Actual Playing Time of Water Polo Players in Relation to the Field Position

Giovanni Melchiorri, Valerio Viero, Virginia Tancredi, Roberto Del Bianco, Marco Bonifazi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In water polo competitions, teams play four periods, each period consisting of eight minutes of actual playing time: a total of 32 minutes (Standard Actual Play Time, SAPT). Substitutions are permitted and a player may be substituted several times. The aim of this article was to provide reference data on played time, taking into consideration the field play position of the players. 352 male water polo players of 18 different nationalities were studied during two consecutive FINA World Championships. 180 games were analyzed and 1980 measurements of the game Measured Actual Play Time (MAPT) were taken. A time density index (DI) was calculated for each athlete using SAPT and MAPT. No statistically significant differences between the field positions were found with regard to age, as was the case in relation to teams between Game MAPT, Tournament MAPT and DI. However, when looking at the diverse field positions (field players, FP; center forward, CF; center back, CB), there were statistically significant differences: Game MAPT FPvsCB p = 0.03 and FPvsCF p = 0.03; Tournament MAPT FPvsCB p = 0.03; DI FPvsCB p = 0.03 and FPvsCF p = 0.04. In these competitions the water polo player had on average a MAPT value of 17.4 ± 6.1 min (54.6 ± 9.5% DI); there were athletes who played 2.3 min (7.1% DI) and others who played up to 31.6 min (95.3% DI). The MAPT in water polo is extremely variable among athletes and must be considered for a correct performance analysis. High-level water polo players require different training strategies depending on their MAPT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-249
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Human Kinetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 21 2020


  • age
  • field position
  • match analysis
  • periodization
  • training strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Physiology (medical)


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