Water Polo is a very physically demanding sport, players need to have the fitness to tread water for extended periods without using their hands, palm off opponents, and pass and shoot at goal under fatigue. See more about Water Polo Fitness requirements.
Fitness testing for water polo players needs to measure the range of abilities required for success in the sport. Players need to have a very high aerobic fitness, they need to be strong swimmers, capable of fast short bursts of activity, and able to repeat these high intensity activities with minimal rest. Players are also generally very tall and have a long arm reach. Below are some tests that are appropriate to be used for monitoring and assessing the fitness of water polo players.
Fitness testing for water polo does not need to all conducted in the pool. When trying to isolate the components of fitness, land based tests are sometimes more appropriate.
- Body Size and Shape — water polo players are usually tall and lean, with a long reach. Some amount of body fat is not a hindrance as it can add to buoyancy in the water. The usual anthropometric measures for water polo would include height, weight, sitting height, arm span, hand span, and body fat using skinfold measures. See more about Anthropometry for Water Polo.
- Strength and Power — strength and power are important for lifting the body up from the water, and for quick and powerful bursts of swimming. A vertical jump test is best to measure the explosive power of the legs. There is also a water polo specific in-water vertical jump test. Upper body strength can be measured using Bench Press 1RM or 3RM tests.
- Anaerobic Capacity — The Water Polo
Intermittent Shuttle Test (WIST) has been designed specifically for water polo to measure a player's ability to perform repeated high-intensity efforts interspersed with brief periods of active recovery. Other commonly used water polo specific tests of anaerobic power are the 14 x 25-m water polo swims (Rodriguez, 1994) and the
30-second crossbar jumps (30CJ).
- Endurance — aerobic capacity is important for a water polo player to maintain a high work rate throughout the hour long game. Land based endurance tests (e.g. treadmill VO2max) can be used, though specific swimming tests are more relevant. It is possible to conduct a VO2max test in the water if a swimming flume is available, though other swimming tests are available such as the Shuttle Swim Test, a water based multi-stage beep test. There is also the more comprehensive Swimming Step Test to measure a range of physiological parameters during swimming.
- Health — lung function is obviously important for swimming athletes, and checks should be make to check that the lungs are healthy and functioning to their full capacity. See lung function tests.
- Rodriguez, FA. Physiological testing of swimmers and water polo players in Spain. In: Medicine and Science in Aquatic Sports. Miyashita, M, Mutoh, Y, and Richardson, AB, eds. Basel: Karger, 1994. pp. 172–177.
- More about Anthropometry for Water Polo
- Fitness for Water Polo
- Fitness Components for Water Polo
- Complete list of fitness tests for sport
- Poll about the most important fitness components of water polo
- Fitness Testing for Swimming