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NCAA Rules Interpretations

The rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) are a living document and must be viewed based on the outcome of situations that arise during the course of a season.

To aid in this interpretation, the NCAA Water Polo Rules Subcommittee, Coordinator of Officials and Secretary-Rules Editor periodically release updates on how the rules should be applied during a game.


September 25, 2018 – FAQs on Suits, Caps, National Anthem & Refusal to Play


September 18, 2018 – FAQs w/ Dr. Bob Corb


August 30, 2018 – Physicality/Red-Yellow Cards

The NCAA Water Polo Rules Subcommittee is concerned with the physical play of the game.

To address the discussion regarding whether a bad pass should determine if a call should be made or not, the rules subcommittee has noted that the quality of the pass shall not be the concern of an official. If a bad pass is made, but the player is held, the call should be made. A bad pass should be dealt with by the coach at practice.

NCAA Water Polo Rule 7.10 talks about calling holds when they occur. This means when you see a two-hand hold which restricts the movement of either the offensive or defensive player in the water an offensive foul or exclusion foul should be called. A one-hand or two-hand hold that is not restricting should not be called. If a one-hand hold restricts the movement of the player in the water, the foul should be made.

The new rule for yellow/red card, Rule 3.6.c,was added to give the officials an opportunity to warn a coach a second time before issuing a red card. If used, the coach cannot advance beyond the 2-meter line when on offense and the goal line when on defense, otherwise if the coach leaves the area they will be issued with a red card. However, a red card can be issued without the warning of a yellow/red card if the official sees warranted.


August 30, 2017 – New Instruction to Rule 6-5 and Appendix C Officiating in a Shallow Bottom Pool

Taken together, Rule 6-5-2 and Appendix C proscribe a special set of rules for officiating in a shallow bottom pool. The biggest difference is that if a defensive player uses the bottom to impede an offensive player this action is treated as holding (exclusion) rather than impeding, and this is to be called even if the offensive player is holding the ball. The idea behind this tougher punishment is to have it serve as a deterrent to defenders using the bottom to their advantage. Likewise, if an offensive player uses the bottom to their advantage this should be an offensive foul and a turnover.

The biggest dilemma for an official comes when both the offensive and defensive players are using the bottom. This happens most frequently at the Center Forward position and if not dealt with effectively by the official can lead to increased physicality, frustration and inconsistent application of the rules. Depending on what the referee observes at the Center Forward position, he or she has four options: (1) Defensive exclusion, (2) Offensive turnover, (3) No-Call, (4) Double foul (face-off). However, this instruction clarifies that in the special circumstance where it is clear that both the offensive and defensive players are using the bottom, as soon as the ball is passed into the Center Forward position an ordinary foul should be awarded to the Center Forward. This serves as warning to the offense that the referee is aware that the Center Forward is using the bottom and simultaneously prevents the offense from using the bottom to gain an unearned advantage, while allowing them to maintain possession of the ball. This also serves as a warning to the defense that the referee is aware that the defender is using the bottom and if that action continues and the offensive player does not use the bottom, the defender will be excluded per Rule 6-5-1.

To summarize, in a shallow bottom pool, when the balled is passed to the Center Forward position there are four possible scenarios:

Situation Correct Referee Response
Only the defensive player using the bottom Exclusion foul per Rule 6-5-1
Only the offensive player using the bottom Offensive foul—Turnover
Neither player using the bottom Officiate the play according to rules as written
Both players using the bottom* Ordinary foul awarded to the offense as soon as the ball arrives at the Center Forward Position*

*New Instruction

As always, if you have questions or comments, please direct them to Bob Corb, National Coordinator of Officials. ncaacoordinator@earthlink.net (562) 773-7413.


September 1, 2016 – Clarifications and Instructions to Referees

Periodically throughout both the men’s and women’s water polo seasons the national coordinator of officials will distribute clarifications and instructions to referees to aid in their ability to apply the rules as written. Based on input and feedback from the recent referee school, here’s the first of those clarifications and instructions to referees. The rule under consideration is in italics with the relevant section in bold, followed by the Clarification and Instruction.

*********Rule 2-1-3. If a player has three personal fouls but was not visibly red-flagged by the exclusion

secretary, the player shall be removed from the water as soon as the error is discovered.

Do not reset the game clock, keeping all goals scored and fouls assessed during this period of time as recorded. The player with three personal fouls is replaced with a substitute and play continues from that point.

This same rule will also be applied to the opposite error (if the desk signaled that a player had three fouls when the player actually had only two and the player was removed from the game at that time).

In all other cases if a desk error is not involved and a player who is not entitled under the rules to participate enters the field of play, a penalty foul is awarded and the game clock is not reset (see Rule 8-6).

Clarification: The portion in bold above is what has changed in the new Rulebook. Beginning in 2016, water polo will no longer go back in time and replay parts of a game. Correctable errors must be addressed when they occur (Rule 3-11), protests must be filed immediately (Rule 3-12), and Rule 4-5 has become moot.

Instruction: Since this represents a significant change in the way that water polo has done things in the past, referees are instructed to remind the visiting team that per Rule 3-2, the visiting team is allowed to have a minimum of one observer at the score table and a maximum of three observers depending on space available. It is highly recommended that the visiting team have a competent individual at the score table with a scorebook so that the official scorebook provided by the home team can be compared to what the visitor’s scorebook shows. The process of comparing the scorebooks should be supervised by the referee at every opportunity (timeouts, breaks between periods, etc) to avoid the situation described in this rule.

Rule 2-4-2: Only a single visible manufacturer’s logo/trademark/reference, not to exceed 21⁄4 square inches in area, and may have team identification.

