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Table of Contents


  The Manual for Coach and Player  

Chapter III


Pete Cutino

Dennis Bledsoe

Shooting ability is often taken for granted and not emphasized as it should be. Shooters should be aware of the goalie's position in the goal. They should also have good balance and position in the water prior to shooting. For most shots the shoulders and arms should be free to move. For good shooting it is essential to have this balance and position.

fig. 3-29

Most good shooters will list concentration on the target as a major factor in the success of the shot. All the shooter's attention should be focused on the shot to be taken; nothing should distract his focus. Faking the goalie is important in shooting. The shooter should not stare at the exact target. If the shooter can fake the goalie out of position or at least cause the goalie to be unsure of where the ball is going, his probability of success will be much greater.

Approximately 20-percent of daily practice time should be devoted to shooting. It is very often possible to combine passing and shooting.


Weak shooters should rotate the fingers forward and almost on top of the ball. Most weak shooters collapse their wrist and shoot with the hand under the ball, rather than behind it. See the difference by throw ing against a wall. It should rebound faster when the fingers are rotated forward.

fog. 3-30


On overhand shots always shoot down. This helps eliminate over the top shots, helps add power, and also results in a better scoring percentage. Even when shooting a high corner shot, the feeling of shooting down should be emphasized. This tends to maintain the fingers in the proper position to execute a hard shot.

fig. 3-31


Rebound boards are very effective and important to most polo programs. They are inexpensive and allow the team with a minimum number of goals to still practice accurate shooting skills. They may be situated anywhere around the perimeter of the tank so they can be out of the way of busy areas. The board may be painted in any manner desired. However, most coaches prefer one of two styles: The first is to simply paint an outline of an actual goal. The other is to paint a human figure on the board, thus lending more realism to the shooters' practice shots. The areas most difficult for the goalie to defend should be the target areas on the board. These include the corners and above the head.

When rebound boards are used, players find it very difficult to shoot accurately. They 'must then concentrate on gaining strength and quickness when shooting at the boards. Passes should be taken as quickly as possible and thrown as hard as possible, be careful not to create bad habits such as twisting the wrist. When shooting at the goal, players should try to shoot as quickly and as hard as possible, but much emphasis must be placed on accuracy. Players many times have a tendency to shoot to one side. This should be pointed out and the individual should try to develop his shots to the other side of the cage as well. While shooting, if the shooter sees that the goalie is playing off to one side or going up tcoo soon, the shooter should tell the goalie so he may correct himself.



There are five basic drive-in shots: the pop shot, push shot, screw shot, pump and swim, and RS shots. With all the shots mentioned, one should continue driving hard until after the shot is taken.

Pop Shot — The pop shot is executed by a player who is in the process of dribbling the ball toward the goal. Without stopping, the right-handed shooter should lift or tee the ball slightly out of the water with the left hand and draw it toward the right shoulder. As the right arm recovers, the ball its popped up just clear of the left hand and struck with the fingers off the right hand as the shot is made. When executing the shot, several things should take place. First, the body should ride as high in the water as possible while dribbling and shooting. This requires a good leg drive and a high kick. The shooting arm, should be completely clear of the water. It is essential that the elbow does not drag. The palm should be turned to face outside, or to the right with the thumb down. Contact the ball with the fingers and not the palm of the hand. Drive through the ball, allowing the arm to completely follow through. Players often use this technique to pass the ball. Do not slap the ball.

fig. 3-32

fig. 3-33

Push Shot — The push shot is done by placing one's hand on top of the ball, depressing it slightly, and allowing it to rise. The ball will slightly clear the water. At this point the shot is executed just as in the pop shot.

fig. 3-34

fig. 3-35

Screw Shot — This is an underwater movement with the shooting arm. Here one drives in just as in the prior two shots. The player places his shooting hand under the ball and supports it just clear of the water. He then draws the ball back to his shoulder and executes a push type shot. This is a very deceptive move. As the shooter gains proficiency, it becomes hard for the goalie to anticipate the shot. He an not see the shooting arm and its movement until the shot is taken. to contrast, the pop and push shots are fairly easy for the goalie to defend against. Emphasis must be placed on driving in fast and releasing the ball quickly. Drills may be done with or without a man guarding.

