Ask Chris

Ask Chris

  • March 31, 2015

    Dear Chris,

    My 10-year-old son has just started playing tournaments. He has a +4.5 correction and astigmatisms in both eyes, but in spite of a doctor's note, he was not allowed to wear his prescription swim goggles at the game this weekend. I understand the risks, esp at levels higher than U10, but he is equally at risk without them because of impaired vision.

    Everyone talks of "water polo approved" goggles/rec glasses, but I am having a hard time coming across actual specifications. One blog led me to this website, but there isn't a category for water polo:

    Thank you!


    Dear Cecilia:

    FINA/USA Water Polo rules state:

    WP 5.4 Players shall wear non-transparent costumes or costumes with a separate undergarment and before taking part in a game shall remove any articles likely to cause injury. If in the judgment of the game referees, your son's prescription swim goggles violate rule 5.4 by being "likely to cause injury" to your son or to other players, the referee is within her/his authority to require them to be removed. Specifically regarding goggles, USA Water Polo referees have been instructed that goggles are acceptable, provided that they are flexible with no hard or sharp edges. In order to avoid any potential issue, many players choose to wear disposable contact lenses to correct vision. (My own sons wore contact lenses while playing.)



    March 31, 2015

    Hi Chris,

    My granddaughter plays goal for the #1 team in her division. She wants to continue to improve so she tends goal against the advanced players as well as the boys teams.

    Last week she took an unexpected, extremely hard, direct hit to the face. She suffered a minor concussion, whiplash, jaw subluxation and a bloody mouth. She wears braces and the inside of her mouth was stuck to them.

    Is there some type of protection for goalies? If not, why not?!! How can we protect them? There is no physical contact with other players so why can't they wear a light, thin face guard?


    Dear Denise,

    FINA/USA Water Polo Rules 4.1 through 4.4 require that athletes wear caps and prescribe certain minimum requirements for water polo caps. Rule 5.4 states that: "Players shall wear non-transparent costumes or costumes with a separate undergarment and before taking part in a game shall remove any articles likely to cause injury." Whether an article is likely to cause injury is left to the discretion of the game referees.

    Thus, so long as the protective gear does not cause the cap to violate to Rules 4.1 through 4.4 and is not, in the judgment of the game referee, likely to cause injury to the athlete wearing the protective gear or another athlete, there is nothing in the Rules that would preclude an athlete from wearing protective gear. Specifically as to faceguards, USA Water Polo referees have been instructed that facemasks are acceptable, provided that they are flexible with no hard or sharp edges. Complete copies of the Rules are available on USA Water Polo's website at



    September 8, 2014

    Hi Chris,

    My son is having the hardest time his senior year in high school. He is the best one on the team for Temecula Valley High School water polo. He struggles as a C average student in school. What more can he do to get noticed by colleges? He made All-Valley 2nd team too and obviously is recognized by coaches. He has been the MVP for two years. He also was on varsity his Sophomore year. Temecula Valley for the past few years is not a team to be recognized. What would you suggest for him? He would love to play for a college who is well known.



    Dear Cindy,

    First and foremost, you should join one of the many successful USAWP clubs in your zone. It is through the accelerated development at the club level in training and competition that one can truly gauge an athlete's level of play. In addition, I encourage you to attend a USA Water Polo ODP Camp to learn the skills that our national teams use. Attendance at an ODP camp will also make your son eligible to make your zone team and compete in the new USAWP National Zone Championships this spring. Many college coaches attend and track club and ODP events as part of their recruiting programs.

    There are more than 40 colleges and universities that offer men's water polo at the Varsity level, and there are many junior colleges in California that offer the sport as well. Junior colleges provide an affordable opportunity improve academic standing, earn college credits, and establish a positive collegiate track record that can lead to acceptance by a four year institution. There are many articles on the USAWP website about these opportunities, which should be a useful resource for you. I also encourage you to meet with your college counselor at your high school to seek their guidance.

    For more information on USAWP clubs, ODP, and also the college recruiting process please visit

    Thank you for reaching out for more information, and good luck during this exciting time!

    ​Best of luck pursuing your water polo career.



    September 8, 2014

    Dear Chris, I had have many skeptical ideas about the ODP in the United States. I am going to the training camps in the Southeastern Zone but an article I read has made me feel hopeless against the other candidates in Cali and all over the country? Why are most the teams in ODP just full of Cali kids?



    Dear Skeptical,

    On a percentage basis, ODP membership is about the same as USA Water Polo membership. In other words, there is not a disproportionate number of California athletes in the program. Our national teams currently boast athletes from all over the nation, including your home state of Florida (Michael Rosenthal and Ashleigh Johnson).

    In response to constructive suggestions from our clubs and coaches, we have made many changes to ODP since its inception. The newest iteration launches this fall. ​ I suggest you try a camp and ​judge its merits for yourself​​.​ ​ Participating in a camp will also make you eligible for selection ​to​ the Southeast​ ​Z​one team for the​ new​ National Zone Championships in March.​​ Information on ODP, including its camps and the new National Zone Championship format​,​ can be found at

    ​Best of luck pursuing your water polo career.



    September 30, 2013


    Do you worry about the long-term viability of water polo on the Olympic Program like I do? When I see IOC actions such as the elimination of baseball/softball and (at least for a few months) wrestling from the Program, I think it possible. When I see the static, overly physical nature of elite international water polo combined with several rules and a number of current interpretations confusing for fans, I think it probable. With recent comments by newly-elected IOC President Thomas Bach about how he envisions change in the Olympic Program, I see it as likely without feeling at all like Henny Penny.

    Bonus: What role does USA Water Polo play in FINA and international water polo?

    Polo In Every Pool!


    Dear Stu,

    Your concerns are legitimate and have been on the international water polo community's radar for some time. Fortunately, there have been a number of positive developments during the past eight years that provide reason for optimism. We are the oldest of Olympic team sports. We also were NOT one of the seven sports on the short list that led to wrestling losing, at least procedurally, its place in the Games.

    At the recently concluded International Olympic Committee meeting that confirmed Tokyo as the 2020 Olympic site, the IOC executive committee voted to include aquatics as one of the 25 "core" sports of the Olympic movement. Aquatics includes water polo. In my view, a number of factors have contributed to our game's increased popularity.

    Water polo has benefited from high definition television cameras and better overall production to make it a more compelling media product. For the first time, people not involved in water polo told me after the Games that they watched many of the matches and were completely drawn into our women's successful quest for their first gold medal. One challenge we face is getting more media exposure for our game and ensuring that the productions are of high quality. Increased coverage of water polo through collegiate conference networks and ESPNU is helping broaden our game's exposure.

    Another factor contributing to our increased popularity has been the women's game, where there is worldwide parity. China won this year's FINA World League Super Final on the women's side. Australia is a major power on both the men's and women's side. And FINA is exploring significant changes to the format of its World League outside Europe to further global development. FINA has demonstrated a desire to expand our game's worldwide penetration, and they deserve credit for some of these positive results.

    Another excellent development--for the United States--is that FINA recently changed the men's water polo qualification program for the Olympic Games. FINA no longer limits us to one qualification berth from our hemisphere, which in 2016 goes automatically to the host nation, Brazil. Under the new system, the USA and Canada will use the 2015 Pan American Games to vie for an Olympic berth. Berths can also be earned through high finishes in the FINA 2015 World Championships or winning the FINA World League Super Final, and there will be an open qualification tournament in 2016 for the last berths available.

    Water Polo is the only Olympic team sport that does not have equal numbers of men's and women's teams in the Olympic tournament. A total of twelve teams qualify in the men's tournament, with only eight qualifying in the women's tourney. FINA, with the support of the USA and many other nations, has lobbied to expand the women's tournament to twelve teams. Newly elected IOC president Bach is viewed as a supporter of gender equity. It is generally thought that the chance of expanding the women's tournament will increase under his leadership.

