Jim SocumShot DoctorBandage Ball

Volume 2 Number 2 April 1, 2008
The road to success is not doing one thing 100 percent better, but doing 100 things 0ne percent better.




The driver is a much more difficult position to play than the outside shooter.  In fact, the greater skills required has caused the driver to disappear from American water polo.  The driver has to be able to get open with the guard on his or her back and shoot the ball off the water.   The dropback defense double-teams the 2-meter player, and the offense becomes stagnant.  The driver generates the motion and offense to keep the game alive.

The technical driver understands the mechanics of the drive-in shot by using the glide, roll and point technique. The driver knows how to move from the horizontal to the vertical for the R.B. shot.  The driver takes inside water by ducking under the guard and bumping the guard.  On the perimeter, the driver uses a spin move to spin around the guard for inside water.  Finally, if the driver cannot get open he or she fakes the kick out.  The technical driver is a master at gaining position and shooting. 



Figures 1, 2, and 3

The driver’s transition from the dribble to the shot consists of three movements: glide, roll and point.  In these three movements, the driver changes the body position from a flat dribbling-the-ball posture to a rolled-on-side shooting posture.  Every off-the-water shot goes through these three movements to shoot the ball.  The ball is not shot from a dribbling posture.  The first movement for the driver is to glide with the left hand.  The second movement is to roll on the left side.  Up until this point, these two movements duplicate the freestyle swimming stroke motion of glide and roll.  The third movement, point, snaps the foot forward to provide leg support for picking up the ball, to aim the ball and as a pivot point to cock the body for a screw shot (see Figs. 1-3).

The opposite of driver’s glide, roll and point is for the driver to be square, flat and pointless.  The dribbling the ball posture is an example of being a square, flat and pointless.  The dribbling posture is the correct position for dribbling.  The inexperienced shooter, however, does not change from a flat dribbling position in the water to a rolled shooting position in the water.  The young driver does not glide on the left arm and has the shoulders square rather than angling the left shoulder. The torso remains flat instead of rolled on the side; the left foot remains horizontal. The result of an uncocked driver is a “square flat and pointless shooter” with a weak shot (see Articles: Drive-In Shot Part 1).

Cocking and acceleration is an integral part of the glide, roll and point mechanics. The ball and the body are first cocked, and second, the ball and the body is accelerated (ball thrown).  The driver’s whole body throws the ball, not just the right arm.   A glide, roll and point driver with the left foot forward, the torso and left hip rolled on its side, cocks the ball for a powerful shot.  The square, flat and pointless driver has an uncocked body and a weak shot.

Cocking is the rotating or extending of the body and right arm to create potential power.  Acceleration is the actual forward throwing of the ball by the driver’s whole body.  Almost all mistakes in throwing are made in the cocking stage, not from the acceleration/release stage.  The archer, for example, cocks the arrow by having the left foot forward, right leg way back, with the torso and hips fully turned which allows the archer to have a long arm cock to pull the arrow back.  A square positioned archer (feet, hips and shoulders perpendicular to the target) cannot pull the bowstring back as the feathers of the arrow bump into the archer’s chest.  The square, flat and pointless driver, like the square archer, cannot cock the right arm and body and the subsequent shot is weak. 



Figure 4


Figure 5, 6, and 7

The R.B. or Rear Back shot is a difficult shot as driver must move from a horizontal driving position to a the vertical to catch a dry pass and shoot while lunging up in the air.  The horizontal driver lunges forward with a hard left hand pull with the right hand lightly slapping the water but not taking an underwater pull (see Fig. 4)  The driver pulls the knees up the under the hips (see Figs. 5, 6).  The shooter snaps the left foot forward and scissors kicks up to catch and shoot the ball (see Figs. 7).  

Women R.B. shooters float, are more stable in the water and do not fall over when shooting the ball.  The only challenge with the woman R.B. shooter is she must snap her long left leg forward from the horizontal to the vertical.  Her arm cock is longer than a man’s arm cock to make up for reduced upper body strength.  She does not fall over on her back because of her increased buoyancy and a wider and more stable base. 

