New England Canoe Polo

Introduction to Kayak Polo Gear

Although it is similar to equipment used in other kayaking sports, kayak polo gear is specialized for safety and performance in kayak polo games.


Kayak polo ballWe play with standard water polo balls. They’re about the size of a volleyball and rough on the outside to make them easy to grip when wet.

We usually play with a men’s ball in practices, men’s and mixed games. For women-only games we play with a women’s ball, which is slightly smaller and lighter.

The picture shows a men’s ball.


Polo boatKayak polo boats are typically made out of plastic or carbon-kevlar composite. Plastic boats are cheaper and more durable, but composite boats are lighter and faster.

The boats are 9-10 feet long, slightly diamond-shaped, and have bumpers on the front and back for safety.

Polo boats have displacement (rounded) hulls and tend to sit relatively close to the water. Most are scooped at the front and back to make the bow and stern easy to dive. Whitewater paddlers may initially find them somewhat tippy, but they are also correspondingly easier to roll.


Kayak polo helmetPolo helmets have foam padding on the inside and a face mask for protection. Not all of them float, so be careful about dropping them in the water!

Portable Floatation Device (PFD)

Polo PFDWe play in reversible numbered PFDs that provide flotation and team identification. They have additional padding on the sides to protect against accidental impact.


Kayak polo paddleKayak polo paddles are typically made of carbon. They have thicker blades than equivalent whitewater or touring paddles to prevent injuries from sharp edges.

There are several different common blade shapes (the picture shows a common asymmetrical shape), but in general they are optimized for a fast, vertical stroke.

Players typically use paddles in the 194 – 210 cm range, depending on the player’s height. Polo players usually use paddles that are slightly longer than an equivalent whitewater paddle, but shorter than paddles used for sea kayaking or recreational kayaking.


As in many other kayaking disciplines, we wear sprayskirts to keep water out of the cockpit of the kayak. The sprayskirt is worn around the waist like a skirt and then grips the edge of the cockpit to keep water out.

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