Innertube Water Polo

OBJECT:  The object of the game is to throw the ball into the opponent's goal.  As a player advances the ball toward the goal, one or more defensive players try to prohibit this advance. 

Methods allowed preventing the advancement of the ball:

A.    Moving in front of an advancing player to inhibit the progress.  (You may inhibit the movement of their innertube by placing your innertube against it, but you may not push or hold onto their innertube with any part of your body.)

B.     Seizing the ball from the player holding it.

C.     Knocking the ball from the hands of the player and causing it to float free.

TIME:  The game consists of four (4) eight-minute quarters.  There will be two (2) minutes between quarters and three (3) minutes at the half.  The game will begin with the flip of a coin.  The winner will receive the ball at their goalie position the first and third quarters.  The other team (goalie) will receive the ball the second and fourth quarters.  Teams exchange goals at the end of the half.  Each team will be allowed two (2) one-minute time-outs (one per half).  Time-outs may be taken during any dead ball or may be called by a player in the pool whose team is in possession of the ball.

In the event of a tie game, there will be no overtime period in regular league play.  Each team will be credited with (1) one point on the block standing sheet.  During playoff games, a tie game will go into Overtime.  Two (2) overtime  periods of three (3) minutes each, with a two (2) minute interval for change of ends.  Games still tied will go to sudden victory.  Teams will flip for possession, no game clock, first team to score wins.

Timing is continuous:  The clock does not stop for a ball out of the pool, a substitution, or a violation.  Time is stopped however, for a penalty shot and does not begin again until the penalty shot is completed and the ball is in the possession of the goal keeper and ready to be put back in play.

TEAMS:  To start a match, each team shall consist of 7 players (in a ratio of 4 to 3 men or women; the odd player must be goalie, thus leaving 3 men and 3 women in the playing area).  EACH team member (including goalie) must sit in his or her innertube at all times.  EXCEPTION:  If necessary, a team may play with 6 players (3M & 3W, either sex may be goalie) or 5 players (2M & 2W, either sex may be goalie). 

CAPS:  Official water polo caps will be supplied by the IM Department.  All participants will be required to wear these caps on their heads, and must be tied on.  Team managers must sign-out caps from the supervisor and return them to an official after the game.  Goalies must wear the red cap for identification purposes as it pertains to goalies privileges. 

INNERTUBES:  The IM Department will provide innertubes for all participants.  Officials will fairly distribute innertubes to both teams.

SCORING Goal (1 point by male or female) - The ball may be thrown at the goal from any point outside of the restraining line.  Points are scored when the ball is thrown fully across the goal-line within the goal points.

After the goal is scored the defending goalkeeper will put the ball into play.  Any ball that falls inside the restraining area shall be retrieved by the goalkeeper and put into play by him/her.  The goalie must release the ball within 10 seconds.  Should the ball be blocked in a goal attempt and bounce back over the restraining line, any player may retrieve it and play it.  Any person scoring a goal must maintain their balance on the innertube until they have released the ball.  It is not a violation if the goalie falls out of his/her innertube after he/she blocks the ball on an attempted goal.  But, if the goalie pushes off the bottom in an attempt to block, or is out of the tube then the goal automatically counts.

PENALTY SHOT--(1 Point) - When a foul is committed, the offended team is given the ball at the restraining line and is permitted, at the referee's whistle, to attempt a goal.  The penalty shot must be taken by the person fouled unless he/she is the opposite sex of the goalie.  (This rule is optional, teams may choose to let player fouled shoot regardless of sex.)  The goalkeeper defends against the throw; however, he/she must give 3 feet in attempting to block the throw.  The ball is not in play until the penalty shot is attempted, at which time the defending goalkeeper will put the ball into play whether the goal is made or missed.  It is considered a violation to fake a Penalty Shot and will result in turning the ball over to the defending goalie.  The person taking the shot must put the ball in throwing position on the official's command "Ball Up" and throw with only forward motion at the signal of the whistle.


To determine whether or not a free throw or penalty shot is awarded, look at the position of the player who is fouled.  If they are in their own offensive end (not dependent on ball position), a penalty shot is awarded.  If in defensive end, a free throw is awarded.


A.  Tipping over a player with or without the ball.

B.  Kicking or striking an opponent or their innertube.  (i.e., offense may not push defense player's hand away;         defense may not reach out and touch offensive player.)

C.  Holding onto innertube (feet, hands, etc.)

D.  Pinning a tube and player to the wall.

E.  Repeatedly wasting time (delaying the game) in the judgment of the officials or supervisor.

F.  Intentionally splashing a player.

G.  Face Guarding:  Blocking opponent’s vision with hands (threatening the eyes).

H.  RED CARD:  Unsportsmanlike or Misconduct:  A penalty shot is awarded to the opposing team and the player is ejected from the game and pool area. 


A yellow card can be issued to a player or team for unsportsmanlike conduct.  Yellow card should serve as a warning and is subject to the officials’ discretion.  Yellow cards will be documented on score sheets.


