Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 3 Number 8 November 1, 2011
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

FAN MAIL: What to do with a Weak Goalie Part 4

The fourth installment of how to handle a weak goalie will close this out.  And here again, the Defense is going to utilize Coach Dave’s recommended defense of a Press & Front.  And we have talked about it the last couple of weeks on how to beat it.  But what happens when you come up against a relentless Press & Front???

No matter what you do, you can’t goat the Defense into dropping and giving you a little bit of breathing room.  Additionally, the Hole-D is up to the Front challenge, and not only is your Hole-Set stuck playing against a front because he get shift position, they are also buried on the 2-meter line, and they can’t gain their inside water.  Essentially, the defense has done everything they needed to do to eliminate the Hole-Set from play, and force the attack to burn the clock.  All hope is lost with the Attack… or is it?

Also keep in mind that up until now, the perimeter has been rather static, relying on the defense to make the mistake.  But no mistakes are being made.  Now, the Attack has to get active.  That means it is time to break out your motion based attack.

We discussed earlier that the weak goalie is vulnerable to outside shooting.  The Defense isn’t yielding a lane, so the Attack has to create it.  And against a Press Defense, there is one sure fire way to free up a player, and that’s running a pick.  The Press Defense is extremely vulnerable to press defense, because there is a close proximity to all players, and there isn’t any room to move or make up for any sort of a pick that could have been placed if you were playing a more relaxed defense.  The more space between players, the easier it is to make up against this Attack.  But in a Press, everything is tight, and if the defender is caught even the least bit off guard, they are dead in the water.

Watch how it plays out…

Note that the 4-Attacker is the trigger player.  The weak goalie still has to respect them as the shooter as well.  And also notice that the Hole-Set plays a roll as well.  While they may not be able to get position or inside water, they work laterally to move the defender to the weak side of the cage, where the ball is at, but away from where the play is going to be.  Then the pick happens, a 3-2 Pick, that leaves the defense with a choice, stick with your players, or call for a switch.  In this case, the 2-Defender was caught off guard, didn’t call for a switch and couldn’t adjust to the pick, so the 3-Attacker took his defender with him, and took the 2-Defender out of the play.  This opened up the 2-Attacker to swing toward the 3-position but closer to the goal (remember, why take a shot from the 5M when you can take it from the 4M).  And against a weak goalie, lateral movement is going to be lacking, so this is a simple catch and shot across the cage to where the goalie is not.  The shooting lane is open because the Hole-Defender is on the weak side of the cage, and the 3-Defender is covering his driver, and the 2-Defender is trying to catch up to the play.  And remember, you don’t even need to nail corners, you just have get it to the side of the cage, because to block this shot, for a weak goalie, is going to be a reach in every essence of the word.

And what happens if they call the switch?  The 3-Attacker who just set the pick has inside water and ball side position on the 2-Defender.  The 4-Attacker has to give a lead pass to the 3-Attacker on the drive.  Too far back, and the shot can be broken up by the defender.  Pass the ball to a safe and controllable position and allow the 3-Attacker on the drive to do the work and finish the play.  Plus, they are shooting from inside the 4M line, making this even more of a difficult shot to block, but ANY goalie, much less a weak goalie.

The ONLY way to defend against the 3-2 Pick is to have the entire team commit to a defensive shift on that side of tank.  The Defense can’t hesitate and they have to know exactly how things are going to shift once the movement begins.  And all defenders involved in the shift have to do their parts, because if one person doesn’t a player is left open.  But, this is a discussion for another day…

So there you have it, after four (4) installments, we have broken down how you should defend with a weak goalie and how to attack it.  Execution is key in all cases, and it is entirely on the Defense to be as flawless and error free as possible.  The Attack has a little more wiggle room in what they can get away with, but if the Defense breaks down in one aspect, they are entirely vulnerable.  The key for the Defense with a weak goalie isn’t to allow low percentage shots, it’s not allowing shots at all.  The key for the Attack is that when you have a window, you have to take it.

If you have a tactical issue that you are struggling with, feel free to write me at [email protected] and we can focus on it in this column for all of our readers to learn from.


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