Jim SocumShot DoctorBandage Ball

Volume 1 Number 11January 1, 2009
The road to success is not doing one thing 100 percent better, but doing 100 things 0ne percent better.


Figure 0


Chris Humbert, a three-time US Olympian, created a quick spin to face-the-goal shot using an overhand throwing motion. The spin shot catches the 2-meter guard out of position to block the shot.  He developed four face-the-goal shots to score in any situation: a full turn shot, quarter turn shot, center cage shot and a face-the-goal rollout shot.  The Humbert shot divides into two distinct parts: a right arm ball pick up and a left foot spin.  The Humbert shooter combines the two parts into six techniques to throw the ball: the step-out, elevate the ball, use the left foot to pivot and aim the ball, push off with the left shoulder, pull with the left hand, spin to face the goal and throw the ball with an overhand throwing motion.


45-Degree Angled Step-Out

  • Legs wide apart, right foot forward
  • Body angled at 45-degrees, step-out
  • Left foot points at the goal

Figure 1 and 2

Figure 1 and Figure 2

The Humbert full turn shooter sets up on the left goal post with the right foot in front with the left foot way back for a wide stance.  The body is angled and step-outs for a 45-degree angle quarter turn shot or 180-degrees for a full turn shot or center cage shot.  The leg stride is 12-inches (30-centimeters).  Do not take a big lunge. The step-out leg movement creates separation from the holeguard when combined with the left shoulder push off.  The shooter steps-out with the left leg positioned as far back as far as possible, with the left heel pointing at the corner. A common mistake made by the 2-meter player is for the body to be positioned in the horizontal with both feet in front or have the left leg straight under the hips.  

To demonstrate the legs apart step-out concept, have the player stand on the deck with the feet together and lean against the wall with the back flat and try to push off the wall.  It is a very difficult maneuver to try and get separation. Repeat the drill correctly with an angled body and the back arched, the legs apart with the left shoulder pointed at the wall for an easy push off (see Figs. 1, 2).

Ball Pick Up

  • Hand underneath the ball with elbow bent
  • Lift ball over directly above the head
  • Left hand pulls around the body

Figure 3 and4

Figure 3 and Figure 4

The first part of Humbert shot is the right hand ball pick up.  The shooter has the right arm bent with the hand is under the ball, first red arrow (see 1a).  The ball is picked up and is lifted directly over the head as shown by the second red arrow (see 1b).  When the ball is directly above the head the shooter can rotate the body quickly with help from the left hand.  In the Humbert shot, the ability to spin quickly requires correct arm positioning: a bent right arm at ball pick up and a straight arm at ball elevation (see Figs. 3, 4). 

Where the right arm and ball is positioned determines the quality and speed of the spin motion of the Humbert shot.  The farther the ball is away from the head the slower the body rotation and the more inaccurate the shot. When the Humbert shooter’s right arm is extended straight out at the ball pick up the player spins slowly, falls on the back with a long arm cock and throws the ball over the cage.  To understand the Humbert shooter’s body rotation the ice skater’s spin is examined.  The ice skater has the arms on her chest to spin faster and has the arms extended to slow her body. A good Humbert training drill is to practice the spin and slam drill: pick up the ball, elevate it over the head, spin and slam the ball down in the water.   

Left Foot Point

  • Left foot must turn and face the goal before a shot is taken
  • Left foot is a pivot point the body rotates around
  • Left foot aims the ball

The second part of the Humbert shot is the left foot spin. The left foot must turn before the body can rotate.  The left foot acts is a pivot point for the body to rotate around (think ballerina).  And the left foot also aims the ball (think gun sight). The magenta arrow heads in the illustrations above indicate the two left foot positions. The first arrow head shows the left heel pointing at the corner (see 2a); the second arrow head shows the turned left foot pointing at the corner (see 2b).  In the Humbert shot the ball cannot be thrown until the left foot points at the corner of the goal.  A slow left foot turn to face the goal creates a slow body rotation and shot; a quick left foot point leads to a quick shot.  The left foot is a pivot point.  The body rotates around the left foot to turn and face the goal.  The left foot also aims the ball by pointing it at the corner of the goal where the ball is to be thrown.  Wherever the left foot points the ball follows.  For example, the shooter’s left foot points at the right corner and the ball is thrown there.  The player may doubt that the left foot aims the ball and still believes it is the right hand that aims the ball.  To demonstrate this new fact, have the shooter point the left foot at the right corner and then try and shoot at the left corner without moving the left foot (see Figs. 3, 4).

