In this monthly series of articles, Mike will discuss the science and practice of physical training for Water Polo. Strength, flexibility, Water Polo science, rehab and other areas of interest with respect to the physical development of the Water Polo athlete will be covered.
First things first.
ROM = Range of Motion
Water Polo is so much about the legs. Shooting, passing, defence, counter attack, driving, blocking, ... the one thing all these skills have in common is legs. To be really good at any of these skills you need to have very good legs. Beside getting stronger in the weight room and training more legs in the water it is absolutely essential to develop the proper flexibility in order be able to perform a high quality egg beater kick and it's variations (1, 2). Please note that you can download these two references for free, please see the reference section at the end of this article.
In previous articles for WaterPoloPlanet.com and on the message board I have referenced the below video as a starting point for developing your flexibility in your lower body. If you have not done these exercises before then stop reading this and do all the movements in the video for at least 2-4 weeks (for some of you this may be longer). When you have success in performing the movements with ease then come back and read the rest of this article.If you haven't already, start with these exercises first: www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRjhDuak8Uw
In this article I will show how you can take the basic moves as shown above and progress them to further enhance your ROM.
Why should I do these ... Prevention
Not a very sexy reason for doing these drills is injury prevention. If you have really tight hips and all you do is practice egg beater in the water you may be heading directly down the road to knee pain plus poor performance. Lack of flexibility in the hips has been associated with knee pain in competitive breaststroke swimmers which in many ways is very similar to egg beater (3). Basically what happens is when the body doesn't have sufficient ROM at one joint it will try to get that ROM from somewhere else. In the case of the breaststroker, if the hips lack ROM then increased torque is commonly placed on the knee joint which ultimately can lead to pain. It is very hard if not impossible to improve performance when you are in pain.
When should you do these drills?
In my opinion, a great time to do them is as part of a dry-land warm up before your pool sessions or strength training sessions. Spending 10-15 minutes, 4-7 days/week on these and other similar drills can really have a positive impact on your performance. The frequency (how often) you do them is critical for your body to be able to adapt to the new ROM you are developing. Train to infrequently and your body always reverts back to where it was, but train consistently and you will have success with these drills.
How often you need do the them is also very individual. If you are very tight and restricted all over you may need to spend 15-20+ minutes every day just doing these drills.
Who should not do them?
In the below video I demonstrate some progressions you can use to challenge your ROM with an emphasis on the lower body. Most of these drills can also be performed with load to develop strength and there is the beauty in them; they serve more then just one function.
Upgrading your ROM Part I – video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhiAbkQ4rPI
Upgrading your ROM Part II – video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZW-0bUmASs
I will open a thread on the message board in the category “Physical Training with Mike Reid” with the title of this article. Please leave your comments, questions, suggestions, experiences, ... on the message board.
I can also be reached directly through my website: www.waterpolotraining.net
Sanders R. Strength, Flexibility & Timing in the Eggbeater Kick. The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UKPaper presented at the XIV FINA World Sports Medicine Congress April 8-9, 2002, Moscow. Link to Full Article.
Alexander M & Taylor C. The Technique of the Eggbeater Kick University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada. Link to Full Article.
Rovere GD & Nichols AW. Frequency, Associated Factors & Treatment of Breaststroker's Knee in Competitive Swimmers. Am J Sports Med. 1985 Mar-Apr;13(2):99-104.
[Click Mike Reid's name at top of page to learn more about his
strength training & conditioning experiences and his web sites.]