If a player receives a red card he/she must meet with IM administrator before reinstatement.  If a team is issued a red card that team automatically forfeits game.  Two red cards issued to one player/team during league play will result in suspension for rest of the season.  Suspension may carry over into next season.  All red cards will be documented on score sheets.

Infractions of any fouls will be penalized by the awarding of a penalty shot to a member of the offended team if it occurs in the offended team's offensive half, or free throw if it occurs in their defensive half.  If the fouls are, in judgment of official, intentional delay of game, a penalty shot will be awarded.  Players committing these fouls repeatedly, or in an aggressive manner, may be penalized by ejection from the game.

Any player other than the goalkeeper, freely crossing over the restraining line.  A violation will not be called if the tube crosses the line because another player is forcing it across, as long as the person makes an attempt to return to legal play as soon as possible.

Infractions of any violation will be penalized by the awarding of a Free Throw.

FREE THROW  A free throw, unguarded throw given to the player or team violated against at the point of infraction.  A player has 5 seconds in which to put the ball into play, with all other players being at least 5 feet away.  (If more than 5 seconds elapse, the ball will be turned over to the opponent at the spot.)


A.  Starting play before the referee blows the whistle.

B.  Goalkeeper paddling across or throwing the ball across the center line.  (i.e. other member must control the ball before sending across center line).  The violation should result in a free throw awarded to the opposing team at half court.

C.  Intentionally holding all or part of the ball under water.  NOTE:  This includes pushing the ball on the water for balance in a situation where the player is closely guarded by the defense.

D.  Falling out of the tube before the ball leaves the hand when throwing the ball.

E.  Intentional (delay of game) in the judgment of the officials or supervisor.  (If this occurs repeatedly, an official may call a foul.)

F.  Intentionally keeping the ball covered to prevent the opposing team from gaining possession.  See note on C.

G.  Any player touching the side or bottom of the pool and if by doing so gains any kind of advantage (official's udgment).  However, goalkeeper may push off the side of the pool with one or both hands or feet.

H.  Illegal substitution.

I.  Too many players, or wrong combination of players in the pool.

J.  Untied cap while playing the ball.


A.    If a player freely swims over the line (is not pushed or forced) then it is a violation, whether they are involved in the play or not.

B.     If a defensive player freely swims into the restraining area and a shot is being attempted, it is a delayed call.   *--if the shot is not interfered with and is a goal, play continues, no call is made; if the shot is missed a free throw is awarded to offensive team at center line.

         --if the shot is interfered with, including an attempted block, an automatic goal is awarded.

NOTE:  Interference is a judgment call by the official.  Even when a player is pushed into the restraining area s/he may not attempt to block a shot (effect:  goal).

JUMPING ON TUBES:  A warning will be issued to teams for jumping on the tubes.

BALL OUT-OF-BOUNDS:  A ball thrown or deflected out of the pool will be given to a player of the opposite team at the approximate point where it went out-of-bounds exceptwhen the ball goes out-of-bounds, deflected by the goalie, the ball goes back to the goalie.  In any case, the player given the ball makes a free throw.


A.    Is allowed 10 seconds, from the time they have possession of the ball while sitting in their tube, to throw the ball.

B.     May swim to retrieve the ball as long as the ball is not within an arm's length of the restraining line.

C.     Must remain in or on tube at the time of a shot on goal, may use side of pool to his/her advantage but not the bottom.

SUBSTITUTIONS:  Teams will be seated on their defensive end behind restraining lines, back against the wall, away from the pool edge.  Since time does not stop for substitutions, the player must substitute into the game without interfering with game play and without cause interference of play in progress.

A player may substitute at any time but the substituting player must wait until the player is completely out of the pool before he or she goes in.  The substitute must enter the pool at the place where leaving player exits the pool.  Illegal substitution will result in loss of ball possession.

*TIE BALL:  If two opposing players tie up the ball, the defensive player will receive possession of the ball for a free throw.

JEWELRY:  For your game safety, jewelry should not be worn in IM games.  Safety of game participants is of main concern and IM guidelines discourage any jewelry or apparel that would pose a safety hazard in play.  All valuables should be left at home in a secure place.

SPECTATORS:  Shall be seated in the balcony only.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT:  The referees or supervisor may remove any coach, player or other member of a team from the player's bench or the playing area whenever this conduct interferes with the control of progress of the game.  Should any player refuse to leave the water when so ordered, the game will be stopped and the opposing team declared the winners.  If a player is ejected, they may not return to participate in the game.  Coaches and players ejected from the pool deck must leave pool area including the balcony.  Participants or organizations that are suspended from intramural participation because of violations of the preceding rules will be encouraged to participate in the hearings held to insure protection of their rights.  The hearing will include those participants, officials and supervisors involved in the allegations of the violations.  The intramural staff will hear the allegations, observations and information and make an objective decision to the best of its ability.

MERCY RULE:  If a team is losing by 10 or more goals after 3 quarters the game will end and the score will be recorded on the official score sheet as so.  If both teams are under mutual agreement one more quarter can be played for “fun”.  No score will be recorded and all rules will be enforced.  (i.e.  Red cards will carry into the next regular season games).