The two golden rules for the Humbert shot are: The right arm lifts the ball and the left foot spins the body. For the ball to be lifted high above the shooter’s head, the player must be turning the left foot at the same time.  The Humbert shooter uses both right hand and the left foot to create the shot.  Without the left foot turning, the ball does not elevate and the body does not spin.  A demonstration proving the importance of left foot speed has the shooter quickly turn the left foot for a quick body spin; a slow left foot turn creates a slow spin.  The average water polo player has no idea that footwork and foot speed is involved in throwing the ball.

Left Shoulder Push Off

  • Back is vertical and arched
  • Angled body aims left shoulder at sternum
  • Push off with left shoulder, not with the left hand

Figure 5 and 6

Figure 5 and Figure 6

The shooter’s back is vertical with the low back arched, the body is angled at 45-degrees and with the left shoulder on the holeguard’s sternum, legs wide apart with the right leg ready to step-out.  The 2-meter player pushes off with the angled left shoulder off the center of the guard’s chest to create one-foot of separation.  Do not head butt, lean back, lie on the back or lift the legs to the horizontal. The well-trained player never uses the left hand to push off the guard as the left shoulder push off is the superior push off.  A left hand push off indicates a complete failure of the shooter’s left shoulder mechanics and the lack of a wide apart leg stance (see Figs. 5, 6).

Left Hand Pull

  • Left hand is in front and pulls back to rotate the body 180-degrees                

The Humbert shooter’s left hand starts in front of the hips and pulls in a half circle around the body to assist in rotating the body along with the hips.  If the left hand does not pull then the shooter’s body does not rotate. Body rotation requires a combination of the shooter’s left hand and hip for power and the left foot to pivot and spin the body.  The left hand should be considered the third hip of the shooter.

Spin, Face-the-Goal, Shoot

  • Left foot turns and points at corner
  • Ball above the head, spin 45 or 180-degrees
  • Shoot at low corner shot, index finger skip shot or a topspin skip shot

Figure 7 and 8

Figure 7 and Figure 8

The 2-meter shooter spins 45-degrees or 180-degrees, faces the goal and shoots the ball at the right, left corner or center cage depending on the type of Humbert shot taken.  The type of Humbert shot used determines where the shooter’s left foot points. For example, the full turn shot and quarter turn shot point the left foot at the right corner but the center cage shot points the left foot at the center of the goal.   The quicker the shooter’s left foot points at the corner, the quicker the ball is aimed and shot (see Figs. 7, 8). 

The best ball control for a full turn Humbert shot for the player is to shoot at the low corner of the goal.  Throwing the ball at the high corner is a much more difficult shot for the hand to control.  The best shot  from the full turn Humbert shot is a skip shot using an index finger skip shot release or a topspin skip shot release (see Articles: Shot Doctor: Skip Shot Part I, II).


Guard overplays 2-meter player’s right shoulder on left post Full Turn Shot
Guard overplays right shoulder on right post Quarter turn shot
Guard and goalie take away both corners Center cage shot
Guard overplays 2-meter player’s left shoulder at center cage     Rollout Shot

The shooter uses the four Humbert face-the-goal shots to beat the guard and score: the full turn, quarter turn, center cage and rollout shot.  The full turn face-the-goal shot is taken from the left post and thrown at the right corner when the guard overplays the shooter’s right shoulder expecting a backhand shot. A quarter shot is taken from the right corner and shot at the right corner when the guard overplays the shooter’s right shoulder to block a backhand.  The center cage shot is taken from the above the middle of the goal and thrown at the center of the cage when both corners are covered.  And the rollout shot is thrown at the left corner when the guard overplays the shooter’s left shoulder to prevent a full turn shot at the right corner. 


