#12 Defense Systems

Introduction to Defense Systems

Teaching systems of defense and defensive fundamentals are as necessary as teaching offensive tactics. Guarding skills and strategy must be given just as much time and attention as the patterns for offense receive. A good defensive player must always be alert, aggressive and it is of considerable advantage if he can develop the ability to anticipate. Another trait that the guard must possess is the determination to pursue. Defensive formations must be designed to offset the opponents' speed and style of offense. Proper guarding position and special defensive patterns must be learned and practiced so that a quick adjustment can be made to meet any change made in the opponents method of attack.

Guards should practice working with teammates to develop switching procedures as well as to learn individual guarding positions and skills. Two and three man drills are used to teach these all important fundamentals.

Drill 12.1: Prototype

This basic pattern of man-to-man play requires that you maintain a defensive position that keeps you between your opponent and the goal.

Strong - Weak Side


  1. In this system of defense, players basically stay between opponent and goal.
  2. They also try to get between man and ball whenever possible to be in position to intercept any probable pass.
  3. When inside the 4-yard line, defensive men should play off the shoulder or in front of the offensive men.
  4. Remember to stay close, shoulder to shoulder contact if possible.
  5. his basic defense usually works if swimmers on both teams are of equal ability.

Bill's Biography

Bill Anttila
Known nationally as one of the foremost authorities on water polo, Bill Anttila was inducted in the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame on January 17, 2004. He was involved in aquatics from 1947-1984. In 1948, Bill was responsible for the inauguration of the first community college water polo program in Northern California at Stockton College. Before that, Bill began the water polo program at the University of the Pacific in 1947. He coached the Pacific Tigers for 18 years with only one losing season and his 1956 team won the league championship with a 12-2 record. Bill was also the swimming coach at Stockton College, where he won 10 NCC championships and never had a losing season.

During his 38 years of coaching water polo, his teams won 10 Northern California Championships. In 1,099 games, Anttila compiled a 759-340 overall record {.691 winning percentage}. At the time of his retirement, Anttila was the winningest water polo coach in the United States. He had the satisfaction of coaching over 50 All-Americans. He has written a book titled Water Polo Drills and Playing Hints. Anttila was inducted into the Stockton Hall of Fame in 1985. He was then inducted into the University of the Pacific Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. He is currently retired and resides in Stockton with his wife, Sisko, of 50 years.


The medal pictured above is the last solid gold Olympic medal which was given out at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics in Sweden

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