Referees Info & player feedback

Welcome to the WPACT Refereeing page.

This page provides referees with some guidance and instructions from ACTWPI based on feed back received and other sources.

It also provides players and coaches with the opportunity to provide constructive feedback to referees. It is hoped that all referees will adopt a positive attitude towards developing their skills, not take feedback personally and use it to improve their skills as a referee.

The first thing to do is to read and re-read the FINA rules. Use 'Water polo- the rules' link at left. Make sure you read the Appendices as they contain refereeing instructions. If you haven't done it for a while- do it now!


Referees Instruction #1

WPACT IS VERY KEEN TO CRACK DOWN ON DISRESPECT SHOWN TO REFEREES. As disrespect carries such a harsh penalty, many referees have been reluctant to enforce it. WPACT would like you to take the following approach. Read point 2 below (from Adelaide refs conference). In the first instance of disrespect; blow the whistle, stop the game, call for the ball and give a clear signal to the player/coach (we suggest the zipped lip signal). Everyone is then on notice that no more disrespect will be tolerated. The next instance must be penalised according to the laws of the game. Ignoring disrespect is not an option. You must also remain consistent and not crack down randomly.

If you don't know exactly how to deal with this or other exclusion penalties, re-read the fina rules and see the "Judiciary Summary' under "Manuals/Rules/Policies" at left.

Referees Instruction #2

Referees should avoid entering into discussion or explanations (which usually turn into arguments) with players during or immediately after (within 40 minutes) of a game. You are a referee not a coach. If approached by the coach or captain you can explain to them so long as they are being non-confrontational.

Referees Instruction #3

Make sure you understand your obligations in relation to judiciary matters. They are quite straight forward (see "judiciary summary" under "Manuals/Rules/Policies"). If you are not up to date on this you should not be refereeing!

Referees Instruction #4

Referees need to be confident, decisive and quick with their decisions. Although confidence is difficult to develop without experience, there are a couple of tips that might make an immediate difference on the way to becoming more experienced:


1.     Read the rules often. You will be far more confident if you are sure of the rules.

2.     Get a smallish, shrill whistle. The big, old, footy types don't make a piercing enough sound for people with water in their ears to hear easily.

3.     Blow the whistle really loud. To do this you need to do a `dry spit' into the whistle. This is not like blowing up a balloon where the flow comes mainly from the chest. The forces feels like it is coming from the throat, neck and cheeks but is probably coming more from the diaphragm, the muscle just under the rib cage.

4.     You don't have to be right all the time, just consistent. A wrong decision made quickly may often be better than a right decision that you have taken so much time over that the play has moved on and the decision is now `out of date'.

5.     Related to the last point: Make the decision quickly. Trust your judgement and call what first comes into your head. So, if you see a situation and think: "The attacking player might be pushing off"-call it. If you delay, you might also think: "The defensive player might be holding on to the attacker". Both of these things might be true, but if call the first one quickly, at least one of the players may think: "OK the ref got it wrong but called the first thing they saw and I'll need to show the referee what is going on next time.

6.     The last tip is for COACHES: Good coaches teach their players to show the referee that they are being fouled. Lifting up the arm that is being held, getting your chest out of the water where the opponent is pushing, stopping a bit quicker (which is actually a bit of a fake) if someone is grabbing your legs, are all mechanisms that will help the referee get a good result.


