Kayak what?

You heard us right.

Kayak polo is played with between two teams, with each team consisting of five players on the water at once. Imagine a cross between basketball and kayaking. The goal is to work as a team to score a ball in the opposing net.

This is a basic summary of the rules for Kayak Polo. The official ICF rulebook can be viewed here. As we are an amateur club, our rules are more relaxed and we aim to have a friendly environment for everyone.


Boats: Specialized polo boats are used. They are approximately 3 meters long, with foam padding on either end. They are low profile, fast, maneuverable, and easy to roll back up.

Paddles: Paddles must have blunt edges to prevent injury.

Helmets: Helmets must have a face shield for safety.

PFDs: Personal flotation devices are required. Polo specific PFD’s are preferred as they have padding at the sides to protect a player during a collision.

Ball: We use a water polo ball, which is around the size of a volleyball, and it has a rough surface to help with grip when wet.

The Rules

Kayak polo consists of two halves (Each half is approximately 10 minutes long), with the players switching sided at halftime. The game begins with all players lined up at either end of the pitch. When the ball has been thrown into the center of the pitch, one person from each team sprints for the ball.

The playing area (or Pitch) is a flat body of water 23 meters by 35 meters, with a suspended goal at each end. Goals are  1 meter high, by 1.5 meters wide. The lower edge of the goal must be suspended 2 meters above the surface of the water.

For practices we may only set up one net and play with half court rules.

A player has possession when the ball within arms reach. They don’t have to be holding it.

Hand Tackle
If a player has possession of the ball, they may be pushed over by an opponent with one hand. They can only be pushed with one hand on the shoulder. No punching, pulling, or touching equipment (boats or paddles). We only encourage hand tackles if the player can roll.

Kayak Tackle
A kayak-tackle is when a player maneuvers their kayak against an opponent’s kayak in an attempt to gain possession of the ball.

If a foul occurs, the ball is given to the other team. That team gets a “free throw” or “free shot”.

Illegal Possession
A player can not paddle with a ball touching a spray skirt of a boat. The ball must be disposed of within 5 seconds of being in possession, by either passing, shooting, or ‘dribbling’.

Illegal Hand Tackle
The following hand-tackles are illegal:

  • Pushing a player over by anything other than their shoulder.
  • Using two hands to push a player over.
  • Tackling an opponent who is not within three meters of the ball.

Illegal Kayak Tackle
The following kayak-tackles are illegal:

  • If the goalkeeper’s boat is moved or unbalanced during defense.
  • Any tackle that results in significant contact with a player’s body, spray skirt, and/or it endangers a player.
  • Any hard tackle to the side of a kayak if it is at an angle between 80° – 100°.
  • Tackling an opponent who is not within three meters of the ball.

Illegal Use of a Paddle
The following uses of a paddle are illegal:

  • Using a paddle within arms reach of a player who has the ball in their hand.
  • Throwing a paddle.

Illegal Jostling
When a player is stationary or attempting to maintain a position and their body is moved by more than half a meter by sustained contact from an opponent’s kayak.

Illegal Holding
Holding a opposing player or their equipment. Restricting the movement of an opposing player, or gaining support or propulsion by playing their hand, arm, body, or paddle on the kayak.