Jim SocumShot DoctorBandage Ball

Volume 1 Number 10 December 1, 2008
The road to success is not doing one thing 100 percent better, but doing 100 things 0ne percent better.


Back Hand


The 2-meter player adds the backhand shot to the menu of shots to score on the goalie to go along with the sweep shot, power turn step-out shot and the layout shot. The backhand shot is taken when the guard overplays the 2-meter player’s left shoulder and leaves the right shoulder open for the shot. The backhand shot requires a disciplined shooter using specific throwing mechanics.  The backhand shooter masters the step-out, ball pick up, left hand usage and leads with the elbow. The shooter has the choice of threes shots: the step-out shot, scissor kick shot or Rudic backhand shot.


  • Step-Out
  • Ball Clearance
  • Left Hand Usage
  • Left shoulder push off
  • Elbow leads

The 2-meter shooter places his or her hand on top of the ball and rotates the body to the right (shooter’s viewpoint) with the horizontal arm traveling near the surface of the water to shoot the ball.  The backhand shot, like the sweep shot, is a rotational shot. The backhand shot rotates the shooter’s body in the opposite direction of the sweep shot.  The rotation of the body is the result of hip rotation, left hand and right leg movement.  The backhand is shot thrown from the hips with an assist from the right arm. The backhander’s right arm is part of a whole body shot that uses equal parts of the legs, hips, torso and the left and right arm to throw the ball.  The right arm-only-backhand shot does not exist.

The rotational part of the backhand shot uses the hips to swing the right leg from a step-out position to a step-back position that ends with right foot pointing at the goal.  For a demonstration of how the body moves the right arm have the player stand on the deck with the right arm and right leg forward and then swing the right leg back.  The right arm swings backward in one rotational motion with the right leg to point the right arm at the goal and shoot the ball. 


  • Step-out 45-degrees with right leg
  • Ball over the right foot
  • Pull with left hand

Fig 1 and 2

Figure 1 and Figure 2

The 2-meter player positions the body by having the right foot forward, the body angled with the left shoulder pressed into the guard’s chest and steps-out with the right leg at a 45-degree angle.  The hole shooter steps-outs 12-inches (30-centimeters) with the ball over the right foot. The step-out is assisted by the left hand pulling back. The square shooter (back and feet are parallel the goal) cannot step-out (see Figs. 1, 2). 

Ball Clearance

  • Left hand pushes down and the feet kick down to lift up the arm and ball
  • The former scissor kick user must use the left hand to elevate the ball

Figure 3 and 4

Figure 3 and Figure 4

The 2-meter player lifts the ball out of the water by left hand pushing down and the feet kicking down.   The ball is not lifted up 2-feet in the air and the ball is not shot while underwater.  If the ball does not clear the water the backhand shot fails.  For a demonstration of ball clearance, the player’s hand is on top and gripping the half submerged ball.  The left hand pushes down and the feet kick down and ball (and body) rises out of the water.  The ball is lifted without resorting to using the arm to swing the ball up in the air.  The 2-meter player, switching from a scissor kick backhand that automatically elevates the ball and shooter out of the water, to a step-out shot that does not make an adjustment.  The left hand must be used to elevate the ball (see Figs. 3, 4). 

Left Hand Usage: Pull, Push, Pull

  • Pull to step-out
  • Push for ball clearance
  • Pull to shoot

Fig 5

Figure 5: Left Hand Usage

The backhand shooter uses the left hand to shoot the ball in three stages: pull, push and pull.  In the first left hand stage the step-out the left hand pulls to assist in moving forward and turning the body and the hand is placed on top of the ball and submerges it half way underwater.  The step-out, left hand pull and left shoulder push off all happen simultaneously.  In the second left hand stage the left hand pushes down to lift up the right arm to clear the ball of water.  The left hand pushes down with the feet kicking down to lift the entire body of the shooter, arm and ball out of the water. In the third left hand stage the left hand pulls to rotate the body and the ball is released.

The right hand works in combination with the left hand to shoot the ball. The 2-meter player begins the first right hand stage, the step-out, with the right hand on top of the ball as the center steps-out with the left hand pulling.  In the second right hand stage, ball clearance, the ball is lifted up on the kick and left hand push and the right hand slides to side of the ball.  In the third right hand stage, the shot, the right elbow is bent and moves backward as the left hand pulls again.  As the body rotates, the shooter’s bent right arm straightens out as the right leg swings back.  The ball is released with the right hand twisting inward to place a backspin on the ball (see Fig.  5). 