Adelaide January 2008 Referees' Conference Interpretations

Courtesy of Rowan Woodburn

  1. Advantage
    • "To promote the attack"
    • "To enable the attack"
    • But  not to "create the attack"
    • Advantage is relative to possession, whether a probable goal may be scored and the numbers of attackers and defenders
  2.    Disrespect
    • It is up to the referee to determine if a warning is initially warranted or an automatic ejection for the game
    • There is to be no "20 second option"
  3. 5m shots
    • If the attacking referee needs to be around the 2m line, then it is the responsibility of the back referee to be near or on the attacking 5m
    • Both referees need to be conscious of the importance of monitoring the 5m line
    • It is more important for the back referee to help monitor the 5m line than to watch the back players
    • However the back referee must ensure the "back players" remain in their field of vision.
  4. Swim-off Never reward bad play, as in a bad pass, lack of skills, lack of vision etc.
    • Because of the possible lack of vision the table may have of the swim-off result, it remains a role of the starting referee to signal the direction of play resultant from the swim-off
  5. Any 2-handed or forceful sink by a defender on an attacker, whether it be in direct play or delaying an attacking player's participation in the play, should result in an ejection. Advantage needs to be considered in this situation.
  6. The back referee must delay an outside foul call if there exists an attacking chance at C/F
  7. If the CF and CB are both holding, but the CF is able to push off for advantage as the ball comes in, then a turn-over should be given
  8. Care should be given to avoid unnecessary and perhaps confusing hand signals
  9. Head contact Grabbing a cap - is an ejection
    • Any incidental head contact should generally be let go
    • Any intentional and/or dangerous head contact should be an ejection
  10. CF / CB
    • Elbows pushing on CF shoulders - ejection
    • CB sinking with back or chest ("flopping down") - ejection
    • CB pulling around CF for better position - ejection
    • CF pulling around CB - turn-over
    • Referee should always check the relative body positions of both CB and CF
    • Also check the legs of each; whether horizontal or vertical
    • Take care with making calls too early that may lessen the options of a good CF
    • Call minor fouls when needed; and also not too late
    • It's acceptable to call minor fouls when ball is out the top; this can prevent escalation of contact between CF and CB
    • If both CF/CB are wrestling under water, this is usually a situation for a double ejection; however the referee needs to be sure that the situation has not been initiated by one player
    • If a double ejection, referee takes ball, makes clear signals and recommences play for the team in possession when all players are set
  11. Penalties
    • Taking the penalty

                                                               i.      The ball must be released before the player's body crosses the 5m line

                                                             ii.      Closest defenders must be at least outside the goal posts and outside contact range of the shooter

                                                            iii.      Referee should stand inside the 5m line while making sure all players are set,

                                                           iv.      Then stand up to the 5m line when about to signal for the penalty

    • Penalties against goalies

                                                               i.      If the goalkeeper fouls a solitary attacker inside the 5m - a penalty results

                                                             ii.      If the goalkeeper fouls a solitary attacker outside the 5m - an ejection results

    • goalkeeper position for penalties

                                                               i.      If the goalkeeper does not line up correctly, he/she is warned

                                                             ii.      If this is repeated, an official once-only warning is given

                                                            iii.      If this is repeated, the goalkeeper is given a 20 second ejection

                                                           iv.      The goalkeeper may be substituted by another player without goalkeeper privileges

    • The goalkeeper ejected during a penalty shoot-out

                                                               i.      The goalkeeper is substituted by a player without goalie privileges for that shot, then may be replaced by the substitute goalkeeper (with privileges) for the remainder of the shoot-out


  1. Two hands up to stop a shot or pass If a goal is scored and the game is close with seconds remaining, the attacking referee should proceed to the 2-5m area before the game is restarted to help adjudication for a possible shot at goal
    • If done inside the 5m - a penalty is given
    • If done outside the 5m - an ejection is given
  2. Penalty called in last minute of the game
    • Referees need to remember to offer the coach of the team in possession the choice to retain possession of the ball or take a penalty shot
  3. Timeout called after a goal
    • The timeout is now held immediately, then play restarted as normal
  4. Player count after timeout or any stoppage when the ball is taken out of play Players out for misconduct or brutality should remove their caps and vacate the team bench. Players out with three exclusion fouls remain on the bench with their cap on
    • It is the referees' responsibility to monitor the correct player count as players return to play after any stoppage
    • If the count is incorrect, referees should correct this before restarting play
    • Referees should consider whether this incorrect number of players has been done with intent by coaches and deal with this appropriately
  5. Managers approaching the table
    • Managers should not approach the table, except in these situations:
    •   To check whether players foul count is one or two, this is only possible during quarter time breaks

                                                             ii.      If the table indicates there is a problem with a player's foul count, then the play is stopped and a manager may approach the table

    • This is to be made clear to coaches and managers before game

Pull-pasts in any games

·        All visible pull-pasts that create goal-scoring probability must be exclusions

·        Other clear pull-pasts should be given a turn-over

·        The only exception is where CF is holding CB. This situation results in a turn-over


thanks to Rowan for passing on these latest interpretations... any questions please talk to Rowan, Ben Yuen or Don Cameron





* Among his many qualifications, Don was Head Coach of the AIS Water Polo program 1996-2001, Head Coach Mens Olympic water polo 1998-2000, National Coaching Director & ITC Coordinator AWPI 1989-1996, former National team player including; Olympics, World Cup and World Championships.

.......see below for downloadable referees feedback form.

It is hoped that this will provide players and coaches with an opportunity to provide their opinions outside the pool area. All feedback will be read and considered. To keep the workload controllable we will not necessarily be sending acknowledgements, be answering questions or entering into communications with players/coaches.


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