International 5 player rules of bicycle polo

version française
version française

Bicycle polo, under its international 5 player version, is a team game which consists of hitting a ball in the other team's goal according to the following rules:

Article 1 - Dimensions of the field

1.1. The field shall be rectangular. The dimensions may vary as follows:

However, it is recommended that the field’s optimum measurements shall be 100 metres (109.361 yards) in length and 60 metres (65.617 yards) in width.

1.2.    The field shall be divided in two equal parts by a centre line parallel to the end lines. At the centre of this line (and of the field) a circle shall be marked with a radius of 10 metres (10.936 yards).

1.3.    A line shall be marked, parallel to the side lines, passing through the centre of the circle described in Article 1.2, starting and ending 25 metres (27.34 yards) either side of the centre line. This line shall be known as the “sprinter line”.

1.4.    A goal shall be placed at the centre of each end line, measuring 4 metres (4.374 yards) in width.

1.5.    At each end, a penalty area shall be marked as follows: a line 5.5 metres (6.015 yards) from each goal post shall be marked to a point 7 metres (7.655 yards) from the end line parallel to the sidelines, and a line shall be marked joining the two points (15 metres (16.404 yards) in length).

1.6.    A penalty spot shall be marked 10 metres (10.936 yards) into the field from the centre of each goal.

1.7.    A line shall be marked in each half of the field, parallel to the end lines, 25 metres (27.34 yards) from the centre line.

1.8.    All lines on the field must only be marked with chalk or paint.

1.9. The field shall be free of obstacles. No obstacle may be situated within 2 metres (2.187 yards) from the sidelines or within 5 metres (5.468 yards) from the end lines.

Article 2 - The goals

2.1.    The goalposts shall be 4 metres (4.374 yards) apart (inside measurement) and the crossbar shall be 2.75 metres (3.007 yards) (inside measurement) above the ground.

2.2.    The supports for the crossbar may not exceed 10 centimetres (3.937 inches) in diameter. The crossbar and the goal posts must be rounded.

2.3.    Where possible, nets should be in place to stop the ball when it enters the goal. Nets must be anchored to the field and be strong enough to retain the ball.

Article 3 - The ball

3.1.    The arena polo ball shall be used. The ball shall be round and may not be less than 32 cm (12.6 inches) or greater than 38 cm (15.0 inches) in circumference when inflated. It shall not be less than 170 grams or more than 182 grams in weight. The ball must be sufficiently inflated.

3.2.    Each team shall bring a ball in good condition. Prior to the game, the referee shall toss a coin. The team losing the toss shall supply the ball for the first half of the game. The team winning the toss shall supply the ball for the second half.

3.3.    The referee’s decision shall be final as to whether a ball is suitable and he shall have authority to overturn Article 3.2 above.

3.4.    In the event that the ball bursts or becomes unplayable during a free hit, the free hit shall be re-taken with a new ball chosen by the referee.  If the ball is burst or becomes unplayable during open play the referee shall stop the game. With a new ball chosen by the referee, play will resume with a face-off (see Article 23.4.) at the point where the game was stopped. If play is stopped within 10 metres (10.936 yards) of a goal, the face-off shall take place a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the goal at a suitable point chosen by the referee.

Article 4 - The mallet

4.1.    The head shall not measure more than the following maximum dimensions:

4.2.    The cane or shaft may be rigid or flexible. The total length (including the head) may not exceed 1 meter (39.4 inches).

4.3.    The mallet shaft and head may not contain any metal.

Article 5 - The bicycle

5.1.    The development of the bicycle may not exceed 3.50 metres (3.828 yards).

5.2.    The total length of the bicycle may not exceed 1.80 metres (1.968 yards).

5.3.    Any object intended to prevent the ball from passing through or under the frame is forbidden.

5.4.    The handlebar must have rubber bar ends fitted.

5.5.    Wheels must have a minimum of 32 spokes.

5.6.    All equipment which could be considered dangerous (and unnecessary) shall be removed from the bicycle (for example: kickstand, bottle-carrier, toe clips, bell, lights).

5.7.    Metal pedals shall not be permitted.

Article 6 - Appearance of players

6.1.    All players of the same team must wear the same colour shirt, with the exception of the goalkeeper, who must wear a shirt colour that distinguishes him from all other players on the field. It is recommended that players’ shirts are numbered.

6.2.    In the case of both teams wishing to play in the same or similar colour, players of the visiting team must change into shirts of a different colour. If the match is taking place on a neutral ground the team required to change shirt colour will be decided by lot.

