This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which water polo ball is best?

Water polo is one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. Players must tread water for long periods of time while balancing and throwing a water polo ball to teammates or taking shots on the goal. The sport dates back several centuries but has gained in popularity in modern times, including its inclusion in the Summer Olympic games for the last 30 years.

Having the right water polo ball is essential, since being able to grip and throw are the key elements of water polo competition. The top recommended ball is the KAP7 Size 5 HydroGrip Water Polo Ball, which is sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

What to know before you buy a water polo ball

Water polo balls come in different sizes

There are four main sizes of water polo balls — sizes 2 through 5. Sizes 2 and 3 are used primarily for youth with size 3 being an intermediate ball that is transitioned for girls ages 12 to 13 and boys ages 11 to 12. Size 4 water polo balls are 65 to 67 centimeters in circumference and used for women’s water polo and teenage boys. Size 5 is used for men’s competitions with a circumference of 68 to 71 centimeters. There is also a size 1.5 used as a training ball for young children learning the sport.

Water polo balls are made from different materials

Water polo balls are made from either rubber or waterproof nylon. The nylon balls are used in official competitions, while rubber balls are used for practice and other events. The key is to make sure the material is waterproof and grippable.

Water polo balls cannot be replaced by other types of balls

Some people think you can use a volleyball in place of a water polo ball. While the two are very similar in size and shape, a volleyball is very smooth and difficult to grip when it becomes wet. The grooves in a water polo ball are deeper and aid in its ability to be held. Only water polo balls should be used for water polo. 

What to look for in a quality water polo ball

Proper age

Water polo balls are recommended for different age groups based on the size of the ball. While sizes 2 and 3 are primarily for pre-teen youth, size 4 is intended for teens up to age 16. Size 5 is for teens ages 16 and older.


Some water polo balls have been formally approved by an athletic sanctioning body like the NCAA, NFHS or USA Water Polo. It is just another assurance that the ball you are using is just like the ones being used in competitions that fall under these association’s events.


Water polo balls were traditionally yellow, but they are now yellow with black stripes, although the NCAA and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) now allow colored panels in some competitions. For practice sessions, there are water polo balls now in different colors and patterns. Depending on your usage, there should be a color or design that meets your needs.

How much you can expect to spend on a water polo ball

There are only a few manufacturers of water polo balls, so the smaller market creates a bit more price stability based on the size of the ball. Most water polo balls are priced between $25-$40 with the higher-priced balls approved by sanctioning athletic bodies.

Water polo ball FAQ

Why is the grip emphasized so much for water polo balls?

A. In addition to being a water sport that can make the ball slippery, the rules of water polo only allow holding the ball with one hand. Only the goalie can hold the ball with two hands within 5 meters of the goal. Being able to grip the ball is critical for just about everything that happens in a water polo competition.

How many pounds per square inch (PSI) should a water polo ball be?

A. The standard competitive size 5 water polo ball should have 13 to 14 PSI of air inflated into it. This is always for optimum gripping.

What’s the best water polo ball to buy?

Top water polo ball

KAP7 Size 5 HydroGrip Water Polo Ball

KAP7 Size 5 HydroGrip Water Polo Ball

What you need to know: This is the gold standard for competitive play, as this extra-grip ball is used professionally and collegiately.

What you’ll love: This water polo ball has a water-reactant grip that has been hand buffed for extra gripping control. Multiple color options are available for team pride. Approved by the NCAA and USA Water Polo.

What you should consider: Some reports of losing air over time from frequent use have been shared.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top water polo ball for the money

Mikasa Competition Men’s Water Polo Ball

Mikasa Competition Men’s Water Polo Ball

What you need to know: This water polo ball is commonly used for practice and is the standard size for competition.

What you’ll love: There is extra buffing so that the grip is easy to hold. The size 5 ball holds air well so it can be used for long periods of time. It is approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

What you should consider: The ball should be removed from water when not in use to avoid long-term damage.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Tachikara Water Polo Ball

Tachikara Water Polo Ball

What you need to know: This all-purpose water polo ball comes with deep-set seams that help with overall grip.

What you’ll love: The ball is the official size and weight. The Hydro-Tec surface creates a unique ribbed surface. The ball is yarn wound for extra durability. The ball can be used for both competition and practice sessions.

What you should consider: The ball comes in deflated form at first so you will need a pump nearby for inflation.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.