Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Short-Term Influence of Rule Changes on Match Characteristics in Water Polo

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Short-Term Influence of Rule Changes on Match Characteristics in Water Polo

Article excerpt

Introduction

Rule changes in invasion sports have previously been introduced with various aims ranging from increasing safety to making the game more attractive and entertaining (Arias, Argudo Iturriaga, & Alonso Roque, 2011; Williams, 2007). In football, the offside law was implemented in the 1930s. The intent was to prevent 'football-tennis', and encourage the game to be played using the entire playing area (Kew, 1987) and reemphasize the uniqueness of football (i.e, display of ball control skills and 'taking men on'). Rule changes have also been implemented to reduce technical offences such as fouls and/or dangerous play (Williams, 2007) that are prevalent in sports such as water polo whereby there are approximately three times more fouls that occur in a game than in football (Hraste, Bebic, & Rudic, 2013).

The first water polo game was characterized by uncontrolled play that involved a lot of diving underwater and sinking of opponents, without attention paid to technique or rules (Hraste et al., 2013). Since time is stopped when a foul occurs in water polo, stoppage time can be equivalent to the time players spend swimming (Platanou, 2004). Water polo has since evolved through numerous periods of rule changes (Donev & Aleksandrović, 2008; Hraste et al., 2013). Modern water polo is a high tempo game played with six field players and one goalkeeper per team with rolling substitutions. There are four periods, each lasting for eight minutes. The offensive team can possess the ball for 30 seconds that restarts in the event of a turnover foul, an exclusion foul, or a shot on goal. Ordinary and exclusion fouls can happen anywhere in the field of play. A penalty foul is awarded if a defending player commits a foul within five meters of the defensive goal post. This normally results in a goal being conceded. Nonetheless, modern water polo is still plagued with excessive physical contact and static offensive play (Hraste et al., 2013).

The intents of the 2013 rule changes by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) was to bring out more movement, creativity and explosive speed, to remove static situations, and to provide more clarity to the correct application of rules. One major rule change is for referees to award an exclusion foul instead of an ordinary foul to players who impede any opponent not holding the ball, regardless of possession, to slow the game down throughout the entire playing area (FINA., 2013). Traditionally, a defensive player could impede an offensive player by swimming across his/her legs or shoulders, and/or by restricting his/her movements with two hands without getting excluded. Any foul to stop the flow of the game especially during counter attack must result in an exclusion. Referees are also instructed to play advantage at all times, with the discretion to award (or not award) any fouls, in favor of the attacking team. Other rule changes include but are not limited to: increasing timeouts from two per match to one per quarter; replacing extra time with a penalty shootout; restarting the shot clock during simultaneous exclusions of players from opposing teams and awarding an ordinary foul to the opposing team for simulation of being fouled to waste time. These rule changes will likely influence the proceedings of the game, with implications on match characteristics, performance demands on the players and coaching strategies.

Notational analysis has been used to quantify technical and tactical aspects of various team sports such as Water Polo as an indication of a team's performance. Some examples include the differences in game-related statistics between winning and losing water polo teams (Argudo Iturriaga, F. M., Roque, Marín, & Lara, 2007; Argudo Iturriaga, Ruiz Lara, & Alonso Roque, 2009; Escalante et al., 2012; Escalante, Saavedra, Mansilla, & Tella, 2011; Lupo, Condello, & Tessitore, 2012; Lupo, Tessitore, Minganti, & Capranica, 2010; Vila, Abraldes, Alcaraz, Rodríguez, & Ferragut, 2011), the effects of competition level on the offensive center forward's role (Lupo et al. …

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