Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 2 Number 3 Febuary 1, 2010
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

The M-Zone Defense Using It to Defend 1

In the last column, we discussed the M-Zone defense and how to maneuver from your standard defense into it and the amount of time to run it.  Now we talk about how to use it.

Players and coaches alike have to know where the right handed and left handed shooters are in the pool.  You have to assume that most players are right handed shooters, and your random lefty is going to set themselves up in the 3, 4 of 5 positions on the attack.  You need to know this because the player with the ball is marked by the gap defender on their throwing side.

Take the following scenario.  You have shifted into your M-Zone, and you have a lefty at the 4 position and all others are right handed shooters.  Notice the gap defender’s motion as the ball moves around the perimeter…

Notice the defense shift to cover the shooting side.  What this does is forces the attack to become one-dimensional based on the location of specific shooters.  In this scenario, the goalie and defense force the attack to be shooting from either the 3 or 4 position.  In doing so, it diminishes the movement required by the goalie, and combined with the double-team in the hole, it funnels any potential shot from those position.  Granted, these are the higher percentage shooting locations, however, the defense KNOWS where the shot will be coming from.  Predictability combined with minimized movement tips in the favor of the defense.

Change it up a little and put two lefties in the pool, one at the 3 position, and another at 5 position.

With position 4 being a righty, and 3 and 5 being lefties, the defense does something clever here.  By slightly violating the rule, and marking the 3 position in the gap, the defense now forces the ball into a loop between the 4 and 5 positions.  The 4-5 gap defender sticks with the rule of defending shooting arm, and the attack is now one-dimensional, predictable, and the shot funnel is a lower percentage and neutralizes the lefty at the 3 position.  Apply even more different attack layouts, apply the rules of defending the strong side of the shooter, and the defense can be applied successfully.

With the attack playing stationary on the perimeter and the defense playing in the passing lanes in the gap utilizing a M-Zone and double-teaming the Hole-Set, the defense can easily funnel shots from one area of the pool, thus reducing movement on the goalie, and making the offense more predictable.  And if the defense knows what the offense is going to do combined with the defenders in the gaps, it opens up opportunity on the counter-attack.  But that’s a topic for another day.  Stay tuned….


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