Water polo has become increasingly popular among the youth over the past decade, with participation reaching peaks the sport has never seen before. Due to this high influx of new players, the question of water polo expenses has become a major question for prospective athletes and their families.
Water polo athletes can expect to pay approximately $470 for the mandatory gear, registration fees, and club team costs. Water polo athletes joining their high school program typically get to forgo the team costs associated with club organizations, so their expenses go down to $100.
We will delve into the exact breakdown of these expenses in the sections below. Read until the end to discover how to save money during water polo registration so you can focus more on the game itself and less about the associated costs.
Water Polo Expenses By the Numbers
|Water Polo Expense||Cost|
|Water Polo Cap||$15|
|Men’s Water Polo Swimsuit|
Women’s Water Polo Swimsuit
|USA Water Polo Annual Membership Fee||$45|
|Total Expenses (*for high school players)||~$100|
|+Registration Costs (for Club Organizations)||$370|
|Total Expenses (*for club players)||~$470|
Cost of Water Polo Gear
The very first expense on this list is for the mandatory water polo attire. At the very least, water polo players must have a water polo cap and a swimsuit to take part in games.
Water Polo Cap ($15)
Every athlete that intends to play water polo needs a water polo cap. These water polo caps serve a variety of functions, including:
- differentiating teams by its color
- player number identification
- reducing frictional drag while swimming
- safeguarding the ears from potential injury
Typically, you have to pay for your water polo cap through the team so that every player can have uniform caps with their individual number posted on the design. Since these uniform team caps are bought in bulk, they cost slightly less than they would individually, so you save a bit of money by purchasing through the team.
However, you may want to consider investing in a personal water polo cap for when you practice on your own. In this case, you would have to pay full price for the individual water polo cap.
It’s important to note that water polo caps differ from regular swim caps, in that they’re hooded and include an extra layer of protection around the ears. The manufacturing material required for this additional layer of protection is the underlying reason why water polo caps are slightly more expensive than regular swim caps.
Water Polo Swimsuit ($40)
The next mandatory piece of water polo gear is the swimsuit. The style of water polo swimsuits differ according to gender. This difference in swimsuit style is reflected in the cost.
It is standard for male water polo athletes to wear a modest speedo that covers their hips, groin, and bottom. On the other hand, female water polo athletes wear form-fitted swimsuits that cover more of their body, like their back, shoulders, and torso for example.
Since male water polo swimsuits require less material to make, they typically cost less than female water polo swimsuits. Male water polo suits cost around $20 to $40, whereas female water polo suits are priced anywhere from $40 to $80.
Generally, the smaller the suit, the better the player’s mobility. Believe it or not, the slick fabric of swimsuits still creates tiny areas of friction that create drag underwater, resulting in slower movement. Exposed skin creates slightly less drag compared to swimsuit fabric, especially when that skin has been been cleanly shaven.
If you’re curious as to the other reasons why swimmers remove their body hair, check out Why Do Swimmers Shave Their Bodies? (Easy Explanation).
For this reason, the highest quality swimsuit options for water polo tend to be those that are form-fitted, require less fabric, and repel water. If you want to get a leg up on the water polo competition with your swimsuit, these are the factors you should keep in mind. Just know that these high tier types of swimsuits usually come at a higher price tag.
Once you’ve gathered all the required water polo gear, the next major cost is registering with national water polo organizations so that you can legally play in practices, games, and other qualified events. Put simply, these registration fees are mainly for insurance purposes.
USA Water Polo Membership ($45)
For those of you that do not know, USA Water Polo supervises practically all major water polo events in the United States, including (source):
- club practices
- sanctioned events
- National Championship events
- Olympic Development Program (ODP) participation
There’s a tiered hierarchy to the USA Water Polo membership program. Essentially, the higher the membership plan you purchase, the more USA Water Polo events for which you will be eligible. The pricing for these various membership levels, along with what events you would be eligible for, are shown in the table below:
|Membership Level||Cost||Eligible Events||Ineligible Events|
|Gold Athlete||$135||all USAWP events||none|
|Silver Athlete||$87||– club practices|
– local & regional sanctioned events
– Master’s Nationals
– ODP camps
|National Championship events|
|Bronze Athlete||$45||– club practices|
– local/regional league play
– some local tournaments
|– National Championship events|
– ODP events
– large-scale sanctioned tournaments
|College/Young Professional Athlete|
(*for 18-25 year olds)
|$55||all USAWP events||none|
The majority of water polo players will only need a bronze athlete membership level. However, if later on down the road you want to participate in larger-scale water polo events, you can always upgrade your plan to the next tier.
