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Table of Contents


  The Manual for Coach and Player  

Chapter VII: Part 2

Game Situations

Pete Cutino

Dennis Bledsoe

Three on Two

Use the same principles as four on three. Two men go deep. If one of the defense shifts to take the ball the goalie will be out of position. If not, the middle man has the open shot. fig. 7-157,7-15

Fig. 7-157 and 158

Defense -

  1. Force a right-hander to shoot from the right side. Goalie guards the strong side.
  2. If opponent has dribbled all the way down the tank cover wing men and let goalie take him.


Three on two in front of the cage. Rotatation is moving clear in order to receive a pass. This occurs very often on free throw situations. fig. 7-159

Fig. 7-159

Man Advantage Drills

When a team has a man advantage, then an immediate effort should be made to drive deep into the offensive end of the pool and isolate one man so he will be free to take an unobstructed shot. Good drills are two on one, three on two, and four on three. fig. 7-160, 7-161, 7-162

Fig. 7-160-162

Ball may start in any line. It is usually best for a wing man to control the ball and drive down until he is challenged. When he is challenged, someone should be open for the pass.

Full Court Four on Three — A good drill, and a good series to put in most any offense, is the following fullcourt four on three. It involves fast break immediately upon the ball changing hands. When on defense and there is a turnover, the man closest to the opponents' defensive goal should immediately sprint toward that end, always looking back over his shoulder for a pass. The wing men should move to the outside edge of the playing area and drive. The pass can go to any member of the team that is driving. The best spot to pass to a wing man and especially a right wing who is left-handed (find one). He drives until challenged; when challenged, a pass goes to the man left open. fig. 7-163

Fig. 7-163

Fig. 7-164

It is easier for right-handed players to shoot when receiving a pass from their right side. Passes from the left necessitate a wheel or draw move.

Since most players are right-handed, it is important to begin most fast-break passes from the right side of the pool and with a left-handed player initiating the scoring play. Use two trailing guards in the drill. If the score is not quick then it is too late. The wing men should penetrate deep and into the four yard area. The purpose is to isolate one of the defensive men into a two-on-one situation. fig. 7-164

Early in the play pass to the right wing. If he is covered, then hit the open man. Swim high and pass high (high polo). Then all that is needed is a one yard lead.

Begin and continue the drill by passing to the right wing. When the defense adjusts and plugs up the effort, then pass to a different man.

Make the defense adjust.

This is a simple, direct offense that utilizes quick short bursts of speed. It is not mandatory that the swimmers be fast (quick). The drill is fullcourt and very good defensive and offensive practice for teams of all levels.

Six on Six — Six on six, blue and white. Blue on offensive and one defensive man is told to hold back, giving blue the opportunity to be a man up under game conditions. After a lead is gained, white man may go. After the attempt, blue will go toward the other goal and continue. Can be done with four or five field men.

This is a fullcourt drill and very similar to the prior four on three drill. This is a good conditioner for those involved.


Methods of attacking a zone regardless of whether the offense is a man up or not are basically similar. However, the minute changes in attack are very important.

There are two major things the offense should accomplish in its attempt to score. First, the pass to a potential shooter should be a crosscourt pass. This will leave the goalie out of position because he does not have time to move laterally and cover the new man. Secondly, you need an open man to shoot. All passes to potential shooters should be crisp and solid; no bloopers—they allow the defense to recover.

Do not shoot if the goalie is in position and is prepared (unless penalty time is almost up). A blocked shot often results in a fast-breaking counterattack and a score. Ideally all players on the right side of center goal should be left-handed. All shooters to theleft side should be right-handed. fig. 7-165

Fig. 7-165

Three Three Zone Offense

The best shooters should go on the outside wings; defense will usually have their strongest guard on the hole position. Pass the ball around the perimeter and from corner to corner. Keep the goalie moving laterally, and eventually someone will be out of position. Watch the middle for a quick low trajectory pass and a shot. Offensive 6 should be a good strong left-handed shooter, 04 the team's strongest right-handed shooter. Very often against a zone, defensive 1 and 2 will sag into the middle and offensive 1 or 2 will be open for a pass and shot. The goalie will also be out of position. fig. 7-166

Fig. 7-166

Pass would come from the opposite wing — 04 to 03 or 06 to 01


01 drives across, O4 swims around the side, pass is from O5 who receives ball from O3. If left-handed, work from the other side. fig. 7-167

Screen and Shoot

06 screens X1, 01 breaks around and receives pass from 05 and shoots. fig. 7-168

Quick Shot

O1, O2, or O4 break or pop quickly and shoot. O4 RB, O1 and O2 a quick layout shot (jump out). fig. 7-169

Fig. 7-167 - 169

Defense Three Three Zone

In a zone defense it is important to always play position. Do not go
to sleep or be baited out of position. Play your area. Definitely protect
the center, X4, X5 and X6 ready to break offensive. fig. 7-170

Number 1 protects corner of cage.
Number 3 protect opposite corner of cage.
Number 2 and goalie protect center.
Numbers 3, 4 and 5 move and pressure ball.
Hands should be up and moving back and forth

Fig. 7-170


Man Up, Opponents with the Ball (usually after a shot by the team that is one man short).