Clarification: A recent NCAA memo dated 8/29/16 and entitled “Uniform Numbers, Colors and Messaging,” included a list of items that could be placed on a swimsuit. The list should have included the item in bold referenced in the rule above.

Instruction: None.                                

Rule 6-9: (new interpretation dated 8/23/16)

An illegal pick would be a violation of Rule 6-9. Guidelines for legal picks include:

  1. Offensive players may not extend their arms outside their shoulder width, nor use their hands, to set the pick.
  2. When setting a non-swimming or stationary pick, offensive players must be set before making contact with the defender.
  • Once players setting a swimming pick make contact with their opponents, they must keep swimming, or they must follow the guidelines above for a non-swimming pick.
  1. Ducking under by the offensive player is impeding.

Clarification: This interpretation was intended to clarify how the Rules Subcommittee wants Rule 6-9 to be applied when the offensive team sets a pick, screen, or block anywhere in the pool. More clarification can be found in the following module on the ADVANTAGE website.

https://www.brainshark.com/arbitersports/16WPPicksModule

Instruction: Referees are instructed to apply the rules as written in this new interpretation, applying the advantage rule and being vigilant about player safety issues.

Rule 7-13-6: If a player receives a second minor act of misconduct in the same game, the player will be excluded for the remainder of the game.

Clarification: Two MAMs to the same player in one game results in exclusion for the remainder of the game but is not the same as Misconduct, and does not need to be reported. This is similar to the situation when an excluded player gets out of the pool and walks to the exclusion area. The player is excluded for the remainder of the game but this is not treated as Misconduct.

 

Instruction: Referees should instruct the scorekeeper before the game to keep track of any MAMs that are issued and if a player receives a second MAM the score table should raise the red flag to alert the referees and the coach that this player is longer eligible to play this game.

Rule 7-10: To use two hands to hold an opponent anywhere in the field of play.

Clarification: At several of the school sites a question was raised about whether this rule applies to a player who is holding the ball. The answer is no; a player who is holding the ball may be held with two hands. To hold, sink, or pull back a player who is not holding the ball is an exclusion (Rule 7-9), but if a player is holding the ball, it is not a foul for the defender to hold the offensive player with one or two hands.

Instruction: If the defender’s actions create a player safety issue, Rule 7-11 (Kicking or Striking) or Rule 7-12 (Misconduct) should be applied.

Questions or comments on clarification and instructions to referees should be addressed to Bob

Corb, National Coordinator of Officials, ncaacoordinator@earthlink.net (562) 773-7413

Rules questions and interpretations should be addressed to Brian Streeter, Secretary Rules Editor, bfs6@psu.edu (814) 898-6379 (O)


August 29, 2016 – Uniform Numbers, Colors and Messaging: Frequently Asked Questions Water Polo 

  1. What words, logos and symbols are allowed on the swimsuit and cap?

Other than the uniform number (on the cap), here are the only items allowed by rule on the swimsuit and cap (Rule 1-21-c and Rule 2-4):

Words permitted on the cap

  •  School name

Logos permitted on the swim suit

  • School 

  • Mascot 

  • Memorial 

  • Manufacturer’s Logo 


Logos permitted on the cap

  • School 

  • Mascot 

  • Manufacturer’s Logo 


2.What size restrictions are there for these? 
Any of these items on the swimsuit and cap may not cover an area larger than 2 1⁄4 square inches (Rule 1-21, Rule 2-4-2).

3. Are any words other than the school’s name allowed on the cap? 
No, the rules do not permit any other words to be placed on the cap. 


4. May the swimsuit contain any other words, slogans, messaging, etc.? 
No, the swimsuit is restricted to the items listed above. 


5. Are words allowed on wristbands and other attachments? 
The rules do not specifically address the use of wristbands or other attachments, however, items likely to cause injury must be removed (e.g., watches, jewelry). (Rule 2-4)

6. What about messaging for causes, organizations, etc.? 
The rules do not specifically address words or symbols that reference charitable causes, political candidates or political issues, social media, religious or club affiliation, etc. 


7. How does the unsportsmanlike acts rule apply?If the actions of a head coach, assistant coach, other team officials on the bench, individual players on the bench or in the water are disruptive, the referee may issue a 
yellow or red card at any time from 30 minutes before the game to five minutes after the conclusion of the game (Rule 3-6-3).

  1. What are the rules about cap colors for opposing teams?

By rule, all field players and goalkeepers must meet the same swimsuit standard (Rule 2- 4-1). The cap of the visiting team shall be solid white, but may have the listed logos on the middle panel (Rule 1-21-a).

  1. What are the rules about the contrast of caps and numbers?

If a team’s caps do not meet specifications in the rules book regarding the cap color, the team will be required to change caps unless there is mutual agreement of both teams that the game will be played with nonconforming caps and with the agreement of the referees that the cap numbers are clearly visible. Otherwise, the game will be declared a forfeit and the incident reported to the conference commissioner(s) as defined in Rule 3-13-1b (Rule 2-26).

  1. What is the penalty for wearing a cap that does not contrast?

If the teams do not agree to play using nonconforming caps with the agreement of the referees, the game will be declared a forfeit and the incident will be reported to the conference commissioner(s) as defined in 3-13-1b (Rule 2-26).

  1. What is the purpose of the rules regarding numbering and visibility?

The rules for contrasting numbers and visibility are intended to provide clearly visible numbers for the stakeholders: coaches, fans, media, television audience, etc. This means that the numbers should be clearly visible at a distance under a variety of weather and lighting conditions.