6.3.    All players must wear a cycle helmet.

Article 7 - Composition of the team

7.1.     A team shall be composed of up to 8 players, being 1 goalkeeper, 4 outfield players and up to 3 substitutes. A team must have no more than 5 players on the field at any time.

Article 8 - Captain of team

8.1.    Before each match, one player from each team must be identified as the team’s captain. He alone has the right to speak to the referee.

8.2.    In the event that the captain leaves the field due to injury, expulsion or substitution, the captain shall identify a new captain and shall inform the referee of such change.

Article 9Substitutions

9.1.    Substitutions shall be unlimited in number and shall only be made when the ball is out of play.

9.2.    Substitutions shall be made at the request of the captain. Upon agreement of the referee, the player to be substituted will leave the field at the nearest boundary. The substitute shall enter the field within 10 metres (10.936 yards) of the centre line.

9.3.    A substitute shall only enter the field once the referee has granted permission and only after the substituted player has left the field. At no time shall a team have more than 5 players on the field.

9.4.    A substituted player may re-enter the game as a substitute by following the process described in Article 9.2.

9.5.    Any player registered on a team's team sheet may be admitted to play, even if the player is not present at the beginning of the game.

9.6.    Any time elapsed for substitutions shall be added to the regular time by the referee.

Article 10 - Duration of the match

10.1.   Each game shall consist of 4 chukkas of 15 minutes each (60 minutes in total). A break of 5 minutes between chukkas shall be allowed.

Article 11 - Choice of ends

11.1.   The referee shall determine the choice of ends by tossing a coin in the presence of the two captains.

11.2.   The winner of the toss shall choose which end his team shall defend in the first chukka.

11.3.   Teams shall change ends at the end of each chukka.

Article 12 - Position of play

12.1.   In order for a player to touch the ball or attack an opponent, the player must be holding the mallet in his right hand, the handlebar in his left hand, and must not be touching the ground with any part of his body.

12.2.   In order to attack an opponent who is playing the ball on their right side, a player shall attack the opponent on the right side of the opponent with the ball in the middle of both players (i.e. the ball shall be on the left side of the attacking player).

12.3.   In order to attack an opponent who is playing the ball on their left side, a player shall attack the opponent on the left side of the opponent with the ball in the middle of both players (i.e. the ball shall be on the right side of the attacking player).

12.4.   The goalkeeper shall benefit from specific authorizations as described in Article 20.

Article 13 - Start of the game/chukka – sprint start

13.1.   At the beginning of each match and each chukka, a sprint start shall take place as follows:

13.1.1. The ball shall be placed at the centre of the field.

13.1.2. Each team shall indicate one sprinter to the referee.

13.1.3. Each sprinter shall line up with the base of their front wheel on the end line to the left of their goalmouth, and they shall have one foot on the ground.

13.1.4. Other players may position themselves anywhere in their own half of the field provided they do not interfere with or obstruct the sprinters in any way.

13.1.5. At the referee’s whistle, the sprinters shall sprint for the ball and must not cross the sprinter line of the field. The remaining players may now enter their opponents half of the field provided they do not interfere with or obstruct the sprinters in any way.

13.1.6. Once the ball has been hit, any other player on the field may then tackle the sprinter or hit the ball provided they do not impede or endanger the sprinters.

13.1.7. A goal scored directly from a sprint start shall be allowed.

Article 14Restart after a goal

14.1.   The team conceding a goal shall be awarded a restart hit as follows:

14.1.1. The ball shall be placed at the centre of the field.

14.1.2. All players shall start in their own half of the field. Only players from the team taking the restart hit shall be allowed in the centre circle. Opposing players may enter the centre circle only once the ball has been hit.

14.1.3. The player taking the restart hit may cross the centre line to hit the ball.

14.1.4. The player taking the restart hit may only hit the ball once. He is not permitted to hit the ball again until another player or player’s bicycle has hit the ball.

14.1.5. A goal scored directly from a restart hit shall be allowed.

Article 15 - Ball out of bounds

15.1.   A ball must have completely cleared an end line or side line to be deemed out of bounds.

15.2.   In the event that the ball crosses a sideline, the opposing team of the last player, bicycle or mallet to touch the ball shall be awarded a free hit from the point the ball crossed the line. The ball shall be hit into play using a single backward hit. Opposing players must be a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the ball.

15.3.   In the event that the ball crosses an end line and was last touched by a player, bicycle or mallet of the attacking team, the defending team shall be awarded a free hit as described in Article 15.4. If the ball was last touched by a player, bicycle or mallet of the defending team, the attacking team shall be awarded a corner hit, as described in Article 15.5. The player taking the hit shall be allowed only one hit. Opposing players must be a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the ball.