American Water Polo Membership ($50)
Similar to USA water polo, American Water Polo also provides affordable competitive opportunities to water polo players across the United States (source). Although USA Water Polo is the head national committee for United States Water Polo, this non-profit organization also hosts large-scale events for players.
If you or your team plans on participating in an event hosted by American Water Polo, you may have to pay their annual membership fee. Their membership pricing is shown in the table below:
|23 & Under||$50|
The final expense you will have to consider when playing water polo is the cost of actually playing on the team. This is the most variable type of expense on this list, since no two water polo teams handle their administrative costs exactly the same.
High School Water Polo Team Costs ($0)
If you plan on playing water polo through your high school program, you’re in luck! Most water polo high school programs do not have any team costs, as they rely on school funding to take care of the administrative side of things.
However, there may be certain exceptions to this rule. You should consult with your high school water polo coach to get the exact financial details.
Club Water Polo Team Costs ($370)
In contrast to high school water polo programs, players that participate in club organizations must pay for the administrative costs associated with running the team. Examples of these administrative costs include, but are not limited to:
- organizing transportation to and from games or tournaments
- paying the coaching staff
- hotel accommodations for out-of-town tournaments
- renting swimming facilities for practices
As aforementioned, participation costs for club organizations fluctuate across the board. To give you some perspective, here are price quotes from seven different water polo club organizations:
|Water Polo Club Organization||Cost per Month||Cost per Season|
|Elmhurst Water Polo||~$159||$635|
|Glenbrook Aquatic Masters||~$57||$170|
|Northern Illinois Polo Club||~$128||$385|
|Princeton Tigers Water Polo Club||$205||~$820|
|Southside Water Polo Club||$100||$200|
|Triad Water Polo||$25||$100|
|University of Wisconsin Club Water Polo||~$69||$275|
|Average Registration Costs||~$106||~$370|
From the data, it’s evident that club team expenses have a wide price spectrum. When browsing through prospective club teams for water polo, you should take into account the following factors before making a final decision:
- Competition Level – Typically, the higher the level of competition, the more you will have to pay. As a hypothetical example, a high schooler looking to compete at large-scale water polo events will almost always pay more than a middle schooler just trying to get a taste of league play.
- Frequency of Practices – Not every water polo club team practices the same amount per week. Some clubs only practice once per week, while others come together three to four times per week. It goes without saying, the more you play, the more you will have to pay.
- In-District or Out-of-District – Club teams prefer to have local players who won’t have much trouble making it to practice. For this reason, out-of-district players usually have to pay slightly more to join a club team that’s a bit farther away.
- Length of Season – Certain club teams play longer than others, which is reflected in the cost. The season may last two months or four months depending on which organization you contact. This is why analyzing the monthly fees for club organizations is often better than just looking at the total team costs overall. Ultimately, you get a better gauge of how much you’re getting out of your money when breaking down the financials in this manner.
Costs of Camps, Instructional Clinics, & Splashball ($120)
For those of you that are planning to play water polo for the first time, it may be better to start off with a camp or instructional clinic rather than a club organization.
If you have a child that’s intrigued by water polo, you may want to consider enrolling them in splashball. As a quick reference, splashball is a program launched by USA Water Polo to assist children ages 5 through 11 with learning the basic mechanics of swimming and the fundamental rules of water polo (source).
Whichever option you choose, it will allow you (or your child) to have a better indication of whether you’re truly interested in this sport. You don’t want to commit to a season long endeavor only to realize that water polo wasn’t for you after all.
Plus, these beginner-centric water polo activities are much less expensive than the costs associated with club organizations. For example, a water polo instructional camp hosted by Fenwick Water Polo only costs $120, which is much a more affordable price compared to the club team costs we saw earlier (source).
