New FINA Rules and Interpretations

New FINA Rules and Interpretations

Updated February 25, 2019 – 9:45 PM PST

The following new rules and interpretations will be in effect on March 1, 2019 for all USA Water Polo events.

1. Rule WP19 -Location of Free Throw: A free throw shall be taken at the spot of the ball, except (a) if the foul is committed by a defending player within the defender’s 2-meter area, the free throw shall be taken outside the 2-meter line and, (b) where otherwise provided for in the rules.

Additional Comments:

- Referees will no longer move the ball back to the spot of the foul for any reason. The game continues at the spot of the ball after a foul is awarded unless the ball is within the defenders 2-meter area.

- Goal throws must still be taken within the 2-meter area.

Situation: A player on offense attempts to turn inside water at the point position at 9 meters. The defender knocks the ball away to 7 meters just before the referee whistles an ordinary foul. The player on offense swims, gets the ball at 7 meters, shoots immediately and scores.

Ruling: Goal. Since the play continues at the spot of the ball, the player does not need to go back to 9 meters to shoot directly. As long as the foul and the ball are outside 5m, they can shoot directly. (6m on January 1, 2020)

2. Rule WP5 -Additional Substitution Area: An additional substitution re-entry area will be at any place in between the goal line and center pool line on the team’s half of the field of play (for flying substitutions). Substitute must always enter the water via behind the goal line, in the corner, nearest the team bench.

Additional Comments:

- This rule only applies to pools with sidelines of at least a half meter from the wall. If sidelines are less than a half meter or if there are no sidelines, flying substitutions are not allowed.

- Half meter will be at the discretion of the referee.

- This rule does not affect live-time substitutions through the re-entry area (exclusion box) which are always allowed regardless of pool and sideline configurations.

- There is no restriction on the number of substitutes a team may have at the side of the pool, and there is no limit for number of players to be substituted at one time.

- This area cannot be used as “warming-up” area.

- Players must visibly touch hands above the water once both, the player who is leaving and the substitute, are outside of the field of play and both heads are above water.

- The player who is leaving must swim along the side of the pool until behind the goal line.

- Substitution can occur anywhere between the team’s goal line and the center line, and it can occur anytime during the game, except after a penalty throw is awarded.

- Any of the referees or the designated official at the table can signal a violation of this rule, and the sanction for improper entry has to be applied.

- Players can stay in substitution area for reasonable amount of time. This is similar approach as for the players staying in exclusion box (re-entry area).

- Player subbing in cannot push off the wall. If committed while team is in possession of the ball, player is excluded for 20 seconds and free throw awarded to the opposing team. If not in possession of the ball, player is excluded for 20 seconds and a penalty throw is awarded to the opposing team.

Situation #1: The player subbing out has left the field of play but touches their teammates hand while their head was still underwater. The substitute enters the field of play.

Ruling: If committed while team is in possession of the ball, player is excluded for 20 seconds and free throw awarded to the opposing team. If not in possession of the ball, player is excluded for 20 seconds and a penalty throw is awarded to the opposing team.

Situation #2: The player subbing out is still in the field of play when he touches his teammates hand over the lane line. Before the player leaves, the substitute enters the field of play thus being the 8th player for that team.

Ruling: The substitute is excluded for the remainder of the game with a substitute in the re-entry area and a live-time penalty throw is awarded to the opposing team. This is the penalty regardless if the team is in possession of the ball or not.

3. Rule WP11 -Interval at Half-time: The interval at half-time shall be no more than 3 minutes.

4. Rule WP14 – Goalkeeper Privileges: The goalkeeper is allowed to move beyond and touch the ball past the half distance line. They are allowed to shoot from anywhere and can participate as a shooter in a penalty shot or shootout.

Additional Comments:

- 12/10U goalkeepers may NOT move past half during the game or shoot a penalty throw. However, they are allowed to participate as a shooter during a shootout. It is an offensive foul (turnover) if they go beyond their defensive side of the half.

