Inner Tube Water Polo Rules | Recreational Services
The University of Iowa

Inner Tube Water Polo Rules

 Rule 1: Facility | Rule 2: Player Eligibility | Rule 3: Equipment | Rule 4: Team Composition | 
Rule 5: Game Procedures | Rule 6: Game Setup | Rule 7: General Rules | Rule 8: Loss of Possession Infractions

Recent rule changes appear in italicized font.

Rule 1: Facility

  1. The Inner Tube Water Polo tournament will be held in the Field House Pool. Alcohol and tobacco are not permitted inside the facility or in the parking lot.
  2. Do not bring food, drink, or gum into the pool.
  3. If the lifeguard makes an Emergency Signal— Three whistle blasts, exit the pool immediately.
  4. No horseplay in or around the swimming pool.

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Rule 2: Player Eligibility

  1. All Intramural Sports eligibility rules apply. Please check the Intramural Sports Rules and Regulations carefully.
    1. Only two Water Polo Sport Club members are permitted to be on the same Intramural Water Polo team roster. 
  2. All players must check-in with a valid, government-issued or University of Iowa photo ID with the Supervisor prior to the start of each game.

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Rule 3: Equipment

  1. Proper swimwear is required.
  2. No hand jewelry is permitted while participating in Inner Tube Water Polo.
  3. It is recommended to wear a T-shirt during participation to protect your skin from rubbing on the inner tubes. But, a T-shirt is not required to be worn while participating. 

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Rule 4: Team Composition

  1. Each team shall consist of seven players (six “field” players and one goalkeeper). The game may start with a minimum of six (five “field” players and one goalkeeper).
  2. A goalkeeper may be either male or female, must be sitting in an inner tube at all times, and must remain in the goal area.

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Rule 5: Game Procedures

  1. The duration of a game shall be 24 minutes of actual play, in two periods of 12 minutes each, with the teams changing ends at halftime. A 5-minute interval must be allowed between halves. Time starts on the referee’s whistle at the start of each half and will run continuously until the end of the half. Each team receives two, one-minute, time-outs per game.
  2. The entire ball passing over the goal line between the goal posts counts as a goal. One point is awarded for each goal. The player scoring must remain in his/her inner tube or the score will not count. If a ball is thrown by a player into his/her own goal, it is scored as a goal.
  3. If the game is tied at the end of regulation play, a sudden death period of three minutes in length will be started. If still tied at the end of three minutes the winner will be determined by teams taking an equal amount of alternating shots at the goal until a goal is scored. A coin toss will determine which team throws first. Example: Team A throws and misses, Team B throws and scores, Team B wins. If Team B misses, another member from Team A shoots, etc.
  4. If a team is winning by five points with five minutes or fewer remaining the game is over. 

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Rule 6: Game Setup

  1. At the start or restart of a game, the goalkeeper must be positioned between the goal posts, and the field players must take up positions at least one yard apart on their respective goal lines, grasp the ends of the pool and wait for the referee’s signal after he/she has ascertained the teams are ready.
  2. The start of a game is signaled by one blast of the whistle, and the referee must then release or throw the ball onto the center line. It is a technical foul to start before the referee blows his/her whistle. If this occurs the ball shall be awarded to the offended team at the halfway line.
  3. The GOALKEEPER AREA is located on each end of the pool and extends two yards out into the water. No player shall hold the ball in this area for more than five seconds.
  4. The PENALTY AREA is located on each end of the pool and extends two yards out into the water. 
  5. A FREE TOSS is awarded after any rule infraction or personal foul. The non-violating team member nearest to the spot of infraction puts the ball into play by passing. Opponents may not touch, impede or interfere with his/her attempt to pass the ball. One PASS must be made before any attempted goal.
  6. A penalty throw is awarded to the offensive team if an offensive player is fouled inside the 4-yard penalty area while controlling the ball and facing the goal. All players, except the goalkeeper, must leave the penalty area until the throw is taken. No player may be within one yard of the thrower. Should the penalty be missed, the ball becomes live and play continues. The penalty throw must be taken outside the 4-yard area.
  7. A penalty throw is also awarded for each five fouls accumulated by a team. These fouls carry over from one half to the next and also into overtime periods.
  8. After a goal is scored the referee will signal the goalkeeper who was scored upon to put the ball back into play. The goalkeeper must put the ball in play within five seconds or lose the ball to the opposing team.  
  9. ALTERNATING POSSESSION ARROW: If the ball is simultaneously possessed by members of opposing teams the ball will be awarded to the team that has the possession arrow. Similar to basketball, the direction of the arrow is set at the initial tip-off to start the match. 
                              INNER TUBE WATER POLO DIAGRAM


