Jim SocumShot DoctorBandage Ball

Volume 1 Number 6 August 1, 2008
The road to success is not doing one thing 100 percent better, but doing 100 things 0ne percent better.


Lob Shot Introduction

1. Vertical Posture        6. Ball Arc  
2. High Corner Shot    7. Lob Aiming & Left Foot Point
3. Grip    8. Shooting Angle
4. 3-Finger Release    9. Goalie’s Position
5. Ball Spin   10.  Lock and Lob

The lob is an excellent shot that all shooters should use.  The lob shot is a high arching cross-cage shot taken from an angle to the goal that travels over the goalie’s head and into the high corner of the goal.  The lob presents problems for the goalie.  The goalie has to change his or her blocking style and readjust the timing to adjust to a slower moving and high arching ball. Lob shots are taken from a bad angle and are thrown cross-cage.  Power shots are usually thrown at the nearside corner. The goalie plays the odds and sets up for the power shot by overplaying the strongside corner nearest to the shooter (left corner) and leaves the weakside and farside corner wide open (right corner).  The lob shooter, follows the ten lob fundamentals, sees the wide-open goal and scores. 

Coaches training a boy’s team or a girl’s team react to lob shooting in different ways. The woman coach encourages her players to lob the goalie.  A woman goalie is easier to lob on because she has shorter arms and cannot cover the entire goal.  Girls take lob shots all of the time and score.  The coach of the boy’s team, however, tries to ban the lob shot. A male goalie that makes a positioning mistake by overplaying one corner of the cage or playing too far out of the cage can be scored on. The male shooter should have the option to take advantage of the goalie that is weak on lobs. 

The coach and player must realize two cardinal rules: There are no bad lob shots only bad lobbersThere are no bad angles only bad shooters. Shooters with good technique score; shooters with poor techniques fail no matter what the angle. Bad technique makes a bad shot not the type of shot.  The wild, crazy, out of control shot is the direct result of the coach not teaching the lob so the shooter learns control. A bad lob shooter is also a bad power shooter and passer.  Poor technique manifests itself in all of the shooter’s shots. Do not blame the ball, angle or the type of shot.  Blame the shooter. 


Fig 1

Figure 1

The shooter must be absolutely vertical to throw the lob shot.  If the shooter’s body is not vertical the lob cannot score. The lob shooter elevates high out of the water to raise the center of the hand 30-inches (76-centimeters) above the water for a high release point.  The release point is the spot in the air where the hand releases the ball.  When the lob shooter is vertical, release point high, ball arc at 45-55-degrees, the ball goes into the high corner of the goal every time.   Most shooters have a mistaken belief that a lob is slow, low-effort, horizontal shot with a high arching 75-degree lob.  The inexperienced shooter does not know that it is impossible for a horizontal shooter or for a 75-degree arc lob to score (see Fig. 1). 

For the shooter to reach a high release point position the lobber has to use the legs to elevate. The legs are the shot in the power shot.  And the legs are also the power for the lob shot.  The lob shooter kicks high and hard to quickly elevate and fool the goalie into assuming it is a power shot.  The paradox is the shooter’s legs kick up just as hard for the lob as for a power shot.  However, in the lob shot the shooter slows the hips, torso and right arm to dampen the power being transferred from the legs into the arm for a slow-speed shot.  Fast legs and a slow arm is the lob shot.  The lob shot is not slow legs and a slow arm. The shooter needs good body control as the legs move quickly but the arm moves slowly. 


The lob is a 15 MPH (24 KPH) high corner shot with a high arc that goes over the goalie’s hands into the cage.  The lob shot is not a low corner shot. For the ball to go into the high corner the lobber cannot exceed the 55-degree ball arc limit.  To achieve a 55-degree ball arc the shooter uses a 30-inch (76-centimeters) high release point and a 24-inch (61-centimeters) lob aiming point.  However, the poorly-trained shooter drags the elbow in the water with a 15-inch (38-centimeters) release point with the result that the ball falls in the water in front of the goal.  The shooter’s “Big Four” mechanics create the lob: ball height out of the water, ball arc, and lob aiming point and the left foot point (foot points at the corner). The lob shot is math and mechanics.  The lob is not a “lucky” shot that mysteriously scores (See Fig 1).

