The Three W's of Offensive Driving

Richard Hunkler, Ph.D.
Slippery Rock University

The three W's of offensive driving could just as easily stand for Win, Win, and Win, but they do not. They stand for - why should you drive, what drive should you use, and when should you drive.

Why should you drive - A football coach once said that he did not care to use the forward pass because three things could happen - a completion, an incompletion, or an interception, thus, two of the three things are bad for your team. In water polo one drives to do a rear back shot or to get inside water. When a player maintains inside water four things can happen - the player scores, is awarded a penalty shot, causes his or her defender to be ejected, or loses the ball. Note that in this case three of the four things that can happen are good for your team. Also continually winning inside water on your opponent will give you the mental edge - an edge that can many times drive your team to a victory.

What drive should you use - There are almost as many drives in water polo as there are players in the game at one time. Three of the many different types of drives are to be explained in this section. The first is sometimes called a, Blow-By-Drive, because that is exactly what you are going to do to your defender - swim by him or her with a burst of speed. If the defender is slower than you or the defender is guarding you with his or her hips down, then take a wide angle and sprint by him or her. Remember once you are by the defender you must swim in front of him or her to maintain inside water. This last move is sometimes called cutting the defender. The second type of drive is called an Intimidation-Drive. If the defender is playing good defense with his or her hips up then swim as if you are going to swim over the defender. Many times a weak defenders first reaction is to drop his or her hips. If this happens then pick a side and swim by the defender and cut him or her for inside water. The last type of drive is called the Finesse-Drive. This is when you use a head or shoulder fake to cause the defender to think you are swimming in the opposite direction that you are actually going to swim. By the time the defender realizes what is happening you already have two strokes on him or her and you are ready to cut him or her for inside water. Now, go create some drives of your own and help your team drive to a winning season.

When should you drive – In the old days when there was a much faster whistle called for play at the two meters, a player was taught to start his or her drive when the ball was in the air on its way to two meter player, so the player would be driving during dead time. With the way they are calling the play at two meters today, a player shouldn’t start his or her drive until the whistle sounds for a foul on the two meter player. This allows the two meter player time to work for the shot, the ejection foul, the turn, or the four meter call. Also if a player drives too soon and gains inside water on his or her defender and there is a turn over, then the driver will be in a poor position to defend on the counter attack because the defender will have the front position. In today's game when you first get inside water you are going to have to score to show the referee you are a ”player”. Then the next time you earn inside water you will have a better chance of receiving a kick-out or a four meter penalty from the referee. I hope this article drives home to you the importance of driving in water polo.

Email Coach Hunkler at [email protected]