The Angled Boyer Shot
The main difficulty women face in shooting on the outside shot or during the 6-on-5 is the lack of lateral movement on the ball. The guard simply puts up her arm and the shooter throws the ball into the outstretched hand of the guard. The inability of women to move laterally in the water while shooting has resulted in many blocked outside shots and 1-for-9 extra man scores. The guard and her field blocking have the advantage over the shooter. In the 1980’s Greg Boyer, a former US Olympic player, invented a shot where he “stepped-out” to the side so he could shoot around the guard’s arm and the goalie. The Boyer shot is a square-to-the-goal shot that isolates body from the right arm, creating an “arm shot.” The woman shooter, however, does not have a strong enough arm to take an “arm shot” and needs to use the whole body to throw the ball. Not until recently, when a modified Boyer shot called the Angled Boyer shot was invented, have women been able to take a Boyer step-out shot. Using the Angled Boyer women can now score at will.
The body of the woman makes her ideally suited to move laterally in the water. To move laterally, however, the player’s body must be square to the goal. A square shooter cannot rotate the hips and she loses a huge amount of power to throw the ball. Women have a weaker right arm than men have and need to use their whole body to throw the ball. There are no “arm shots” for women water polo players. The Angled Boyer shot allows women to use their hips and body to throw the ball when they are square-to-the-goal. To digress, the outside shooter has the left foot forward and the right leg back with the body in an angled position. This leg position allows her to rotate her hips and greatly increase the speed of the ball. The square leg position eliminates the woman’s hip rotation and causes a weak shot. If, however, she can angle her right leg to rotate her hip while having a square torso she can shoot a Boyer shot. The Angled Boyer shot is the solution to the problem.
The technique for taking an Angled Boyer shot is to step-out at with the right leg at 30 to 45-degree while keeping the torso square to the goal. The left leg is square to the goal and the right leg is angled to the goal. When the standard Boyer shot is taken, the right leg moves straight out to the side, the step-out, with the right foot pointing at the right side of the pool. There is no right foot movement for hip rotation. Contrast the Angled Boyer with the standard Boyer and the shooter steps-out at an angle and then snaps in the right foot for hip rotation. Because the woman’s lower body is angled, she can use the hips to rotate her body to transfer power up into the right arm. Women cannot shoot standard Boyer shots, but they can shoot Angled Boyer shots with great effect. The woman shooter may have a weaker arm but she has very strong legs and hips to throw the ball (see Fig. 1).
POSITION IN THE POOL
The Angled Boyer shot is taken from the left wing, above the left post or center cage. The ball is going to be shot laterally to the right of the shooter’s body. For example, the shooter is at an angle to the goal a few meters to the left of the left goal post. The goalie jams the left goal post assuming a left corner shot by an overhand shooter. The shooter steps-out to the right and shoots a cross-cage shot around the goalie to the right corner of the goal. By the woman shooter stepping out into an Angled Boyer she is able to improve her angle to the goal and now has a clear line to the right corner of the goal. It is also possible to lob from an Angled Boyer after stepping-out (see Fig. 2).
The standard Boyer shot is to position the shooter’s body so the feet, hips and shoulders are square or parallel the goal. The ball held high in the air, the left hand pushes water to the side from the left hip, the right knee is high and the shooter steps-out sideways. At the highest part of the step-out, the ball is released (see Fig. 3).
The Boyer shot requires a lateral cocking of the body. The right arm is cocked towards the head, the left hip is pushed to the extreme right and the torso stretched and curved to the left. The body is in a reverse “C” to cock the body and the arm. The right arm extends out over the right leg and releases the ball at the high corner of the goal. The right arm is positioned in a three-quarter position between an overhand arm position and a side arm position. Do not drop the arm into a side arm.
ANGLED BOYER SHOT
The Angled Boyer has the woman body slightly angled to the goal with the right leg out at 30-45-degree angle. The right leg is not straight back and the woman’s right leg is not straight out to the side. The shooter’s right leg angle is in between these two extreme leg positions. If the woman’s right leg is square-to-the-goal she cannot rotate her hips to generate power and her shot is weak. When her right leg is straight back, she is in the overhand shot position and cannot move laterally. Therefore, the leg angle is critical for her to be successful in throwing the Angled Boyer shot. The Angled Boyer shooter’s left hand pulls water to the left, which helps the body move to the right for the leg step-out. The ball is pinched in the fingers and the arm is held high at three-quarter arm position. At the height of the step-out leg motion and the maximum elevation of the shooter the right foot is snapped inward and the ball is released. The ball is thrown at the high right corner of the goal. The goalie cannot get across the cage and make it to the high corner to block the shot. If the shooter misses releasing the ball at the maximum height of the step-out, she sinks and throws a weak shot. Understanding the timing of the release is critical for a powerful shot (see Figs. 4, 5).
