Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

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

Time Out! Now What?

Water Polo Planet has a bulletin board titled Ask Coach Dante Dettamanti.  There are some out there that have asked some questions, and Coach Dett always responds.  Dante does a good job at describing the play, but I can understand how some may get lost in the translation.  My only hope is that more people could read his information, which is why I want to share this particular scenario in this month’s column.

Dante was given a scenario of 10 to 15 seconds left in the game, however, I think this is a play that could really be a staple in EVERYONE’S playbook where they could capitalize on a good mismatch.  It’s running a double post, but what’s clever is not that you run a double post, but how you get there.  You see, it’s getting there that creates the opportunities.

The key to this play is to not telegraph your setup, but use movement to get your players where they need to be.  You start in your standard umbrella setup.  Then, to get into the double post, you use a pick to the strong side wing (1 position).

This play shows it starting after a time out, for example, but it could start from anywhere in the pool, but the trigger position is the point.  The point has to keep position at or outside the 5M, as this will keep the defense honest on them as well as keeping the defense from employing the “Foul and Drop” tactic.  Additionally, the wing at the 1 position is a righty.  Once the ball gets to the 3 position, the 2 position throws a pick to the 1 position (flat-to-wing pick).  The wing swings up behind the flat and drives to the near post.  During the pick, the Hole-Set shifts to the post away from the wing who is receiving the pick, thus creating more room for the driving wing to work.  The defense has the choice to either stay with their players, or switch.  As the pick is at the wing, you will likely see a switch.  But, without being prepared for what will happen, there may be a delay, which would give the wing enough time to create some inside water and get a driving edge against their defender.  Inside water plus inside the 5M plus the ball equals a goal or a penalty foul every time.

Be prepared for defensive panic, specifically from the hole position.  If the Hole-D shifts over to cover the driving wing after the ball arrives, the driving wing needs to recognize the shift, not force position or the shot, but rather flip the ball what will be a wide open Hole-Set on the far post for an easy backdoor catch-shot-goal.  And let’s not forget the Flat that just through the pick, on a defensive switch, this player has inside water!  Keep shifting, Hole-Set swims out to the far wing, everyone shifts around, and there’s another potential shooter on the doorstep of the goal.

There is this common thought that the driving game is dead in today's water polo game because of the way play is called at 2M, we have just seen something completely to the contrary.  I've always said that you don't need a pass out of 2M in order for there to be a driving game.  This play is just another example.  And the concept isn't new either.  According to Doc Hunkler, during his time as assistant coach to Sandy Nitta for the USA Women's National Team in the 80's, they did in fact use this play, when play was called much different at the 2M.  The concept isn't new.  And the more coaches can share and absorb from their experiences throughout the years, the more our sport will grow from coast to coast


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