Water Polo Training Gets a Boost with Online Multimedia Training

Joan Gould
Water Polo Planet

Do you have any idea how far we would be in the training of referees in this country if the USAWP had continued to support the online multimeda Water Polo Academy? Did the USAWP ever support the Water Polo Academy? Yes, the USAWP supported the Water Polo Academy until they could form the USAWPR with referees that agreed with what the USAWP leadership wanted. Since the USAWP leadership couldn't totally control the Water Polo Academy they dropped it like a hot potato. All this happened more than 10 years ago! Can you imagine how many more referees we would have today if it were not for the people who were and still are in charge of the USAWPR. Isn't it a shame how fear of technology and politics can affect negatively useful and substantive ideas. - Doc 04/15/14

Water Polo is a small, third tier sport, and as such, there are few books, televised contests or commentated TV support available to help players, coaches or referees improve their game. There are even fewer primers to help new coaches to develop players and programs, and referees have little conventional training or oversight. Partially as a result of this, we see fewer new programs and in the past, have seen little parity in existing league structures… as well as constant laments about referee consistency and quality and dissatisfaction with the slow (or absence of) progress of age-group (and college) players.

When Doc and I put Water Polo Planet together 4 years ago, one of our primary missions was to collect and disseminate information about training and tactics out into the public arena. It was (and continues to be) our belief that by sharing information, we will be better able to assist in the development of new programs, adding to the California centers of water polo, and helping to make water polo a nationwide sport. At first, Doc was the only one willing to share his knowledge, but over the past few years, more and more information has been shared by our top coaches on this site.

The factionalism of the sport between NCAA, USA Water Polo, American Water Polo, and the myriad of state-run local high school organizations combine to hinder both systems and communication. This is a gap that will receive a sturdy new bridge in the form of the newly created Water Polo Academy as it gathers top water polo instructors in the world to teach easy to access classes using a variety of multi media interactive tools.

What a Great Idea and Whose Idea Was This?

Under the management of Dr. Loren Bertocci, Water Polo Academy melds his skills as a professional educator and water polo expert with individual subject matter experts to present a professional E-learning platform that allows coaches to share information professionally and effectively to connect to a wide audience.
With the advent of modern online instructional paradigms and pedagogies, it is possible to deliver up-to-date cutting-edge information, to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, and do so at least as, and often times more, effectively as if the information were delivered in person. This is done with the added benefits that the students do not need to do anything more difficult, inconvenient, time-consuming, or expensive than turning on their computers and interacting with a web site at any time that is convenient to them.

Dr Bertocci has built the Water Polo Academy to be the most effective teaching and learning system in the history of the sport of water polo. But there is good and bad news. It is going to be revolutionary to most of the water polo community, accustomed as they are to the way things have been… not to the way things might be. This is good news if you are one of the ones who are willing to work to get better. It is bad news if you are already good and ahead of everyone else.

We Are Betting That Not Only Young But Also Old Dogs Will Learn New Computer Tricks for Water Polo Knowledge!

So, why is this a good idea? What is it about online education that makes sense in this setting? First of all, in most water polo settings, instruction is provided in the form of a “clinic.” In a water polo setting, what is a “clinic?” It is a gathering of people, interested in learning about water polo (coach and/or athlete training such as a PACE clinic, referee training in a referee clinic, athlete-only in the classroom-lecture portions of a water polo camp, that sort of thing). To have a clinic, some group must identify the “expert,” pay to have the expert travel to make the presentation(s), get all the members of the audience to travel, with its costs (more than $3.00 per gallon of gas, auto or airplane) and associated time commitment, sometimes staying in hotels, and eating at restaurants, and the entire time being away from work/home. At the clinic, students generally sit in chairs and are exposed to what is called (in the online instructional universe) the “sage on-stage.” For those who are well suited to learn in this setting, fine. But not all are so well-suited to this, and even for those who are, the delivery is by definition at one single pace, sure to be too slow for some in the audience and too fast for others. But there is only one pace, and only one delivery, and it has all these components.

