Why Do Water Polo Players Shave? The Science Behind the Tradition

Why Do Water Polo Players Shave

If you’ve ever watched a water polo game, you may have noticed that many of the players are completely hairless. While this may seem odd, there is actually a good reason behind it. Water polo players shave their legs, arms, and sometimes even their entire body in order to reduce drag while swimming.

Drag is the force that opposes the forward motion of an object moving through a fluid, such as water. When a water polo player is swimming, their body creates drag as it moves through the water.

This drag can slow them down and make it more difficult to swim quickly and efficiently. By shaving their body hair, water polo players can reduce the amount of drag that their body creates in the water, allowing them to swim faster and more efficiently.

But shaving isn’t just about reducing drag. It can also help water polo players feel more comfortable in the water. Body hair can get caught in swimsuits, causing discomfort and irritation.

Shaving can also help reduce the amount of chlorine that is absorbed by the hair, which can keep it healthy and looking its best. Overall, shaving has become a common practice among water polo players and is seen as an important part of the sport.

Hygiene and Safety

When it comes to water polo, hygiene and safety are important factors to consider. Shaving your body hair can help prevent infections and reduce drag in the water. Here are some reasons why:

Preventing Infections

Water polo players are at risk of developing skin infections due to the close contact with other players and the water. Shaving your body hair can help prevent these infections by reducing the amount of bacteria that can get trapped in your hair follicles.

This is especially important for areas like the armpits and groin, which are prone to sweating and can easily become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Additionally, shaving can help prevent the spread of infections from one player to another. If a player has an open wound or infection, their body hair can trap bacteria and make it easier to spread to other players during close contact. By shaving, players can reduce the risk of spreading infections and keep themselves and their teammates safe.

Reducing Drag in the Water

Another reason why water polo players shave is to reduce drag in the water. Body hair can create resistance in the water, making it harder to move quickly and efficiently. By shaving, players can reduce this resistance and improve their speed and agility in the water.

Shaving can also help swimmers feel the water better by removing dead skin cells. This can improve their sensitivity to the water and help them make more precise movements.

In summary, shaving is an important part of hygiene and safety for water polo players. By reducing the risk of infections and improving performance in the water, shaving can help players stay healthy and competitive.

Team Unity and Tradition

One reason why water polo players shave their bodies is to promote team unity and tradition. When everyone on the team shaves, it creates a sense of uniformity and solidarity among the players.


Uniformity is important in team sports because it helps players feel like they are part of a cohesive unit. When everyone on the team looks the same, it can help players feel like they are all working towards the same goal.

Shaving is one way to achieve this sense of uniformity, especially since it is a visible sign that everyone on the team is committed to the same goal.


Shaving can also be symbolic of a team’s commitment to excellence. When players shave, they are showing that they are willing to go the extra mile to improve their performance. This can be a powerful motivator for players, especially when they see the results of their hard work in the pool.

Additionally, shaving can be a way for players to honor the traditions of the sport. Many water polo teams have a long history of shaving, and players may feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves when they participate in this tradition.

Overall, shaving can be an important part of team unity and tradition in water polo. By promoting uniformity and symbolizing a commitment to excellence, shaving can help players feel like they are part of a cohesive team that is working towards a common goal.

Performance and Competitive Advantage

Improved Speed and Agility

Shaving your legs can improve your speed and agility in the water. By reducing drag, you can move through the water more efficiently, which can lead to faster swim times and better performance during water polo matches.

A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a six-week training intervention, which included shaving, improved sprint times and agility performance in professional water polo players.

Better Traction and Grip

Shaving your legs can also provide better traction and grip in the water. Without hair on your legs, you can more easily grab and hold onto the ball during a water polo match.

This can give you a competitive advantage and help you make more successful plays. Additionally, shaved legs can help prevent the ball from slipping out of your hands during a throw or shot.

Psychological Edge

Lastly, shaving your legs can provide a psychological edge during water polo matches. According to a feature in Viking Magazine, some athletes shave to boost their confidence and feel more prepared to face their opponents.

Seeing other players with shaved legs can also create a sense of uniformity and team spirit. While the psychological benefits of shaving may not be measurable, they can still be significant for some athletes. In conclusion, shaving your legs can provide several performance and competitive advantages for water polo players.

By reducing drag, improving traction and grip, and providing a psychological edge, shaving can help you perform at your best during matches.