Jim SocumShot DoctorBandage Ball

Volume 3 Number 2 May 1, 2010
The road to success is not doing one thing 100 percent better, but doing 100 things 0ne percent better.

Charlie Turner Lying-On-The-Side Shot


Charlie Turner, one of Australia's greatest shooters of the 1980's invented a radical shot.  His shot was a lying-on-the-side shot with a ball velocity as fast as the fastest vertical shooters of the day.  In his day, Charlie Turner was a feared power shooter for the Australians with his deceptive cross-cage power shot.  The standard throwing philosophy then and even now is for the shooter is to be vertical, elevate, rotate and crunch to throw a high velocity shot.  Charlie Turner changed the dynamics of shooting with his shot by being horizontal, not elevating, having little body rotation, no abdominal crunch and by adding a dolphin kick instead of a scissor kick.

Lying-on-the-side shots are infamous for being slow, inaccurate and telegraphing the shot to the goalie.  The majority of horizontal body position shots are thrown from a bad angle. Most lying-on-the-side shots were thrown from the right wing in an attempt to move the ball around the goalie to the open weakside left corner.  The shooter's arm was horizontal and the shot was skimmed to the low left corner.  The great disadvantage of a shot thrown from a horizontal body position is it lacks power. 

The Charlie Turner shot is a different type of horizontal shot, a shot designed to be thrown from US 2-spot or EU 4-spot shot (left flat) and not from the right wing.  It used a vertical arm with the ball high in the air for a cross-cage high right corner shot thrown from above the left post.  The combination of a high speed shot, thrown cross-cage at the high corner of the goal distinguishes the Charlie Turner shot from all other horizontal shots. The Charlie Turner shot at 47 MPH (76 KPH) was at the time of the radar testing in the early 1980's tied with the overhand vertical shot as the fastest shot in the world.  He and another great shooter from Hungary both had tendinitis in their shoulders when tested, which reduced the speed of their shots down to 47 MPH (76 KPH) from a projected 52 MPH (84 KPH). 


Flexion & Extension:              Rotation: 
Legs flex and extend with dolphin kick   Left hand strongly sculls
Torso flexes and extends   Hips mild rotation
Right arm flexes and extends    


When one looks at the physics of the Charlie Turner shot one sees how he compensated for not being vertical in the water by using a specially designed dolphin kick and a strong left hand scull to generate great power for the overhand shot.  All the elements necessary to produce a 50 MPH (80 KPH) shot are present: flexion, extension and rotation.  It is just that the elements that make the throwing motion possible are presented in a different manner in a horizontal positioned shot.  The standard Rotational Model of the hips and torso rotating the body for the vertical shot are not present.  Instead a butterfly-like flexion and extension the body in is used to create power for the shot.  It is called a Flexion-Extension Model.  This new throwing model resulted in a different way of generating and distributing power for the Charlie Turner shot (see Fig. 1). 

The Turner shot's dolphin kick and left hand produces 75-percent of its power from the legs and left arm.   Instead of vertical shot's 50-percent from the scissor kick and little if any power is produced from left hand sculling. The dolphin kick made up for the power lost in not being vertical in the water and rotating the hips.  The dolphin kick is extremely powerful as a kick as compared to the eggbeater or scissor kick used for vertical shooting.  For example, no swimmer uses a scissor kick or a flutter kick underwater after pushing off the wall.  The most powerful underwater kick is the dolphin kick.  Why not use the most powerful kick in the pool for the water polo shot?


The standard horizontal lie-on-the-side body position creates a long stroke slow-motion dolphin kick (think butterfly).  This type of dolphin kick slowly moves the water polo player sideways across the pool.  And this slow modulating dolphin kick on the side does not provide enough power to throw the ball hard.  By angling the legs down slightly, an extremely strong dolphin kick was produced, making the lying-on-side shot into a power shot.  Charlie invented a short two-stroke dolphin kick that angled the legs at 20-degrees.  The leg angle produced a very quick dolphin kicking motion that is dependent on a strong left hand sculling to angle the legs.  The left hand does not gently scull the water with the left arm extended over the head.  Instead, the shooter's left hand is almost vertical in the water and generates a lot of the power for the shot by intense sculling.  The Charlie Turner shot churns the water like no left hand has ever sculled before.  With the left arm sculling, the body is prevented from moving sideways in the water and is made into a stable base for the shot. The combination of the angled dolphin kicking legs and the strong sculling left hand transfers all of the power into the shooter's right arm for an incredibly powerful shot (see Fig. 2). 