Other Non-Essential Water Polo Expenses
In addition to the costs we’ve just discussed, some of you may be looking to practice this sport on your own, outside of a formal water polo program. In order to accomplish this, you will need to purchase a few additional pieces of gear.
Water Polo Ball ($30)
Of course, in order to practice water polo, you will need a water polo ball. It’s important to know that water polo balls come in five standard sizes (source):
- Size 1: Splashball
- Size 2: Junior
- Size 3: Intermediate
- Size 4: Compact (previously called Women’s)
- Size 5: Men’s
You should select a water polo ball based on your age, gender, and level of competition. Practicing with an incorrectly sized water polo ball will only instill bad habits into your game. The majority of adult players only use size-3, size-4, or size-5 water polo balls. Size-1 and size-2 balls are reserved for youth athletes.
Water polo balls tend to sell between $20 and $40, so you should realistically expect to spend about $30 when buying this piece of practice gear.
Water Polo Practice Goal (~$325)
Another piece of water polo equipment that players commonly purchase is a practice goal if they have a pool in their backyard. These backyard goals are obviously not as sturdy as the official goals used for games, but they’re perfectly suited for outside practice.
These practice goals are priced anywhere from $250 to $400, depending on which brand you buy. Since this is such a serious investment, you should only purchase a practice goal after you have a few seasons under your belt. If you’re still enthusiastic about buying a practice goal, then it makes sense to buy one in order to take your game to the next level.
Annual Membership at Local Swimming Facility (~$500)
Lastly, if you don’t have the luxury of a backyard swimming pool, you may need to purchase a membership at your local recreation center or gym to get access to a pool.
Pool memberships can range between $400 and $600 for the year, depending on when and where you sign up. If possible, you should sign for a pool membership during the winter months, before membership costs skyrocket for the summer.
Also, it is to your benefit to find an indoor pool as opposed to an outdoor pool, since you likely want to practice swimming year-round. Needless to say, it will be difficult to practice in a crowded outdoor pool during the summer months. Though, any type of pool access is better than none.
How to Save on Water Polo Expenses
If the costs of water polo are a bit out of your budget, there are several ways that you can save on water polo expenses. Below, we will explore some of the more popular options for cutting down on costs.
Buy Used Equipment
Water polo equipment, particularly practice goals, can be fairly expensive. Though, other water polo gear, such as water polo balls and caps, can also be bought used.
As you begin to search for used water polo equipment, there are a couple different of approaches you can take. You can take the traditional route and check your local listings, like in the newspaper for example, or converse with your peers about any old water polo equipment they’re looking to sell.
Though, many water polo players often have better luck with the online marketplace due to its ease of use. Some of the most popular local online marketplace sites include:
- Facebook Marketplace
If going local isn’t a worthwhile option, you may have to scour sports equipment warehouses online to see what they have available. Water Polo Planet, for instance, has online forums and listings for those seeking to buy or sell water polo equipment (source).
At the end of the day, at least one of these options should save you some money.
Be on the Lookout for Swimsuit Sales
The swimsuit attire required for water polo is relatively affordable, especially when compared to the gear required for other sports, like lacrosse for example. However, when you’re on a tight budget, every penny counts.
As soon as the summer months near their end, swimsuit prices drop considerably. This is the time where you should take advantage of these low prices and purchase a swimsuit. It may take some patience and effort on your part to find these sales, but they do exist. You simply just have to find them.
Make Use of a Backyard Pool
Practicing in a backyard pool can save a considerable amount of money in membership fees. If you have a teammate or friend that’s willing to have you, it can be a huge money-saver.
Although backyard pools typically don’t meet the field dimensions of a standard water polo pool, that extra space is not needed to get in a solid practice session. So long as you have a deep body of water and a water polo ball, you can easily practice throwing the ball while treading water.
You can even experiment with the idea of constructing your own makeshift water polo goal to practice shooting. It can be an entire project that you share with your teammates. Plus, you would get that added satisfaction of knowing that you built the goal that you’re shooting on.
If you’re not too thrilled about building your own goal or purchasing one, you can even use a spare laundry basket to practice your shot. It may not fit your initial impression of a water polo goal, but it serves its purpose.
In short, it may take some creativity on your part to practice efficiently, but it can be done. You just need to put a little thought into it.