    Finally, water polo is growing worldwide. When new governance was established at USA Water Polo in 2006, the board revised our mission statement to include growing the sport. You know this to be true in the Southeast. Many efforts domestically, such as Splashball and a dramatically expanded Junior Olympic tournament, are contributing to a rise in water polo's popularity nationwide. Recently the California Interscholastic Federation announced that men's water polo was the fastest growing high school sport in California. If we can continue to invest in our future nationwide, our efforts will further contribute to the security of water polo in the Olympics.

    Regarding USA Water Polo's role in FINA, our voice and interests are primarily represented through United States Aquatic Sports, which is a "holding company," if you will, of swimming, water polo, diving, synchronized swimming and masters swimming. Each discipline holds one vote except swimming, which granted its size, holds two. Our USAWP board member Bill Smith is a vice president of USAS and he represents our interests there. We are also represented by our chief international delegate Takeshi Inoue on the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee, and by FINA Bureau vice president Dale Neuberger. We attend and participate in USAS and FINA meetings on a regular basis to represent our federation's interests.

    Working together is important. The more members and greater geographical diversity that our federation has, the stronger our voice becomes. Now that we have stabilized our finances, we are investing more in expanded outreach to the high schools and colleges across the nation. Water polo is a small sport, and the more that we can work together to further our interests, the better for us at all levels. To that end, we hope to have more national team coaches and players in your area of the Southeast to continue supporting your outstanding work to increase high quality playing opportunities.

    Your concerns are legitimate. Our federation and those who value water polo worldwide must continue to be vigilant in representing water polo and its interest within the international community. That said, our trajectory has changed from downward to upward. With your help and others like you, we believe we can keep the water polo momentum going.



    June 24, 2013

    Dear Chris,

    I ask USAWP to please reconsider having our 18u Boys play at 30 meters with a 30 second shot clock. I know it is late in the process, but I simply have to ask. I don't know one person in my water polo sphere that supports playing at that distance. My issue is with the quality of play. Only a small handful of teams in the 48 team championship division have the speed and stamina up and down their roster to play at that distance. Many games become a dumpfest. Teams get down the pool and have 8 - 15 seconds to make something happen.

    Respectfully yours and looking forward to a great summer either way,


    Dear Bryan,

    The FINA rules and the college rules regarding course size are up for review this year. We decided to stick with the existing FINA rules at JO's this year for the male 18U category. A majority of the major college programs (at last polling) supported playing at 30 meters. On the FINA rules side, there is early indication that they will not reduce the course size to 25 meters at the international level; in fact, this exact proposal was rejected by the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee as part of their overall recommendation to the FINA Extraordinary Congress, where international rules will be up for review and vote this summer. Since the NCAA college rules committee did not have broad support at the time of its decision, we wanted to wait and see what happened when they again conducted their own review after the men's season. Granted all of these moving parts, we chose to remain consistent to the rules of our international governing body at 30 meters for this JO's for our 18U men and for our men's US Open championship.

    Based on what FINA and the NCAA chose to do, along with input from our members, we will consult with our national team coaching staff and evaluate our position for next year. Our concern about going to 25 meters this summer was that we would be knee-jerking to different standards that might not stick, especially when it meant going against the rules of our international governing body. It would look silly for us to flip flop from 30 to 25 and back to 30 again in a short time frame. You may recall that in the 1970's FINA reduced the men's course size to 25 meters and made some other rule changes that did not work out well, and they quickly went back to a 30 meter course. I believe that they still remember that experience. All in all, we think it is prudent to continue playing the international standard this summer and look at whether to change JO's for next year. Worst case, the players who do JO's will be in way better shape than those who do not. Your thoughts on the shot clock are interesting, and we will revisit that standard as well for next year. I can see there might be merit in a 35 second clock but will leave that to our national coaches and technical staff to evaluate. If there are any changes next year, we will communicate them broadly. It is simply too late to make changes this year after most of the qualification tournaments have already taken place.

    Thank you again for raising this issue in a thoughtful and constructive way. Stay tuned.


    May 17, 2013

    Hi Chris,

    We have an Avanti deck-mounted water polo net that we would like to donate to a school or club. Do you have any suggestions for someone who needs a net? Please note this is not a floating water polo goal (which seems to have ruled it out as a donation for our local high schools).



    Dear Kathleen,

    This is a wonderful gift for the right club. We have worked to create an informal equipment exchange among those in the water polo community. Claudia Dodson ( in our office keeps track of club needs and I will pass this one along to her. In the past, we have been able to re-purpose caps, goals and in some cases used water polo balls as well. Thanks for the impulse to help others in our sport!

    Good luck!


    January 14, 2013

    Hi Chris,

    I played water polo in high school and am thrilled that my son wants to play.  We did a summer program at our local community college (San Mateo) and he is looking to take the next step.  Do you have any suggestions for programs locally?



    Dear Adam,

    Congratulations to you and your son!  I have three sons and all picked up where their dad left off and played water polo, and it has been a positive in their lives.  I'm thrilled your son is following your example and am certain he will get a lot out of it.

    We have a great feature on our USAWP website that makes it easy to find local clubs.  If you click on the "Club" tab on the right side of our website, it takes you to a page that includes a "Find a Club" link.  There is another link there to "Find a prospective club."  I clicked on this and inserted "San Mateo, California" in the search engine and came up with two options for you:

    Golden State Aquatics - (Club ID: 15637)
    612 Mac Arthur Ave
    San Mateo,  CA  94402    
    Robert Greene                650-302-6707           12/31/2013

    Lions Water Polo (Ca) - (Club ID: 19806)

    3703 Southweood Avenue
    San Mateo,  CA  94403    
    Renato Hodzic                650-766-3846           12/31/2013

    If you want to identify clubs in surrounding areas to San Mateo, you can simply search "Pacific Zone," which covers the Northern California area, or search by city.  You can also send an email to Katie Wakefield in our office here ( and tell her what kind of club you are looking to find (big, small, masters programs--if you want to join too!  etc.) and she will get back to you with clubs that fit your criteria.  The good news is that there are lots of options in your area.

    Good luck!


    December 6, 2012

    Hi Chris,
    My son is a 7th grader and has been playing water polo for the last 3 years (member ID# 505829).  He LOVES the sport and has aspirations for high level college play and beyond.  We attended several of the pre-Olympic send-off events and he met and had a ball signed by all the men and women players.  Is there a forum available for him to ask mentoring questions to National Team Members?  (i.e. What was their path to success?)  We are looking for guidance and tips to make the most of his upcoming high school years so that he can best position himself for college play.

    Dear Linda,

    In my experience national team members are happy to share their experiences and help younger players understand the choices they may encounter playing our sport. Their playing and training schedules are demanding, however, so you must look for opportunities carefully.  We will have Brenda Villa and Ryan Bailey on hand at our Assembly in January, and you could sign up to attend and bring your son to their session.  After the session I am sure they could find a few minutes to answer additional questions.  Our players also make public appearances and give clinics, which are usually posted on our facebook and twitter pages from time to time.  These are also good opportunities to learn from our players and interact with them.



    December 6, 2012

    Hi Chris,

    I have been told that no prescription goggles are allowed in water polo.

    After researching this, it seems that rules were changed recently to allow them for High School and NCAA play.  Is that correct?  Are they allowed for national tournaments?

    If they are allowed for High School and NCAA, is there a list of the types that are allowed?