The position of the shooter in the water in relation to the goal is also of great importance for scoring.  The shooter sets up above the left goal post or slightly outside a few meters to the left of the goal post called the left flat and on the 5-8-meter line.  The goalie assumes a nearside left corner shot. No one shoots cross-cage while lying on their side from the left flat (2-spot) is what the goalie thinks.  Then the over-confident goalie watches the ball go into the high right corner (see Fig. 3).

The Charlie Turner shot is a perfect cross-cage corner shot from the US 2-spot (EU 4-spot).   Another advantage to the shot is it is a natural high corner shot.  In the rare event that the goalie remains center cage, the ball is thrown at the high left corner of the goal.  The left corner shot is a higher speed shot due to increase hip rotation.  The right corner shot is a deceptive shot that fools the goalie.  The shooter reads the goalie and selects the correct corner to shoot at.


The shooter is horizontal above or to the left of the left goal post on the 5-8-meter line.  The left hand is down in the water at a 45-degree angle and sculling furiously and churning the water for power and stability.  The strong left hand sculling lifts the shooter's chest higher out of the water.  The effect of having a higher torso above the water is to lower the legs and angle them.  With the legs angled, the dolphin kick can be shortened, made quicker and an extra kick added.  The dolphin kick is the power for the Turner shot. The shooter's left hand sculling creates the form for the shot (angling the leg position).


Without a hard churning left hand, the Turner shot is dead.  The result of the player's left hand lack of action is the short quick double dolphin kick cannot be done.  No churning and no kick = no shot.  By not churning the left hand the dolphin kick fails and so does the shot.  The importance of the left hand to the shooter using the Turner shot cannot be underestimated.  The left hand is the shot in the Charlie Turner shot.  The stronger the shooter's left hand scull, the more powerful the shot.  In addition, the shooter pump fakes once or twice to increase the power generated in the body for a harder thrown shot.  Some shooters fake once and other shooters fake twice.  The pump fake is important in generating power for the shot.  The combination of the shooter using the left hand, dolphin kick and the pump fake are the motions of the Charlie Turner shot (see Fig. 4).

It is important to note there is no lag time between the second kick and the release of the ball.  When the shooter pauses between the final kick and the release, the shot is destroyed.  The transfer of power from the legs to the right arm cannot stop for half of a second or the power is lost.  The body is like a whip.  The whip-like action of the body throws the ball.  Stop the whip in the middle of its motion and the whip stops.  Another example is the compressed coil spring.  When the spring is compressed and immediately let go, the spring pops up.  However, if the spring is allowed to slowly and gradually reform its shape, there is no power left and the spring is dead.  The kick and the release must be coordinated together to maintain the whip action to throw the Charlie Turner shot.  The Turner shot is a quick shot.  There is no time to waste.


The shooter's right arm is positioned high in the air with the ball 30-inches (61-centimeters) above the water.  The arm is not low or in a side arm position.  The shooter must have the ball high in the air to take a high corner shot.   The Turner shot is an overhand shot not a side arm shot or a wrap-around shot (horizontal arm that extends and "wraps" the ball around the head).  The Charlie Turner shot can be used to shoot to either corner of the goal.  The 2-spot (EU 4-spot) Turner shot to the left corner is a higher speed ball because there is more hip rotation.  The right corner shot is a more deceptive shot. The Turner shot favors a cross-cage shot and a high corner shot.  This is a rare combination of factors for a shot.  For the majority of vertical shooters, shooting cross-cage and at the high corner of the goal is a difficult shot. The Charlie Turner shot naturally throws the ball cross-cross at the high right corner (see Fig. 5). 


Eyes and hand aim the ball in the Charlie Turner shot.  There is no left leg point used to aim the ball as is used in the standard vertical shot.  The shooter must develop the ability to visualize a spot in the cage to aim the ball.  A shooter who cannot visualize a high corner shot with his or her eyes can only shoot the ball at the low corners.  A non-visualizing Charlie Turner shooter is limited in his or her shot selection.  The shooter must learn to "visualize the spot and the ball will follow."  The shooter concentrates on a spot in the goal he or she wants to throw the ball at and closes his or her eyes until the spot appears in the mind.

Visual Aiming Points


Shooters that are using the in-the-air lob aiming point (see The Shot Doctor Lob Shot series) or a watery skip point for skip shots (see The Shot Doctor Skip Shot series) are already practicing seeing (and creating) a spot to aim the ball at the goal.  All shooters, whether they are throwing the Charlie Turner shot or a vertical shot must master this mental skill of visualization.  As visualization aids, the coach can place a player in line with the skip point, put a 24-inch (61-centimeters) flag on a stick for the lob point or put dots or hang caps in the two upper corners of the goal for the high corner shot (see Fig. 6). 