15.4.   For a free hit after the attacking team hits the ball over the end line, the ball shall be placed at the intersection of the end line and the lateral limit of the penalty area, on the side of the goal where the ball crossed the end line.

15.5.   For a corner hit, the ball shall be placed at the intersection of the end line and the side line, on the side of the goal where the ball crossed the end line.

15.6.   In the event that the ball leaves the field by passing over the goal, the free hit shall be taken on the same side of the goal as the ball crossed the end line.

15.7.   Goals scored directly from free hits or corner hits shall be allowed.

Article 16 - How the game is stopped

16.1.   Play shall be stopped only when the referee blows the whistle.

16.2.   Time elapsed while play is stopped shall be added by the referee to the regular time of the chukka during which the stoppage occurs.

16.3.   If play is stopped and cannot be restarted in a maximum period of 30 minutes (due to injury to the referee or unplayable field, for example), the referee shall stop the game and address a report to the organizer of the event for further action.

16.4.   The time elapsed between goals and the subsequent restart or while the ball is out of bounds shall not be added to the end of the chukka by the referee.

Article 17 - Scoring goals

17.1.   A goal shall only be allowed when the whole ball crosses the end line between the two goalposts and below the crossbar.

17.2.   If a player diverts or sends the ball into their own goal, a goal shall be awarded to the opposing team.

17.3.   The team with the greater number of goals at the final whistle shall be declared the winner.

Article 18Overtime

18.1.   In the event of a tie at the end of regular time, in a game in which a winner must be determined, the teams shall play two overtime chukkas of 10 minutes each. There shall be no rest between chukkas, but the teams shall change ends. The choice of ends to begin the first overtime chukka shall be determined as described in Article 11.

18.2.   In the event of a tie at the end of overtime, a series of penalty hits shall be taken by four players from each team. The captain of each team shall nominate a goalkeeper and four penalty takers from those listed on the team sheet and advise the referee in which order they shall take their hits.

18.3.   The procedure for penalties to be taken shall be as follows:

18.3.1. Only one goal, chosen by the referee, shall be used.

18.3.2. A coin shall be tossed by the referee in the presence of the two captains. The winner of the coin toss shall choose whether to take the first or second penalty hit.

18.3.3. Each team's goalkeeper shall play alternately against a player of the opposing team. The goalkeeper of the team taking the hit shall stand behind the end line and beyond the limit of the penalty area.

18.3.4. The remaining players of each team shall wait their turn to take their penalty hit a minimum distance of 10 metres (10.936 yards) behind the penalty spot. Once a player has taken his penalty he shall return to his place a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) behind the penalty spot.

18.3.5. At the end of the series of penalties, the team having scored the most goals shall be declared the winner.

18.3.6. In the event of a tie after a series of four penalty hits by each team, a further series of penalty hits shall be taken by the same players and in the same order until a winner is determined.

18.3.7. The penalty taker may only hit the ball once. To count as a goal, the ball must enter the goal directly or from a deflection by the goalkeeper and/or the goalposts and/or the crossbar.

18.3.8. The penalty taker and the goal keeper shall be bound by the procedures described in Article 25 - Penalty.

Article 19Authorizations

19.1.   Subject to Article 12, a player may:

19.1.1. Prevent an opponent from hitting the ball by placing their mallet across the path of the opponent's mallet whilst they are striking at the ball. A player may not, however, lift an opponent's mallet and must withdraw their mallet immediately after blocking an opponent's shot.

19.1.2. Take a full swing if no opponent is nearby.

19.1.3. Juggle the ball by bouncing it on their mallet.

19.1.4. Play the ball or score a goal with the wheels of their bicycle.

19.1.5. Ride outside the side or end lines to make a play for a ball which is on the field.

19.1.6. Hit the ball with their head or any part of their body (except as stated in Article 23.2.).

19.1.7. Hook an opponent’s mallet whilst the opponent is in the action of striking the ball provided the player does so with a straight arm. However, the hook must be released as soon as the opponent has been prevented from playing the ball.

19.1.8. In the event that a player in possession of the ball gives enough room to allow an opponent to place his bicycle safely between the player and the ball, the opponent may play the ball on their right so gaining the right of way.

19.1.9. Play the ball on either side of their bicycle. The ball may be switched from one side of the bicycle to the other. However, a player shall not be permitted to juggle the ball on the left hand side of their bicycle.