One man guards goalie and cuts off the angle, all others press man-to-man and be ready for a 45-second or one minute turnover to offense. Or allow time for others to cover a man. fig. 7-171

Fig. 7-171

Penalty Throw Defense

Defensive men take inside position on sides of shooter. Key man is beside shooter's shooting arm. His responsibility is to screen that man by moving between him and the goal immediately after the shot and prevent rebound scores. Guard on the other side screens his man from the goal. X1 turns and goes to initiate defense. fig. 7-172

Corner Throw Defense

Passer is O2, X1 positions between 0' and the ball, X2 stays and is ready to break offensively. Goalie moves over and covers O2. fig. 7-173

Fig. 7-172 and 173

If the hole man has position X1 covers one side, X2 moves away from O2 and double teams O1, X2 is ready to break offensively. fig. 7-174

Fig. 7-174

Goal Throw Defense

Attempt to freeze the ball in the goalkeeper's position. Tight man-to-man in goalkeeper's half of the pool, no pass should be allowed.

Fig. 175

Guards farther away from the goalie can afford to play more loosely and be ready for a steal. fig. 7-175

Defense in Front of Cage

Play a tight man to man so a quick pass is impossible. Watch the passer before and after the pass. Be alert for push-offs.

Tread water higher than you normally would.

Protect the center of the pool and cage area by having your body in position. Force the offensive man outside.

Goalie Defense

If the defense is a man down on a fast-break, the goalie should call the man that swam the hardest and furthest to guard or call. A right-handed shooter who is on the right wing position is a good person to call also.

Guards Facing a Three on Two

Guards in position and facing a three-on-two or man-up situation should ride high in the water (walking) and be extra alert when being approached. Keep hips high; be ready for lateral movement.


Key Off of Two Yard Free Throw

If the opposition has a free throw, the defensive man is the key for a fast break. He either drops off (1) or doubles on the hole (2) man, then goes. fig. 7-176

Fig. 7-176

Follow the Sluff

If a defensive man sluffs, then follow him. Make him worry about you. Force him to pick you up. This is very important for a driving offense. fig. 7-177

Fig. 7-177

Free Throw RB in Hole Area — (two men in)

The outside man should swim into the defensive man until he begins to move backward, then rear up for pass and shot.

In most free throw situations the passer will pass outside to an open man. At times a quick pass to an alert teammate being guarded by a sleepy type will result in a score. When in front of the cage always have hands at the surface or above, ready for quick action; both offense and defense.

Fig. 7-178 - 180

Goalie Signals

Goalie can signal his center forward (hole man) as to what side the hole guard is on, for a quick shot.

Score vs. a Sluff

O1 should hold the ball out and bait X2. As X2 goes for the ball O2 should move it to the right to pull the sluffer over, then pass to O2 who breaks and takes a wheel shot (RB). fig. 7-181

Fig. 7-181

To defend this, the sluffer should not follow the center forward's draw or baiting move.

Two Yard Man Play

Fixed position — Lock in to a front position, move the ball in and out. Shoot if open.

Lateral movement — Work with drivers, pass ball in and out, move laterally back and forth and feed drivers, do not worry about shooting unless the guard is completely out of position.

Crosscourt Passes

Most passes should be crosscourt when possible because perception is better than on passes
straight downcourt. It tends to spread the defense and stop sagging into the middle.

Passes Outside Then In

Most passes should go outside, then in; pass to a wing position (outside) then into the driver of two yard man (inside). Purposes are the same as in "Crosscourt Passes."


Depends upon quick reaction to turnovers, poor defensive position and alert play.

On all fast-break attempts it is best to have a left-handed shooter on the right wing.

Two Yard Man Feed

When the two yard man feeds a driver and screens for him, the two yard man should shift with the driving man. fig. 7-182

Fig. 7-182

Blind Side Drive

Drive if the defensive man looks away.

Fig. 7-183 - 185