Visualization is mental work so the place of practice does not matter, pool or home.  Visualization requires some work by the shooter to master this mental skill.  Half of the players are good visualizers who can do this at the drop of a cap.  However, the other half of the team is composed of poor visualizers who must concentrate on "seeing" the spot in the goal with mind's eye. Poor visualizers must practice at developing this mental skill as will it may take days until player's mind produces the picture of the spot in the goal.


The question now is whether the dolphin kick can be modified to shoot from the vertical position in the water or to change from a vertical shooting position to a horizontal shooting position for the shot.  Recently the Genoa Shot (see Hesie Fakes Part 5) was modified with the Charlie Turner shot to create a hybrid shot called the Genoa-Turner shot.  The shooter starts off in the vertical using the Genoa shot shooting posture of a straight back right leg kick, a turned in left foot that snaps to the left, a strong left hand pull-down and a short arm cock, that after a few hesie fakes, rolls out into the horizontal dolphin kicking Charlie Turner shot.  The combination of these two shots, forces the goalie to overplay one side of the goal, leaving the other side of the goal wide open.  For example, the Genoa shooter is at the US 4-spot (EU 2-spot) above the right corner.  The shooter hesie fakes the goalie to lock him or her on the right goal post, rolls out into the horizontal Charlie Turner position, and shoots cross-cage shot at the left corner of the goal.  Next month's article will focus on this new type of hybrid shot.


Dolphin Kicking on the Side, Stomach and Back Drill

The shooter has to master the dolphin kick to be able to do the Charlie Turner shot.  This is accomplished by lap after lap of dolphin kicking on the side, stomach and back.  Stanford University's swim team, in the early season, swims 1,500 to 2,000-meters of dolphin kicking a day.  A water polo player should swim at least 100 to 200-meters of dolphin kicking a day to strengthen the legs.

Scull and Dolphin Kick Drill


The player sculls across the pool with right hand in the air, the left hand strongly sculling with an angled dolphin kick done in burst of four kicks and then stopping.   The player does not use a scissor kick as the player will rely on the scissor kick for most of the power.    Watch for the high right shoulder that indicates a strong left hand sculling.  The dolphin kick must be also be strong and lift the player up somewhat in the water.  The drill is done with or without a water polo ball. This is a tough drill that teaches the basics of the Charlie Turner shot.  Do not let the players cheat on this drill (see Fig. 7).

Feet in the Gutter Sculling Drill

To completely isolate the arms the player places both feet in the gutter and sculls with the chest out of the water.  The purpose of the exercise is to "wake up" the sculling arms so they can churn forcibly in the water.  This is an anaerobic exercise that depletes the fast twitch muscles quickly. Do the exercise in bursts of 7-10 seconds with a lot of rest in between sets.  The players will complain a lot when doing this drill.  A player cannot "loaf" in this drill or the player's head is underwater.

Turner Shot Passing Drill

In groups of two, practice throwing the ball at each other, using the Turner shot.  The emphasis is again on strongly churning the left hand underwater to lift the chest out of the water for a strong quick dolphin kick.  The single most important aspect of this shot is the left hand motion.  Then move the players to a goal for shooting.  The players line up above the left flat or to the outside of the left goal post, on the 6 to 7-meter line, and take high corner cross-cage shots at the right corner of the goal.  Do not allow low corner or nearside shots at the goal.  The Turner shot is a high corner shot.  The players will want to cheat and shoot at the low corner.  Shooting the ball low does not require much body control or skill.  Force the shooters to shoot the ball cross-cage at the high corner of the goal.

Visualization Drill

The last drill is a visualization drill where the shooter closes the eyes and shoots the ball.  The mind and the position of the shooter's body set up the shot so the ball goes into the goal.  Do not allow the shooter to throw the ball at the lower corner of the goal.  Fear plays a big factor in this drill as the shooter has never thrown the ball without using the eyes.  The mind and the body set up the shot.  Positioning of the body is everything for an accurate shot.  The shooter's eyes and right hand cannot save the shot when the shooter's whole body is poorly positioned.  It should not make any difference in scoring if the shooter's eyes are open or closed.

In concluding, the success of the Charlie Turner lying-on-the-side shot is based on the left hand churning furiously to angle the body so a quick angled double dolphin kick can be used.  If the left hand does not churn strongly the shot fails.  In no other shot is so great an emphasis placed on the effort of the left hand.  The shooter's angled body now can use two quick dolphin kicks to provide most of the power for the shot.  The shooter uses one or two pump fakes to generate power and lower the goalie in the goal.  The combination of all three body movements makes a powerful lying-on-the-side shot. The Charlie Turner shot is a great cross-cage US 2-spot/EU 4-spot shot for the shooter to add to his or her collection of shots.

© Copyright 2010 Jim Solum

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