  1. What is the rule regarding refusal to play?

A game may be declared a forfeit:

  1. If a team is not ready to start the game within 30 minutes of the announced starting 
time, unless there is mutual consent between the competing institutions to wait an 
additional period of time or to reschedule; 

  2. When a team fails to comply with the water polo rules after the pregame meeting; or 

  3. When a team decides for any reason not to start or complete the game. (Rule 3-13- 
1) 


Water Polo Secretary-Rules Editor Brian Streeter
814-392-7995 Bfs6@psu.edu


August 23, 2016 – Water Polo Rules Interpretations 

Rule 6-9 – Picks

An illegal pick would be a violation of Rule 6-9. Guidelines for legal picks include:

  • Offensive players may not extend their arms outside their shoulder width, nor use their 
hands, to set the pick. 

  1. When setting a non-swimming or stationary pick, offensive players must be set before 
making contact with the defender. 

  • Once players setting a swimming pick make contact with their opponents, they must keep 
swimming, or they must follow the guidelines above for a non-swimming pick. 

    1. Ducking under by the offensive player is impeding. 


February 22, 2016 – Instructions to Referees

Recently there have been a number of officials and coaches asking for additional clarification regarding two situations: (1) The timing and procedure for replacing a cap (Rule 4-1); and (2) The correct application of Rule 20-6, Ball Under. Below you will find first the rule as written, and then in bold the new Instruction to Referees. Within a week there will also be video clips to illustrate what is and is not considered ball under. As always, if you have questions please contact:

Bob Corb
National Coordinator of Officials (NCO) ncaacoordinator@earthlink.net
(562) 773-7413

Brian Streeter
Secretary Rules Editor (SRE). bfs6@psu.edu
(814) 898-6379

Rule 4-1 Caps

Caps shall be worn throughout the entire game by all players on the bench and in the water, including any player on the bench who is no longer entitled to play. Caps shall be fastened under the chin. If a player loses the cap during play, the player shall replace it at the next appropriate stoppage of the game when the player’s team is in possession of the ball. At all times the referee should apply the advantage rule (Rule 7-3) in determining when to stop play.

Instructions to referees: It is expected that the process of replacing the cap will be handled quickly by the team affected. If the cap is broken or cannot be located immediately the referee may suggest that the coach use a replacement cap (if available) or use a cap with a different number in order to continue the game in a timely manner. If the player in the water will be wearing a different number the referee must notify the score table and the coach of the opposing team of the change in cap number. If the team is in possession of the ball, the coach may also call time-out and substitute the player. If in the referee’s judgment either the player in the water and/or the coach are intentionally delaying the game, the referee has several options: (1) a verbal warning may be given to the coach; (2) a yellow card may be given to the player in the water or to the head coach; (3) if the problem persists a MAM may be issued to the offending player in the water.

Rule 20-6. Ball under

Referees and coaches are reminded that Rule 20-6 specifies two very different situations where this foul may be called. The first is:

To take or hold the entire ball under the water when tackled. The foul of taking the ball under when tackled refers to taking or holding the ball under water when, through bodily contact, the player in possession of the ball is forced to take the ball under against that player’s will or purposely takes the ball under and there is contact by the defender on the shoulder or arm or hand holding the ball.(snip) It makes no difference that the ball goes under the water against that player’s will. What is important is that the foul is awarded against the player who was in contact with the ball at the moment it was taken under the water.

Instructions to referees: (1) The hand in contact with ball is considered part of the ball and must be entirely underwater in order to award the foul. (2) Referees should be patient in whistling this foul to be sure the ball and the hand are entirely underwater, and to be sure of which player’s hand is

actually in contact with the ball. As a suggested guideline, if the ball is completely underwater long enough for the referee to say, “That’s ball under.” whistling the foul is appropriate.

The second situation is:

…if the goalkeeper emerges high out of the water to save a shot and then while falling back takes the ball under the water, the goalkeeper has committed no offense; but if the goalkeeper then holds the ball under the water when challenged by an opponent, the goalkeeper will have committed an infringement of this rule and if the goalkeeper’s actions prevented a probable goal, a penalty throw must be awarded under Rule 22-2.

Interpretation: “Challenged” refers to the situation where the goalkeeper takes the ball under water if the opponent goes after, chases, approaches, etc, the goalkeeper. This also applies to other field players in addition to the goalkeeper. A player cannot take the ball under to keep an opponent from getting the ball.

Instructions to referees: (1) The last sentence in the previous Interpretation is critical; a player who takes the ball under when challenged to prevent an opponent from getting the ball has committed a foul. (2) Patience is once again required so that the referee can be certain that the entire ball is under water and whose hand is in contact with the ball at that moment. (3) In this situation the referee must determine whether the act of taking the ball under by one player prevented that player’s opponent from getting the ball, regardless of how long the ball was under water. If in the referee’s judgment this action prevents a probable goal a penalty throw must be awarded under Rule 22-2. This applies to a field player as well as the goalkeeper.


September 9, 2015 – Rule 21-13 Minor Acts of Misconduct Updated Rule Language 

Rule 21-13 Minor Acts of Misconduct


SECTION 13. An exclusion foul with a 20-second period of exclusion will be awarded for minor acts of misconduct (MAM) that are not sufficient to warrant exclusion for the remainder of the game. Examples of this type of exclusion foul include a player directing minor comments to a referee, such as “Call the foul,” or “Where is the push-off?” or “He’s inside the two,” or making minor gestures to the referee or making minor comments (minor taunting) or gestures or minor shoving of a member of the opposing team.
If a player of either team commits a minor act of misconduct during play, the player is excluded for 20 seconds, or until the earliest occurrence of one of the events referred to in Rule 21-3, and the ball awarded to the offended team and play restarted with a free throw at the spot of the foul.
If a player of either team commits a minor act of misconduct during interval time (the time between periods, during a timeout, before the restart after a goal, or before a penalty throw is taken) no matter which team committed the foul, the player shall be excluded from the game for 20 seconds with immediate substitution, the teams start even up:

If the minor act of misconduct occurs during the interval between periods, the game restarts even up with a sprint;
If the minor act of misconduct occurs during a timeout, the game starts even up with a free throw by the team in possession of the ball at the conclusion of the timeout;

Note: The shot clock is not reset if misconduct occurs during a timeout.

