The caps, which tie under the chin, may look like something your great-grandmother may have donned at the beach, but they have a practical purpose beyond making your teammates easily recognizable. They are intended to protect players from popping their ear drums. A wet ball hitting an ear can create suction or a vacuum that can damage the inner ear. Even horsing around in a friendly game, you’ll want these plastic domes inset into the caps ($15) to protect your the ear from any blows.
Get in Gear: How to Compete (Or At Least Dress) Like an Olympian
If seeing all those toned bodies at this past summer’s London Games inspires you to go from spectator to contender, TIME has put together a list of equipment used in the Olympics and Paralympics. This way, even if you can’t compete like an elite athlete, you can at least look like one
Water Polo: Caps