19.1.10. Do anything else not forbidden by these rules.

Article 20Goalkeeper

20.1.   Inside the penalty area and provided the goalkeeper does not have a foot or feet on the ground, the goalkeeper may:

20.1.1. Place themself and their bicycle in the path of an opponent who possesses the ball. The goalkeeper has the right of way as defined in Article 21. All opponents must avoid him. Nevertheless, the goalkeeper shall not be permitted to deliberately crash into an opponent.

20.1.2. Repel or deflect the ball with their left hand after taking it off the handlebar.

20.1.3. Jump from their bicycle to repel or deflect the ball before touching the field. If the ball is deflected or stopped by the bicycle a penalty shall be awarded to the opposing team if the goalkeeper is no longer in contact with their bicycle.

20.1.4. Stop or strike an aerial ball with their feet.

Article 21 - Right of way

21.1. The right of way is given to the player who follows or possesses the ball. In the penalty area, the right of way is lost in favour of the goalkeeper.

Article 22 - Meeting the ball

22.1.   When two players from opposing teams ride face to face to meet the ball, each of them shall keep the ball on their right side. When two players of the same team advance abreast with the ball between them, the player who has the ball on their left must give way if an opponent rides to meet the ball.

Article 23 - Fouls

23.1.   Any violation of these rules may be declared a foul. If a player or team violates the rules, the opposing team shall be awarded a free hit at the point where the violation occurred. However, a foul committed by a player in their team's penalty area will result in a penalty hit being awarded to the opposing team. If the referee deems that the foul is not detrimental to the team fouled, he may allow play to continue. The referee may allow a goal scored after a foul by the defending team, provided the whistle has not been blown to stop play. This shall be known as the "rule of advantage".

23.2.   A player may not:

23.2.1. Jostle or shoulder an opponent.

23.2.2. Block or impede a player who does not have the ball.

23.2.3. Play or touch the ball or interfere with the game if they have a foot on the ground. They must ride away from the ball and wait for it to be hit before they can challenge for the ball again.

23.2.4. Play or touch the ball without holding their handlebar with their left hand.

23.2.5. Carry the ball with their body, mallet, or bicycle.

23.2.6. Put their mallet in the wheel or across or under the bicycle of an opponent.

23.2.7. Attack an opponent from the opposite side of the player to which the ball is being played.

23.2.8. Block the path or zigzag in front of a player who has the ball and therefore the right of way.

23.2.9. Stop ahead of the player in possession of the ball.

23.2.10. Throw or drop their bicycle or mallet in order to stop the ball or to impede an opponent.

23.2.11. Force the right of way between the ball and the player who is playing the ball on their own right side.

23.2.12. Hit the wheel of an opponent when the opponent has placed their wheel between the player and the ball without any danger.

23.2.13. Throw or lay their bicycle or mallet in front of an opponent.

23.2.14. Intentionally play the ball with their foot.

23.2.15. Ride their bicycle in a dangerous manner or whilst their bicycle is in a dangerous condition.

23.2.16. Hit or hold an opponent's mallet (except as described in Article 19.1.).

23.2.17. Block or deflect the ball with their left hand after taking it off the handlebar.

23.2.18. Insult or threaten anyone, or contest decisions of the referee.

23.2.19. Abuse their right of way by turning quickly at an angle near to 90 degrees towards an opponent in order to crash into him.

23.3.   Article 20 (Goalkeeper) takes precedence over Article 23.2. in case of contradiction.

23.4.   In the event that the referee calls simultaneous fouls on both teams, the game shall be restarted with a face-off in the following manner: At the point at which the ball was located when the referee called the foul, one player from each team shall face each other, each facing the opposing team’s goal. The referee shall drop the ball halfway between the two players, and the ball shall only be struck after it has bounced. In this case, the hitter may take more than one hit. All other players must be a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the ball. In the event that such a foul occurs within 10 metres (10.936 yards) of a goal, the face-off shall take place at a point a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the goal on the imaginary line from the centre of the goal through the point at which the ball was located when the referee called the foul, so keeping the angle to the centre of the goal the same.

Article 24 - Resumption of play

24.1.   After a stoppage of play, the referee shall blow the whistle to resume play.

24.2.   All opponents of a player taking a free hit, corner hit, face-off, restart or sprint start must remain a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the ball until it is hit. The referee will not blow his whistle to restart until all players are correctly positioned.

24.3.   Except for sprint starts and face-offs, the player taking a free hit or restart may hit the ball only once, and may not hit it again until it has been hit by another player or bicycle.