If the minor act of misconduct occurs after a goal, the game starts even up with a free throw by the team that was defending before the goal was scored at half as after a goal; or
If the minor act of misconduct occurs before a penalty throw is taken, the game starts even up with the taking of the penalty throw.

If the player commits a minor act of misconduct on the way out after committing a third personal foul

that is an exclusion foul, a penalty foul is awarded The substitute may not enter until after the earliest occurrence of an event referred to in Rule 21-3.
If the player commits a minor act of misconduct immediately after committing a third personal foul that is a penalty foul, an additional penalty foul is awarded The substitute enters immediately before the first penalty throw is taken The first penalty throw is a dead-time penalty throw, the second one is a live-time penalty throw.


September 3, 2015 – 2015-2016 Season Playing Rules Reminders

As we head into the men’s water polo season, please be reminded of two rules changes made by the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Rules Subcommittee at their annual meeting in January.

  • Rule 21-13 – Minor Acts of Misconduct (MAM). The second paragraph of this rule was deleted, which now allows referees to call a MAM at any time intead of only during live time. 

  1. Rule 1-3 (new) – Lighting. The field of play should be uniformly and adequately lighted. It is the responsibility of the host institution to ensure that this requirement is met. If at any time in the referee’s judgment the field of play is not uniformly and adequately lighted, the game may be stopped per Rule 7-6. 


In addition, coaches are reminded to register on the ADVANTAGE website to view a wealth of information related to water polo officiating. Registration is free for all coaches and provides access to important rules and officiating information, updates and videos for the 2015-16 men’s and women’s seasons.

If you have any questions about either of these rules, please contact Brian Streeter at bfs6@psu.edu.


January 8, 2015 – Awarding a Penalty Shot per Rule 22-2

In recent discussions between members of the NEG and the referees they are evaluating, it has become clear that the decision about whether or not to award a penalty shot per Rule 22–2 varies significantly between officials. The intent of this document is to clarify what the NCAA Water Polo Rules Subcommittee expects in the application of this rule.

Rule 22-2 states: “For a defending player to commit any foul within the 5-meter area but for which a goal probably would have resulted.” As with every rule in the rule book, this is a judgment call by the referee and the better referees will have a process by which they make this decision. This process involves a number of questions the referee must ask and answer in order to arrive at the correct decision:

(1) Did the action under consideration take place within the 5-meter area? The answer to this question is determined by the head position of the offensive player. If the offensive player’s head is anywhere inside the 5-meter area the answer to this question is yes and question #2 becomes relevant. If the offensive player’s head is outside the 5-meter area the referee cannot award a penalty but should be patient and fully apply the Advantage rule (7-3) before calling an exclusion.

(2) Did the defending player commit any foul? If the offensive player is clearly holding the ball then unless the defending player’s actions involve Pulling the Goal Over (Rule 21-5), Splashing (Rule 21-7), or rise to the level of Misconduct (Rule 21-12) or Flagrant Misconduct (Rule 21-14) no call is appropriate. If the offensive player is in control of, but not holding, the ball the defending player may commit a number of fouls including, Impeding (Rule 20-9), Holding, Sinking, or Pulling Back (Rule 21-9), or Use of Two Hands (Rule 21-10), which could result in the awarding of a penalty throw depending on the answers to question #3.

(3) if not for the foul inside the 5-meter area, would a goal probably have resulted? This of course is the crux of the question for the referee. Here are some FAQs (with comments from the NEG) for the referee to consider when deciding whether a probable goal has been prevented by the actions of the offensive and defensive players:

(a) Must the offensive player be directly facing the goal with the defender directly behind him/her? This is probably the easiest situation for the referee to make a decision. If the offensive player is directly facing the goal and in control,of (but not holding) the ball, this is a probable goal situation and if the defender commits a foul, a penalty throw is absolutely within the Range of Acceptable Calls. (RAC). The better referee will be patient and fully apply the Advantage rule to see if the offensive player can score the goal, making a no-call within the RAC as well. In this situation, an exclusion foul would not be considered within the RAC.

(b) Can the offensive player be 90-180 degrees facing the cage with the defender on his/her back? If the offensive player is in control of the ball and working to improve his or her positional advantage (i.e., trying to turn to face the cage or create separation in order to shoot the ball) and the defender commits a foul, the referee has several options. Being patient and fully applying the Advantage rule to allow the offensive player to “finish” might result in a no call and an exciting scoring opportunity. But if the offensive player can’t finish as a result of a defensive foul a penalty is certainly within the RAC. An exclusion may actually advantage the defense rather than the offense, perhaps turning a probable goal situation into a 6-5 opportunity.

(c) What kind of position must the defender have to “avoid” the penalty being called? A defensive player who has given up positional advantage must clearly demonstrate that they are not fouling or run the risk of having the referee whistle a penalty. Having both hands clearly out of the water and not leaning on the offensive player with the upper body or using the legs to hold, demonstrates to the referee that the defensive player is trying not to foul and allow the offensive player to try to finish. If the defender’s teammates “drop” or “crash” to help, the defender still must clearly demonstrate that they are not fouling and thus preventing a probable goal.