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Rule 7: General Rules

  1. The defense may contact the offensive player’s tube if that offensive player has the ball. The ball may be separated from the offensive player by the defensive player either by grabbing the ball away or by tipping the offensive player out of his/her tube.
  2. All field players must be in a sitting position in their tubes.
  3. A drop ball is a ball thrown by the official into the center of the pool to begin play for each period.
  4. The ball may be advanced by a player throwing or carrying the ball. One or both hands may be used at any time.
  5. The ball must remain above the surface of the water at all times during the game.
  6. The goalkeeper may not throw the ball beyond the halfway point of the pool.
  7. The goalkeeper must use his/her tube to stay afloat, however, they are not required to sit directly on top of the tube as specified for the field players. If the goalkeeper comes out of the goal area he/she must sit on top of his/her tube like the field players. If the goalie uses his/her tube to block a shot on goal the goal will automatically be counted. 
  8. The goalkeeper may not hang on the crossbar of the goal.
  9. The goalkeeper may not touch the opposing players and may not tip them from their tubes.
  10. The goalkeeper may not hold the ball for more than five seconds in the goalkeeper area.
  11. The field players may not cross the imaginary 2-yard line at any time during the game (except at the start of each quarter).
  12. On out-of-bounds plays, the ball goes to the team not touching the ball last and at the point of departure from the pool. The player nearest to where the ball goes out takes the toss.
  13. When the ball becomes dead as the result of an out-of-bounds or an infraction, which does not involve a penalty throw, it may be put back in play either after the referee handles the ball, or (if this is impractical because the referee is on the far side of the pool) after a player on defense “checks” the ball and hands it back to the offensive player nearest the point of infraction. After each shot or goal, the ball becomes a “goalie ball” and possession changes to the goalkeeper’s team.
  14. Substitutes may wait in the lane space adjacent to the field of play known as the “substitution zone.” 
  15. Substitutions may be made at half time, during time-outs, or after a goal is scored, and not during actual play. Teams with possession of the ball after a violation may make substitutions. If the team possessing the ball after a violation chooses to substitute, the other team will be allowed to substitute as well.
  16. An offensive player with the ball can protect himself/herself from the defensive player, but he/she may not protect himself/herself by dropping the ball beside his/her tube, which is actually still in his/her possession.
  17. Only the goalkeeper is permitted to be positioned in the goal area. If another defender positions him/herself in the goalkeeper area his/her team shall be issued a warning for first infraction. Upon each additional infraction of this rule a penalty throw that will be awarded for the offended team. 
  18. No one can hinder or maneuver another person’s inner tube, unless that person has possession of the ball. All competitors must use inner tubes and balls provided by Recreational Services.
  19. Tube color will be chosen by the captain who wins the coin toss. The options will be clear or blue.

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Rule 8: Loss of Possession Infractions

  1. Starting before the referee blows his/her whistle at the start or restart of the game.
  2. Pushing off from the sides during actual play.
  3. Holding onto the side of the pool wall while in possession of the ball.
  4. Playing the ball or interfering with play when out of the tube.
  5. Pushing off from, or interfering with, the free limb movement of an opponent unless he/she is holding the ball.
  6. Deliberately splashing water in the face of an opponent.
  7. Holding the ball under the water.
  8. Goalkeeper throwing the ball more than half the length of the pool.
  9. Offensive player within the goalkeeper's area.
  10. Goalkeeper holding the ball more than five seconds or any player holding the ball in the goalkeeper area for five seconds.
  11. Holding, pushing, hitting, jumping on, tackling, dunking, or dumping an opponent player not holding onto the ball.
  12. Goalkeeper holding onto the side of the pool while catching or passing the ball.
  13. Tipping an opponent out of his/her tube immediately after an attempt to disallow the score.
  14. Kicking or attempting to kick the ball in order to propel it.

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