Left Shoulder Push Off

  • Legs under hips and wide apart
  • Back vertical, arch low-back, left shoulder against guard’s sternum
  • Do not head butt, keep chin down

Fig 6

Figure 6: Left Shoulder Push Off

The backhand shooter’s left shoulder push off creates a small gap of separation from the guard. The backhand begins with the 2-meter player having an angled the body. With an angled body the 2-meter player places the left shoulder in the center of the guard’s breast bone.  The 2-meter player’s legs are wide apart.  The shooter’s back is vertical, the low-back is arched (do not lean back) with the left shoulder pressed into the guard’s sternum.  The player does not become horizontal in the water or head butt the guard. A player with a horizontal back cannot push off with the left shoulder and instead uses the left hand to push off the guard’s hip for an offensive foul (see Fig. 6).   

Elbow Aims the Ball

  • Elbow aims the ball
  • Wherever the elbow aims the ball follows

Fig 7

Figure 7

The shooter’s elbow throws the ball and aims the ball at the goal.  The rule is: Wherever the elbow points the ball follows. The shooter must be taught to aim the ball at the goal by correctly positioning the elbow. For example, if the elbow points at the side wall the ball hits the side wall; the elbow aimed wide of the goal throws the ball into the lane line; and the elbow aimed at the left corner the ball goes into the left corner. The backhand shooter avoids having the ball in front of the face or resting on the ball so the elbow does not point at the side wall or lane line (see Fig. 7).

Failed Backhand Ball Clearance Techniques

Ball in the air Arm swings the ball 2-feet in the air and dives
Ball underwater      Ball shot underwater like a torpedo with no ball lift up
Ball over cage Elbow is aimed and shot over the goal by pushing the ball underwater
Ball is wide Ball in front of face, elbow bent with the ball shot wide of goal

In the four illustrations below, the inexperienced backhand shooter uses four incorrect elbow aiming techniques (dive, torpedo, high and wide) as he clears the ball from the water.

Fig 8 and 9

Figure 8 and Figure 9

Ball in the air: Dive

The 2-meter shooter incorrectly lifts the arm two-feet (2/3 of a meter) up in the air to clear the ball from the water for the shot and the ball dives into the water on the release. The elbow is aimed at the water when the ball is held high in the air. The golden rule in the backhand shot is, wherever the elbow points the ball follows (see Fig. 8).

Ball underwater: Torpedo

The hole shooter places the hand on the ball and pushes it halfway underwater but does not use the left hand push down and the feet to the lift up the ball out of the water.  The ball remains underwater and becomes a torpedo.  The ball travels partially underwater about a meter, pops up and stops dead in the water (Fig. 9).

Fig 10 and 11

Figure 10 and Figure 11

Ball over the cage: High  

Another attempt to clear the ball of the water is to push the ball completely underwater with the elbow positioned high allowing the hand to get under the ball for a high corner shot.  The problem with this ball is, the shooter’s elbow is aimed over the top of the goal and the high thrown ball hits the bleachers (Fig. 10).

Ball is wide: Wide

The shooter’s bent elbow aims the ball wide of the goal.  The shooter bends the elbow with the ball in front of the face.  The bent arm position helps the hand slide to the side of the ball for the backhand shot but aims the elbow 2-meters wide of the goal post.  For comparison, a step-out shot has the ball over the right foot at a 45-degree angle with the ball held away from the shooter’s face with the elbow aimed at the left lower corner (Fig. 11). 


  • Scissor kick legs together, hand on top of ball
  • Left hand controls hip rotation for accuracy
  • Bunny shot: Elbow aimed above goalie’s head
  • Pull Backhand uses left hand to shoot ball to left
  • Push Backhand uses left hand to shoot ball to right
  • Power Turn Backhand turns shooter 60-degrees left with backhand shot to right

Fig 12 and 13

Figure 12 and Figure 13

The standard scissor kick backhand has both of the 2-meter player’s legs slap together to rotate the body to shoot the ball. The standard shot is simple: hand on top of the ball, pull with the left hand, scissor kick and shoot. The scissor kick elevates and clears the ball so the 3-stage left hand motion is not needed.  It is a good backhand shot for women; for men it is a good over-the-goalie’s head shot.  The disadvantages of the scissor backhand shot are: uncontrollable body rotation, the shot is telegraphed to goalie and a slower arm motion (see Figs. 12, 13). 