(d) Is the offensive player in control of or trying to establish control of the ball? An offensive player who is holding the ball is clearly in control of the ball. An offensive player working to gain control of the ball in order to shoot must be given

that opportunity. Fully applying the Advantage rule would mean a no-call is clearly within the RAC. If the offensive player gains control but is not holding the ball, and the defender commits a foul to prevent the scoring opportunity, the penalty is within the RAC. If the offensive player loses control of the ball and it is stolen without a foul by the defensive team, a no-call is within the RAC.

In conclusion, current NCAA rules are designed to promote good offense while providing guidelines for the defense and clear consequences for a defender who commits a foul to break up an offensive advantage. The message is clear: if the presentation of the offensive player is one of trying to finish and score the goal, the referee should have the confidence and patience to allow the situation to play itself out. If the presentation of the defensive player is one of being under control and competing within the rules, then again the referee should have the confidence and patience to allow the situation to play itself out. If the presentation of the defensive player looks out of control or is overly physical, the referee must step in and make correct call. The penalty shot is intended to restore a lost goal scoring opportunity as a result of a foul. Advantage goes to the offense, so long as they attempt to play offense.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Dr. Bob Corb, National Coordinator of Officials: ncaacoordinator@earthlink.net or (562) 216-3328.


September 5, 2014 – Playing Rules Clarifications and Interpretations

In advance of the start of the first season in the new two-year rules book cycle and during a Subcommittee teleconference on September 3, 2014, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Rules Subcommittee discussed the following clarifications and interpretations to the 2014-15 and 2015-16 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Rules Book.

  • Point of Emphasis #1 – Collaboration Between Referees: When the ball is on the 4/5 side outside 5m, referees must demonstrate good collaboration to ensure that the attack referee is responsible for the center forward position and the goal line, and the perimeter referee is responsible for watching the ball and the 5m line. 

  1. Rule 7-9 – Correctable Errors: Poor referee mechanics are not considered misapplications of the rules, and therefore are not subject to protest. In some situations, poor mechanics may be correctable per Rule 7-2 (Altering Decision). 

  • Rule 7-10 – Protest: The intent of the change made to this rule is to require a coach to file his or her protest very soon after the incident occurs instead of waiting and perhaps having to replay long portions of a game. Coaches must notify a referee at an appropriate stoppage in play and, unless there is a designated tournament committee that can make an immediate ruling, the referees must make a prompt decision about the legitimacy of the protest. Both the coach’s protest and the referees’ response must be documented and become part of the official record of the game. Coaches and referees are reminded that Rule 7-4 allows, at appropriate times, for the captain or the head coach to discuss a possible misapplication of the rules or other correctable error without the head coach making a formal protest. Rule 7-2 allows a referee to alter a decision provided it is done before the ball is put back into play.
  • Rule 12-6 – Timeout Called When Neither Team Has Possession: Possession includes physically controlling the ball, holding the ball, or the referee’s whistle indicating one team has been awarded the ball. Possession does not include when the ball is in the air on a pass or shot, nor does it include being closest to or merely touching the ball without physically controlling or holding the ball. 

  • Rule 20–9 – Impeding: Although nowhere in the rules book are “picks” discussed, the Subcommittee is aware of the need for clarification of what is and is not permissible by the offense when “setting a pick.” An illegal pick would be in violation of Rule 20-9, “To impede or otherwise prevent the free movement of an opponent…” Some guidelines for “legal” picks include:
    • Moving picks where both offensive players are swimming; once contact is made with the defense they must keep swimming. 

    • The only non-swimming picks allowed are when the offensive player is set with his or her back to the defender. 

    • Offensive players setting a pick may not use their arms outside their shoulder width. 

    • At no time may an offensive player use his or her hands to set a pick. 

  • Rule 21-5-c – Interference With a Throw: The intent of this rule was to provide the player with the free-throw space to put the ball in play without interference. If, after committing a foul, the defending player fails to move back before putting a hand up, he or she may be excluded for interference with the throw. Referees are reminded that in order to fully apply Rule 7-3 (“Advantage”), they must be patient and determine whether the defender’s action truly interfered with the offensive player’s ability to execute their free throw. For example, if the defender raises a hand before moving away on a foul outside 5m, and the resultant direct shot scores, no exclusion should be called. Similarly, if the offensive player executes a pass to an open teammate, withholding the whistle would be appropriate. 

  • Rule 21-10 – Use of Two Hands to Hold: The Subcommittee added this rule, verbatim from FINA, with the understanding that it is intended to strengthen Rule 21-9 (“Holding, Sinking, or Pulling Back”), anywhere in the pool, but especially on the perimeter. Anytime a player uses two hands he or she is by definition not playing the ball, and if a defender takes away an advantage using two hands, this must be an exclusion. Likewise, if an offensive player gains an advantage using two hands, this is an offensive foul (turnover). Although Point of Emphasis #2 refers to the expectation of a higher level of physicality at the Center Forward position, Rule 21-10 still applies, subject to Rule 7-3 (“Advantage”).

Administrators and coaches are encouraged to register on the new NCAA Water Polo Officiating Advantage website for more information related to water polo officiating, including a new 45- minute rules video with over twenty video clips highlighting the new rules.

As always if you have any questions or need for interpretation, please feel free to contact me directly at bfs6@psu.edu or 814/392-7995.


 

March 10, 2013 – 2012/2014 NCAA Casebook

Rule 5-4: Is the use of soft headgear permitted for concussion prevention if the appropriate release form (Appendix F) is completed? (1/22/13)

The statement below is from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports on the subject of helmets/soft headgear. Soft headgear includes concussion headbands/devices. Based on this statement from the NCAA, the use of helmets/soft headgear for concussion prevention is not permissible, and waivers may not be granted for this purpose.

