion for this offense, but it is not considered to be misconduct. This is taken from the 2009-10 casebook.

37. Rule 21-6 Blocking a Pass or Shot with Two Hands (Page 96).  It is an exclusion foul to attempt to play or block a pass or a shot with two hands outside the 5-meter area. 

      Rationale: This makes the penalty the same for using two hands to attempt to block a pass or a shot outside the 5-meter area.

38. Rule 21-10 Misconduct (Page 98).  The foul of violent play was moved from Rule 21-10, Misconduct, to Rule 21-11, Flagrant Misconduct.

      Rationale: Violent play is more appropriately classified as flagrant misconduct.

39. Rule 21-10 Misconduct During Play (Page 98).  If a player commits an act of misconduct during play (the time between the award of a foul and when the ball is put into play, which was formerly called “dead time”) and the time after the ball is put into play, which was formerly called “live time”), the player is excluded from the remainder of game for misconduct, with a substitute in the reentry area for 20 seconds or the earliest occurrence of one of the events referred to in Rule 21-3.

      Rationale: These times formerly called dead time and live time are now collectively called “during play”. This aligns the wording with FINA and does not represent a rule change.

40. Rule 21-10 Misconduct During Interval Time (Page 99).  If a player commits an act of misconduct during interval time, which is defined as the interval between periods, during a timeout, after a goal, or before a penalty throw is taken, the player is excluded for the game and a substitute is eligible to reenter immediately. The shot clock is not reset if either misconduct or a minor act of misconduct occurs during a timeout. If misconduct occurs before a penalty throw is taken, the game starts even up with the taking of the penalty throw.

      Rationale: The time before a penalty throw is added to the definition of interval time to bring the rule into alignment with the latest FINA interpretation. The direction about not resetting the shot clock if misconduct or a minor act of misconduct occurs during a timeout was in the 2009-10 casebook.

41. Rule 21-10 Minor Acts of Misconduct (Page 100).  The definition of a minor act of misconduct (which consisted primarily of minor acts of disrespect towards the referee) has been expanded to also include minor acts of misconduct toward another player, such as minor shoving, minor taunting or gestures or other similar acts that do not warrant exclusion from the remainder of the game.

      Rationale: This change broadens the definition of minor acts of misconduct.

42. Rule 21-10 Minor Acts of Misconduct (Page 100).  The penalty of a 20-second exclusion for a minor act of misconduct may only be awarded if the minor act of misconduct occurs during play. If it occurs during interval time, the referee will exclude the player for 20 seconds for the first occurrence of this foul. The referee shall then immediately warn both teams through the head coaches that the next minor act of misconduct committed by any player during interval time in that game will result in a game exclusion for misconduct. 

      Rationale: This change distinguishes between the penalty for a minor act of misconduct committed during play as compared with one committed during interval time, increasing the penalty if the foul is committed during interval time after a warning.

43. Rule 21-11 Flagrant Misconduct, Including Fighting (Page 103).  The name for the foul of brutality is changed to flagrant misconduct

      Rationale: The change was made to help improve the image of the sport and is similar to the name used for this type of behavior in other sports.

44. Rule 21-11 Flagrant Misconduct, Including Fighting (Page 103).  The foul of “to play in a violent manner” was moved from misconduct (Rule 21-10) to flagrant misconduct (Rule 21-11). Violent play is defined as hitting, kicking or striking with malicious intent and is more likely to cause injury than overaggressive fouling. 

      Rationale: This change increases the penalty for violent play.

45. Rule 21-11 Penalty for Flagrant Misconduct (Page 100).  The automatic one-game suspension for the first incident of flagrant misconduct by a player in that season is maintained, with an automatic two-game suspension for a second incident, and an automatic three-game suspension for a third incident of flagrant misconduct, with conference review

      Rationale: This change provides an incremental increase in the carry over penalty for flagrant misconduct.

46. Rule 21-11 Penalty for Flagrant Misconduct That Involves Fighting (Page 106).  The penalty for participation in a fight is increased from an automatic one-game suspension to an automatic two-game suspension for the first offense, a three-game suspension for a second offense with conference review, and suspension for the remainder of the season for a third offense with conference review. The definition of fighting is also clarified to usually involve a minimum of two players or other personnel. 

      Rationale: This change increases the initial penalty for fighting and provides an incremental increase for subsequent occurrence(s) of this foul in the season.

47. Rule 21-12 Dead-Time Foul .  This rule was eliminated.  

      Rationale: The special penalty for fouls committed during "dead time" (the time between the award of a foul and the taking of the free throw) was eliminated. Rule 20-11 (Offensive Dead-Time Fouls) and Rule 21-14 (Offensive Exclusion Fouls) were also eliminated.

48. Rule 21-12 Simultaneous Exclusion Fouls (Page 107).  If simultaneous exclusion fouls are committed by players from opposing teams during play, the team that had possession of the ball shall put the ball into play at the point of the foul or behind

Rationale: The ball is put into play in the same way if the simultaneous exclusion fouls occurred before the ball is put into play or after the ball is put into play. This was already current practice.

