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Table of Contents


  The Manual for Coach and Player  

Chapter I

Conditioning and Drills

Pete Cutino

Dennis Bledsoe

Prior to each day's conditioning work, some warm-up exercises should be employed. A set distance of swims should be required each day, for example, reverse 200 yard individual medley, etc.

Approximately twenty percent of practice should be used for passing in deep water. If it is possible, use one ball for each set of two players. Begin with short passes first until the arms warm up, then throw longer until passes cover approximately twenty yards. Do not throw long passes until the arms are warmed up.

fig. 1-1

We do not recommend the use of all drills in each practice. The following drills are possibilities from which to choose.


Swim a two to a four hundred yard I.M. in reverse order. This places the butterfly at the end of the swim.


Butterfly armstroke using a flutter kick. This is a very good conditioning drill. The head should be held up and out of the water. Other kicks may also be employed.


Breaststroke using a quick turnover.
Head up.
Variation — Use an alternating kick (eggbeater).


Use 6 or 8 lines for most pools. Upon command the first man in each line should begin sprinting. After 4-8 strokes, another whistle blast will stop the swimmers. On the third blast they again sprint; at this time the second men in line begin sprinting. Continue this process until all men have reached the opposite end of the tank. Repeat as many times as desired.


Arrange the team in lines. The first men in line sprint on the first whistle, head up. On the second whistle they quickly change direction and sprint back towards the starting point. Continue for six repetitions. On the last whistle they sprint to the opposite end of the pool.

Variation: The second men in line begin on the third whistle and so forth until all have reached the other end.

When a player is swimming in one direction and wants to change and go the opposite way, the following method can be employed:

  1. Pull his trailing arm under water hard and vigorously.
  2. Bend his legs and pull them under his body.
  3. Just after the trailing arm pulls and the legs whip under they begin to extend and kick in the opposite direction.
  4. The lead arm is thrown hard over the water and in the direction desired.
  5. A vigorous kick and pull is executed and the maneuver is complete.

FLAG DRILL (follow the ball)

All team members should be in deep water and treading. When the coach exposes the flag, all men sprint in the direction it points. When the flag is pointed in the opposite direction, forward or backward, the players change direction and sprint again. Repeat this process for as long as desired. A ball may be used instead of the flag.


Arrange the team in as many lines as the pool facilities allow. On the whistle the first man in each line sprints with the head up. On the next whistle he flips to his back and continues forward doing the backstroke. On the third whistle he flips back to freestyle and continues I() the end of the pool. (Number 2 man begins on second whistle.)


Arrange the team in lines. Each man swims the length of the pool i n a zigzag fashion. The head should be held high and the feet should he kicking white water at the surface. As the change of direction is executed, a vigorous scissor kick should be employed. When turning left, the right arm moves over the water, and in the new direction the left pulls hard under the surface. Same mechanics as change of direction. A ball may be used in this drill.

Any time a player is dribbling the ball or, for that matter, any time he is sprinting, the legs and feet should be kicking vigorously at and above the surface. This not only provides a good leg drive, but also serves to protect the player by keeping defensive men at a distance.


Swim the breaststroke in a vertical position keeping the chest high; place emphasis on the chest high and out of water. It is best to use the alternating kick or eggbeater. Be sure the feet are kicking down and the body position is vertical.


Begin in a supine (on the back) position and hold the feet and chest out of the water. Using hand and arm movement the player should propel himself toward his feet one length of the pool. This is a very good arm exercise as well as a change of pace. (Something different)

fig. 1-2


From a prone position, kick very slowly, just hard enough to maintain body position. Then propel one length of the pool toward the feet, holding the head up. This drill is a good follow-up to the reverse supine pull. Competition may be used as an interest factor.


From a position on the side, hold the top arm out of water and emphasize the scissor kick. The scissor is essential to quick movement in the water. Scissor sprint to the end of the pool.


Arm high is good for pump and swim skill.


Half of the team should be on each side of the tank. On command the men on one side sprint to within three feet of the opposite side, change direction and sprint back. Then the men on the opposite side of the pool will do the same.