All equipment worn by an athlete must comply with the applicable rule. This includes Rule 4 (Caps) and Rule 5-4 (Apparel–items likely to cause injury). Any item worn underneath the water polo cap must be in compliance with Rule 4 and as such would not be considered an item likely to cause injury. Exceptions to Rule 5-4 may be granted but a completed release form (Appendix F) must be available for presentation to the referees prior to any game in which the athlete wishes to participate. As stated above, the use of helmets/soft headgear (worn outside the hat) for concussion prevention is not permissible, and waivers may not be granted for this purpose. The NCAA will continue to monitor developments in this area and will consider adjustments to its position should valid scientific evidence arise.

Soft Headgear in Non-Helmeted Sports.

The NCAA does not view the use of soft headgear products as equipment for the prevention of concussion in non-helmeted sports. As explained below, soft headgear products may be worn in non-helmeted sports whose rules allow for such optional equipment, but the purpose of that equipment should be for reasons other than concussion prevention. In non-helmeted sports requiring a medical waiver for the use of such optional equipment, use of soft headgear as a condition to be medically cleared to play sports is ineffective. Therefore, the NCAA will not provide medical waivers for the use of soft headgear for the prevention of concussion in order to be medically cleared to play sports. It should be noted that there is no helmet which can prevent a concussion. There continues to be a need for valid scientific evidence that the use of such products decreases the incidence of concussion.

Concussion is a brain injury. It is important to note that there is a lack of clinical evidence supporting the value of the soft or padded headgear in the prevention of sports-related concussions. The NCAA recommends caution in utilizing these devices to permit medical clearance of a student-athlete if they would otherwise not be medically cleared to participate in their sport. Currently, wearing such headgear is not medically necessary to prevent concussions in order to play; however, this equipment may be used to cover lacerations and sutures as they are deemed appropriate within the sport’s playing rules.

Current design and recommended use of these devices fail to address the proposed mechanism of concussive injury, that being rotational acceleration and deceleration forces acting on the brain. Institutions should refer to equipment standards from NOCSAE, ASTM, HECC, and CPSC when considering protective equipment for student-athletes and ensure the equipment is used for mitigating the risk of injuries for which they are designed.

When considering the use of this optional equipment during practice or permitted competition, athletes and coaches should take the time to read the qualifying statements provided with such a product addressing its limitations, particularly to prevent serious head injuries. Wearing such a device may provide a false sense of security in the area of concussion protection by the player, their coaches and their parents. In addition, placing headgear on a student-athlete may indirectly justify striking them in the head by opponents, especially in sports where this has never been the intent (e.g., soccer, basketball, women’s lacrosse, etc).

Moreover, a false sense of security in the area of concussion protection increases the likelihood that players, coaches, and parents will consider the medical condition to be adequately addressed and may place less importance upon avoiding head impact, reporting concussion symptoms, and returning to play prior to full recovery following a concussion.

The NCAA will continue to monitor developments in this area and will consider adjustments to its position should valid scientific evidence arise.

David Klossner
NCAA Director of Health & Safety

dklossner@ncaa.org

*Rule 7-9 (Note 1): If the buzzer sounds after the referee blows his whistle should this be considered a correctable error that must be addressed by the referee? (9/15/12)
The whistle stops play. If the buzzer signifying the end of the 30/35 second possession clock or the end of a period sounds immediately after the referee whistles a foul, the referee administering the free throw must determine whether there was a clock operator error (failure to stop the clock in a timely manner) or if the clock was operated correctly and the buzzer sounded after the whistle due to normal human reaction time. The former is a correctable error, the latter is not.

*Rules 7-10 Protests and 7-9 Correctable Errors: What guidelines should referees and/or tournament committees use in ruling on a protest lodged either during or at the conclusion of a game? (9/15/12)
These two rules go hand-in-hand, and provide the framework for handling all protests. Rule 7-10 states that a coach may protest a misapplication of the rules or other correctable error, but not judgment calls by the referee. Whenever possible, coaches are encouraged to file their protest at the time of the alleged misapplication of the rules or other correctable error, but they have until five minutes after the conclusion of the game to file the protest. In tournament play the tournament committee shall adjudicate any protests that occur. In the absence of a tournament committee the referees in charge of the game must adjudicate the protest at the time it occurs.

Rule 7-9 provides some direction as to how correctable errors should be handled by the referees and/or the tournament committee when a protest is filed for a misapplication of the rules or other correctable error. Included are the following statements, “No team shall gain an advantage over an opponent because of this type of error.” and “… the referees must determine to the best of their ability which error(s) shall be corrected in interest of fairness.”

In creating an opportunity for coaches to protest misapplications of the rules and other correctable errors, it was the intent of the rules subcommittee that there is a mechanism by which these types of mistakes could be corrected when they created an unearned advantage for either team. In any valid protest situation (i.e., misapplication of the rules or other correctable error), the first question that should be asked is, was an unearned advantage gained by either team? If the answer to that question is no, then the protest should be denied immediately. If the answer to the first question is yes, then the next question would be, is the team that was put at a disadvantage by the mistake seeking a remedy? Again, if the answer to this question is no, then the protest should be denied immediately. The only time that a protest should be upheld, and any portion of a game replayed, would be when the team that was disadvantaged by the mistake is seeking a remedy for the error. At no time should the offended team be disadvantaged by correction of an error or the upholding of a protest.

