Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 2 Number 6June 1, 2010
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

Strike Zone Attack


Not every team is blessed with a strong Hole-Set, that solid anchor that seems to be the corner stone of the team’s success.  But what happens when a team doesn’t have a quality Hole-Set?  We’ve already talked about one option, where the Hole-Set is your decoy.  But there may come a point where you don’t need nor want the decoy for whatever reason.  You have the speed, why not utilize it to its fullest.  Enter what I have affectionately termed “The Strike Zone Attack.”

There are several coaches and teams out there that have employed this attack with varying levels of success.  “Strike Zone Attack” utilizes no Hole player at all, positions all of it’s players around the perimeter, two drivers are on the go, a pick on the perimeter gets a driver open, and the weak side wing player is the trigger person for the attack.  I call it “Strike Zone Attack” because all shots are intended to be taken inside the “strike zone,” that hot-spot in the front court that is between the goal posts and inside the 5M.  When I employ this play, there are two different plays to be made, all depending on which players send the ball to the weak side wing.  Watch the plays below with no defense:

So long as the player throwing the ball to the wing position is not one of the two top players, we will call them the 3 and 4 positions, the 3 and 4 will always drive, with 4 setting the pick.

However, if the ball goes to the wing from the 3 or 4 position, then the 2 and 5 positions do a criss-cross pick in the strike zone and drive toward the goal, looking to free up a driver.

The 6 player has several passing options to choose from with respect to these drivers.  They can feed the driver on the weak side with a wet pass or a timing shot and they can feed the driver on the far side (strong side) of the cage with a timing shot, or an rear back shot.

Also, take note of how the perimeter players who are not driving to the strike zone shift up as soon as the drives go.  This is to help in covering up in the transition, but also cycles players into prime shooting positions on the perimeter.  Should either of the drivers get double-teamed from a perimeter defender, or none of the drivers are open, these perimeter players are another outlet option for the 6 position who has the ball.

This is just the start of “Strike Zone Attack.”  There are other coaches out there who have their own spin on the play, but the concept is still the same.  We are going to dive deeper into this play in the coming months with respect to some of the different defensive characteristics that a team could see while employing this attack tactic, so stay tuned.


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