The male R.B. shooter is another matter.  The male’s body sinks and he has a narrow base (hips 6-8 inches narrower than a female) and fights falling over on his back during the R.B. shot.  Though the male is stronger than the female with 50-percent greater upper body strength, he may not be strong enough to take the R.B. shot!  The male R.B. shooter with a weak whole body-weak arms, abs, hips and legs, uses a longer arm cock instead of a short arm cock (24-inches instead of 12-inches from ear to the center of the ball) to generate more power to throw the ball.  The effect of the long arm cock is to topple the male R.B. shooter on the back with the ball thrown over the goal.  The outside shot is 50-pecent right arm and 50-percent abs and legs; the R.B. shot is 30-percent right arm and 70-percent abs and legs. 

R.B. Drills

Snapping the left leg forward for the R.B. shot is called hip flexion.  It is a major challenge for women.   For example in track, women jump over the hurdles effortlessly.  To teach hip flexion have the player flutter kick holding on to a ball and snap the left leg forward to point the left foot.  Another drill is to use short rubber tubing tied to the player’s waist. The player swims four hard strokes and snaps the left foot forward.  The final drill, ball is placed on the water where the driver’s fourth stroke is for the driver to pick up.


The driver gets inside water and front position on the guard by ducking under the guard’s body.  After the duck under, the driver uses a Wigo bump to bump the butt against the guard’s chest which stops the guard for a moment. When the driver cannot duck under, a butt bump is used to get open. 

Ducking Under

  • Bear-in
  • Duck under
  • Rub the guard’s chest with the back


Figure 8

The driver ducks under the guard to get inside water by first bearing into the guard to rub shoulders.  Once close to the guard, she ducks under with a shallow dive and rubs the back against the guard’s entire chest to sense where the guard is located in the water.  The driver’s “back rub” is called “having eyes on your back.”  The back-rubbing action allows the driver to feel the guard’s position.  Unless the driver’s back rubs against the guard’s chest there is no sensory feedback.  The driver is “blind” and is too deep (12-24-inches) underwater to feel the guard (see Fig. 8). 


Figure 9

In the second picture, the driver’s duck under move fails. It fails because the distance between the two players it too great.  The girl’s shoulders are 15-inches wide.  If she is 7-inches away from the guard when she ducks under the guard, she can only duck halfway under the guard’s chest.  This is why it is critical to bear into the guard to keep the duck under distance as short as possible (see Fig. 9). 


Figure 10 and 11

The driver times the stroke of the guard and dives under the body of the guard and rubs the guard’s chest with the back.  Once underneath, the driver instantly lifts the head and shoulders out of the water to block the guard and hold inside water.  The driver’s hands push down, the back arches and a whip kick lifts the head above the water.  When the driver’s shoulders are in the air, the driver establishes position, preventing the guard from swimming around the driver (see Fig.  10, 11). 

Wigo Bump

  • Duck Under & Spread-Eagle
  • Scull and Eggbeater
  • Bump the guard’s stomach


Figure 12


Figure 13

The Wigo bump is a ducking under technique that knocks the guard’s legs down in the water by bumping the guard in the chest with the butt.  The technique for the Wigo bump is for driver to duck under the guard with the inside arm and the inside leg stepping-out wide into a spread-eagle push up position. Once under the guard, the driver uses a strong hand scull and eggbeater to establish a wide stance position indicated by the red arrows (see Fig. 9).  With the legs and hands providing a stable base, the driver bumps the guard’s chest with the butt, stopping the guard’s flutter kicking legs and the driver swims away (see Fig. 12, 13).

Butt Bump

  • Bear into guard
  • Turn sharply
  • Bump guard’s hip


Figure 14 and 15

The driver cannot duck under the guard, the driver changes strategy and uses a butt bump.  The driver bears into the guard’s body, turns and bumps the guard with the butt and drives away to open water on the stomach or on the back.  Women drivers excel at butt bumping (see Figs. 14, 15).



 Figure 16

In Figure 16, the first figure (left), the driver spins 90-degrees to the right corner.  In the second figure (middle), a standard 180-degree spin to the right corner is used.  The third figure (right) uses a reverse spin to the left corner.  The guard’s positioning determines what type of spin move the driver selects to become free of the guard.  In a 90-degree turn, the guard is positioned behind.  The standard 180-degree is used when the guard overplays the driver’s right shoulder.  A reverse spin is used when the guard overplays the driver’s left shoulder (see Fig. 16).