fig. 3-36, 37, 38, 39

Pump and Swim — At various times during the course of a game the hull should be picked up and held out of the water as the man with the ball continues to advance. Proper execution of this skill involves use of a strong scissor kick and a modified pulling motion with the bottom arm. A good drill for this is an arm high side stroke. The body should be positioned almost on the side. The hand holding the ball should always continue pumping back and forth so the opponent will not know when the pass or shot is going to take place. Occasions necessitating this skill are when opponents are closing in and may possibly steal the ball, when a shot is imminent, and when a fast break is taking place and the man with the ball is about to be challenged. It is important to maintain good speed.

Very often players become overly anxious to shoot when open and in front of the goal. They tend to shoot from too far out. When an open shot is available the correct procedure is to pick up the ball in shooting position, pump the arm, and fake with the ball. Walk in, using the eggbeater kick and supporting the body with the other hand, to about the six yard line and shoot from that point.

fig. 3-40

Rear Back Shots — RB's — This is a shot where the man drives from halfcourt into the four to eight yard line, rears up and back, receives a dry pass and shoots an overarm shot. It is most important to use one's legs and non-shooting arm to get as high out of the water as possible. In this maneuver the legs should be bent and pulled under the body (very quickly), then extended under the body enough to support a high position in the water. The shot should be thrown as quickly and as hard as possible, in order to catch the goalie off balance.

If the shooter is guarded in front, a sidearm shot is often very effective and not expected by defensive men. The sidearm shot is difficult to learn and it is not advisable to spend too much time with it.

fig. 3-41 to 44

Wheel RB's — Receiving a cross face pass with the far hand is hard to learn but is a necessary skill. When a right-hander receives a cross face pass, he must keep his legs under his body at all times. This is hard to master. As he receives the pass and wheels to the right, his legs must remain in position. After the wheel the player is in good position to either shoot a hard shot or pass effectively. He should be leaning toward the goal. MOST IMPORTANT — do not allow moving to the back during the wheel.

fig. 3-45

Other Shots

Layout Shot — This shot is done from a backstroking position and usually takes place as the shooter is crossing in front of the cage from right to left, or with the outside arm the shooting arm. A cross cage shot is best when possible (shoot to the opposite corner).

fig. 3-46

Hole Layout — When guarded from behind, turn toward the shooting arm, use a sculling motion with the off hand, flutter kick hard, and move quickly from the guard.

fig. 3-47

fig. 3-48

Backhand Shot — back to the goal. — Pick up the ball, normally by top pressure or by bringing the hand up under the ball (more deceptive). The arm and shoulder must be clear of the water. As the ball comes off of the water, lead with the upper arm and elbow. The arm should bend to about a 90-degree angle. When the upper arm is in line with the shoulder, whip the ball in by straightening the arm and following through.

fig. 3-49

Over Shoulder Shot — This is a surprise rather than a power shot because the guard and goalie will generally be looking for a sweep shot, backhand shot or a pass. The shooter places his hand directly under the ball and quickly shoots the ball directly over the shooting shoulder. Do not throw the head back and into the defensive man; do not use the shot very often. It is easy to block when expected.

fig. 3 -50 and fig. 3-51


Offensive Tip Shot By Two Yard Man Off Free Throw — A man in the scoring area can splash water with one hand; the pass should go to the opposite hand for the tip.

Backhand Lob — If the goalie is out of position and the offensive man with the ball is skilled in a backhand lob—execute.

Penalty Shots — Two to three players on the team should be chosen to shoot the penalty throws. After workout is over, each should practice about ten with a great deal of concentration. During the game one player should not shoot more than two, or possibly three, shots in a row, as the situation presents itself. One man may have shot two in a row, so another man should take the shot. However, if he just made a fullcourt break, he may be too tired to shoot effectively.

The best area to shoot to is the low corner because the goalie will be on his way up and likely be above a low shot. Do not look to the area you are going to shoot to; look straight at the middle of the cage or the goalie's body, not his eyes.