In contrast, an online delivery has several distinct attributes that make it much more effective. First, and in most parts of the USA, most importantly, it requires no travel. No trans-state drives up and down I-95 or over and back I-70, no airplane tickets, no hotels, and no restaurant meals. For those who reside in Southern California, it is often difficult to grasp the event-by-event consequences of the incessant need to travel for water polo. But it is as real as anything can be. Second, there is no cost to getting the instructor. There is still the stipend for the expertise of the instructor, but no hotels, no mileage, no meals. Then there is the learning itself. Not only is it possible for the student to tailor the pace of the data delivery, it is possible for the student, within the use of discussion threads, to drill down the depths of instructor knowledge as deeply as the student, not the instructor, desires. Finally, unlike the “sage-on-stage” setting, the student can go back, as many times as desired, over anything that may be the least bit confusing and have no time limits placed on the follow-up question and answer period.

Are there limitations? Sure there are, but they are mostly those linked to two things: the student him/herself and the instructional delivery. There are some students who cannot learn in such a setting, and in fact require face-to-face exposure to get real learning. This is a real issue, but fortunately, the fraction of the possible student population in this category is far far far outnumbered by the fraction that find it superior. The other is the instructional delivery. In the early days of online instruction, it was incorrectly assumed that instruction was instruction, and that any pedagogy that worked in one setting would work in another. Now that the pedagogy has matured, it is clear that there are certain instructional methods that must be used, and others that must NOT be used, to ensure that the maximal learning is afforded to the greatest number of online students. In most settings, this is done using a combination of three things: (1) pre-course orientation and pedagogical instruction to prospective online instructors; (2) observation of expert online instructors while they teach their courses; and (3) oversight (sometimes heavy-handed) by someone in the role of online instructional director.

Where Do I Go and How Much Is It Going to Cost ?

The course lineup for the first classes in December is impressive and offer something for everyone. Class tuition is discounted in the months of December and January to allow students the opportunity to try the new instructional program. For December, one of the top coaches in Serbia, Nikola Malezanov, brings the course that has shaken the Serbian World of Water Polo by being offered outside of  Serbia for the first time “The Serbian System: Building a Yearly Program for Age Groups (Part 1). For Players, Dr Jim Solum presents The Science of  Outside Shooting (Part 1 Fundamentals) that is an impressive mix of physiology, physics and How To’s for any player looking to dramatically improve shooting skills. Loren Bertocci will be offering 4 referee training modules for referees and/or coaches. He will also be offering Spectators Advantage and Basic Rules classes for parents and spectators who wish to have a better understanding of the game.

Looking ahead, we anticipate regional clinics to be offered by instructors as follow ups to the on line education. The referee education already includes an integrated ratings system based on on deck evaluation and offers referees the ability to obtain certifications, ratings and assignments via the Water Polo Academy free referee service. On line referee instructions are totally transparent and are available to coaches for auditing to allow each coach to fully prepare for tournaments based on knowledge of what and how calls will be made.

As stated on the WPA web site: “we have built the Water Polo Academy to be the most effective teaching and learning system in the history of the sport of water polo.” Before opening for business on its first day, it is already true. It will be truer over time as more and more experts come to us as the service that can get their message to the greatest number of students and learners.

Water Polo Academy Courses and Price List (www.waterpoloacademy.com)

  •  December 2007 Pricing
    • Coaching Courses:
      • Coach courses – $25
      • Olympic coach courses – $40
    • Referee Courses:
      • Introductory referee course – $15
      • Standard referee courses – $30
      • Audit or observer – $15
    • Parent and spectator courses – $10
  • January 2008 Pricing
    • Coaching Courses:
      • Coach courses – $40
      • Olympic coach courses – $50
    • Referee Courses:
      • Introductory referee course – $20
      • Standard referee courses – $40
      • Audit or observer – $20
    • Parent and spectator courses – $20
  • February 2008 Pricing
    • Coaching Courses:
      • Coach courses – $50
      • Olympic coach courses – $60
    • Referee Courses:
      • Introductory referee course – $25
      • Standard referee courses – $50
      • Audit or observer – $25
    • Parent and spectator courses – $25
  • March 2008 (Standard) Pricing
    • Coaching Courses:
      • Coach courses – $60
      • Olympic coach courses – $75
    • Referee Courses:
      • Introductory referee course – $30
      • Standard referee courses – $60
      • Audit or observer – $30
    • Parent and spectator courses – $30