90-Degree Spin

  • Grab the guard’s left hip
  • Step-out with right leg
  • Swing the ball 90-degrees


Figure 17 and 18

In the 90-degree spin towards the right corner, the driver grabs the left side of the guard’s swimsuit, spins 90-degrees to the side of the guard, fakes a foul and passes the ball.  The key to 90-degree and all spin moves is speed.  The ball is gripped on the side, swung inches at full speed just above the water.  The speed of the hip rotation and the arm swing spins the driver like a sweep shot.  Do not scissor kick up (prevents hip rotation) nor swing the ball high in the air.  For example, a basketball player does not jump up in the air when trying spin around the guard.  The driver needs to spin with the ball close to the surface of the water to increase turning speed.  The higher the ball is in the air and away from the water’s surface, the slower the spin (see Figs. 17, 18).

180-Degree Spins

  • Grab Right Hip
  • Step-out
  • Swing Arm & Spin
  • Control the Ball


Figure 19 and 20


Figure 21

The standard 180-degree spin move spins the driver towards the right corner of the goal for inside water.  To spin, the driver steps-out with the left hand on the opposite (left) hip of the guard’s swimsuit and swings the ball  close to the surface of the water.  The standard 180-degree spin is set up when guard overplays the driver’s right shoulder.  A critical mistake for the driver is to use a high grab point at mid-back or the shoulder to spin.  The high grab point launches the driver up into the air and results in an offensive foul (see Figs. 19, 21).    

The reverse 180-degree spin move spins the driver towards the left corner of the goal for inside water when the guard overplays the driver’s left shoulder.  The driver steps-out with the right leg, hand on top of the ball, pushes off with the left shoulder off the guard’s sternum and swings the ball quickly to the right.  No left hand grip is used (see Fig. 20).

Control the Ball

  • Lunge to ball
  • Hand in front of ball
  • Drag and roll the ball back


Figure 22 and 23


Figure 24, 25, and 26

The guard grabs the driver after the spin move.  The driver lets go of the ball to avoid a ball under foul.  The ball drifts far away, as the waves from the spin move push the ball away.  The referee does not call a kick out because the driver does not have possession of the ball (see Fig. 22).  To prevent the ball from drifting away, the driver uses the drag and roll technique to roll the ball back to the driver over the waves (see Fig. 23).  The driver lunges forward, moves the hand on top and in front of the ball and then drags the hand over the ball as the wave hits the ball (see Figs. 23, 24).  The hand spin rolls the ball back to the driver (see Figs. 25, 26).  



Figure 27


Figure 28 and 29

Faking the kick out is used when the guard is pulling on the driver’s swimsuit.  The driver feels the contact from the guard’s hand, and churns the arms to show the referee the guard is holding (see Fig. 27).  The driver stops by pulling up the knees and legs, sinks using the arms and arches the back.  As the driver sinks, the driver arches the back so the head moves backward to make it appear there is a pull back.  Do not throw the head back (see Figs. 28, 29).   


Figure 30

The driver sinks underwater by using a two-hand technique.  The driver takes the first stroke and leaves right hand next to the hip.  On the driver’s second arm stroke, he pulls the left hand down to the hip.  Then both hands push upward to sink the driver underwater and forward to push the driver backward to duplicate the pull back motion. The driver’s hands do not break the surface of the water. (see Fig. 30).

In concluding, the complete driver glides, rolls and points to cock the ball for the powerful drive-in shot. The driver takes the Rear Back shot by moving from the horizontal to the vertical.  The inside water driver improves position by ducking under and bumping the guard.  When the driver is on the perimeter with his or her back to the goal, a 90-degree spin is used to get the foul and pass the ball; a180-degree spin move to the left or right creates inside water.  When the driver has inside water and cannot shoot the ball, the driver changes gears, and fakes the kick out. Whatever situation, the driver has the answer.

©Copyright 2009 Jim Solum

Next Month: The Drive-In Shot: Part 3

The five-part drive-in shot series is a condensation from Dr. Solum’s new book called:
The Science of Shooting The Driver.

Fig 17

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