Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 2 Number 12 Febuary 1, 2011
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

The Basics – Beating the Drop

At CWPA Eastern Championships, Bucknell University was going up against Fordham University.  Fordham was bringing a Hole player, Ali Arat, to the game.  Arat had dominated the 2-meter up and down the East all season.  Bucknell employed a very simple tactic.  They utilized a drop defense and double-teamed Arat all game long and forced Fordham to beat their goalie with the outside shot.  One problem, Fordham didn’t have the outside shot to win.

But there’s a lesson to be learned here, kids, so pay attention.  In the game of water polo today, there is a great emphasis on getting the ball to the Hole-Set and working the position for a shot, an exclusion, or a penalty shot.  So even if a team does have a dominant Hole-Set, it can’t be the only threat.  The simplest and most basic ways to beat the Drop, or Hole-Set double-team, is quick ball movement, and solid outside shooting.

So this is what you do…

What we are going to do here, as shown, is move the ball around the perimeter to get the goalie moving.  Once the goalie focuses in on a shooter, his chances of stopping the shot just increase the longer the ball is there.  So when the ball does get to the target shooter, you will want to get the shot off quickly and controlled, so as to get the goalie while they are moving.

It’s important to have control of the ball too.  It has to be a clean catch and throw.  It’s a shot that righty’s and lefty’s can, and should, be able to handle.  So, it’s not a clean pass or catch, what do you do?  Part of this will depend on how the defense reacts.  If they stay home with the double-team, then the shooter should pump-fake and walk the ball in closer to the net.  If you can walk it within the 5M, you have a pseudo penalty shot and should be getting very serious about shooting.  If the defense leaves the double-team, look to feed the Hole-Set with the ball.  If that’s not there, look for the drop coming in from another position and feed that open player.  Or… SHOOT THE BALL!  The defense recognizes your shooting location, you’ve probably faked the goalie out about 3 times, and the ball is bone dry and primed to reach the back of the net.

Can you get more complicated with beating the drop?  Sure, but these are the basics.  You have to walk before you run.  And this tactic is simple and effective, so long as you practice those outside shots.  Don’t fall victim to the lack of outside shooting ability.


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