    Thanks Tina


    Dear Tina,

    According to our head of the USA Water Polo National Referee Committee, Jim Cullingham, the FINA/USA Water Polo rule governing the use of such devices is as simple as it is vague.

    The rule:

    WP 5.4 Players shall wear non-transparent costumes or costumes with a separate undergarment and before taking part in a game shall remove any articles likely to cause injury.

    What this means is that although we have established some guidelines as to what is acceptable, the referee still has total discretion as to what may be allowed during a game and should inspect all players prior to the start of any game for those articles.

    We all know that jewelry, (including body piercings), wrist bands, and the like must be removed before play, not only to prevent injury to the wearer, but to their teammates and opponents as well.

    It gets a little trickier with some other "medical" equipment such as prescription eye wear, splints, braces and protective face masks.

    The guidelines for such devices are relatively simple and are along the same lines as the most recent FINA interpretations.

    Articles (ie. facemasks and goggles) must be flexible with no hard or sharp edges that could cause injury to the wearer or others in the pool.

    Finger splints, like the one pictured, must be padded and covered with no hard or sharp edges.

    I hope that this brief description will answer some of the questions we have received, but please keep in mind that the referee on site has the final say, and the player safety is first and foremost.

    If you intend, or are required, to wear any such protective device it would be a great idea to get it checked out by the head referee in your zone prior to any competition to avoid not being allowed to wear that particular device in a game.

    Contact information for those head referees can be found on the USAWATERPOLO.ORG website under the "rules and ethics" link.

    CIF High school standards are summarize below from CIF Southern Section Assistant Commissioner Kristine Rach.  She writes:

    Requests to wear any protective face/headgear or protective eye wear are sent to our office from our member schools. The request is accompanied by a doctors note stating the student is cleared to play with use of the specific garment. Given that we cannot physically examine each piece, we draft a letter (carried by the coach from game to game) marking the request as "received". Since the officials are the ones that are on site to handle/examine the protective gear, they are tasked with making the ultimate determination regarding safety. Providing the device can be worn without creating any competitive advantage and/or without harming the owner or any other players, we will allow it.

    The letter simply gives the official permission to make that determination; without the letter, students should not be allowed to play with any auxiliary gear. The request from the athletic administration helps ensure that the student is clear to play and that they are on someone's radar (other than the coach's) in terms of injury.

    Finally, there is no approved list. In many instances, these devices are custom engineered/fitted specifically for the athlete based on the injury. They are all considered on an individual basis.

    I hope this helps!




    November 21, 2011

    Hi Chris,

    I have played college water polo and have been watching and playing for 25 years.  I was shocked yesterday at a referees behavior.  Is there any way to protest?  This was at a tournament for the boys to get more scrimmage time, not a league tournament.  Please let me know how to proceed.


    Dear Mary,

    We have a grievance procedure that allows anyone who believes a USAWP member has violated their code of conduct with our federation to be heard before an impartial hearing panel. It is this process that allows us to evaluate the facts of the kind of behavior that you describe, and through the panel's powers, take appropriate action that can include suspension of membership in our federation.  For more information visit the Grievances section of the Rules and Ethics section of by clicking here.



    October 31, 2011

    Hello Chris,

    I'm a high school senior in Northern California, and I've been playing water polo for 6 years. Now with college applications around the corner, I feel like I grew to love water polo and would like to further carry on playing for colleges of my choice. I'm looking into D1 schools such as USC, UCLA, and CAL not because they are D1, but they also offer great programs I would like study. If I do end up going to one of the schools above, what are my chances of walking on? I'm barely publicized, and feel like I didn't give my best during my water polo years in high school which I regret hugely. Many of my teammates are on their recruiting trips such as USC, UCLA, CAL, and Bucknell, and I wanted to know if I could join them. Thanks so much.


    Dear Justin,

    Keep playing by all means! Each of the schools you mentioned probably handles walk ons a little differently, so I would contact the coaches directly for clarification. Outside the 4-5 top ranked water polo schools, I think you will find a lot of encouragement for your participation. Coaches need practice players to complement game players. There is also the chance that you may make an even larger contribution once you get your feet wet, so to speak, and also once the coach has an opportunity to see and evaluate you over time without obligation. Finally, CWPA offers club teams at the schools you mentioned. You have to pay some additional fees to cover costs of competition but it may be something worth considering.

    Whatever university you choose and whatever level of competition you seek, I am thrilled you want to keep playing.  Keep the faith!



    October 14, 2011

    Where is the best place to learn to be a waterpolo referee for high school and/or club level. Seen several sites such as Water Polo Academy and SCAF Water Polo but I am not sure which would be best.

    Hello Rajan,

    I checked in with our Head of Officials Jim Cullingham and he provided this information:

    There are several avenues to referee certification depending on the level and governing body of the competition.  Most include instructional components, either in person or on line in addition to practical training, mentoring and evaluations.

    SCAF is the Referee Association for High School Competition in the Southern California Area and is charged by the CIF to train and certify referees.

    The USA Water Polo Referee's Association (USAWPR) oversees the training and certification of all referees across the country for USA Water Polo Competitions.  You can get a glimpse of what that is about by checking out the USAWPR website at

    Thanks very much for your interest in refereeing!

    Ask Chris - October 4, 2011

    Dear Chris,

    I work for an engineering firm in the Kansas City area. We are working on a pool renovation for the Kamehameha School in Honolulu which includes water polo. I have a question regarding the markers along the side of the pool.
    We try to follow FINA, NCAA, and/or NFHS rules where applicable. FINA and NFHS indicate the sides of the field of play shall be colored. NCAA Rule 1, Section 6 (page 23-24) indicates distinctive marks at the goal/half distance line, 2M line, and 5M line.

    There are also the following rules:
    a.     Side Lines
    b.    Markers on the Pool Deck
    c.     Cones on the Pool Deck
    d.    Painted or Tiled Sides or Decks of the Pool

    I do not know much about water polo, so I am not sure which markings are for the players, and which markings are for the judges.

    How have you seen markings for pools to be used by both men and women ?
    Any help you can provide would be appreciated.


    Dear Steve,

    Thanks for your letter about appropriate course markings.  It is terrific news that Kamehameha School is doing a new pool and that it has engaged your firm to do it right.  Currently FINA, USAWP, NCAA and scholastic rules are all in agreement regarding ideal course size and markings.  As you can see from the photograph from the Beijing Olympics, the standard way of identifying the two meter and five meter areas are through the use of boundary lines.  Some pools that are not large enough to include flotation boundaries use deck markers that sit atop and overhang the edge of the pool so that players, officials and spectators can all see the boundaries clearly.  Red and yellow are the universal colors used for the two meter and five meter areas.

    Cones are not ideal, since they can be moved either by accident or design.  Although you could certainly tile the colors into the pool itself, there is no guarantee that these two areas of the game will always remain defined as they are now.  Some years ago four meters was the distance for penalty shots, not five meters.  Unless your client is comfortable with the prospect of possibly changing tiles in the future, I suggest boundary lines are the best way to go.

    Good luck with your project.  Sounds very exciting!



    Ask Chris - January 17, 2011

    Hi Chris,
    I am in my high school water polo club and play on the team. I absolutely love it and do not know what I will do when the season is over in a few weeks. Also, it is only games, no practices right now and I crave more water polo! I was wondering what other options there are, there are not any other teams for my age in the area. Is there some sort of national team for high school ages or a way to begin a local club?
    Thank you!

    Hi Camille,

    There are a new different water polo clubs around your area.  I know that water polo is gaining some traction as a high school sport in Georgia as well.  Here are some clubs and contact information to get your search started:

    Atlanta Rainbow Trout     

    Collins Hill Eagles WP                

    Dynamo WP                         


    Spartans WPC (GA)                 

    Wildcat WP                        

    All the best,

    Ask Chris - December 26, 2010

    Hi Chris,

    I remember a letter sent out regarding changes in Junior Olympics a couple of months back, any chance I could get another copy of that? Thanks.