- The goalkeeper loses his/her privileges outside the 5m line. (6m line on January 1, 2020)

- The goalkeeper and back-up goalkeeper can be changed to defend in the cage during a shootout. However, if a goalkeeper is listed as one of the 5 shooters, that player or their order in the shootout cannot be changed.

- It is possible for a goalkeeper to commit an ordinary foul if it does not take away a probable goal. i.e. goalkeeper joins team in attacking half and plays offense. As the ball turns over, they commit a normal possessional foul just as any other field player. This should just be an ordinary foul.

5. Rule WP12 -Time-outs: A team is entitled to no more than 2 time-outs per game. Time-outs can be called at any time by the coach of the team in possession of the ball, except after awarding a penalty throw.

6. New Rule – Direct Shot Signal by the Referees: If a free throw is awarded for a foul outside, but within one meter of the 5m line, the referee administering the free throw will point downward to the 5m line to indicate that the player is eligible to shoot a direct shot on goal. (6m line on January 1, 2020)

Additional New Interpretations:

1. Leaving the Field of Play – If a player exits the field of play during live play under the sideline or goal line, other than from the re-entry area, there is no penalty against that player. They would still have to swim to the re-entry area to come back into the field of play or for the substitute to be allowed to enter. If the player re-enters back into the field of play, other than from the re-entry area, the player is excluded for 20 seconds and free throw awarded to the opposing team. If not in possession of the ball, player is excluded for 20 seconds and a penalty throw is awarded to the opposing team. If the player exiting the field of play does not go to the re-entry area, the substitute will not be allowed to enter unless there’s a time-out, a goal has scored, or a quarter break.

2. Referees will no longer stop play to exclude the center defender away from the ball. However, the ball cannot be passed into the center for a quick goal until the referee signals the excluded players cap number. If the ball is passed into the center before the referee signals the excluded players cap number, the referee will blow the whistle and signal a free pass to be taken at the location of the ball (provided it is outside of 2m). The intent is for the delay to be brief therefore the referees are instructed to quickly gesture the sweeping motion of an exclusion first and then display the excluded players number.

3. Time allowed on free throw – The player taking a free throw shall put the ball in play without undue delay. This is a change from “immediately” to “without undue delay”.

4. Goalkeeper Exclusion – If a goalkeeper is excluded during live play, they are allowed to move a field player into the re-entry and use a back-up goalkeeper during the extra man situation. The position is NOT excluded, just that player.

5. Interval Time – Interval time has expanded to 5 instances.

  • 1. During a quarter break
  • 2. During a time-out
  • 3. After a goal is scored
  • 4. After awarding a penalty throw
  • 5. Any time the referee removes the ball from the water.

6. The penalty for calling a time-out without having possession of the ball is a penalty throw and a loss of a time-out.

7. “Tactical Foul” (Direct shot) – If a player on defense commits an ordinary foul outside of 5 meters (6m on Jan. 1, 2020)  and does one of the following as a “tactical foul” to prevent the player from shooting a direct shot:

  1. Knocks the ball inside 5 meters (6m on Jan. 1, 2020)
  2. Knocks the ball further away from the goal
  3. Throws the ball away from the goal

The defensive player shall be excluded for 20 seconds. If the tactical foul is committed toward the end of the game to prevent a goal, it is a penalty foul.


USAWP Texas Development: Upcoming Town Hall Meetings, Tournament/League Hosts, and Other Announcements!!!

With the upcoming start of the Texas High School Water Polo Season and the Spring USA Water Polo Club Season, USAWP Texas Development will be hosting a series of “Town Hall Meetings” in Austin/San Antonio, the Houston Area, and in North Texas. The first of the USAWP Town Hall Meetings will be in the Austin/San Antonio area on Saturday, February 23rd at the UT Swim Center Classroom. The Houston area Town Hall Meeting will be Sunday, April 7th in Pearland and the North Texas Town Hall Meeting will be Sunday, April 14th in Southlake (details to be announced later). All are welcome and encouraged to attend…parents, coaches, athletes, referees, etc.

Below are additional USAWP Texas Development Announcements:

USA Water Polo Coaching Manual (click here): The USA Water Polo Coaching Manual is the most comprehensive coaching document online regarding drills, skills, online links, etc.