3. GRIP     

Fig 2 Cradle Grip, Fig 3 3-Finger Release, Fig 4 Backspin Rotation

Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

The 3-finger lob shooter uses the cradle grip to lob the ball with a flat hand.  The cradle grip is the universal hand position used for the lob. The palm is facing up with the fingers curled behind the ball.  The hand slides forward with the hand spinning the ball off the fingertips for a graceful and accurate lob.  There are a number of poor releases that reduce the chances of the lob scoring. When the shooter’s fingertips do not place spin on the lobbed ball it becomes a no-spin ball with a low arc.  Fingertips that barely place spin on the ball produce a lob with a slow ball rotation and a low arc.  In addition, a shooter pinching the ball with a vertical hand cannot put arc on the 3-finger lob due to the lack of a hand angle.  The shooter’s hand should be angled back so that arc can be placed on the ball (see Fig. 2).


The 3-finger release is the standard release that all players use when first learning how to throw a lob.  The ball is released from the hand with the middle three fingers, the index, middle and ring finger, making final contact with the ball.  The 3-finger release creates a lot of ball spin which causes the ball lift up in the air with a high ball arc (see Fig. 3).   


The lob shot requires a backspin on the ball with the ball rotating backward.  The shooter places spin on the ball by sliding the fingertips against the surface of the ball.  The more force used by the shooter the greater the spin. Men have longer fingers and 50-percent more arm strength and easily place spin on the ball.  The problem with the male shooter is he uses too much force on the ball and the ball flies over the top of the goal.  The woman lob shooter has shorter fingers and less arm strength and does not place enough spin on the ball and as a result the lob hits the water in front of the goal (see Fig. 4). 


Fig 5 55' Ball Arc Fig 6 25' Ball Arc

Figure 5

Figure 6

The lobbed ball released from a 3-finger release has an arc (upward curve) of 45-degrees to 55-degrees.  A lob that is greater than 55-degree arc goes over the goal.  A 3-finger lob with less than 45-degrees may not go into the high corner and is often blocked. The lob shot requires the shooter to place a perfect arc on the ball, not too much ball arc and not too little.  The ball arc is controlled by the amount of ball spin the shooter places on the ball.  Too much ball spin and the ball will rise in a 75-degree ball arc and go over the goal.  When there is not enough ball spin, such as a 25-degree ball arc, the ball hits the goalie’s arms located at the middle of the cage.  The shooter has to develop touch on the ball to place the correct amount of spin and arc on the ball for a high corner score (see Figs. 5, 6).


Fig 7

Figure 7

Fig 8

Figure 8

Fig 9

Figure 9

The lob aiming point is a spot above the goal that is used by the shooter to aim the lob.  It is the same concept as a power shot’s zero aiming point that aims the ball at the high corner of the goal.  Without a lob aiming point to aim the ball the lob cannot score.  The lobbed ball has a curved trajectory compared to the power shot’s flat trajectory (ball flight).  The lobbed ball raises 2-feet in the air and then drops 2-feet (61-centimeters). The lob shooter takes into consideration the ball’s drop when aiming the ball.  For example, the lob aiming point is 24-inches (61-centimeters) above the crossbar which allows for the ball to drop the ball 2-feet and fall into the high corner.   The last part of the lob is direction. When the lob is wide of the goal or hits the middle of the cage the shooter’s left foot was not pointing at the corner.  The left foot aims the ball at the corner and the lob aiming controls the height of the lob.  Both aiming points are necessary parts of the lob. If the ball hits the middle of the cage the shooter moves the left foot 12-inches so it points at the right corner.  The right hand does not aim the ball; the left foot does (see Figs. 7, 8, 9).

