Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 2 Number 5 April 1, 2010
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

The M-Zone Defense Attack Against It: Part 2

The last article said that in order to beat the M-Zone defense, you have to use motion.  Last time, we saw how a simple half-drive to the “high slot” right on the edge of the “strike zone” would yield a good shooting opportunity.  It’s a good example of attacking AROUND the M-Zone.  This one, in particular, is rather quick.  And if the M-Zone is used late in the shot clock, a team has to utilize this type of quick play to work around the M-Zone.  There are several other quick plays that can be utilized.  But what can you do if the defense jumps to the M-Zone too soon, giving the attack more time to work with?  Now the attack can utilize a more developed play and make the defense make a choice, a.) stay in the M-Zone, or b.) leave the M-Zone to match the attacking tactic.

You have a little more time to work, so you can utilize a different attacking tactic, like the Double Post, the only difference is, you do it with half-drive from the adjacent driver, with the trigger player for motion with the ball at the 3 position.  Let’s look at this without the defense to see the motion.

With this motion, the defense has to choose, stick with the M-Zone or abandon the defensive tactic entirely and shift to a different scheme.  For the sake of this article, the defense is going to stick with M-Zone and adjust from within.  The defenders that dictate what is going to happen is the 1-2 Gap-D and the 3D (who is double-teaming the hole).  Let’s watch one scenario, watch how the defense shifts, and watch the attack develop.

In this case, the defense has opted to stick with their 2-3 gaps and 3-4 gaps.  As the 1 attacker slides in to post up, and the Hole-Set slides over to the opposite side, in this scenario, the 1-2 Gap D follows along and covers the O1 going across, treating the deepest attackers as the most dangerous, and X3 stays and double teams the two post positions, doing their job to keep the ball from the post-up players, and the 2 attacker slips into the high post unguarded.  The goalie always has to respect the shot, so they will stick to the ball.  A quick pass to the 2 in the “high slot” and it’s an immediate shot for the goal.

The different scenarios will show similar results.  If  the 1-2 Gap D picks up the O2 in the “high slot,” O1 will be wide open on the back door of the goal for another pass and quick shot.  If 1-2 Gap D takes O1 posting up, and X3 leaves the double-team on the posts to pick up O2 in the “High Slot” you now have isolation at the 2 meter, and you can look to make a pass into one of the two players posting up.

The final alternative is recognizing a breakdown of the M-Zone, and the defense may opt to abandon the scheme entirely and leave their gaps for a more traditional defense. That’s when you run your attack scheme with a double Hole Set (a conversation for another day).  You didn’t necessarily beat the defense, but you forced them to play a different tactic than what they wanted to.  The attack is now dictating the play of the defense, and have played a major part in influencing their transition game.  And the more your team can manipulate the flow the game at both ends of the pool, the more it will pay off on the score board


Athleon is a free, private virtual assistant coach for your team that helps manage all the out of the pool hassles and allows coaches to focus on coaching. Share moving plays privately, easily send text messages and e-mail the team, share game film, and a lot more.

WATER POLO PLANET.COM: the Alternative Voice    www.waterpoloplanet.com