Long Shots — All field players should spend time daily shooting from eight to ten yards out. The purpose is to help develop accuracy and power in overhand shots.

fig. 3-52



When learning the drive-in type shot the following drills are valuable:

fig. 3-53

Three Line Drive-ins — (for all but RB shots) — No goalie is used. Drive in, shoot from approximately the four yard line, retrieve own hall and throw it back to the next man. fig. 3-53

Two Line Drive-ins — Same as above; a defensive man may be used a desired. He should trail at the driver's waist.

Single Line Drive-ins — Use a goalie, shoot from the four to six yard lane. A defensive man may be used quite effectively in this drill.

Pop Shot — Swim the length of the pool using the pop shot every five fig six strokes, pass back to the next man and continue the drill. When all in the line have reached the end of the pool, repeat in the other direction. Use as many lines as the facility and number of players dictate.

fig. 3-54

Drive-in Flys — Drive-in shots with a guard at the hip. If the shooter misses, he swims fifty yards butterfly. If the guard does a poor job, he swims fifty fly. If the goalie misses three or four out of ten shots, he goes fifty fly. INCENTIVE DRILL.

Pump and Swim Sprints — A good drill to use in learning the pump and swim skill is to arrange the team in equal lines. The first man in line swims the length of the pool with the ball in hand and pumping—all the way.

Variation Dribble the ball for five strokes, pick it up and pump, put the ball down and repeat until the end of the pool is reached. The coach may utilize a whistle with this drill if desired.

Rear Back Drills — Sprint in to the six yard line, rear back, receive the pass from the right side and shoot. Move to the passing spot, pass, then return to the line.( fig. 3-55)

fig. 3-55

Wheel and Shoot — Same as preceding drill, except pass will come from the left and shooter will wheel and shoot. fig. 3.56

Both drills can be initiated by a pass from the shooter, before he breaks, to the passer, then sprint and take the shot.

fig. 3-56

RB Off of Two Yard Man — The driver takes the ball from halfway, swims into the four. Just after he starts swimming, another man goes behind him. When the first man reaches the four, the second man should be on the six to eight. The first man turns and throws a ball to the second man who does an RB and shoots from there.

Two Yard Man Drive-ins and RB—or Two Yard Man Feed RB's — In this drill the two yard man sets himself. One man about eight yards out passes the ball in to him and drives for an RB shot. This is most important to a team's offense and should be done with a great deal of care.

Rapid RB's — This is a varied form of the regular RB where one takes o series of four passes as quickly as possible and shoots. His total should add up to about 20 to 24 shots at a time. This is also good conditioning for the goalie.

Two Line RB's — In the drill the driver rears back, receives the pass, shoots, then becomes a retriever for the next shooter. Next he becomes the passer and then back into the line on the opposite side of the pool. As soon as a shot comes from one side of the pool, the man on the other side goes. This results in one shot at a time, and in fairly rapid succession. A good goalie drill. fig. 3-57

fig. 3-57

Wheel and Shoot - Two Lines — The ball begins in line on the right olds. O1 swims diagonally across the pool and toward the opposite goalward. After crossing center pool, O1 rolls to his back and should yell for the ball. The pass comes from O3. O2 sprints to the right side of the pool mid times it so that he crosses just behind O1. As O1 receives the pass, O2 should yell for a pass, receive, wheel and shoot. O2 should be sure the legs are under the body, do not shoot from the back.

Join the line on the opposite side. fig.3-58

fig. 3-58

Getting By — This can almost be considered a conditioning drill. One man, the offensive man, starts about halfway. Another man, the defensive man, waits about two yards away. The object is for the offensive player to get around the defensive man and in good position to shoot either an RB or drive-in shot. This drill has a tendency to become quite rough and caution should be taken to see that it does not get out of control. The offensive player should not be too aggressive, otherwise a foul will be committed. A feeder should be used, the shooter becomes the feeder, and the feeder rejoins the line.

Full Length Swim and Shoot — This drill is done only when players start to take it easy when they shoot. One must swim the entire length of the course, pick up the ball on the two to four yard line, and shoot past the goalie. This is done 15 to 20 times. Those missing more than two to three times are rewarded with a two hundred yard butterfly.