The difference between the lob scoring in the high corner and the lob hitting the water in front of the goal is the height of the lob aiming point.  A common mistake for the shooter who does not understand a curved ball trajectory is to use the power shot’s high corner spot in the goal instead of the much higher placed lob aiming point.  To help the shooter visualize the aiming point tape a long stick with a flag on it and place it on the crossbar or a 10-gallon plastic bucket. The coach can also place his or her fist 24-inches above the crossbar as an aiming point


Shooting    Spot/Angle    Percentage    Goalie Positioning
1-spot (Euro-5) Low  % Goalie  Left Post
1.5 spot (Euro-5.5) High  % Goalie  Near Left Post
2-spot (Euro-4) High  % Goalie  Near Left Post
3-spot (Euro-3) No shot  Goalie  Center Cage
4-spot (Euro-2) Medium % Goalie  Near Right Post
5-spot (Euro-1) No shot Goalie  Right Post

Fig 10

Figure 10

The various spots and angles in the pool create a higher or lower percentage chance of scoring.  The table above describes the angles.  The best shots are taken from an angle from the left wing: the 1.5-spot, 2-spot (Euro-4) with the 1-spot (Euro-5) a distant third. The 3-spot (Euro-3) and the 5-spot (Euro-1) are not lob shots.  The 4-spot (Euro-2) for the average righthanded shooter in the right wing is not an accurate lob shot.  For a highly skilled shooter, however, a right wing-to-left corner lob scores (see Fig. 10). 


Fig 11

Figure 11

Fig 12

Figure 12

Fig. 11 Goalie overplays strongside left corner; lob weakside right corner
Fig. 12  Goalie overplays weakside right corner; power shot strongside left corner

The goalie’s position in the cage is determined by the left wing shooter’s bad angle to the goal.  The goalie automatically sets up on the strongside angle and jams the nearside left goal post and leaves the right corner open. The open shot is the weakside shot to the farside right corner.  The shooter must “read” the goalie’s positioning and lob cross-cage.  Most shooters blindly “just throw the ball” without analyzing the goalie’s positioning in the goal and hit the goalie’s stomach in the left corner (see Figs. 11, 12)

10. LOCK & LOB 

The left wing shooter sets up the goalie to overplay the strongside left corner with a pump fake and “locks” the goalie onto the goal post.  When the shooter fakes at the strongside corner, the goalie covers the left corner to block the apparent power shot.  The goalie believes: “No shooter ever fakes the ball when he or she is going to lob the ball.”  The goalie is wrong and the ball is lobbed cross-cage at the weakside corner.  To assist in changing directions after a hard half pump fake with a pinch grip the shooter moves the left foot from pointing the left foot at the left corner to pointing at the right corner (see Articles: Shot Doctor: Fundamentals of the Water Polo Shot).  Where ever the left foot points the ball follows.  In addition, the lob shooter can fake with the left foot pointing at the left corner and then step-out with the right leg and shoot at the right corner of the goal (see Articles: Skip Shot Part 3).


The lob shooter has three problems: ball goes over the goal, ball hits the water in front of the goal or the goalie blocks the shot.  To correct the too high lob or too low corner lob the shooter uses a 2-foot (61-centimeters) high lob aiming point.  To prevent goalie from blocking the ball the shooter does not telegraph the shot to the goalie.  The shooter is not low or horizontal in the water, does not have a slow body motion and is not “looking to lob” at the goalie.

Problems Fix
1. Lob hits high/low corner      Use a 2-foot lob aiming point
2. Goalie blocks my lobs Lock & lob, high release point, 55’ lob, correct angle, move quickly
3. Lob has 75-degree arc Don’t lie on back, be vertical, elevate, legs kick high & hard
4. Every lob is different Use same aiming point, release point, ball spin and arc
5. Ball has no spin Fingertips need to spin the ball harder
6. Too much spin/speed  Less fingertip spin on ball, less arm power for a slower ball speed

In concluding, the lob shooter is on a good angle, has perfect posture, high release point, places the correct spin, arc, and force on the ball, locks the goalie with a fake to the goal post, uses a lob aiming point and takes a great lob shot.  The shooter is aware there are no bad lobs and shooting angles, there are only bad shooters with bad technique.  The lob is an accurate shot in the hands of a well-trained shooter.

© Copyright 2008 Jim Solum

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