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Background Information

Canoe Polo, also known as Kayak Polo, is a dynamic team sport contested on open water or in a swimming pool with two teams of five. It combines paddling and ball handling skills within a contact team game. The ball can be thrown by hand or flicked with the paddle to pass between players and shoot at the goal.

Canoe Polo is one of the two Canoe disciplines featured at The World Games 2022, together with Canoe Marathon.


The aim of the teams is to score more goals than the opponent in order to win the game. Goals are scored by putting the ball through the opponent’s goal. 


- Two groups of four teams. Single Round-robin games in both groups. All teams qualify for crossed quarter-finals.

- Losing quarter-finalists match-up in a consolation round.

- Winners of consolation round compete for 5th position, losing teams compete for 7th.

- Winners of quarter-finals qualify for the semi-finals.

- Losing Semi-finalists compete for Bronze. Winning semi-finalists compete for Gold and Silver.


Two halves of 10 minutes are played per game. At the beginning of each half,  players form each team line up to start, stationary, with some part of their kayaks on their own goal line. Only one player per team sprints to the middle of the pitch to win possession of the ball.

Players are allowed to possess the ball for a maximum of 5 seconds before passing or shooting, or the team will lose ball possession. The ball can be controlled by hand or by paddle.

There are no traditional, fixed goalkeepers. The defending team positions one athlete under the goal and is considered as goalkeeper. While contact is allowed elsewhere on the pitch during ball possession, goalkeepers can’t be moved or pushed out of their position by any opposition player.

In case of a tie, 5 minutes of overtime are played consecutively until a team scores a goal. The first team to score a goal in an overtime period wins the game.


A one-minute time-out can be called per team and half. It may be called in the first seven minutes of the half when the team is in possession and outside the six-metre area. Athletes must be ready to re-start from their approximate same position after one minute.


- Overload: 1 or 2 players attack the side of the zone, pushing the defensive players together and creating space for a 3rd player to sprint into the newly created space, receive a pass from the 4th player and take a direct shot on the goal.
- Box player: A player positions themselves directly under the goal, next to the keeper. The aim is to keep this position and to receive a quick pass and then have a short, direct shot at the goal or pass to another player who takes the opportunity to break through the defence.
- Star: The players position themselves around the zone and sprint in consecutively, a defensive player moves to block each player as they sprint in, the attacking team moves the ball around as the players sprint in, threatening to take a shot. If done correctly, the fifth player is able to sprint into the zone, will have no defensive player to block them, receive the pass from the 4th player and be able to take a direct shot on goal.


- 3–1: Three players form a row above the goalkeeper, 1 to each side and 1 directly above the keeper. This formation can provide a very solid defensive line, by protecting the sides and the middle. The remaining player patrols the top of the zone with the aim of pressuring the ball and stopping players running into gaps in the defensive line.
- 2–2: Two players position themselves in front, and to the side of the goalkeeper, and block attacking players threatening the goal from the side. The two other players go farther forward and towards the middle with the aim of stopping players running in to the zone and to place pressure of the attackers. Looked on from above, it is not dissimilar to a Christmas tree formation. The aim is to force long-shots and errors from the attackers to win the ball back, while protecting the goal.
- Five or out: Every player, including the goalkeeper, marks a player and pressures the ball and every pass, trying to force a mistake or gain an interception.


Two referees control the match.

When any part of the ball touches the physical sideline or the vertical plane of the physical sideline, or touches any overhead obstacle, the team that was not the last to touch it with their paddle, kayak or person is awarded a sideline-throw.

Whenever the ball goes out over the team's own goal line and has been last touched by the other team, then a goal line throw is awarded. If the ball goes out over the team's own goal line and was last touched by their own team, then a corner throw is awarded.

If a player capsizes and leaves their kayak, the player cannot take any further part in the play and leaves the playing area immediately, with all of their equipment. Players can only be replaced if leaving their own goal line with all capsized equipment, or during a break in play.

Substitution is allowed at any time, including during time-outs. Exit and entry of players for substitution may be anywhere along the team’s own goal line, provided all the player’s kayak and equipment has left the playing area before the substitute may enter the playing area. A player leaving the playing area solely as part of the action of the game is not subject to the conditions for re-entry.

Penalty shots can be awarded under the following circumstances:

Inside the 6 m area:

- For any deliberate or dangerous foul on a player in the act of shooting.
- For any deliberate or dangerous foul on a player in the act of passing or positioning for a near-certain goal.
- For a deliberate or dangerous foul on a player who is attempting to take a free shot.

Outside the 6 m area:

- For any deliberate or dangerous foul on a player in the act of shooting for a near-certain goal while the goal is not defended.
- For any deliberate or dangerous foul on a player in the act of passing or positioning for a near-certain goal while the goal is not defended.


Possible penalties:

- Free shot after a goal

- 6 meter penalties for special fouls

- green card = warning + don't do this again

- yellow card = 2 minutes out of game + don't do this again

- red card = out of match + next game

The Jury can decide on additional sanctions.

Appearances in TWG 2017 Yes
Appearances in TWG 2013 Yes
Appearances in TWG 2009 Yes
Appearances in TWG 2005 Yes
Title holders in TWG 2017

Team Men

  1. Team GER
  2. Team ITA
  3. Team ESP

Team Women

  1. Team GER
  2. Team FRA
  3. Team ITA
Title holders in TWG 2013

Team Men

  1. Team GER
  2. Team FRA
  3. Team ITA

Team Women

  1. Team GER
  2. Team GBR
  3. Team FRA
Title holders in TWG 2009

Team Men

  1. Team FRA
  2. Team NED
  3. Team AUS

Team Women

  1. Team GBR
  2. Team GER
  3. Team FRA
Title holders in TWG 2005

Team Men

  1. Team NED
  2. Team GER
  3. Team GBR

Team Women

  1. Team GER
  2. Team GBR
  3. Team JPN
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