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Starting canoe polo in your own club

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A sport can grow when attracting new players in an existing team, but it can grow even more when attracting entire new teams and clubs.
Here is what you need if you are a canoe polo enthusiast and you want to start a team in your club. It’s a list of gear, organizational support and motivation to get you going.

Why canoe polo ?

There are many branches of the canoe sport and one could wonder why you want to start a canoe polo team instead of another branch.

Canoe polo is dynamic, requires a team effort, is fun for young and old, requires limited transportation (which can be hard with kayaks) and is easier to keep motivation up compared to the other canoe branches.
Some people describe canoe polo as white water kayaking on a lake, which is quite a good summary. it has the thrill and excitement from white water and less transportation hassle.

One of the downsides to get things going is you need a team. If it’s just you and maybe 1 other person, you aren’t going to make it. To get a stable team going you need at least 7 motivated people and preferably have some kind of recruitment of new players to keep things going.

The gear, from a club point of view

To attract new players as a club, you will need to supply most of the gear. I’m not talking about personal gear like shirts and swimsuits, but the dedicated gear that is only used for canoe polo.
The club gear does not have to be of top competition quality because people who will be playing on a higher level will purchase their own gear eventually.
Especially with youth players, it’s important to have good quality gear to enable 2-3 years of canoe polo play before the parents have to decide whether or not to invest in the sport.

How many items of each gear type you will need will depend on your club situation, but if you are dedicated to start a team from scratch, I advise you to get at least 8 of each, so you can have 2 teams of 4 on the water to have a serious training.

The total investment for a starting team is about € 8600 which will enable 8 players fully equipped to train and compete at entry level. Gear maintenance is low, and renting the pitch is usually not needed (ask your local government if you are allowed to setup a pitch on the local lake or river).

How to start ?

You have read the gear requirements and are all set on starting a team with your club but are not sure how to do it?

Before spending any money, get your 8 motivated people together and organize a try-out at a friendly club in the neighborhood that already has canoe polo gear. If the players already have some experience at other clubs you can skip this part.

The first step is obviously getting the gear and setting up the goals. If you are on a limited budget, make a deal to borrow goals (most clubs that do canoe polo have more goals than needed during training, since tournaments often require 4 or more pitches).

The second step is fixing a training day, and getting to know the rules.
If you have someone in your club that is experienced, it’s easy to have him as your initial trainer. Explaining the basic rules is important, but for the beginning players you shouldn’t go into much detail, the first priority is to make the game safe and fun.

If you feel like your team is ready for the next step, you can enter in low level tournaments (friendly tournaments, specifically organized for the beginning teams) or your country championship in the lowest division. Getting experience in playing against other teams can also be acquired by inviting them to come to your training, or going with your team to theirs.

Influx of new players

For a stable team, you will need an influx of new players. The easiest way is to recruit them from within your club, these people already know how to paddle, you just need to learn them throwing techniques.

If that doesn’t work, your best bet is to attract youth players at the age of 8 to 10. Kids bring friend, which makes them bring even more friend. Be advised that managing a youth team is a lot of work and requires at least 6 motivated youth players to keep going.


Having a canoe polo team in your club requires some money and time investment but can be a great bonus to attract new members. Only start if you can find at least 8 motivated people and keep on going if you encounter some bumps along the way.

If you need specific advice or personal tips for starting out, feel free to contact me.