49. Rule 21-13 Entering Field of Play Improperly (Page 109).  If an excluded player, either on offense or on defense, enters the field of play improperly, the time of the subsequent penalty awarded shall be the time of the improper reentry of the excluded player.

      Rationale: This clarifies that the time of the subsequent penalty is from the time of the improper reentry, not from the time of the original exclusion foul, and is current practice.

50. Rule 21-14 Interference with a Penalty Throw (Page 109 ).  Interpretation: If a player commits an act of misconduct such as directing foul language towards the referee or taunting the shooter during the time before a penalty shot is taken, the player is excluded from the remainder of the game for misconduct, a substitute enters immediately, and the penalty throw is taken.

      Rationale: Since the time before a penalty throw is taken was added to the definition of interval time, the player who commits an act of misconduct during the time between the award of the penalty throw and the taking of the penalty throw is excluded from the remainder of the game and is replaced immediately by a substitute.

51. Rule 21-18-c Simultaneous Award of an Exclusion Foul and a Penalty Foul (old Page 108) and Appendix A, Instructions for the Use of Two Referees, No. 10, (old Page 122).  Deleted.

      Rationale:  This deletion aligns with the recent FINA change as this situation does not occur.

52. Rule 22-2-b Penalty Foul Within 5-Meter Area to Prevent Goal (page 111).  Rule 22-2-b was changed to: It is a penalty foul for a defending player to attempt to block a shot or pass with two hands inside the 5-meter line. It is not a penalty foul if the ball is being passed to a player who was in such a position that the pass would not have led to a probable goal. An exclusion foul should be called in this latter case.

      Rationale: This eliminates the ambiguous wording of “to intentionally play or attempt to play” and joins together Rule 22-2-b and c (attempting to block a shot and a pass with two hands) into one rule. It also states clearly the penalty awarded if the pass would not have led to a probable goal.

53. Rule 22-2-c Penalty Foul Within 5-Meter Area to Prevent Goal (page 111).  If a defending player uses two hands inside the 5-meter area to pull back a ball on the water to prevent it from drifting into the goal, a penalty foul is called.

      Rationale: A defending player can not play the ball with two hands inside the 5-meter area to prevent a probable goal.

54. Rule 22-2-g Penalty Foul Within 5-Meter Area to Prevent Goal (Page 112). It is a penalty foul for a defending player other than the goalkeeper to jump off the bottom within the 5-meter area to prevent a probable goal.

      Rationale: Although this is not new, it was added to the list of penalty fouls.

55. Rule 25-3 Accident, Injury, Extenuating Circumstances (page 121) and Appendix G.  Note: If a player leaves the game for being rendered unconscious or for displaying concussion-like symptoms, the player must be cleared by the team physician or his/her designee according to the concussion management plan. Student-athletes diagnosed with a concussion shall not return to activity or competition for the remainder of that day.

      Rationale: This language is provided by a NCAA Committee (CMAS).

56. Appendix A Instructions for the Use of Two Referees, No. 2 Note (Page 122).  If the two sides of the pool are parallel and do not have significant obstructions, each referee shall referee to the right. If this is not possible due to an obstruction on one side of the pool, each referee shall referee to the left

      Rationale: This change provides instruction on how to referee in an atypical pool.

57  Appendix A Instructions for the Use of Two Referees, No. 10 (Page 123).  When simultaneous awards are made by both referees against players either on the same team or on opposing teams and one is for an ordinary foul and the other is for an exclusion foul or penalty foul, the exclusion foul or penalty foul award shall be applied.

      Rationale: This clarifies that the two fouls can be on the same team or on different teams.

58. Appendix A Instructions for the Use of Two Referees, No. 11, Page 123).  When one player on each team commits an exclusion foul simultaneously during play, the offending players shall be excluded. The shot clock is reset and play is restarted with a free throw awarded to the team that had possession of the ball at the time the simultaneous fouls were called. The free throw is taken at the point of the foul or behind.

      Rationale:  This provides instruction for the referees as to where the ball is put in play in the case of simultaneous exclusion fouls.

59. Appendix C Officiating in Shallow-Bottom Pools, Page 134.  Material was moved here from the 2009-10 Points of Emphasis.

60. Appendix D Tournament Advancement, Page 137.  Although the group system of play is not usually used in NCAA competition, instructions were added to cover the case of exclusion of a field player shooter during a penalty shoot-out.

61. Appendix F Water Polo Release and Indemnification Form, Page 144.  This form is now available in the rules book and on the NCAA web site (in the on-line publication of the rules book).

62. Appendix G Concussions, Page 145.  A detailed list of signs and symptoms of a concussion observed by the coaching staff and/or reported by the student-athlete is included, in addition to recommended action to be taken. This was provided by the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports. .


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