|SIX 2-METER GUARD POSITIONS|
|FIVE SPOTS AND PASSING ANGLES|
|FOUR PASSING SITUATIONS|
|HOW TO SHOOT THE BAD ENTRY PASS|
The third element of the entry passing game is throwing the intelligent entry pass. The goal of the entry pass is for the ball to land safely in the center’s right hand. There is more, however, to the entry pass than strong legs, a vertical back and a soft touch on the ball. In addition, the entry pass is more than having a skilled hand that throws the ball accurately using a variety of releases from the Serbs, Hungarians and Italians. The entry pass requires the passer to think. Water polo is a game of technique and tactics.
The entry pass requires the perimeter passer to “read the defense.” The well-thrown and well-thought out entry pass is thrown directly to the center’s right hand. The perimeter passer does not blindly and desperately throw the ball in the general direction of the center with hope and a prayer. The entry pass requires leg strength, hand skills and reading the defense. The passer reads the 2-meter player’s position in the water and the position of the 2-meter guard to determine whether the ball should be passed and where. The passer is involved in both a physical game of strength and technique and a mental game of thinking and analyzing. Without “reading the defense”, the strong player with the greatest arm throws the ball away every time. Reading the defense is a mental component that is as important as the passing technique. The ball is thrown exactly to the 2-meter player’s right hand, not the guard’s hand, so the center can immediately shoot the ball. It is a mistake for the passer to throw the ball short, long or wide or to the wrong colored hat.
The technique reasons why the ball is thrown away by the entry passer are weak legs, poor posture and fear.
The physical part of passing is very simple: dominate or be dominated. The stronger and higher out of the water passer, dominates the weaker and lower in the water guard. However, when the perimeter passer’s legs are weak and he or she cannot kick up to the vertical and get above the guard’s outstretched hand, the ball blocked or the entry pass stolen. The posture of the passer is critical, as the passer’s body must be vertical for the good entry pass. A passer that is lying on the back throws a weak pass. A horizontal passer with weak legs throws the ball away when attacked due to panic. The weak and panicky passer has no control of the ball or his or her body and throws the ball up in the air as if it is a hot potato. A perimeter passer missing any one of these elements throws the ball away over 50-percent of the time. These are all correctable errors in throwing mechanics.
SIX 2-METER GUARD POSITIONS
The guard defending the 2-meter player uses six positions to block the passing lane into 2-meters. The 2-meter player recognizes (reads) the guard positions, holds position and keeps the guard behind or to the side. The viewpoint described is from the 2-meter player’s perspective so the right side is the center’s right shoulder. The perimeter passers must recognize these guard positions and throw the ball away from the guard's hands. The 2-meter player needs a clear and unobstructed passing lane to receive the ball. Most perimeter passers do not read the guard’s position and pass the ball to 2-meter guard or sideways to the offensive player next to them (see Fig. 1).
The well-trained perimeter passer reads the six guard positions and passes accordingly. The guard plays behind, in front, on the right side or on the right shoulder, the left side or the left shoulder of the 2-meter player. When the guard plays behind the 2-meter player, there is an open passing lane to the center. A 2-meter guard fronts the 2-meter player by playing in front of the offensive player and completely blocks the entry pass. The guard takes “a side” or “ball side” and plays “the diagonal” by being on the side of the center that is closest to the ball, and blocks the passing lane. In the last situation, the guard plays on the center’s shoulder, partially turned around the 2-meter player’s body with his or her arm extended out to block the passing lane.
FIVE SPOTS AND PASSING ANGLES
|1-Spot Pass||(EU -5)||Left Wing||2-Finger Release|
|2-Spot Pass||(EU-4)||Left Flat||Index Finger, 2-Finger Releases|
|3-Spot Pass||(EU-3)||Point||2-Finger, 3-Finger Releases|
|4-Spot Pass||(EU-2)||Right Flat||Ring Finger Release|
|5-Spot Pass||(EU-1)||Right Wing||2, 3-Finger Release|
The US numbering system starts with the 1-spot in the left wing and moves from left to right--1, 2, 3, 4, 5. The European system (EU) starts in the right wing and numbers are reversed—5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Each spot in the pool has a specific type of pass to prevent the ball from skimming. All of the US national water polo teams use the European numbering system (see Fig. 2).
The perimeter passer has five spots or passing angles in the pool from which to pass the ball. For example, there is a 1-spot pass, a 2-spot pass, a 3-spot pass, 4-spot pass and a 5-spot pass (EU 5-1-spots). Each spot in the pool has a specific release that uses a 1-finger, 2-finger, 3-finger release or the diagonal spin release to prevent the ball from skimming. For example, the 2-spot entry pass has an index finger release, the 3-spot a 2-finger release and the 4-spot a ring finger release. The passer throws the ball exactly to the 2-meter player’s right hand. The ball is not thrown 1-meter short of the 2-meter player’s hand. For further information on entry pass releases read the “The Entry Pass Part 1 and 2” (see Figs. 3, 4).
The intelligent 2-meter guard can prevent the ball from being passed into 2-meters by positioning himself between the center and the ball. By the guard taking an angle, the 2-meter guard prevents three perimeter passes from being thrown into 2-meters. For example, when the guard on the center’s right shoulder and the ball is at the 1, 2 or 3-spots, the left side of the pool, the three passing lanes are blocked. If the situation is reversed the guard is overplays the center’s shoulder left shoulder, with ball at the 5, 4 or 3-spots, the left side of the pool, the three passing lanes to the center are blocked. The white dots in the illustration above are the perimeter players with open passing lanes that should be passing the ball into 2-meters (see Fig. 5).