    Hi Dennis,

    Not a problem, here is the full letter that went out. All the best.

    -- Chris

    The process surrounding the future of USA Water Polo's Junior Olympics has been one of the most constructive, collaborative and satisfying experiences during my time here. A great number of coaches have written thoughtful views on the tournament and how to ensure that it delivers the best experience and value to our membership. We owe all of those who shared their opinions a debt of gratitude for broadening the debate and helping us consider as many points of view as possible in our evaluation.

    Changes to the tournament will mean, for most teams, 25-35 percent more playing time than in the past. Older age groups will play FINA courses.

    I promised that we would lock down any changes/improvements to Junior Olympics by mid-October, and that we would hold to these rules for at least the next three years. The following is a summary of the conclusions that we have reached with the benefit of everyone's input.

    Age Groups and Age Verification

    This has been the most complicated area of discussion because any change of calendar that positively impacts certain birthdays will negatively impact others. It is also noted that no system is perfect. With those caveats, I can say that a few themes were broadly embraced:

    * Ensure our competitive club calendar is closer in alignment to the school year than the calendar year
    * For the sake of simplicity, choose a "hard" date for age qualification rather than having one that floats with tournament dates from year to year
    * Eliminate school grade from the qualification factor, since that would result in punishing students who may be enrolled a grade ahead of others in their age group

    Therefore, USA Water Polo will determine age group eligibility based on the athlete's age as of August 1st each year. For example, if someone turns 19 on August 2, they will be eligible to play 18U for JO's; if they turn 19 on July 2, they will not be eligible for 18U and will move up to the 21U age group.

    Beginning in 2011, USAWP ID cards will include photographs along with birthdates. Clubs will be required to bring a notebook to JO's with a copy of a valid government ID (e.g., birth certificate, passport, driver's license, state ID) to provide proof of age if required.

    The 20U national championship will no longer be held as a separate national championship event; instead, it will be added as the top JO division and will be changed to 21U. These age groups will be scheduled opposite to the other genders (Men's 21U will play during Women's 18U and younger age groups--and vice versa).


    1. Venues will be identified according to gender and age group by May 1 of the competition year
    2. The first draft schedule of play will be published no later than two weeks prior to the first game in each gender
    3. Brackets will be published by March 31 of the competition year, including zone allocations based on 2010 results

    Format of Play

    1. All divisions will play a "double-double elimination" format schedule allowing for back door advancement to correct any seeding anomalies
    2. All divisions will play longer games throughout at least the final three days of the event. (Because of pool availability and the number of teams, the first day's games may be reduced by one minute per quarter.) Each team will play 7-10 games during the tournament.
             1. 21U; 8 minute quarters
             2. 18U; 8 minute quarters
             3. 16U; 7 minute quarters
             4. 14U; 7 minute quarters
             5. 12U; 6 minute quarters
             6. 10U; 5 minute quarters
    3. All games will be played to a win/loss result. Preliminary games tied in regulation go immediately to penalty shootout; medal round games will be decided by FINA rules (OT and, if necessary, shootout)
    4. In the unlikely case that a three-way tie results from bracket play, a "goals against" tiebreaker will be used, rewarding the team that allows the fewest goals in bracket play
    5. FINA rules will remain in place for all age groups, including the opportunity to shoot without hesitation off a foul outside five meters
    6. A new age-appropriate ball, sized between the current women's ball and the junior ball, will be used for girls 14U, and boys 12U to improve skill development.

    Courses and Venues

    1. Courses will be uniform for each age group, with 30M courses for 21U and 18U Men, and 25M courses for boys aged 16U and 14U, and women aged 18U, 16U, and 14U. Wherever possible, we will use full 25 meter courses with floating cages. However, lower divisions of 14U and 12U may play in courses with wall cages and or 25 yard courses depending on the availability of facilities. Even in Orange County or Palo Alto/San Jose, facilities are not unlimited, and we must plan realistically. We will, however, announce the courses early enough to ensure that there will be plenty of time to train appropriately

    Referees and Table Management

    1. Referee pay and assignments will reward performance (tiered compensation), and will based on evaluations leading up to JO's, including the opportunity for coaches to provide input to head officials via a computerized system
    2. All Official Scoring Table personnel will be trained and tested in all aspects of their jobs prior to start of JO's under the authority and direction of the head referees in conjunction with the USAWP National Director of Referees
    3. Instructions to referees will be published to everyone prior to the opening of the tournament and those instructions will be reinforced during nightly referee meetings
    4. We will add a JO Expo seminar for parents held by head referees on "rules of the game"
    5. Red cards for each game will be electronically recorded and tracked; rules governing red cards will be uniformly enforced according to the USAWP Conduct of Championships. No exceptions
    6. USAWP member ID's will be checked before the start of at least the first game of the tournament for each team by certified tournament personnel


    1. Tickets will be available for sale June 1
    2. Discounts will be provided for USAWP members and Senior Citizens
    3. Advance ticket purchases will be mailed on request
    4. Will call tickets will be available at host hotels throughout the tournament and at several major venues
    5. Participating athlete siblings will receive free "crossover" admission to the other gender portion of the tournament; i.e., participant athlete brother can go to sister's games free and vice versa

    Host Hotels

    1. Significant entry fee rebates will remain in effect for those using host hotels
    2. A variety of price points and room types will be broadly available at tournament host hotels
    3. Host Hotels will be listed on the JO web site by May 1 for teams who wish to make early arrangements
    4. Complete details on amenities and booking procedures will also be available on the "Lodging" page at

    General Administration

    1. Checklists and monitors will be in place for each venue
    2. We will use an easily accessible standardized score reporting and bracket system
    3. A volunteer "ambassador" will be stationed at each pool site to help answer venue/bracketing/schedule questions


    1. Regular monthly "count down" communications will be sent to coaches, parents, and players including reminders of deadlines, new information and features
    2. We will provide a Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) "JO" instruction kit for clubs, including a parent sportsmanship pledge
    3. Links to PCA resources will be sent to all e-mails registered with in the six months leading up to the tournament.
    4. Coverage of Junior Olympics will begin nationally with Zone Qualification tournaments

    Two More Divisions

    We remain committed to adding two additional divisions to the Junior Olympics: Silver and Bronze. These additional divisions will probably be held at a different location, and possibly a little earlier in the summer. We are working very hard to determine the best solution so that you can begin making your own plans to staff your teams for next summer. We hope to have the location and dates set for these divisions by November 30th.

    Final Word

    USAWP's Junior Olympics remains the largest water polo tournament in the world. We are obsessively devoted to working with you to making it one of the very best as well. The changes outlined in this letter indicate our desire to take this tournament to a new level of excellence, as well as a commitment to better connect it to FINA standards and the Olympic movement.

    Years ago, when I was a club coach in Greenwich, Connecticut, preparing my 12U boys group to compete in JO's, the tournament seemed bigger than life to me. I learned a great deal and, as a youth coach attempting to help my players, I watched them discover things not only about water polo but also about growing up.   I think this is because JO's harnesses the collective passion of everyone in our sport and focuses it once a year in an incredible shared experience.

    I am looking forward to the future of JO's--a future that you and your fellow coaches have helped define. There will be passion and lessons learned and a lot of great times. Tell your teams to come in shape!

    All the best,



    Ask Chris - November 2, 2010

    Is there a plan to offer grant opportunities for school or club teams, as in the past, with the Speedo Grant Program?