COCKING THE BALL
The Angled Boyer uses a lateral body and arm cocking technique. The overhand shot uses a rotational body and extended back right arm/leg cocking technique. These are two vastly different techniques for cocking the body and the right arm. The shooter has to be educated in the difference between the North/South overhand shooter and the East/West Boyer shooter. When the overhand shooter cocks her body she rotates the hips back and extends the right leg straight back. The right arm follows the right leg and is extended into a long arm cock with the ball over the right foot. The length of the leg cock is the length of the arm cock. No leg cocked back = no arm cock. In the Boyer lateral cocking technique everything is changed. The right arm is cocked over the shoulder and head and the right leg is to the side. The torso is stretched to the right and the left hip is pushed to the right. A reverse “C” shape is created. The Angled Boyer cocks the body to the left and steps-out to the right for the shot (see Fig. 6, 7, 8).
The deadly mistake that the novice Angled Boyer shooter makes is after she steps-out, she swings her right leg and arm backward. This action destroys the Boyer shot, eliminates lateral movement, and makes the Boyer shot into an overhand shot. If the shooter was trying shoot around the goalie to the right corner, now, the ball hits the goalie in the stomach at center cage. An overhand shot has no lateral movement. Only the Boyer shot creates lateral movement. THE RIGHT LEG AND ARM DO NOT MOVE BACKWARDS! The first 30 times, however, the beginning Boyer shooter will swing the right arm back out of habit. The coach needs to have patience (see Fig. 9).
RIGHT FOOT SNAP-IN
The right foot snapping inward, the snap-in, makes the power and curved trajectory of the Angled Boyer shot. The right foot snap-in uses two types of foot snap-in: a soft snap-in gently pushes and curves the ball to the right and a hard snap-in sharply pulls the ball to the left. The foot force generated by a soft snap-in or hard snap-in changes the direction of the ball by pushing or pulling the ball into a curve. When the shooter is above the left goal post at the US 2-spot or EU 4-spot and wants to curve the ball into the right corner of the goal she uses a soft right foot snap-in. This means that the right foot snapped inward at about 75-percent of maximum foot rotational power. The soft snap-in mildly curves the ball into the right corner of the goal. The ball is “pushed” into the right corner. A hard right foot snap-in pulls or curves the ball to the left using 100-percent of the power of rotating the right foot (see Figs. 10, 11).
The first option of the shooter on the left side of the pool is to shoot around the goalie to the right corner. The second option is to read the defense, the position of the goalie in the cage. When the Angled Boyer shooter steps-out, does the goalie move to the right or stay in the left corner? If the goalie moves, the shooter uses a hard snap-in and pulls the ball back to the left corner. When the goalie does not move, the shooter uses a soft snap-in and mildly curves the ball to the right corner. The Angled Boyer shooter changes the shot with her right foot and the direction of the ball. The goalie can only see the shooter’s arm position but cannot see underwater how hard the right foot is being snapped inward. A skillful and cunning Boyer shooter can “set up” the goalie by stepping-out to the right, getting the goalie to jump towards the right corner, then pull the ball back to the left corner. For example, in the 2012 NCAA Women’s Championship game between Stanford and USC, a Stanford player was above the left post, stepped-out and then pulled the ball back sharply and skipped the ball into the left corner using a hard foot snap-in. The ball looked like it was going to hit the goalie at center cage and then sharply curved back into the left corner of the goal.
SIDE ARM ANGLED BOYER
The three-quarter arm position of the Angled Boyer may not be conducive to curving the ball around the goalie and into the right corner of the goal. The Boyer side arm shot is. The Boyer shooter adjusts the three-quarter arm and lowers it into a side arm position during the throwing motion for right corner curve and skim shots. The ball is pinched in the fingers so the ball cannot fall out of the hand. The arm position is three-quarter, as the shooter steps-out she lowers the arm to a side arm position and releases the ball. The release to the low right corner of the goal is a “twist snap” release. That is the fingers remain vertical pinching the ball and the wrist turns inward. This results in the ball having a sidespin on it, which helps it to curve into the lower corner. The high corner side arm shot is a more difficult shot (see Figs. 12, 13).
SIDE ARM SKIP SHOT ANGLED BOYER
The Angled Boyer side arm skip shot is a recent shot for women. Before the Angled Boyer shot, women used the overhand shot to skip the ball. The Angled Boyer with a side arm and a sidespin ball makes it easier to skip the ball. The sidespin on the ball pulls the ball up out of the water. However, the sidespin skip shot is a difficult shot to control. The skip point for skipping the ball in the water is 12-inches (60-cm) in front of the crossbar or the goal line of the cage. The Angled Boyer skip shot uses a hard snap-in and a twist snap and it takes all of the power of the shooter to skip the ball. If the shot is taken at medium power, the ball hits the water and dies. This is a great shot but it takes time to master it (see Fig. 14).