USAWP Summit Videos Now Available (click here): Videos from the recently completed USA Water Polo Development Summit are now available. Once at the website, there will be instructions on how to access the videos from the discussions and presentations at the USAWP Development Summit on January 26-27, 2019. These videos are an excellent source of material for water polo coaches, athletes and referees on a variety of topics in our sport.

Tournament/League Hosting Outlines & Online Rosters: Attached are SWZ Hosting Outlines for USAWP sanctioned Weekend Tournaments and Local League Game Days. Hosts need be sure to communicate event information to clubs and to let their local Referee Leadership know the specifics of their event ASAP. Additionally, hosts need to make sure teams enter their rosters online via the USAWP online roster verification system prior to the start of the event. Club Admins have access to monitor roster entries through the USA Water Polo website. Lastly, tournament hosts need to email the SWZ Chair the official results/standings as soon as possible after a sanctioned USAWP event (for Connor Cup points, posting scores online, etc.).

USAWP Memberships & Online Rosters: Please make sure your athletes are USAWP prior to playing in any sanctioned USAWP event. NJO allocated slots for each zone are determined by the previous year’s membership numbers. Additionally, registering your athletes allows these athletes to be properly rostered for sanctioned leagues/weekend tournaments. Clubs that do not enter their team rosters online for Weekend Tournaments will not earn Connor Cup points for that event. Lastly, athletes/coaches/referees/clubs should be renewing their memberships as there are league game days/weekend tournaments coming up very quickly this Spring Season.

ID Checks/Photo ID’s: The Referees will be doing ID Checks for coaches/athletes at all USAWP sanctioned events. Coaches/Club Admins need to be prepared for ID Checks. All athletes need to be Bronze, Silver, or Gold members of USA Water Polo (or Shieldy, Young Adult Memberships). All coaches need to be registered with USA Water Polo and updated on their background check, 1st Aid/CPR, Safe Sport, etc. We recommend that all athletes download a picture with their USA Water Polo account (process takes two minutes). Teams are responsible for providing their own verified team rosters when doing roster checks. Teams will need to line up prior to their game in number order. All teams can print out team membership cards (click print membership cards at the bottom of each team’s final roster).

Southwest Zone Events – Bid Deadlines: If your club would like to co-host one of the SWZ tournaments, please return a completed Southwest Zone Events Bid Packet to by Monday, February 18th for the TAGS Water Polo Champs and by Monday, March 4th for the SWZ NJO Quals. Please be sure to complete separate bids for each event. The tournament locations will be approved by the Southwest Zone Chair/Board and be announced within one week of the bid deadlines.

Southwest Zone Calendar & Club Contacts: Google Docs/Sheets for the Southwest Zone Calendar & Club Contacts has been created which will be updated continuously (no longer sending documents to everyone). The Southwest Zone – Club Contacts is tabbed at the bottom for each region and Collegiate Club teams (Coaches, Club Admins, and USAWP/Southwest Zone Positions). If there are changes or additions that need to be made to the calendar or contact list, please email

• Southwest Zone Calendar – 2019: For the online Google Doc Southwest Zone Calendar – 2019, please click here.
• Southwest Zone – Club Contacts: For the online Google Doc Southwest Zone – Club Contacts, please click here.

SWZ Outline – League Administration & League Game Day Hosting SWZ Outline – Hosting Weekend Tournaments Austin-San Antonio Area – USA Water Polo Town Hall Meeting – 2019

Spinlob Results

The Spinlob tournament was held in Austin, TX this past weekend by Longhorn Aquatics.   Final team standings for the men’s and women’s divisions were:

1st NYAC
2nd O-Club
3rd Darkside
4th Chicago
5th Dallas
6th Clayton
7th HOPS
9th Golden Gators
10th Asphalt Green
11th Denver
12th Riptide
13th UT
14th South Florida
15th Arizona
16th Austin

1st North Texas
2nd O-Club
3rd Victorious Secret
4th Oakland
5th Wahoos
6th Denver
7th Thunder Black
8th Longhorn/VP
9th UT
10th Thunder Silver
11th Duke