    Dear Stephanie,

    Speedo was a great partner for us over many years and the grant program is an important part of their legacy.  We are in the process of securing a new outfitting partner who may or may not offer a grant program like Speedo.  However, we are also discussing how best to provide assistance to clubs in need, whether through our zone administration or through the national office.  We will sort this out in the next couple of months and post an announcement about how clubs can request special support going forward.


    Ask Chris - August 18, 2010

    Hi Chris,
    A lot of people are asking me what happened to the Speedo and USAWP sponsorship?
    Can you explain what happened, and who has filled that empty position on your team?
    What are the terms?
    Usually USAWP announces such partnerships right?
    Please advise me when you can to this current issue in question.


    Hi Gary,

    Speedo has been a great sponsor of USA Water Polo for many years but their deal with us concluded this year.  We are taking the opportunity to talk with other companies interested in sponsoring USA Water Polo and we have not yet settled on our new partner(s).  Terms are something that are negotiated individually but generally include outfitting for our teams along with financial support.  Stay tuned.


    Ask Chris - June 14, 2010

    Dear Chris,
    Heard from some folks that attended the Cutino Awards dinner you gave a speech that touched on some new ideas for US Water Polo. I couldn't make it to the dinner but was curious to hear more about that. Thanks for the time.



    Thanks for the note. You are correct, I did get a chance to speak at the event and here is my speech.



    Christopher Ramsey Keynote Address
    Peter J. Cutino Awards
    The Olympic Club
    June 5, 2010


    I had a really funny joke to open things up tonight but, upon reflection, I realized that Southern California humor in the Bay Area is at best risky and at worst dangerous, so instead I want to open with my very sincere congratulations to the Olympic Club for its stirring victory in this year's Fisher Cup! 

    My hat is off to Coach Bruce Watson and the O Club for knocking off NYAC for the second consecutive time this year.  Their victory is great for a storied rivalry, and a competitive rivalry is great for US water polo.

    As most of you know, the Fisher Cup was named for Don Fisher, who passed away nearly a year ago.  Don, Rick Cronk and Warren Hellman were among the first to step up and help our new management team at USA Water Polo.  Their support fueled our Olympic results in Beijing.  Being here in San Francisco, I would be remiss not to recognize these extraordinary men, who have not only done much for our sport but also for this great city.

    Of course tonight's event takes as its inspiration another Bay Area great. We are here tonight to celebrate the legacy of Pete Cutino.

    I grew up while Pete was at the height of his powers. He was truly bigger than life.

    He created a legacy at Cal and at the Olympic level that remains vibrant today.

    He understood what Olympism means and he built his life around its principles.

    I also want to congratulate the top high school teams in Northern California that are here with us tonight.

    Congratulations also to the 1958-1959 Olympic Club Championship Teams, who have brought such distinction to our game.

    And congratulations to our Cutino nominees, about whom more will be said later.


    USA Water Polo is a member of the Olympic movement.

    On a night when we are gathered to celebrate winners, I want to recall the words of the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coupertain, who said,

    "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

    I believe that the Olympic Movement remains relevant because it still offers something worth contesting, where honor, pride, character and commitment remain the necessary ingredients to meaningful achievement.

    I know we all look forward to the summer Games in London, now barely two and a half years away.

    Since all of us here tonight are united by our commitment to water polo, I want to talk tonight about our particular struggle--about our sport, our federation and our future.

    I've learned a lot and, as I'm sure all of you know, I still have a great deal--some would say a very great deal--to learn.

    I am certain that there is not a person in this room that doesn't have a story or a complaint about something that USA Water Polo screwed up.

    On the other hand, I would hope that many of you would acknowledge that we are improving the quality of our services to members and advancing the performance of our federation.

    Let's examine that performance beginning with competitive results.

    Our men's team captured a silver medal in Beijing under the leadership of Terry Schroeder.  Terry stepped in and did an amazing job leading a remarkable group of athletes, including tonight's nominee JW Krumpholz.  (Terry, please stand)  This was our first Olympic medal in 20 years on the men's side, and I am pleased to say that Terry is committed to leading us to the London Games. 

    Our women also won silver in Beijing, following their gold medal at the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne. Led by Guy Baker, this was a very special and dominating group of players, including Cutino nominees Kami Craig and Jessica Steffens.

    Adam Krikorian picked up the reins of our women's program last year and quickly led this splendid group of athletes to another FINA world championship, this time in Rome (Adam, please stand).

    Our teams have also won two Gold and two Silver medals in FINA World League in the past two years.

    Our competitive results are a tribute to our athletes, our coaches, our support staff--and to many of the people in this room, who have contributed in so many ways, including coaching today's stars in USA Water Polo clubs before they were stars.

    These results are also testament to the people who came before and helped build our program over many years--contributing their talent and commitment, some of whom are continuing to help us move forward, people like John Vargas, Kirk Everist, John Tanner and Kyle Utsumi.

    In the last three years, you may be surprised to learn that we have captured more major international medals than any other water polo federation in the world.

    These are world-class--truly world-beating--results.

    But there is more to do.  We have taken on the  challenge of organizing, unifying and broadening our national teams pipeline, led by Guy Baker and ably assisted by two terrific national technical directors who are here with us tonight, Kim Everist and James Lathrop--simply two more examples of the wealth of water polo talent here in Northern California

    I believe ODP will, given time, keep us consistently on the podium at major international events and is a key to

    •    truly nationalizing our sport,
    •    To investing in continuity and long term athlete, coach and referee development,
    •    And as a way to collaborate and share knowledge within USA Water Polo.

    We have also worked to grow our sport.

    USA Water Polo is growing--by 18 percent in 2009, and by another 6 percent so far this year.

    An important part of our growth in 2009 was our US Leagues program.

    To keep that trend alive we introduced Splashball in April - an alternative to kiddie kick soccer and tee ball that will allow many more kids 5 and up to sample water polo--not only in our clubs, but at Parks & Rec, Y's, JCC's---anywhere with a pool and kids!

    We are committed to growing our brand and our resource base

    We have secured significant new partners, including most recently Ospraie Management

    We are developing a culture intent on honoring and protecting our members:

    •    We have adopted a formal statement of Values and Ethics
    •    We have adopted a strong Judicial Process
    •    We have partnered with the Positive Coaching Alliance
    •    This year we have instituted Background Checks on coaches

    We have also had to make some course corrections.  The financial condition of USA Water Polo was for many years the organization's dirty little secret.

    USA Water Polo had gone five years without a clean audit opinion and been in the red for at least the past ten years.

    So we have worked to get our financial house in order so that more resources are available to our membership.

    We have taken a disciplined, long-term--but impatient--approach to improving our offerings and the consistency of our performance.


    But we are not satisfied. There is a great deal more to do.

    Tonight I also want to take this opportunity to dream with all of you a little about how USA Water Polo can become a true leader in the Olympic Movement

    I believe that we can become:

    A federation that embodies the ambition of the Positive Coaching Alliance by emphasizing:

    The Joy of Effort
    Humility and a desire to learn
    Excellence in competition and, equally, in life

    I believe that we can become a laboratory for the best water polo practices--sound, consistent teaching of fundamental water polo in all of our clubs, regions and age groups

    A producer of more world class competition right here on our own soil

    A federation dedicated to realizing the potential of all of our members, from Olympians to Splashballers

    A federation that honors those who got us here and those who continue to contribute by their example

    A community where everyone who plays or played remains connected to our organization in a meaningful way

    A federation with a healthy water polo ecosystem:

    •    More NCAA and high school programs across the nation

    •    More well-paying jobs for qualified coaches

    •    More clubs with more resources to serve young and old

    •    A commitment to improving water safety and dramatically improving ALL young people's aquatic skills

    •    A stronger presence at Y's, JCC's, and Parks & Recs

    •    A powerful brand among youth sports

    •    A federation that commands our share of pool time inside and OUTSIDE of California

    •    A federation that challenges our own idea of ourselves:

    o    Why shouldn't water polo be in every pool in America?
    o    Why shouldn't we have as many members as USA Swimming or US Lacrosse?
    o    Why shouldn't Northern California have as many people playing water polo as Southern California?