Drive and Shoot — Full Court — (reaction and chaser) — This is a good drill for condition, driving, and defense. Make the drill a contest between X's and O's. The first team to score ten wins. O1 breaks, O3 passes to O1, X2 chases O1 who shoots at the end of the drive. After the shot X2 changes direction and becomes the offensive man, as O1 chases X3 receives the pass from the goalie and passes to X2 who dribbles and shoots. fig. 3-59

fig. 3-59

Semi-Circle Shooting — All six men in the semi-circle have a ball. Beginning on one side, each man shoots in turn. As the prior shot hits the net or goalie's hand, the next man shoots. fig. 3-60

Variation 1. Place eight men facing each other in front of the cage. The passers face the goal and the shooters have their backs to the goal. Numbers 3 and 4 receive the pass, wheel (draw) and shoot. Numbers 1 and 2 spin and shoot. Each shot follows the other in quick succession, as in the first drill. This is good for shooting, passing, catching and the goalie. Ten or twelve players may be used. fig. 3-61

Variation 2. This can also be done using one ball and passing it around. Whoever wants to, shoots. If a player misses, he must chase the ball. If the shot is made, the goalie gets it.

Variation 3. Each man has a ball and passes come in succession to numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 in order. Numbers 1 and 2 should spin and shoot. Numbers 3 and 4 wheel, or draw, and shoot. This drill requires the goalie to move laterally and to stay up for a period of time. fig. 3-632

fig. 3-60 and fig. 3-62

fig. 3-62

Cross, Wheel and Layout — Number 1 should cross just in front of number 2. The pass should go from the man behind number 2 to number 1 who receives the pass, wheels right, remaining in good position to shoot, and then passes to number 2 for a lay back shot. fig. 3-63

fig. 3-63

Dribble Option — Two men set up on defense at the four yard line and in front of the goalposts. Two offensive men position just outside of the defensive men. The driver then drives with the ball. A defensive man may or may not be used on the driver. If the defensive men collapse on the driver, he passes (flick pass) to the open man for the shot. If the defense does not collapse, then the driver shoots. fig. 3-64

fig. 3-64

Variation — Have three offensive men go in together (becomes 3-2). This drill is an excellent game situation exercise.

Screen and Feed — The first man in line throws the ball to the two yard man, who is guarded: He then drives toward the two yard man. If the driver's guard is on his left side, then the driver will screen him off and go right. The two yard man feeds the driver at this point. The driver then shoots. Go the opposite way if the guard is on the right side. If the two yard guard switches, the driver should be aware to pass the ball right back to the two yard man for a shot. fig. 3-65

fig. 3-65

Wing Pressure Feed — This drill is excellent for teaching the passer to pass accurately under pressure. One man is pinned by a guard at the side of the pool, or near the outer edge of the playing area. The first man in line drives in, receives the pass (after calling for the ball) and executes a drive-in shot. A trailing guard may be used on the driver. The driver becomes the new guard and the passer moves into line. If a defensive man is used, he moves into the driving line and the passer moves into the defensive line. fig. 3-66

fig. 3-66

Drive, Hook and Shoot — The first man in line should drive the center, and at about three yards in front of the cage, hook left. When executing the hook, pick up the ball and with a sweeping or swinging motion turn left. This arm movement usually brings the goalie up. The goalie will then settle and begin following the driver laterally. At this point ht. is vulnerable to a shot. Two types of shots are usually used in this situation. A backhand or a modified push shot with the outside arm. The shot should be quick, a surprise to the goalie and made with as much power as possible. The preferred shot is the outside arm push.fig. 3-67

fig. 3-67

fig. 3-68

fig. 3-69

fig. 3-70

fig 3-71

fig. 3-72

Lob Shot — When shooting a lob shot, fake to the inside corner, then push the ball into a lob to the far corner; the ball must drop.
When coming in to shoot, the player comes up high, watching goalie. I If the goalie comes up, shoot low; if not, lob or shoot by the goalie's head.

Hint — When a single player is approaching the goal on offense and is in possible position to shoot, always go toward the opposite goalward. This provides a better angle. Also the goalie must move laterally in order to follow the driver. fig. 3-73

fig. 3-73