Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 3 Number 7 October 1, 2011
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

FAN MAIL: What to do with a Weak Goalie Part 3

We’ve been on this same subject for the last two months, instructing the Defense how they “should” play, and then talking Attack with what they will likely see, given the typical style of play.  This month, we are going to talk about the Defense bringing Coach Dave’s prescribed defensive scheme, and what the attack needs to do in order to beat the game.

Recall that the defense was going to go into a Full Press Defense, through the transition and into the front court.  Attacking the Full Press can be exhausting because nothing is given to you.  You can’t just swim up the pool, go through the motions, get the outlet and swim it into the front court.  That’s just not going to happen.  You will have to expect a defender on you at all times, playing very close, and working hard to either keep the ball coming to you, or keeping you from advancing the ball once you do get it.  That is why you have to be aggressive on your transition game.  Swim hard, swim fast, and make quick moves.  If your transition calls for a “square out”, instead of swimming straight up the pool before doing the move, swim in toward the center on a diagonal, draw that defender with you, and make that hard cut to the outside.  This gives you more room to swim, it gives the outlet pass more protection within the tank, and it doesn’t put the ball and the attacker right next to the gutter, or out of bounds marker, once you do get the ball.

Also, when you are facing a press from a defender, you will want to lean into them with your non-ball shoulder while protecting the ball with you shooting arm behind you.  This will pivot the body to be perpendicular to the defender, thus allowing you, the Attacker, to keep maximum distance between the defender and the ball.  Keep your legs to support yourself and you should be able to elevate out of the water a bit to see the pool.  Don’t allow the defender to push you around.  Be aggressive with the ball and play strong.  This will allow you to get the ball from the outlet to the front court, or even catch a transition goal.

Now that you have the ball in the front court, it’s time to put your Attack strategy into play.  The defense is playing a Press and Front strategy.  By fronting, they have taken the Hole-Set out of play, so long as they are playing deep on the 2M.  The first strategy that we can utilize actually comes from the player that the Defense is trying to eliminate from the play, the Hole-Set.  Take a look:

Notice what the Hole-Set did?  Their initial set was deep in the zone, near the 2M.  With a little bit of grunt work, the Hole-Set works their way out, away from the goal, while still “allowing” the Hole-D to keep their front position.  Hole D thinks they are doing what they are supposed to, keeping their front position, but they are giving up vital inside water to the Hole-Set, something their weak goalie doesn’t want to see.  A pass from the 3 position to the 5 position gets the ball to the strong side of a right handed Hole-Set and forces the goalie to have to make a big lateral move to respect the shot.  The 5 player can pass the ball to the Hole-Set who is looking at 3 to 4 meters of inside water to work with.  That leaves you with the ball in possession of a player who has inside water.  In the world of water polo, this is either a Goal or a Penalty Shot every day and twice on Sunday, especially against a weak goalie.  With a wet shot like this, it’s really a match of the quickness of the shot against the reactions of the goalie, and the weak goalie is banking on pure luck to make this save. And that leaves the Hole-D with the choice of giving up the Penalty Shot or just being as much of a pest as possible and take the chances with a live action shot.  Either way, we should be talking goal, no matter the choice.

Now, this is one way to attack a relentless Press and Front Defense used to protect a weak goalie.  And there are others out there. Come back next month and we’ll talk about it some more. Because let’s face it, not ever Hole-D will allow the Hole-Set to get inside water


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