LEFT CORNER SHOOTING
The Angled Boyer shooter is above the right goal post to the right from the point position. From this spot in the pool the shot at the right corner is difficult and the goalie is jamming the right corner expecting the shot. The left corner is wide open. The Boyer shooter angles her entire body so the right leg is angled forward and shoots a side arm cross-cage shot at the left corner of the goal. When the right leg is forward, the Angled Boyer shooter can rotate the hips and shoot to the left. Right foot forward leg position creates the Boyer shot to the left (see Fig. 15).
When the overhand shooter’s left leg is forward, the shooter cannot shoot across the body. The extended left leg forward locks up the hip and no body rotation is possible. Shooters are under the illusion that they can shoot in any direction they want with a right arm that is made of rubber. The left foot has to point at the left corner of the goal for the right arm to be able to shoot across the body. In the case of the Angled Boyer shot, the right leg has to be forward to allow the hips to move freely. For a demonstration, have the left foot forward and try and move the right hand passed the left foot. It cannot be done. Next, move the right foot forward to point at the left corner, the hips then rotate to the extreme left and the right arm shoots at the left corner.
Push off the wall drill is the most important of all of the Boyer drills. The player is positioned next to the wall with the left forearm against it. This is going to be a forearm push off and not a hand push off. The head tilts to the left, the torso is stretched in a reverse “C”, the left hips is pushed to the extreme right and the left leg is extended to the extreme left. The right arm is high in the air and leaning towards the head. The player pushes of the wall with the left forearm and at the same time steps-out with a high right knee and a stimulated three-quarter arm position throw. DO NOT ALLOW THE ARM TO SWING BACKWARD! The player must have a high right knee or the water will push the leg down and cross the player’s legs. The shooter’s crossed legs results in the player’s elbow dropping into the water and the shooter sinking. In the next drill, the player adds a ball and a partner and practices stepping out from a wall push off and throwing a Boyer pass to her teammate (see Fig. 16).
In The Water Drill
Move the player away from the wall and have them throw Boyer passes to each other. The main problem will be the player does not understand lateral cocking and has a “soft” uncocked body that generates no force. The body has to be in a hard reverse “C” to cock the body. The right arm has to be high out of the water and leaning towards the head to be properly cocked. Finish the drill by adding a guard with a raised arm that forces the Boyer shooter to move laterally and shoot around the guard’s arm (see Figs. 7, 16).
Curve Ball Drill
The Curve Ball drill teaches the girl or woman to curve the ball. The shooter holds on to the lane line in a pool with a floating goal or holds onto the wall with a stationary goal about 3-meters to the left of the goal. She steps-out at a 45-degree angle and uses a three-quarter arm position or high side arm position to shoot from behind the goal, cross-cage, to the right corner. If she curves the ball too strongly the ball pulls into the left side of the goal; a little too much curve and the ball hits center cage; just right amount of curve and the ball hits the far right corner of the goal; and no curve and ball completely misses the right corner of the goal. The curve shot requires the correct mixture of arm position, release and right foot snap-in to master this shot (see Fig. 17).
Shooting at the Goal Drill
The shooter is above the left goal post on the 5-meter line with the goalie in the left corner. The shooter throws an Angled Boyer shot at the right corner of the goal. Add a guard with a raised left arm and shoot around the guard’s arm and the goalie with the arm in three-quarter arm position or side arm. For the next drill, a 5-meter foul shot Boyer, the shooter’s back is to the goal with the ball on the water, foul the shooter with the guard’s left hand up in the air and have the player step-out and shoot around the guard’s arm. For the advanced Angled Boyer shot, the shooter is positioned above the left post and reads the goalie’s position. She steps-out, snaps the right foot in hard to pull and curve the ball to the left corner or uses a soft snap-in for a curved right corner shot.
In concluding, the woman shooter can now move laterally and shoot around the guard’s outstretched arm and around the body of the goalie. No longer is she frozen in the water with cement fins. She can move sideways in the water. She is no longer forced to throw the ball into the guard’s outstretched hand with an overhand shot. The Angled Boyer shooter can curve the ball by soft and hard right foot snap-ins to push or pull the ball. She can step-out laterally now and skim or skip the ball. She can now shoot Boyers with the boys. The Angled Boyer presents to the woman shooter a paradigm shift in her ability to move laterally, shoot around the guard and score on the goalie.
Copyright Jim Solum 2012
Next Month: Women’s Shooting Part 6
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