Superpolo is a semi-contact team sport that is played across both land and water. A match is divided into two thirty-minute halves; the first is played in the pool (aquapolo) and the second on a football field (terrapolo), as each side tries to move the round ball into the back of the opposition net. One goal on land is equal to one in the pool and the team with the most after the hour wins.
Superpolo is the national sport of Baltusia and is by far the most popular. Many fanatically support their local club. At the moment, some sixty-four professional or semi-professional clubs exist in Baltusia, the top sixteen of which compete in the Premier League. Many amateurs also play superpolo. Superpolo is also popular in Gaduridos.
The aquapolo half of a superpolo match largely resembles water polo but the rules are much simpler. Eight players on each side (with four reserves) take to a swimming-competition sized pool. The dimensions of the field are officially 40m by 20m (with the water and surrounding area around the pool termed the outer zone) with goals of 3m by 1m. When the ball passes into the outer zone, possession is turned over from the team which last made contact with the ball.
There are no fixed goalkeepers and so no special rules apply to any particular players. A player may make contact the ball with any part of their body and can transfer it both forwards and backwards to teammates or the goal. A goal is scored when the ball hits the back of the opposition net.
The defending side may make no contact with the offence, except against the player with possesion. Limits on contact only apply to situations which would unnecessarily endanger the possessing player, including (but not limited to) dunking, blows to the head and eye gouging. Due to the slower nature of aquapolo, no time restrictions are placed on when contact can be initiated. Possession may be held as long as is feasible. The defending team forcing the opposing player into the outer zone is often an effective method of gaining possession or forcing an error.
When a ball passes into the outer zone or a player with possession is unfairly infringed upon, the opposition is awarded a free play, where a player may have possession of the ball with no players of the defending side inside a radius of two metres. It is taken in horizontal line with where the offence took place. To begin a match or restart play after a goal is scored, a free play is given from the centre of the pool to the team scored against, if restarting play, or the away team, if starting a game.
The terrapolo half is played in much the same manner as the aquapolo half but with a few restrictions on play, due to the changes of the nature of the game. The land half is played on a football pitch with the dimensions of 60m by 30m with goals of 5m by 1.8m.
There are two important differences between aquapolo and terrapolo. The first is the restriction on contact with the player with possession. As attacks can be executed much more quickly and effectively on land when compared to the water, a time restriction is placed on the defence. Similar to pool, the defence may only attack the possessed player but must wait five seconds between when the attacking player receives the ball before they can make contact. Violation of this rule sees a free play awarded to the attacking side. Unlike in aquapolo, tackling is now an effective option (as it won't endanger the player excessively) and so if a player is tackled and does not dispose of the ball immediately, it is turned over to the defending side.
The second difference is ability to transfer the ball. As kicking comes into play, the ability to use a kick as a pass is limited. If the ball comes off a part of the player's body below the waist, it is defined as a kick. If the ball, once kicked, rises above the knee of the kicker, the side of kicking player cannot make contact with the ball, until an opposition player has made contact or, if the teammate was behind the kicker, the teammate has run past the kicker. If the kick does not rise above the knee, it is treated as if the ball had come off a part of the player's body above the waist and players may be in front or behind the kicker to receive possession. If the attacking team violates this, it is called offside and a free play is given to the opposition from where the kick originated.
The history of Superpolo dates back to around the eleventh century, under the House of Cimirotic in Baltusia where two games existed: aquapolo and terrapolo. Aquapolo consisted of five players on each side playing in a body of water where each side would try to throw an inflated animal bladder through the opposing goal, which, at this time, had no crossbar and was only two sticks. Rules were sparse and often the sport degenerated into a brawl. Terrapolo on the other hand was a sport of thirteen players on each side, where the aim was to carry an ovoid ball across the opposition's line. The ball was not allowed to touch the ground nor any part of a players body below the waist. The game could be played across a paddock several kilometres long, resulting in matches that could last for days.
The first idea to combine the sports came in 1658, when two teams were playing terrapolo around a large lake. With time running out and an even scoreline, one of the attacking players decided to go through the lake to score and avoid the defence. While this wasn't strictly against the rules, it was against the spirit of the game but sparked something greater. Hernando Cauet, the player who went through the lake, suggested that the sports of terrapolo and aquapolo be combined into superpolo. From here, the game was born.
Over the next three hundred years, superpolo grew in popularity across Baltusia. The rules were refined to match the modern standard currently used. In 1954, it became clear that if the sport was to advance properly, it would need to be professionalised. Champion formed the first professional club who would play at what is now the Champion Superpolo Centre. From here, the sport developed exponentially and increased in quality and skill to what we know today.
The game of superpolo tends to be divided into two types of play: where the team is attacking and where the team is defending.
Basic offensive manouevres involve variations on using sharp, fast play to draw in the defence and isolate a teammate who can take a shot at goal (the basis of the Run & Gun strategy), or using brute strength and size to charge the defence and making a clear break for the player and, occassionally, taking a surprise long shot at goal to keep the defenders on their toes. Fast play works best in aquapolo where movement is relatively limited, while rough play works better on terrapolo as a defence against the potential to be tackled.
Basic defensive manouevres usually take the form of man-to-man marking, so as to not leave any particular attacker open (although this does mean a superior attacker will have an easy time breaking free of an inferior defender), or gang-up marking, where serious threats are given two or three defenders to shut down their skills. In aquapolo, gang-up marking is preferred as it is more likely to force an error or force an opponent into the outer zone. Terrapolo prefers man-to-man since a terrapolo defender should be capable of a tackle powerful enough to dislodge the ball from an attacker.
Run & GunEdit
The Run & Gun strategy requires high levels of technical skill and fitness over opponents to be effective. Rather than concentrating on defensive efforts, the team uses fast movement and passing ("running") to move the ball into the attacking zone. The fast changing possession quickly wearies defenders, leaving the goal open for the "gun", the shot at goal. Teams with poor ballhandling and poor fitness will fumble frequently, making this strategy largely useless. This strategy is considered to be the peak of superpolo but is rarely engaged in top level professional games due to the relative closeness of the skills of any two sides.
Dump & BumpEdit
The Dump & Bump is a strategy designed for teams with physically strong players but with few natural scorers. Simply put, the system focuses on keeping scores low and wearing out the opposition through hard hitting. Ideally, most of the time, instead of trying to score, the team simply "dumps" the ball into the opposing end, and then "bumps" them, hitting the players at every opportunity and attempting to force errors deep in the opposition's defensive zone. Many purists deride the strategy, saying it makes the game boring by preventing skilled scorers from having the space to make plays, although less skilled teams still use this strategy as it is often their only chance of winning. It was first pioneered by Gaduridos at the 2115 Olympic Games.