  • Pull Backhand: Left hand 12” away from body, pulls back, shot is slightly to right of goalie
  • Push Backhand: Left hand pushes forward with shot slightly left of the goalie

Fig 14 and 15

Figure 14 and Figure 15

The wide hip female player is an accurate scissor kick backhand shooter.  On the other hand, the narrow hip male scissor kick backhand shooter over-rotates and throws the ball at the goalie at center cage.  The shooter uses a new left hand movement for the scissor backhand shot to pull the ball to the left or push the ball to the right.  These two new backhands are: the left hand pull backhand and the left hand push backhand.   

A pull backhand has the 2-meter player throw the ball to the left of the goalie’s body by positioning the left hand 12-inches away from the body and pulling back.  As a result, the shooter’s body increases the hip’s over-rotation motion and backhand shot becomes a mild cross-cage shot near the right corner.  If the left hand is incorrectly placed near the body and pulls back the ball hits the goalie at center cage.  The push backhand throws the ball in the opposite direction.  The shooter’s left hand has the palm forward and pushes water forward.  The left hand forward motion reduces the shooter’s hip rotation and places the ball near the left corner (see Figs. 14, 15).

The shooter does a partial power turn of 60-degrees (90-degrees is standard) towards the right corner, uses the left hand to pull or push and throws a scissor kick backhand shot to the left corner.  A power turn step-out backhand does not rotate the hips enough to sharply pull the ball back into the left corner. 


  • Ball is on the 3-meter line and outside the left post
  • Do not move the ball as the shooter steps-out to ball with the hand on top
  • Ball travels in a straight line to right corner

Fig 16

Figure 16

The disadvantage of the standard step-out backhand is that the ball can only be shot at the left corner of the goal.  The right leg step-out prevents over-rotation of the hip and torso and prevents the cross-cage shot to the left. In the situation where shooter is pushed to the outside of the left goal post he or she cannot shoot.  The Rudic backhand is designed to be a cross-cage shot at the right corner.  The Rudic backhand shot requires perfect ball positioning, elbow aim and shooting angle.  The Rudic backhand is shot from the 3-meter line, outside the left goal post with the right shoulder pointing at the goal line.  The shot catches the goalie out of position to block the cross-cage shot (see Fig. 16).   

When the 2-meter player’s arm moves the ball from the spot, the backhand shot is missed or blocked.  The inexperienced shooter moves the ball above or below the spot on the 3-meter line.  A shooter that moves the ball above the 3-meter line throws the ball at center cage.  A ball positioned below the 3-meter line is thrown wide of the right corner.

Backhand Ball Below 3-Meter Line

  • Ball incorrectly moved below 3-meter line
  • Ball is shot wide of the right goal post

Fig 17

Figure 17

The ball and elbow is moved by the hole shooter to a incorrect position below the 3-meter line with the result that the ball goes wide of the right goal post when thrown.  This aiming mistake is caused by excessive hip rotation that turns the body to the right and moves the ball below the 3-meter line (see Fig. 17). 

Backhand Ball Above 3-meter Line

  • Ball incorrectly moved above 3-meter line
  • Ball is shot at center cage

Fig 18

Figure 18

The hole shooter moves the ball above the 3-meter line with the elbow aimed at the goalie in the center of the cage. The incorrectly positioned ball is thrown at the center of the goal (see Fig. 18).


Problems  Fix 
Backhand hits center cage Shooter scissor kicked instead of stepping-out to the ball
Backhand hits the wall Elbow bent with the ball in front of face
Backhand shot over goal Elbow too high because ball is underwater
Scissor backhand hits center cage      Pull with left hand 24-inches wide or push hand forward
Rudic shot wide of goal  Ball is below 3-meter line
Rudic shot hits center cage Ball is above 3-meter line


In conclusion, the 2-meter shooter uses perfect technique to step-out, clear the ball, has the proper left hand motion, pushes off with the left shoulder and leads with the right elbow.  The 2-meter player reads the defense, takes advantage of guard and selects the correct backhand shot for the guard’s defensive positioning.  For example, a guard pressing on the 2-meter player’s left shoulder requires a step-out backhand shot. A guard that wraps his or her arms around the 2-meter player’s shoulders requires a scissor kick backhand shot.  A hole shooter pushed outside the left goal post takes a Rudic cross-cage backhand shot.  The technical 2-meter shooter is able to score no matter what the guard does.

© Copyright 2008 Jim Solum


Fig 14

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