The takeaway message here is twofold: (1) Not every correctable error needs to be corrected in order to obtain a fair result in a particular game. (2) When a protest is upheld, the referees and/or the tournament committee must decide how best to neutralize the unearned advantage of one team caused by the correctable error, without creating a disadvantage to the offended team, in order to bring the game to a proper conclusion.

Rule 14-3-d (Note 2): What is the correct signal of the referee to indicate that the player with a free throw was fouled outside the 5m line and is therefore eligible to shoot a direct shot on goal? (9/15/12)

The referee administering the free throw should point to the 5m marker on the deck, arm diagonal to the body.

Rule 14-3-d (Note 3): If an offensive foul is called on a player outside 5m but the ball is inside 5m, may the team with the free throw move the ball back to or behind the line of the foul in order to be eligible to take a direct shot on goal? (9/15/12)

This note does not apply to a free throw awarded for an offensive foul; the free throw for an offensive foul shall be taken from the spot (location) of the ball when the foul is called (see Rule 19-1-c)

Rule 16-1-b (Goal Throws) Improperly taken shots on goal should be treated like any other contra foul (free throw at spot of ball) instead of goal throw as currently stated. (1/22/13)

This rule describes four situations where a goal throw shall be awarded to the defensive team after the team on offense takes a shot on goal when not permitted. Although not described as an offensive foul, the Rules Sub-Committee has clarified that the four situations described in this rule should be treated in the same manner as any other offensive foul; that is, the resultant free throw should be taken at the spot of ball when the defending team takes possession of the ball (as opposed to going back to the goalkeeper for a goal throw).

As with any other offensive foul, if the foul is awarded outside 5m and the free throw is taken outside 5m, the player taking the free throw is eligible to shoot a direct free shot.

One exception to this interpretation is when a shot on goal is taken improperly and goes out of the field of play. In this situation the ball will normally be thrown by someone on the bench to the goalkeeper or another field player at the 2M line who will then take the goal throw. If the ball leaves the field of play and then rebounds back into the field of play, the ball must still go back to the 2m area where the free throw is taken. Consistent with Rule 14-3-h (2nd Note), free throws taken in this situation may be shot at the opposing goal except if the ball leaves the field of play over the sideline.

Rule 19-1-c: Where is the free throw taken if the ball is in the air when the whistle is blown for an offensive foul? (9/15/12)

If the ball is in the air when an offensive foul is called, the “spot of the ball when the foul is called” shall be considered to be the location where the team awarded the free throw takes possession of the ball, except if the ball is inside the 2m area the free throw shall be taken on the 2 m line.

Rule 20-6: is it always a change of possession and a new shot clock when the referee blows the whistle and indicates “ball under?” (1/31/13)

Rule 20-6 is quite clear, it is a foul, “To take or hold the entire ball under the water when tackled.” Therefore if the referee indicates “ball under” this is an ordinary foul resulting in a change of possession and a new shot clock. This means that the interpretation on p. 36, Rule 9-2-c is obsolete, and if the referee indicates ball under there should be a change of possession and a new shot clock.

Rule 20-11: When should a referee call an offensive player for being inside the 2m line? (1/31/13)

It is a foul “to be within 2 meters of the opponent’s goal, except when behind the line of the ball.” An interpretation states, “Referees should not penalize an attacking player who momentarily enters the 2-meter area without interfering with the play. If the player continues to stay there, the player is affecting play by his/her very presence as that player is forcing a change in how or where the defense plays, and the foul should be called.”

An offensive player who attempts to swim from one deep wing position to the other side, and does so by being inside the 2 meter area, is in violation of Rule 20-11 and the offensive foul should be called.

Rule 21-10 (Misconduct): Are all fouls committed during “interval time” to be considered Misconduct? (1/22/13)

This rule describes the penalty for player behavior including, “…the use of obscene, abusive, or threatening language or gestures, persistent foul play, or overaggressive fouls, or to refuse obedience to or show disrespect for a referee or official.” The foul of Misconduct may be enforced during interval time or during play. Interval time is defined as, “the time between periods, during a timeout, before the restart after a goal, or before a penalty throw is taken.”

It is important to note that not all fouls listed under Rule 21 (Exclusion Fouls), when penalized during interval time, are automatically considered Misconduct. Rule 21-10 describes specific player behavior that shall be punished by exclusion for the remainder of the game. During interval time a player may commit a foul under Rule 21 which is not considered Misconduct.


January 31, 2013 Rules Interpretations

FROM:  Bob Corb, National Coordinator of Officials; NCAA Men’s and Women’s Water Polo Rules Subcommittee.

SUBJECT:  Soft Headgear Interpretation.

Since the beginning of the women’s season, several questions have been brought up regarding the wearing of soft headgear for concussion prevention.  Please see the interpretation below regarding these types of headgear, and the official statement from the NCAA on soft headgear in non-helmeted sports.

Rule 5-4:  Is the use of soft headgear permitted for concussion prevention if the appropriate relates form (Appendix F) is completed?

The statement below is from the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports on the subject of helmets/soft headgear. Soft headgear includes concussion headbands/devices. Based on this statement from the NCAA, the use of helmets/soft headgear for concussion prevention is not permissible, and waivers may not be granted for this purpose.

All equipment worn by an athlete must comply with the applicable rule. This includes Rule 4 (Caps) and Rule 5-4 (Apparel–items likely to cause injury). Any item worn underneath the water polo cap must be in compliance with Rule 4. Exceptions to Rule 5-4 may be granted but a completed release form (Appendix F) must be available for presentation to the referees prior to any game in which the athlete wishes to participate. As stated above, the use of helmets/soft headgear for concussion prevention is not permissible, and waivers may not be granted for this purpose.  The NCAA will continue to monitor developments in this area and will consider adjustments to its position should valid scientific evidence arise.