    •    We can become a federation that fashions water polo into a valuable media property so that it can support professional water polo right here in the USA

    •    A federation with a state-of-the-art national Water Polo Stadium that is the equal of complexes in Hungary, Australia and Italy

    •    A federation that expands yet remains a tight-knit community, where people care about one another and still know how to have fun

    I also believe that we can become a federation worthy of the Olympic Ideals:

    Worthy of our athletes, coaches and officials

    Worthy of the young men and women nominated here tonight

    Worthy of this remarkable club

    Worthy of the honor of competing--of risking failure for the joy that comes with testing one's self against the very best

    Worthy of the legend of Pete Cutino

    But we cannot achieve this as individuals or through edicts from an office in Huntington Beach--we all need to sacrifice a little bit, compromise sometimes, and spend our energy pulling in the same direction

    Six months ago UC Davis announced that because of financial issues it had to cut its sports budget, and water polo was on the chopping block.

    The water polo community came together and stayed the executioner's hand.  I know that a great many people in this room helped Steve Doten and his UC Davis men's program.

    This was a big win for NCAA water polo.  An important win for our sport, and a great symbol of what the water polo can accomplish when our community rallies.

    I want to thank the Directors and members of the Olympic Club for inviting me this evening, and especially David Bonelli, Doug Norton, Bennett Indart, Paul Carter, Gary Crook and Andy Burke.

    I want to thank the directors of the Pacific Water Polo Foundation here tonight for all that they do to further water polo in the Bay Area, and for our volunteers in the Pacific Zone.

    I want to thank our water polo coaches and officials, who bring our sport to life, and our athletes, who keep our sport eternally young.

    I want to thank the Cutino family, especially Louise and Anna, who continue to honor Pete's memory by helping us all live by the principles he held dear.

    And I want to thank my wife, Lynne, who is celebrating her birthday with us here tonight.  Lynne has been a great volunteer for water polo, not to mention a water polo mom to three boys.  She is the love of my life and my best friend. Happy birthday, dearest!

    I hope to see you at our Hall of Fame benefit next weekend in San Diego.

    We will also be hosting the FINA Women's World League Super Final later this month in La Jolla as well as an exhibition series with Montenegro, so there will be plenty of world-class water polo to see right here in our backyard.

    I am grateful to all of you who give so much to our sport. I am humbled by your achievements and contributions.  And I am truly honored that you have entrusted me to manage something so very remarkable, unusual and important.

    Thank you again for making a difference in our sport

    Onward to London and Victory in 2012!

    Ask Chris - June 14, 2010

    Chris, I was at the Water Polo Hall of Fame dinner and thought it was an outstanding event. Someone or group needs a pat on the back. The food was good, the wine was great and the people honored were wonderful. Thanks for such a great dinner.

    -- Rob

    Thanks Rob!

    Ask Chris - May 7, 2010

    Hello Chris,

    My name is Trevor Ryan and I just recently got accepted into Northeastern University which is one of my top choices of school.  Unfortunately they do not have a club water polo team but the school down the street, Boston College, does have a team.  I was wondering if I am allowed to play for the BC club polo team while attending Northeastern.  Water polo has been a huge part of my life throughout high school and I would love to continue playing in college.

    Dear Trevor,

    The CWPA has published rules and guidelines that address part of your question.  Men's and women's sport clubs may allow full-time graduate students to play. Students must be full-time at the institution for which they are competing. Only the New York Men's Division permit full-time staff and professors to participate as athletes. However, these individuals may not compete in the division championship. Varsity teams must comply with the eligibility rules of the NCAA.
    There is also a USA Water Polo club in Brookline that you can contact as well, which may provide another way for you to play.

    Boston Wet Sox - (Club ID: 18361)
    201 High St. Apt 1
    Brookline,  MA  02445  John Meyer  617-755-8825  12/31/2010

    Good luck!



    Ask Chris - February 11, 2010

    Hi Chris,

    My son is on his high school water polo team.  We live in Florida, and the pool the school uses is an outside pool.  What  is the recommendation for UV eye protection for water polo players?  The Amercian Academy of Pediatrics list water polo as a "moderate risk" for contact eye injury, but does not address sun damage.  Should the players in an outside pool use tinted goggles with UV ray protection?  I am concerned about long term UV ray damage to the eyes for my son.


    Hi Lori,

    Thanks for writing in. There are no medical guidelines for UV eye protection in sports. That said, I forwarded this question to Dr. Marcia Whalen, who oversees our medical care at USA Water Polo.  She offers the following counsel:

    "It has long been suspected that increased exposure to UV light especially around reflective surfaces (the pool) can increase the chances of cataracts over 40 years old, as well as pterygiums (growths on the cornea that sometimes require surgical removal).

    Wearing sunglasses or goggles that protect against these harmful rays is ideal. Look for UV 400 lenses, as these protect against UV light in the 50-380 nanometer range or UV A rays. Lenses that do not specify UV 400 usually only protect from UV B and UV C rays. Also, wearing a hat with a rim can offer not only protection for the eyes but also the face.

    Having said that, neither UV protected lenses or hats with rims are allowed during game play. The rest of your son's time is spent swimming laps or training outside the water ....that is the key time to protect. Make sure you're protected in the stands as well!




    Ask Chris - January 28, 2010

    Hello Chris,

    My name is Codi Ramsey, I am the aquatics supervisor at Montana State University Billings, in Billings Montana.  I am in the process of trying to find a type of fundraiser for our pool, which would generate a crowd and an interest in aquatic activity.  As you can imagine, the participation in aquatics is far below average here in MT and I would like to be able to spark an interest in a handful of our community members.  I believe the presence of a USA Water Polo competition would ignite the flame I'm hoping to instill. 

    I do not have any specific time/date limitations, nor am I aware of training seasons for your team.  I would really appreciate any suggestions or information you could give me regarding this event.

    Thank you for your time!


    Dear Codi,

    Typically events like "shoot-a-thons" work well.  Each athlete solicits sponsors who agree to pay some amount ($1?) for every shot an athlete takes; if an athlete shoots 50 times, they would raise $50.

    Another approach that might work well for you would be an "inner tube water polo" fundraiser, featuring prominent people in you community.  Tied to a cocktail event and a silent auction, this could produce significant dollars and publicity.

    I wish that we could send one of our national teams to do an exhibition in Montana.  Right now, their schedules are jam-packed and the expense would be unrealistically high.  If you were interested in a special private PACE clinic by some of our national team members and/or coaches, that is something you can explore.  Here's a link to our website, which provides more details on how to book a private PACE clinic for your facility:

    Finally, we will keep you on our mailing list for "Splashball," a new program that will roll out nationally this year for ages 5-9.  It is a water polo equivalent of Kiddie Kick soccer or Tee-Ball.  This would be a great way to start introducing water polo to your community in a fun, safe way and increase utilization of your facility.  For help starting a Splashball program, contact Liz Grimes (

    Whatever you choose to do, thank you for reaching out to USA Water Polo.  We look forward to seeing a new generation of water polo players in Montana!




    Ask Chris - December 4, 2009

    Hello Chris,

    During this Fall High School Water Polo season, I was told by one referee that there were 2 new rules in effect regarding the practice of swimming under water to gain advantage during a Water Polo match. I have spent this afternoon reading through the USA rules on line and could find no reference to this. The only reference I found was that a player could swim under water to get back in position after being substituted or going back in the game after an exclusion. Can you help me find these new rules?

