Looking for wet water fun and a way to vent some aggression?
Welcome to the world of Canoe Polo. Popular in Europe and Down Under, this sport is catching on worldwide.
What: Canoe Polo/Kayak Polo
Status: Two teams with minimum of five players per team. Kinda like water polo but in boats!
Where: Any river, lake or swimming pool, that is at least 35 inches deep. You must be able to suspend two goals six feet (2m) above the water line and the playing area is a rectangle shape usually 115 x 66 ft. (35x20m).
Rules and Regulations: Seven minute quarters. No hacking with your paddle within an arm length of other players limbs. You can’t paddle and hold the ball, or touch the goalie’s boat.
Must Haves: Kayak, paddle, ball, and helmet with face mask and life vests. Don’t let all the equipment put you off though, its all essential.
Skill: This is definitely a game for all skill levels, knowing how to paddle is a good start but not crucial. Once you get the paddling sorted, you’re ready to play.
Like Basketball, games tend to be fast paced and exciting as players race from one end of the court to the other in frequent changes of possession. Strategies such as zone defenses, full court presses, fast breaks and half court offenses are typical in Canoe Polo.
Cost: If you’re buying all the equipment then it can get quite expensive. However, the clubs usually play during the week, and then you can pay-to-play. Cost for a night could be anywhere from $5-10 depending on the club.
Best Place: Playing with a local club that puts on a social competition. Get your buds together and make a night of it, you’ll get to meet new people and unless you can roll and are comfortable playing full contact you don’t have to worry about being tipped out. Otherwise if you and your friends have some kayaks lying around, find any ball and have a jam. (A water polo ball is preferential.)
Training: Venting aggression appropriately is a good start. After that the only real training depends on your commitment.
Workout: Awesome workout for your back, shoulders and arms, the upper body work will tone you nicely, just watch out for tan lines from your life vest. If you’re playing in the sun then you are guaranteed a tan. Playing at a higher intensity will sculpt your arms giving more definition. Kayaking is also great for improving your flexibility, once you get past toe cramps!!!
History: Competitive Canoe Polo originated in Britain and Europe about two decades ago from widespread and diverse local versions of the game which were known to be played from as early as the turn of the 19th century. In the U.S., Canoe Polo is a young sport (generally less than 5 years) but many kayaking clubs (especially near larger cities, e.g. Washington, Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle) are playing and the sport is growing fast in this country.
So get out there and give it a go.
Links & Resources
More info on where and how to play check out the Canoe/Kayak Polo Committee.