  • 45-degree angled step-out
  • Ball pick up underneath, lift ball over head, point left foot at corner
  • Spin, face-the-goal, shoot

Figure 9

Figure 9

The holeguard prevents the backhand shot to the left corner and overplays the 2-meter player’s right shoulder. The shooter uses a full turn 180-degree Humbert shot in this situation, points the left foot at the right corner and shoots cross-cage.  The 2-meter player shoots the ball one foot (30-centimeters) away from the holeguard’s face.  The shooter is able to get free from the guard by pushing off subtly with the left shoulder to create one foot of separation (see Fig. 9).   


  • Set on right goal post
  • Step-out at 45-degrees to the left
  • Turn and shoot at right corner

Figure 10

Figure 10

The Humbert shooter is on the right post with the guard and goalie offset and guarding the center of goal.  The goalie and the holeguard expect a backhand and are surprised by the shooter’s right corner selection. The quarter turn Humbert shot only throws the ball at the high or low right corner of the goal.  In the quarter turn shot the 2-meter shooter steps-out 45-degrees to the left, points the left foot at the right corner, pushes off with the left shoulder, turns 45-degrees to face the goal and shoots without faking.  The quarter turn shot is used by both genders.  Women, however, prefer the quarter turn shot over the full turn face-the-goal shot (see Fig. 10).


  • Set center cage
  • Step straight out
  • Turn and shoot over the goalie’s head

Figure 11

Figure 11 

The 2-meter shooter is positioned at center cage and sees that both corners of the goal are covered.  The only possible shot is over the goalie’s head.  The 2-meter player steps-out forward, the left foot aims at center cage, the arm is bent, the ball is lifted over the head, left shoulder push off, the body spins 180-degrees and shot is above the goalie’s head.  Perfect technique, a vertical back and a high elbow is required to score or the shot is high.  The untrained shooter straightens out the arm on the ball pick up, lies on the back and throws the ball at the crossbar (see Fig. 11). 


  • Same rules: ball lifted above head, spin, and face-the-goal
  • Rollout: horizontal body, left arm slides underwater above head and pulls down, ball is shot

Figure 12 and 13

Figure 12 and Figure 13

The Humbert rollout shooter makes a full turn to face the goal and sees the guard and goalie are offset and are blocking the shot to the right corner.  The 2-meter shooter “reads the defense” and changes the shot.  He lies on the side and takes a rollout shot to the opposite corner.  The shooter is completely on the side, the right hip up, with the right leg forward for balance.  The left arm glides underwater to a position above the head and pulls down to rotate the shooter on to the side as indicated by the two red arrows.  The shooter kicks the right leg back, snaps the hips forward and shoots the ball at the left corner.  When the rollout shooter’s left hand is not used, the body falls over on the back when the arm is cocked and the ball is weakly thrown over the goal (see Figs. 12, 13). 


Problem     Fix
Full Turn shot is slow Bend elbow, lift ball over head, turn left foot quickly
Quarter Turn shot is slow Speed up ball lift and left foot motion
Center Cage shot is high Do not lie on back or use a long arm cock
Rollout hits goalie at center cage     Body must be horizontal not vertical, left hand extends and pulls
to roll body on side with right hip up, practice sidestroke swims

In conclusion, the Humbert shooting system is new shooting technique where the shooter spins to face the goal and shoots.  There are four variations of the Humbert shot: full turn, quarter turn, center cage and the rollout.  The advantage of the Humbert shot is it surprises the guard who sets up and expects a backhand shot.  Each 2-meter shooter reads the defense of the 2-meter guard and selects the proper Humbert shot for the guard’s position.         

© Copyright 2009 Jim Solum


Fig 14

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