Water Polo Tactics by Dave Maynard

Volume 4 Number 5 December 1, 2012
Imagination is more important than knowledge - Albert Einstein.

Restart Quick Drive

It’s no surprise that I like to take risks and push the envelope whenever there is a chance in some of the  most routine moments in a game.  I have already discussed the restart several times, and each one at it’s only little twists and turns, maybe a pick, or some bit of slight of hand.  This one, rest assured, is nothing like that.  It’s an in-your-face play that pits two people against each other for control over the strike zone.

It’s simple really.  You’ve just been scored on and you want to get it back.  You line your team up at half-tank and look at what the defense is giving you.  Specifically, look at the player that is marking the Hole-Set, waiting for them to charge through the line and head for the pit.  If he’s playing out high away from the goal, there’s a neat trick to do to make something out of seemingly nothing.

The Hole-Set, after they break through the line, is going to be swimming to meet their defender head-on and swimming at about 75% max output, a relatively easy pace.  Once the Hole-Set is close enough to make contact with their defender counterpart, they do a pseudo-swim move to their strong side, positioning their defender on their weak shoulder.  To do this, the Hole-Set on their stroke of the right arm, gets their hand on the defender’s hip, and finishes their stroke through.  This is also used to help shift the swimming stroke into high gear sprint and also generates a little bit of separation as you drive into the strike zone. The attacker who received the ball on the pass-back, now does a pass over the shoulder of the Hole-Set driver.  And what do you have…?

It’s a fast move, right at the defense, pitting two players against one another.  But it’s more than just the drive.  The pass has to be tight and on point.  An over-throw can find the ball in the hands of the goalie.  Under-throw, and it’s an odd-man rush going the other way.  And when the Hole-Set drives to keep their strong side unguarded, their free hand will typically go for the grab immediately on the ball, and the swimming strokes will be short and choppy to protect their position and the ball from the defender.  The Hole-Set, on their drive, should NEVER roll over and do a backstroke pull or “spin” move.  This displays to the world your swim move and contact with the defender, and could result in a contra-foul.

And how many times have you heard it before from me.  You have the ball in hand, with inside water, inside the strike zone, what do you have?  This is a recipe for nothing but positive for the attack, be it an exclusion, penalty foul, or goal.  Either way, the attack will be in the gain.  It’s risky and there is very little to no room for error.  But when it connects, what took your opponent likely several possessions and a full shot-clock, has been countered by something that took a restart and about 15 seconds.  And that’s putting fun back in the game of water polo… well… for me anyway.  So stay sharp, play it tight, and shoot for the corners.


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