top of page

What is Canoe Polo?

Dragon A attacking against Meridian in Ghent 2023

Canoe polo is an exhilarating and dynamic water sport that combines elements of canoeing and team ball games. Played in a compact pool or water body, canoe polo involves two teams, each comprising five players. The objective of the game is to score goals by throwing a ball into the opponent's net, suspended approximately two meters above the water. The players manoeuvre their kayaks with skilful paddle strokes and strategic teamwork to gain possession of the ball and create scoring opportunities.

The sport demands a unique blend of physical agility, tactical acumen, and water-based manoeuvring. Participants utilize specialized kayaks designed for agility and stability, which enable them to navigate swiftly in the water while maintaining balance. Players wear protective gear such as helmets, buoyancy aids, and face guards to ensure their safety during the intense and dynamic gameplay.

Dragon B winning the ball from East End in Ghent 2023
Taking a corner at Ghent 2023

In a typical canoe polo match, the rules emphasize both skilful paddling and sportsmanship. Players can pass the ball to their teammates, and it's common to see intricate passing sequences and quick changes in possession. Defensively, players strive to prevent the opposing team from scoring by blocking shots, intercepting passes, and using their kayaks to create obstacles. Contact is allowed within certain limits, but dangerous or aggressive play is penalized to maintain a fair and safe competition.

Canoe polo is governed by a set of rules that ensure fair play and exciting gameplay. One essential skill in the game is "dribbling," where players use their paddle or hands to propel the ball while maintaining control of their kayaks. This skill allows players to move the ball strategically and create opportunities for their team. Another important rule is the "five-second rule," which stipulates that a player must pass, shoot, or release the ball within five seconds of gaining possession. This rule prevents players from holding onto the ball for too long and encourages fast-paced action, keeping the game dynamic and engaging. Matches are typically divided into two halves, each lasting 10 minutes, providing a concise yet intense gameplay experience.


Canoe polo showcases a captivating blend of strategy, athleticism, and teamwork that appeals to both participants and spectators alike. As teams navigate the water, engage in intricate manoeuvres, and execute swift passes, the sport paints a thrilling picture of intense competition and camaraderie.

Find out more

You can find out more about the rules here.

Check out the video below for a quick introduction to the sport!

bottom of page