Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 1 Number 2 December 1, 2008
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

"Fire Away"

There is something euphoric about shooting the ball.  Be it in a game or in practice, bringing that ball up and firing it at the goal brings a satisfactory end to the hard work laid down in order to get the shot off.  Unfortunately, not every time down the pool does every player get to shoot the ball.  Even in most practice drills, individual shots are limited to one (1).  So when I wanted to drill some shooting, I wanted to make it more dynamic.  Additionally, I had a lot of teams that would generate scoring opportunities off the transition, not just on a 2 on 1, or 3 on 2, but also the 5 on 4 and 6 on 5.  It was the #4, 5, and 6 players coming down on the transition that would have uncontested perimeter shooting opportunities.  This drill got everyone thinking to capitalize on the odd-man rush.  And the drill is crazy simple, and the name says it all, “Fire Away!!!!”


  1. Initial setup is goalie in goal, four (4) passers lined up on the side of the pool about in line with the wing position, evenly spaced between the 1M, 2M,5M, and 7M, each passer with a ball.  Attacker starts at just inside half pool.
  2. Attacker starts swimming toward the goal hard, as if in transition on an odd-man rush down the pool.
  3. At around the 7M, driver does an RB, receives a pass from the 7M passer as takes a shot on goal, then swims to around the 5M and repeats RB-shot-swim.
  4. The next shot after the 5M should be taken from about the 3M and this should be a “timing pass/shot,” akin to the hockey one-timer.
  5. Following the “timing shot”, the last pass is a wet pass, where the attacker continues in and takes a wet shot.
  6. Rotation is shooter becomes the 1M passer, everyone shifts up the pool, 7M passer goes to the back of the line at center pool (or becomes the attacker) and the drill continues.
  7. The goalie is looking to block all shots (obviously).

That’s the original drill.  There are some drawbacks.  First, this is a drill that takes 4 balls.  Second, missed/blocked shots can find their way out of the pool, so you will need back-up players to shag loose balls.  If you need extras to get errant balls, modify the rotation to send the attacker out of the pool (to do two rounds of getting loose balls), the other player out of the water jumps in at the 1M passer, and everyone shifts up.  Problem solved.  Of course, if you have a high-net behind the cage, this can reduce errant balls dramatically.

Now for variations:

Take this to the next step, turn 5M passer into a trailing defender.

You can split the pool, have this drill set up at both ends, and the end doesn’t start until after the transition goal is taken.  This gives one end enough time to set up for their turn through the drill, and allows the goalies get to see both sides of the drill as well.


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