24.4.   The ball shall be considered in play when it has covered a distance equal to its circumference. If the player taking the hit fails to hit the ball at least this distance, the referee shall blow his whistle and order the hit to be re-taken. The game will only be considered re-started when the ball has been struck by a mallet.

24.5.   In the event that a player taking the hit hits the ball against their wheel or bicycle, the referee shall allow the game to continue and the player taking the hit shall ride off and may not hit the ball again until it is hit by another player or bicycle. If such a deflection goes into a goal, the referee shall order the hit to be re-taken.

24.6.   In the event that a foul is committed by a defending player outside their penalty area, but less than 10 metres (10.936 yards) from their goal, the free hit shall be awarded a minimum of 10 metres (10.936 yards) from the goal, on the imaginary line from the centre of the goal through the point of the foul, so keeping the angle to the centre of the goal the same.

Article 25Penalty

25.1.   In the event of a penalty, the ball will be placed on the penalty spot and the referee shall ensure that the players are positioned in the following manner:

25.1.1. The goal keeper must be on the end line and between the goalposts.

25.1.2. The penalty taker must be near the ball.

25.1.3. The remaining players of both teams must be positioned behind the 25 metre line away from the goal where the penalty is taking place and may not cross the 25 metre line until the penalty taker has hit the ball.

25.2.   Before blowing the whistle to resume play, the referee will ensure that the goalkeeper and the penalty taker are immobile and ready for play, and that all other players are correctly positioned.

25.3.   After the referee has blown the whistle:

25.3.1. The penalty taker may be stationary or moving when the ball is hit, provided that their feet are not touching the ground when the ball is struck. The penalty taker may hit the ball only once.

25.3.2. The goalkeeper may only move along the goal line. No movement towards the ball shall be allowed.

25.4.   In the event that the ball is deflected by the goalkeeper, the goalkeeper’s bicycle, the crossbar or the goalposts without entering the goal, the ball is deemed to be back in play. All players, including the penalty taker and goalkeeper may then hit the ball.

Article 26 - Players out of the game

26.1.   In the event that a player persists in committing intentional fouls for the purpose of preventing an opponent's play, or commits dangerous fouls, the referee may exclude such player from all or part of the remainder of the game. The referee shall utilise the following procedure regarding discipline:

1) Verbal warning
2) Yellow card with or without a 2 minute exclusion
3) Red card with definitive exclusion.

26.2.   A referee may utilise 2) or 3) above directly if he considers the foul serious enough. Yellow and red cards issued by the referee shall be recorded on the match sheet.

26.3. Any player excluded from any part of a match may not be replaced by a substitute for the exclusion period.

Article 27 - The referee

27.1.   The referee shall referee on foot.

27.2.   The referee shall be the sole judge as to the appropriateness of fouls and may not be contested by anyone during the match.

27.3.   The referee shall be considered part of the field. If the ball is deflected by the referee, it shall remain in play and a goal scored after such a deflection shall be allowed.

27.4.   The referee may consult with his line judges and/or goal judges, but his decision shall be final.

Article 28 - End of chukka

28.1.   The referee will blow the whistle to indicate the end of a chukka. He will do this as far as possible when the ball is in open play. He shall allow sufficient time for a penalty, corner or a free hit to be taken.

Article 29 - Forfeit - Incomplete team

29.1.   A team shall forfeit the game if, 15 minutes after the scheduled time for the kick-off, it cannot present at least four players on the field.

29.2.   Only the organizer who hosts the game has the power to ratify the forfeit.

29.3.   A team shall be admitted to play provided it is composed of a minimum of 4 players. If several members of the same team are rendered unavailable by injury or expulsion and if the team is no longer able to present the minimum 4 players on the field, the referee shall stop the game and inform the organizer.

Article 30 - Accidents - Change of equipment

30.1.   No repair of equipment may be made on the field. A player must leave the field to replace or repair their equipment.

30.2.   The referee may require a player to change equipment if it is considered dangerous (broken mallet, broken pedal or jumped chain, for example).

30.3. In case of injury, a player must leave the field to obtain medical care (unless the injury is serious enough to mean that the player cannot be moved).

30.4.   After a change of equipment, any player entering the field shall do so within 10 metres (10.936 yards) of the centre line. Goalkeepers may enter the field by crossing the end line. Any player wishing to enter the field must wait for permission from the referee before doing so.

Article 31 - Condition of the field

31.1.   If the field is rendered unplayable before or during the game, the referee has the sole authority to suspend and/or resume play. The advice of the two captains may be requested by the referee.


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