    Also, the coaches at the High School my son attends, promote this "sub-marine" tactic as something  "good club teams and College teams use". We have not witnessed this previous to this Fall Season and our son has not previously been coached to play this way. His training with his water polo club did not include this type of maneuver and we regard it as a cheap way to play the game. Are we wrong?

    These high school coaches also promote and encourage their players to commit other acts that are clearly deemed as fouls in the USA Water Polo rules ( 20.9, 20.10, 21.7 & 21.8 & 21.9). This coaching has left our son feeling demoralized and confused. When he asks these men why these acts that are clearly fouls are allowed, he is told "that's the way the game is" or "it's just good D", implying that our son is not a strong enough player to know the difference. We have witnessed acts of brutality and Water Polo played at its worst this year and we are considering not having our son play for this High School team next year (his Senior year). If we opt to not have him play for this team, is playing for a Club Team enough to be considered to play at the College Level? We realize his abilities weigh in heavily but need to know if not playing a High School Season would be exclude him from consideration.

    We truly appreciate any feedback you can give us.


    Dear Renee,

    The technical aspects of this question are far beyond the scope of my knowledge, so I passed it along to Jim Cullingham, who chairs our National Referees Committee, as well as Rich Foster, Vice Chairman of the FINA TWPC and Andy Takata of the UANA Technical Committee for their views, which I have only attempted to summarize below.

    They all cited some version of FINA and MPSF rules:

    5. Ducking Under- Ducking under to gain an advantage is an offensive foul.  Ducking under after having gained an advantage (getting goal side position after going around the defender's vertical space- for example, a give and go drive) is a no-call.

    And from the NCAA "Points of Emphasis" for officials:

    16.    Ducking Under. If the offensive player gains advantage by ducking under (impeding) the defender, this should be called as an offensive foul and the ball turned over. The referee should not call an exclusion foul on the defense if the referee does not see the offensive player duck under but then does see, immediately after that action, the defender put both arms in the air to show there is no foul. The defender does not need to get off the offensive player, as it was the offensive player who went under water to put the players into that position. However, the defender may not use one or both hands to hold down the offensive player.

    Water polo is, as you know by now, a game in which fouls and punishments are part of the game.  Some coaches measure the risk-reward quotient for committing fouls differently.

    Choosing to play high school water polo versus club water polo is a personal decision. Scholastic and collegiate sports are interwoven into the fabric of our society, so it is difficult for many Americans to imagine forgoing them.  Still, there is a growing culture in some sports (soccer, for example), to emphasize club over high school and even college athletics.

    Outstanding players will be recognized by collegiate coaches whether through their performance in high school, junior Olympic or other top competitions.  If you son does not anticipate an athletic scholarship, he can also walk on to just about any collegiate team and let his ability speak for itself.

    At USA Water Polo, we have been reading Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers, which examines success in many fields.  One measure of success is "10,000 hours" of devoted experience to reach mastery.  From this perspective, cutting down on your son's experience in training and competition may make it difficult for him to put in the necessary time to reach his potential.

    Perhaps one of the most subtle, infuriating and complex aspects of water polo is the adjustments required from game to game by players, coaches and officials.  Although at times we all yearn for uniformity, there is art as well as science to every game.  You may consider the life lessons these games and adjustments are teaching your son, since life mirrors the artifice of the game.  He cannot expect every rule in life to be enforced uniformly and different authorities, whether at work or school, will emphasize different things, making his ability to understand and adjust critical skills for his success in life as well as sport.

    Whatever you decide, your son is lucky to have a parent thinking carefully about these dilemmas and supporting him in his pursuit of excellence.



    Ask Chris - November 2, 2009

    Hello Chris, what is the ideal speed that a water polo player should score in all swim testing areas in order to be selected in a high school, college team etc... My son has been playing for 6 seasons, he's a strong player and is happy with his team, but they tell him he needs more speed & stronger defense but he's not told how much time, seconds, etc... He's looking forward to make the high school team next year plus he's an honor student. As a Mom I need to support him. Thank You for your time. - Michelle

    Dear Michelle,

    First of all, congratulations on supporting your son both in the pool and outside of it!

    Water polo speed is generally different than "swim meet" speed.

    The most common method of measuring speed at the elite national level is a method we call t-times.  At the national team level, a player might swim ten consecutive 200 meter sprints with ten seconds between each.  They would then add the total swimming seconds and divide by ten again, so that an average 200 meter time would emerge: maybe 2:24, for example.  This method not only measures speed but also consistency and endurance.  At younger levels, you can use this approach differently (say, six consecutive 100 yard swims with ten seconds rest between each).  This is relevant for water polo because coaches are looking for players who are as fast in the fourth quarter as they are in the first quarter.

    Since in water polo there are no starting blocks and in games you can't push off a wall, some coaches also measure sprint speed from a floating position.  They also do many drills to help players change direction quickly in the water, since the most effective players can move to the ball in a flash.  Many players work on strengthening their core muscles and their legs so that they can sprint or change direction using a decisive whip kick to launch their bodies and get an edge.

    On the defensive front, so much of water polo is about holding position in the water that hip position is critical.  If he needs help understanding the principles behind positioning his hips for maximum leverage, you may want to sign him up for a clinic or camp.  Many good ones are advertised in SkipShot.

    Keep up the great work!



    Ask Chris - October 20, 2009

    Chris, where do I get information on becoming a WP official?  I live in OC and would like to get involved.  I'm sure I have gotten emails about the training classes but it has been a while.  Thanks for your response. - Jerome

    Hi Jerome,
    Thanks for checking in. I passed this question along to Jim Cullingham, the Chairman of our National Referee Committee as he might be best suited to give you an answer. Here is Jim's response.
    Hi Jerome,

    Thanks for your interest in officiating water polo!!   If you have never refereed before, you need to register as a USAWP referee member, take a course in officiating, and then register with your zone referee.  I have attached a  link of a simple overview of how to get started for your review.  You may also want to contact Steve Redding, who is the Head Referee for your area about specifics.  Zone referees can also provide helpful guidelines, introductions and other support to get you moving in the right directions.

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions.  Our sport needs more referees.  We are looking forward to having you involved.

    - Jim


    Ask Chris - October 8, 2009

    Hi Everyone,

    This is a new feature of USA Water Polo, where members can submit questions for the CEO and I'll answer as best I can.  If you have questions, send them to

    To get the ball skipping, so to speak, I thought it would be helpful to provide an update on how we are doing competitively, financially, in terms of membership growth, and improving our communication and marketing efforts.  


    We are now three-quarters of the way through our year at USA Water Polo.  Our senior national team performances have made us, for the second consecutive year, the most successful water polo program in the world, ranking ahead of Spain, Hungary, Canada, Italy and Australia.  Our women, under the leadership of Adam Krikorian, won gold medals at the FINA World League and the World Championships.  Our men, under the leadership of Terry Schroeder, took fourth at both events, again making it to the medal round.  The men's fourth place finish at World Championships tied the best USA finish ever at this event.  When you also factor in the performance of our Junior National teams, the aggregate result puts us at the top of the heap.

    For financial reasons, we could not do two things that we would like to have done this year and anticipate doing in future years: 1) send a men's team to the Youth Pan American Games and 2) send a women's team to the World University Games.  

    We are now collectively focused on the task of sustaining our high performance for many years to come.

