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Rule Changes Could Be Coming To NCAA Men's Division

There apparently was a survey sent out to men's college programs that contained questions about what they may want to see changed in the game. I am trying to get a hand on one of the surveys through some coaches I know, but until then it is just speculation of what was on the survey.

Below are some of the rules were included in the survey and discussed over at Water Polo Planet:

  • Shortening the course from 30 meters to 25 meters
  • Increasing the quarter length from seven minutes to eight
  • Referee makes a clear signal player is behind five meters
  • Defenders can not raise hands after a foul
  • 30 second shot clock
  • Following FINA rules

The best idea out of the bunch is the shortened course length at the NCAA level. Having played at 30 meters it is tough even when in peak shape and while some may say playing a shorter course will benefit teams that play in a shallow-deep pool or the teams that feature a lot of European players who play a physical game. However, a shorter course would allow more scoring and allow teams to set up their offense and play water polo instead of a game being a swim meet against a team with superior speed. Don't get me wrong, swimming is part of the game but so is setting up your set offense.

With the sport lacking eyeballs it would be better to have the game feature more goals to get some excitement. Some could argue that with a shorter course that the there would be more grabbing and wrestling at the center position, but that is where the 30 second shot clock comes into play to limit the amount of time teams can be physical.

With the shorter pool, adding one minute per quarter also would make sense since the players would not be as tired with a shorter course, plus it puts the quarter length on par with FINA rules.

The defender not raising any hands is interesting and I really do not like it. I did not like the rule change a few years ago that only allowed one hand to be up to defend. It could be that I used my arm lengths to deflect passes or shots, but it was done to again increase scoring, because some players and teams had field players that were acting like goalies. With this potential move to not allow a defender to raise any hand will allow for a more open shot if outside five meters and allow to get the offense going more quickly after a foul, or allow for an uncontested shot from fairly close range. This rule change would lead to more teams having their center back playing at the five-meter line and drawing the foul and take a wide open shot. This would open up scoring and that is what people like. Also, the goalie position would become even more valuable.

The last of the rule changes would be for the NCAA to follow FINA rules, and at the surface it makes sense to keep the rules the same at all levels. However, the FINA rules call for more physical play with the refs holding onto their whistle and rarely calling any ordinary fouls. I think it would be a good idea for the NCAA mirror the FINAL rules with very few adjustments, and those adjustments should be along the lines of pool dimension, quarter length or shot clock; those differences do not change the dynamic of the game which allows players to go back and forth between FINA and NCAA and not have to have remember a different set of rules.

If scoring is an issue then most of these rule changes make sense, but I don't like giving the offensive player a truly free pass with no defense at all, because there will likely be a rash of driving to the five-meter line to draw a foul and then pop up and shoot. That is already done in the game now but with no added defense it is essentially a free shot.

Nothing is official from these as it was just a survey, and any rule changes will needed to be announced sometime this summer.

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