Soft Headgear in Non-Helmeted Sports.

The NCAA does not view the use of soft headgear products as equipment for the prevention of concussion in non-helmeted sports. As explained below, soft headgear products may be worn in non-helmeted sports whose rules allow for such optional equipment, but the purpose of that equipment should be for reasons other than concussion prevention. In non-helmeted sports requiring a medical waiver for the use of such optional equipment, use of soft headgear as a condition to be medically cleared to play sports is ineffective. Therefore, the NCAA will not provide medical waivers for the use of soft headgear for the prevention of concussion in order to be medically cleared to play sports. It should be noted that there is no helmet which can prevent a concussion. There continues to be a need for valid scientific evidence that the use of such products decreases the incidence of concussion.

Concussion is a brain injury. It is important to note that there is a lack of clinical evidence supporting the value of the soft or padded headgear in the prevention of sports-related concussions. The NCAA recommends caution in utilizing these devices to permit medical clearance of a student-athlete if they would otherwise not be medically cleared to participate in their sport. Currently, wearing such headgear is not medically necessary to prevent concussions in order to play; however, this equipment may be used to cover lacerations and sutures as they are deemed appropriate within the sport’s playing rules.

Current design and recommended use of these devices fail to address the proposed mechanism of concussive injury, that being rotational acceleration and deceleration forces acting on the brain. Institutions should refer to equipment standards from NOCSAE, ASTM, HECC, and CPSC when considering protective equipment for student-athletes and ensure the equipment is used for mitigating the risk of injuries for which they are designed.

When considering the use of this optional equipment during practice or permitted competition, athletes and coaches should take the time to read the qualifying statements provided with such a product addressing its limitations, particularly to prevent serious head injuries. Wearing such a device may provide a false sense of security in the area of concussion protection by the player, their coaches and their parents. In addition, placing headgear on a student-athlete may indirectly justify striking them in the head by opponents, especially in sports where this has never been the intent (e.g., soccer, basketball, women’s lacrosse, etc).

Moreover, a false sense of security in the area of concussion protection increases the likelihood that players, coaches, and parents will consider the medical condition to be adequately addressed and may place less importance upon avoiding head impact, reporting concussion symptoms, and returning to play prior to full recovery following a concussion.

The NCAA will continue to monitor developments in this area and will consider adjustments to its position should valid scientific evidence arise.

David Klossner
NCAA Director of Health & Safety


September 30, 2012 Rules Interpretations

1) Rule 7-9 (Note 1): The whistle stops play. If the buzzer signifying the end of the 30/35 second possession clock or the end of a period sounds immediately after the referee whistles a foul, the referee administering the free throw must determine whether there was a clock operator error (failure to stop the clock in a timely manner) or if the clock was operated correctly and the buzzer sounded after the whistle due to normal human reaction time. The former is a correctable error, the latter is not.

2) Rules 7-10 Protests and 7-9 Correctable Errors: These two rules go hand-in-hand, and provide the framework for handling all protests. Rule 7-10 states that a coach may protest a misapplication of the rules or other correctable error, but not judgment calls by the referee.

Whenever possible, coaches are encouraged to file their protest at the time of the alleged misapplication of the rules or other correctable error, but they have until five minutes after the conclusion of the game to file the protest. In tournament play the tournament committee shall adjudicate any protests that occur. In the absence of a tournament committee the referees in charge of the game must adjudicate the protest at the time it occurs.

Rule 7-9 provides some direction as to how correctable errors should be handled by the referees and/or the tournament committee when a protest is filed for a misapplication of the rules or other correctable error. Included are the following statements, “No team shall gain an advantage over an opponent because of this type of error.” and “… the referees must determine to the best of their ability which error(s) shall be corrected in interest of fairness.”

In creating an opportunity for coaches  to protest misapplications of the rules and other correctable errors, it was the intent of the rules subcommittee that there be a mechanism by which these types of mistakes could be corrected when they created an unearned advantage for either team.  In any valid protest situation (i.e., misapplication of the rules or other correctable error), the first question that should be asked is, was an unearned advantage gained by either team? If the answer to that question is no, then the protest should be denied immediately. If the answer to the first question is yes, then the next question would be, is the team that was put at a disadvantage by the mistake seeking a remedy?

Again, if the answer to this question is no, then the protest should be denied immediately. The only time that a protest should be upheld, and any portion of a game replayed, would be when the team that was disadvantaged by the mistake is seeking a remedy for the error. At no time should the offended team be disadvantaged by correction of an error or the upholding of a protest.

The takeaway message here is twofold: (1) Not every correctable error needs to be corrected in order to obtain a fair result in a particular game. (2) When a protest is upheld, the referees and/or the tournament committee must decide  how best to neutralize the unearned advantage of one team caused by the correctable error, without creating a disadvantage to the offended team, in order to bring the game to a proper conclusion.

3) Rule 14-3-d (Note 2):  The referee administering the free throw should point to the five-meter marker on the deck, arm diagonal to the body.

4) Rule 14-3-d (Note 3):  This note does not apply to a free throw awarded for an offensive foul; the free throw for an offensive foul shall be taken from the spot (location) of the ball when the foul is called. (See Rule 19-1-c)

5) Rule 19-1-c:  If the ball is in the air when an offensive foul is called, the “spot of the ball when the foul is called” shall be considered to be the location where the team awarded the free throw takes possession of the ball, except if the ball is inside the two-meter area the free throw shall be taken on the two-meter line.

Past Interpretations

Collegiate Water Polo Association