    This is the year that we launched our Olympic Development Program, which aims to invest in a consistent level of training and truly nationalize our sport.  We are just beginning Phase 2 of ODP, which will run on an academic year calendar through June 2010.  Here are some of the key developments for the second phase:

    •    Regional Organization - ODP now divides the nation into four regions, West, East, Northern California and Southern California.  Technical directors will oversee each region to insure that coaches and officials are properly prepared and evaluated in their work.

    •    Regional Championships - Last year only some of the ODP athletes were sent to a championship event.  This year virtually all athletes will participate in a regional championship.  The East will host a six team tourney (per age group) with each zone training group comprising two teams each from the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast.  The West will send six teams from Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, the Southwest and Mountain zones, and so forth for California.

    •    National Training & Selection Camp - Memorial Day weekend will now become a national event that brings together the top players from each region, based on their performance at the Regional Championships.  These players will play as both regional teams and also on teams "balanced" to create equal competitive performance.  Further training will be included, with the weekend culminating in the selection of youth and national team training groups.

    •    Metrics and Evaluation - The ODP program has teamed with PoloMetrics to create a series of evaluative tests to measure progress.  These tests along with competitive evaluations by ODP and national team coaches will comprise a file on each player to measure their progress and identify areas for further improvement during their years in the ODP pipeline.  

    For more information on ODP, please visit our website:

    Looking ahead, FINA appears likely to bring back the 20U junior category of competition while retaining the 18U category as "youth."  Without professional leagues in the USA, this will help us find more high level competition for our 20U group.  We intend to continue fielding 16U national teams as well through our ODP program.

    In Rome, our nominee Richard Foster was named Vice Chairman of the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee, which is an important new role that will also see Rich contribute to new referee training and evaluation standards and programs within FINA.  USA referee Steven Rotsart was appointed to the FINA Referee Executive Council; he is the first American in many years to serve on the Executive Council. In addition to Steve, US referees Amber Drury, Michael Goldenberg and Alex Stankevitch will be officiating at the four major FINA events in 2010.

    USA Water Polo, as well each of the other aquatic sport NGB's, supported the candidacy of Dr. Julio Maglione as FINA President since May 2007. Not only was he successful in winning the presidency but he credits American support as a key factor in his success.

    Related to FINA are two technical positions with UANA (Unión Americana de Natación), for which USA Water Polo has nominated Andy Takata and Lynn Wittstock, both outstanding candidates from within USA Water Polo whom, we believe, will contribute important technical knowledge and oversight to water polo events in our hemisphere.


    On the sport development front, we have hired an outstanding director in Scott Tanner, a veteran of the Disney organization.  We completed our initial work with McKinsey & Company early in this year on a strategic plan to expand water polo, and Scott will lead the charge.

    Some of the suggestions from the McKinsey plan have already been piloted.  We finished the third quarter with an overall growth in active membership year-to-date of nearly 19 percent from the previous year.  This reflects a lot of new leagues across the country--part of the US Leagues initiative.  Membership has also been helped by pilot programs for 10U athletes.  On a regional basis, the biggest increase in membership this year has come from the Central California zone, followed by the Southwest and the Southeast zones.  Southern Pacific, Pacific and Pacific Southwest zones also joined the party with increases at or near 20 percent each.

    Before Scott came on board, I completed a swing of Town Hall Meetings across all eleven zones.  The meetings were helpful to me because I learned about people's concerns and interests directly from them and had a chance to visit local facilities as well.  There are some common themes, but there are also some issues that are particular to certain regions.  In general, the feedback that I received was that people are happier and more interested in USA Water Polo around the country than I might have suspected.  There was a feeling that USA Water Polo needed to change, and the people are beginning to see tangible results that are improving their member experience.  There is a great deal of interest in ODP and an appreciation for bringing improved training and fairness to the national team pipeline.  Clubs in more isolated areas still struggle with the need for a richer water polo eco system to help them grow and prosper.  Everyone was very excited about the new Junior Olympics format and accompanying JO Expo.

    The Town Hall Meetings were designed to be the beginning of a greater and freer exchange with our membership at a regional, personal level. There will be more meetings in areas around the country on an ongoing basis that will also introduce other members of the USA Water Polo senior staff and give us all a better perspective on how we can best help our sport.


    Those who know our federation well are aware that prior to the bylaw overhaul in 2006, the organization was deeply in debt.  This year we received our first clean audit opinion in the past four years.  Based on third quarter results, we are also positioned to retire more debt at the end of the year, indicating that our financial controls and efforts to increase revenue are both bearing fruit.

    We have posted our 2008 financial statements on our website so that you can review the results at any time.  (  

    While on the website, you may also want to check out the many generous members who have made contributions to USA Water Polo in the past year.  All of the members of our board of directors contribute to our organization, and there are signs that a culture of "giving back" is growing.


    One of the ways that we have increased revenue is through added sponsorship agreements.  The last two years have seen us make agreements with Albertson's, Hylands, Jolt, SeaAir Federal Credit Union and KT Tape.  This activity cumulatively has represented some $500,000 in new revenue--significantly higher than historical norms for our sport.

    We had hoped that our success in Beijing would produce even greater sponsorship results.  However, the Beijing Games coincided with a staggering world economic calamity--some believe that it will be more profound for the United States than the Great Depression.  The USOC has struggled in this marketplace, and it remains challenging for everyone in sports.  Chicago's failure to secure the 2016 Olympic Games, despite an outstanding bid proposal and effort, will also be a negative for Olympic sports in the marketplace.   This week we appointed Jennifer Rottenberg as our Chief Marketing Officer. A  Princeton graduate with her MBA from Harvard, Jen has done stints at both Booz-Allen and IMG, and we believe that she will help us to develop our brand and attract new, meaningful partnerships.  

    Jen is also a specialist in websites, having worked at when it began as a start-up.  Both she and Scott Tanner are already rethinking our website.  We have a lot of information to make available to a broad membership and we have quickly outgrown the organizing principles that made sense 18 months earlier.  Look for an overhaul to address these concerns in the near future--we hope to have a significant overhaul by the key summer season.  In the meantime, we have automated a number of transactions that we used to do via paper, such as purchasing tickets for national team exhibition games, to make it easier and more convenient for our members.

    Another area we are looking to improve is the broad category of communication.  This new feature is one element to help us connect with the questions and needs of our members.  Shortly we will also be providing more regular information to parents, athletes, coaches, club administrators and even non-members who care about our sport.  


    A few clubs have joined our partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance (, and they have begun experiencing the powerful impact that this program can bring to our clubs and families.  We are only at the beginning of this effort--much more can be done.  We are instituting a program of background checks that will apply to everyone in our organization working with youth.  Our grievance procedure has also provided an important process by which to gain due process within our federation.


    During the past year we have been adding staff to provide more and better services to clubs and members.  There has also been a little shuffling of the staff to different assignments in deference to their own personal goals.  Nikki Jost accepted a fellowship to a prestigious sports management graduate program at UMass, so she is leaving her full-time position in the national office but will continue in a new role as our Northeast Zone ODP Coordinator.  Marcy Crouch, a Stanford University graduate, has succeeded Nikki as Associate Director of Olympic Development.  Susan Warner-Hopkins relocated with her family to Bakersfield, and she still provides some consulting help when needed.  She has been succeeded by Kate Strand, a Villanova grad.  I mentioned Scott Tanner earlier.  His Sport Development division now encompasses member services and events, club support, and recreational programs.  We have added a receptionist too, in Sarah Stern from Bowdoin College, to help answer member inquires promptly. Ashley Papenbrock, who came to us recently in the reception role and played water polo at Whittier College, was just promoted to a new role in the ODP program.  For a complete listing of USAWP staff, including their biographies please go to:

    Thanks for visiting and remember if you have a question, please send it along at Talk to you soon.

    -- Chris




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