Michael Reid will be publishing new articles on WaterPoloPlanet.com every few months and 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.
In most if not all combative/contact sports, grip strength is very important. In Water Polo just think of all the clutching and grabbing that goes on and how a really strong grip would benefit in many of those situations. Particularly when playing the centre forward position; grip strength is important for not only keeping your defender at bay but also to control the ball while being tackled and pursued by usually more then one defender.
There is another reason for developing a strong grip and that is shoulder health. Research studies have shown that increased grip strength translates into increased muscle activity of the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. The shoulder being the most commonly injured joint in Water Polo players, a strong grip can go a long way in improving performance and health.
How do you develop a strong grip for Water Polo?
There are two avenues that I believe should be pursued, one is doing general strength training exercises that tax the grip, a simple but effective one is the Farmers Walk.
The other avenue is specific ball exercises. Two of my favourites are pulling ball under the water with your hand underneath the ball. This is harder then it looks. To make it harder, straighten out your arm. This can be done while you are waiting in line to do a drill. Spend a few minutes every practice doing this and your grip will go through the roof.
Video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duPUZJsxqUA
The other ball exercise is “release and catch”. Best to be done on land and you can use a Water Polo ball, a weighted ball or a larger ball (e.g. basketball) to add difficulty to the exercise. With this one, palm the ball with your hand on top, now quickly release the ball and re-palm it before the ball hits the ground. Repeat for 10-30 reps in a row.
[Click Mike Reid's name at top of page to learn more about his
strength training & conditioning experiences and his web sites.]