Do Water Polo Players Get Injured? A Look at the Risks and Prevention Strategies

Do Water Polo Players Get Injured

Water polo is a thrilling and intense sport that requires players to be in top physical condition. As with any sport, injuries can occur, and water polo is no exception. In fact, due to the nature of the game, water polo players are at a higher risk of certain types of injuries compared to other athletes. In this article, we will explore the question of whether water polo players get injured and examine the most common types of injuries that can occur. We will also look at some of the ways that players can prevent injuries and recover from them if they do occur.

Whether you’re a seasoned water polo player or just starting out, read on to find out more about the risks and rewards of this exciting sport.

According to a study published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, water polo players are vulnerable to a range of traumatic injuries, such as concussions, eye injuries, tympanic membrane perforation, fractures, dislocations, and lacerations.

The research also found that water polo players are prone to overuse injuries, such as tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, and back pain.

Despite the high risk of injuries, water polo remains a popular sport among athletes. It is important for players, coaches, and parents to be aware of the potential risks and take necessary precautions to prevent injuries.

Common Injuries in Water Polo

Water polo is a physically demanding sport that requires players to be in excellent shape and have a high level of skill. Furthermore, this sport is linked with a significant risk of injury.

In this section, we will discuss some of the most common injuries that water polo players experience.


Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can occur in water polo when players collide with each other or the ball. Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, confusion, and memory loss.

It is important for players who experience a head injury to seek medical attention immediately and to not return to play until they have been cleared by a healthcare professional.

Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries are common in water polo due to the repetitive overhead movements required by the sport. These injuries can include rotator cuff tears, labral tears, and shoulder impingement syndrome.

Symptoms of a shoulder injury can include pain, weakness, and limited range of motion. Treatment for shoulder injuries can include rest, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

Knee Injuries

The eggbeater kick utilized to stay afloat in water polo can lead to knee injuries. This kicking style places significant stress on the muscles of the thigh and the inner half of the knee, resulting in frequent overuse injuries.

Knee injuries in water polo can include meniscus tears, MCL strains and tears, tendonitis, and tendinopathy. Treatment for knee injuries can include rest, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.

Preventing Injuries in Water Polo

Water polo is a physically demanding sport that requires players to be in excellent shape and have a high level of skill. As with any sport, there is always a risk of injury. However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of injury and keep players safe.

Proper Warm-Up and Stretching

One of the most important things that water polo players can do to prevent injuries is to properly warm up and stretch before games and practices.

A good warm-up should include light cardio exercises, such as jogging or jumping jacks, to get the blood flowing and increase body temperature.

This should be followed by stretching exercises that focus on the major muscle groups used in water polo, such as the shoulders, arms, and legs. Stretching should be done slowly and gently, and held for at least 15-20 seconds.

Strengthening Exercises

Another key to preventing injuries in water polo is to strengthen the muscles used in the sport. This can be done through a variety of exercises, such as weightlifting, resistance band training, and bodyweight exercises.

Some of the most important muscles to target include the shoulders, back, core, and legs. By strengthening these muscles, players can improve their overall fitness and reduce the risk of injury.

Protective Gear

Finally, it is important for water polo players to wear appropriate protective gear to prevent injuries. This may include a mouthguard to protect the teeth and gums, ear guards to prevent ear injuries, and a nose clip to prevent water from entering the nose.

Some players may also choose to wear a helmet or goggles for added protection. It is important to choose gear that fits properly and is designed specifically for water polo.

By following these guidelines, water polo players can reduce the risk of injury and stay safe while enjoying the sport. It is important to remember that injuries can still occur even with proper precautions, so players should always listen to their bodies and seek medical attention if they experience pain or discomfort.

Recovering from Injuries in Water Polo

Water polo is a physically demanding sport that requires a lot of strength and agility. As a result, injuries are common in this sport. However, with proper care and attention, many injuries can be treated and players can recover quickly. This section will discuss the different ways in which players can recover from injuries in water polo.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process for many water polo injuries. A physical therapist can help players regain strength and flexibility in the affected area.

They can also help players learn exercises and stretches that can help prevent future injuries. Physical therapy can be a long process, but it is important for players to be patient and follow their therapist’s instructions.

Some common injuries that may require physical therapy include shoulder injuries, knee injuries, and ankle injuries. In some cases, players may need to wear a brace or other supportive device during physical therapy to help protect the injured area.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are also important parts of the injury recovery process. Players should take time off from playing water polo to allow their injuries to heal. During this time, they should also focus on getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated.

Players should also avoid activities that may aggravate their injuries. For example, if a player has a shoulder injury, they should avoid any activities that involve lifting heavy weights or putting strain on the shoulder. It is important to follow the advice of a doctor or physical therapist when it comes to rest and recovery.

Returning to Play

Returning to play after an injury can be a difficult decision. Players should only return to play when they have fully recovered and have been cleared by a doctor or physical therapist. It is important to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of play over time.

Players should also take steps to prevent future injuries. This may include wearing protective gear, such as a mouthguard or earplugs, or working with a physical therapist to develop a conditioning program that can help prevent future injuries.

Overall, recovering from injuries in water polo requires patience, dedication, and a commitment to following the advice of doctors and physical therapists. With the right care and attention, many water polo injuries can be treated and players can return to the sport they love.


Water polo is a physically demanding sport that requires players to possess a unique combination of strength, endurance, and agility. As such, injuries are not uncommon, and players must take steps to prevent and manage them effectively.

As per a systematic review of injuries in water polo, the majority of traumatic injuries occur to the hands and head due to unexpected contact with the ball or opponents.

On the other hand, training injuries tend to impact the shoulder area primarily. Shoulder injuries are the most prevalent among NCAA water polo athletes. However, such injuries seldom require missed time from the sport or surgical intervention.

Water polo is known for dental injuries, with nearly 50% of players reporting having witnessed a water polo-related dental injury, and 21% reporting that they had suffered a dental injury themselves, typically a tooth fracture. Despite the high occurrence of injuries, only a few players choose to wear protective gear.

It is essential for water polo players to engage in proper training and conditioning to minimize the risk of injury. This includes developing strength and flexibility in the shoulders, hips, and other key areas, as well as practicing proper technique and wearing appropriate protective gear. By taking these steps, players can enjoy the many benefits of water polo while minimizing the risk of injury.