It is not natural for the passer to throw the ball away. The natural place for the ball is in front of the center’s right hand. The bad pass is a mistake—an error. It is an error in the entry passer’s throwing mechanics or thinking process. It is that simple. There is no excuse for the bad pass--none. In the age group and the high school level, the bad pass may be one element or a combination of all three elements. The coach should not listen to the excuses of the bad passer. The passer has made a mental decision to throw a weak pass to the wrong player in a different colored hat. The passer failed to either be strong, skilled or smart (able to read the defense). The bad pass is not the result of bad luck. It is a deliberate act by the passer. A mistake predictably occurs over and over again. However, the bad passer can change and become a skilled passer with the proper entry pass coaching.
The rule for the perimeter passers is to move the ball around the perimeter so the ball is passed safely into 2-meters. The 2-meter player does not move to the ball. Perimeter passers move the ball. When the 2-meter player cannot get the guard behind, he or she holds position and waits for the ball. For example, the center is on the left post with a strong guard on the center’s left side, the center cannot establish front water and face the right wing passer and takes a side (the left side), holds position and waits for the ball. The ball is passed around the perimeter, to the 1-spot or 2-spot passers (EU 5, 4), who have an unobstructed and safe pass into 2-meters.
FOUR PASSING SITUATIONS
|2-Meter Guard is:||5-Spot Passer Throws to:|
|Behind the Center||Center’s Right hand|
|To Side of Center||Side Water in Front of Center|
|On Center’s Shoulder||Inside of Center’s Right Shoulder|
|Fronting Center||Inside Water|
The 2-meter guard has four possible positions to position his or her body to block the passing lane to the center. All five spots face the same problems with 2-meter guard’s positioning. In the illustrations above, the guard moves to four different positions with the ball at the 5-spot (EU-1). The guard plays behind and the ball is easily passed into front water in front of the 2-meter player. In the side water situation, the guard takes a side, divides the pool, and forces the ball to the right side. The center turns to face the wing and the ball is passed to side water. The 2-meter guard plays on the offensive player’s shoulder and forces a more difficult pass to the center’s inside shoulder. In the last situation, the 2-meter guard fronts the center. The 5-spot passer moves the wing deeper and passes the ball to the 2-meter player for inside water (see Figs 6, 7).
HOW TO SHOOT THE BAD ENTRY PASS
|1-Spot Pass||Short||Power Turn Shot|
|2-Spot Pass||Short||Angled Layout Shot|
|2-spot Pass||Long||Rollout Shot|
|3-Spot Pass||Short||Layout Shot|
|3-Spot Pass||Short||Layou Shot|
|4-Spot Pass||Long||Rollout Shot|
|5-Spot Pass||Short||Left hand Power Turn Shot|
The 2-meter player receives seven bad entry passes from the five perimeter passers. The 2-meter player fights for position, holds it against a brutal guard, only to see the ball thrown short, long or wide. It is a frustrating experience for the 2-meter player. However, not all is lost for the offensive player. The 2-meter player can play the bad entry pass and turn it into a shot. A short pass is turned into a layout shot. A wide pass into a rollout shot or power turn shot. Each bad pass from each spot in the pool has a specific 2-meter shot. The short 1-pass is a power turn shot; the short 2-spot pass is an angled layout shot and the long 2-spot pass to the center’s right is a rollout shot. The short 3-spot pass is a layout shot; the short 4-spot pass is a layout and the long 4-spot pass to the center’s right is rollout shot. The 5-spot short pass is a left hand power turn shot. For more center shooting information, the reader can review the essays on 2-meter shots by turning to Water Polo Planet Articles: The Shot Doctor, 2-Meter Shots Parts 1-4 (see Fig. 8).
The 2-meter player sets up in front of the goal with the 2-meter guard behind with five players in a semi-circle. The 2-meter guard is instructed to change position repeatedly from fronting, to taking a side on the right or left of the 2-meter player or playing behind. The passer must read the position of the offensive and defensive player before deciding to pass the ball. At first, the five perimeter passers pass the ball around the perimeter without defensive pressure while reading the position of the 2-meter guard. Add guards who may or may not pressure the passer. Then have the guard attack the entry passer to see how well the ball is thrown into 2-meters under pressure. This real-world drill teaches the perimeter passers to see when the 2-meter player is open or covered and how to pass the ball under pressure. The entry pass is the weakest part of the game in water polo and needs special attention to elevate this part of the game.
In concluding, the perimeter passer is strong, skilled and smart. If any one of these three “S’s” is not present, the entry pass fails. The entry passer kicks high out of the water, has a vertical back, and selects the correct release using an index finger, 2-finger, 3-finger or ring finger release. The passer reads the defense--the six possible guard positions and evaluates the four passing situations from the five spots in the pool. The ball is thrown to the 2-meter player’s right hand and away from the guard’s hand. When the passer uses the body, hand and mind together, the entry pass is successful.
Copyright 2009 Jim Solum
Next Month: Fakes and Hesies
This three-part Entry Pass series is condensed from Dr. Solum’s new book called
The Science of Shooting: The 2-Meter Player
[Click Jim's photo at top of page to learn more about his water polo experiences
and Click the water polo ball at top of the page to learn more about Jim's books.]
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