It is very often good to end or begin practice with sprint work. The players should use the same stroke used in the game. (Short strokes, fast turnover, head up, and ride high in the water.) It is important that the players use a high elbow technique of recovery, especially when dribbling the ball. The high elbow recovery virtually eliminates the problem of slicing underneath the ball. Calling out the first three finishers is useful in creating incentive.

fig. 1-3 and fig. 1-4


Use lines. The first man in each line will sprint the length of the pool, the second man in line should hold on to the sprinter's ankle or suit. Repeat as many times as desired. Competition may be set up.

Example: The first men in line drag their partners to the other end of the pool. At that point they trade positions and swim back. The first team back wins.

Relays may also be used.

KICK SPRINT (kick, swim)

Begin with a flutter kick, arms extend forward. On the whistle use the arms and sprint full speed, emphasize the first four strokes, strong scissor kick is imperative. On the next whistle flutter and glide again. Repeat for the length of the pool. This is a good drill to help develop an ability to start quickly, essential in the game of water polo.


Inverted butterfly, or double arm backstroke with either a dolphin kick or a flutter kick. Use of the dolphin kick with this stroke is especially exhausting. This should not be a daily drill, but should be used as a change of pace—something different. (It's fun to do.)


All players should "walk" a required distance each day, 100 to 400 yards. Goalies should do more. This skill is a frog or breaststroke kick done one leg at a time. The player should lean forward in the water, holding his legs at about an 80-degree angle under his body (as though sitting on a chair tilting forward). Do not trail the legs.

The hands can be used for support. The legs should be under the body in order to give good support (knees in line with the chest). If the legs and feet are behind, the individual will have poor support in his kick, and will be unable to hold a position when challenged. He will also lack explosive kicking power.

Players, goalies in particular, should strive to develop a good enough kick to expose their swim suit when a vigorous kick is employed.

Hint — Use a kick board between the legs for people who have problems learning the kick.


Divide the team into even lines at the end of the tank. On the first command the first men in each line begin an eggbeater kick and "walk" toward the other side or end of the pool. The hands should be out of water and clasped over head. The players should be facing the direction in which they are traveling.

fig. 1-5

Variations include:

  1. "Walk" sideways in both directions, left to right and right to left.
  2. "Walk" backwards.
  3. Using the hands for support.
  4. One hand under for support.
  5. Elbows in the water and hands out (beginners).
  6. Upper arm against the ears and hands straight up in the air and clasped.
  7. Upper arm against the ears and hands clasping the opposite elbow with forearm on the head.


Use lines at the end of the pool. On the first command the first man in each line rises as high out of the water as possible, using hands and legs. On the second command he sprints, freestyle, to the other end of the pool. Continue until all team members have reached the opposite end of the tank.


  1. Come up, walk forward, sprint.
  2. Up, walk sideways, sprint.
  3. Sprint on first whistle, up on second, sprint to end of pool on third.


This is done on a 50 metre or yard course. Keep the hands in front and kick freestyle. Concentrate on keeping the head as high as possible and creating white water with the feet. Five to six laps can be done with a rest of ten to fifteen seconds per lap.


In most pools there are ladders along the side. Find one from ten to fifteen yards from the end. Draw an imaginary line across the pool and use this as the stopping point. Sprints are initiated two yards from the end wall. Begin in layout position and sprint to the ladder at the opposite end of the pool. Use at least six lines. As soon as the ladder is reached, turn and set for the sprint back in the other direction. When the last person is in, set them off again. A set is 4 to 6 laps. Do two to three sets. No rest between laps. Usually there are two groups; this allows one group to rest when the other is working. fig. 1-6

fig. 06fig. 1-7


This drill is very similar to the previous one. Pick a distance of about thirty metres. Lay out and on the whistle sprint hard halfway, then at half speed until the whistle is blown. Turn and sprint halfway again. This continues for six to eight turns and is done two to three times. fig. 1-7


Sprint two or three laps (one of which is under water). Take ten to fifteen seconds rest between each lap. Do three to four times.


Partners swim the length of the pool, alternate cutting under and in front of each other. Use as many lines as facilities allow.