The Toughest Sport You Didnt Even Know About

The Toughest Sport You Didn’t Even Know About

When you think about what the toughest sports are, your first answer is probably going to be football, boxing, or gymnastics. All of these answers are true, however there is a sport that is rarely even mentioned when it comes to the toughest sport despite it being one of the most difficult sports ever, and that sport is Water Polo.


“The amount of training to be in ‘water polo shape’ is also overlooked. It’s not uncommon for water polo players to spend roughly half of their training time swimming. In some cases, they swim more yards than their respective swim team.” said K7 Water Polo writer. 

While Water Polo does not have a mainstream name like football and basketball, Water polo is one of the toughest sports out there. Water Polo was the first Modern sport introduced in the Olympics games in 1900, at that time the sport was even more ruthless than it is now. 

Players would bring the ball underwater and spend most of their time wrestinging and holding the enemy team underwater. Players would be held for long periods of time and have to surrender the ball just to come back up for air. This was a sport that you would not want to fight an aggressive player in. Today players can only go so far in the water but it is still common for water polo players to hold, grab, pull, and even occasionally hit the opposing team underwater in order to gain an advantage.


Just like any other sport, there are some basic rules to playing water polo.

  • Teams consist of 15 players and 6 six field players and 1 goalie start off the game.
  • Field players must grab, catch, and shoot with one hand while goalies are allowed to use both hands. 
  • Taking the ball underwater while guarded is considered a turn-over.
  • The official playing field is at least 25 yards long, 20 yards wide, and 7 feet deep.
  • Players may not touch the bottom of the field nor the sides during the game.
  • Games consist of 4 quarters and usually 45 minutes to an hour.
  • There is a 30 second shot clock per position.
  • Minor fouls can occur frequently throughout the game and will result in a free pass.
  • There is no limit to the amount of minor fouls.
  • After 3 ejections, or major fouls, the player may not return to the game.

The thing that makes water polo such a demanding sport is the endurance, energy, and strength it requires from each player. 

“With all these big bodies banging into each other, all the clutching and grabbing under the water, you have to stay close or you risk getting injured. You also have to know how to get away with enough,” Russell McKinnon, a former New Zealand player, told ESPN in 2012.

25 yards long, 20 yards wide, and 7 feet deep and players must guard and wrestle for the ball while never touching the ground. This can sound simple yet players have to swim for those 40 minutes fighting each other and on average will swim up to two miles each day while practicing 20 hours per week.

Players have to use every single muscle in their body from the fact that it is a water sport, when swimming there is no solid surface that we can apply force to, like the ground if you are running or moving on land. Swimmers have to rely solely on balance and technique to move through the water. Water polo players have to extend their body away from their hips when they shoot or make a pass, this requires hours of water and leg drills. In the process of treading, swimming, and throwing, the players work all of the major muscle groups. 

When it comes to underwater really anything goes, stuff like punching, kicking, scratching, and wrestling are a frequent thing when it comes to water polo and injuries can get pretty bad. There is a penalty for when these things occur but only when the officials see it, this allows players to get away with these fights by going underwater. 

Wrestling takes up a large portion of Water Polo games. When guarding an opponent you are not just standing and waving your arms in front of them like in basketball, players are tackling and fighting each other above and underwater for their position. When players are sprinting down the huge pool, they cannot just swim side by side. Players are cutting each other off and lunging at each other’s back jousting for positions and the ball,  each player is kicking each other and getting pulled back only to find themself submerged under water. 


“Water polo looks like every worst nightmare sport rolled into one. If you tossed me into the deep end of an Olympic pool and told me to tread water for thirty minutes while attempting to grab a ball and dodge vicious opponents, I would probably be dead before the first goal was scored.” Business Insider writes.

Water polo is no sport for the weak, this sport deserves more recognition for how hard the players work. Water polo is a mix of football, wrestling, swimming, and even hockey, which are all incredibly hard sports, all in one. 


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