Six on Five Offense: Part 6

Monte Nitzkowski
US Men's Olympic Coach '72, '80, and '84

Six on Five Offensive Plays Continued...

The #2 Out Play

The #2 Out Play is very popular and is used in the Four-Two structure of Six-on-Five Offense.

Figure 25

The #2 Out Play usually is signaled or called by the 6 player. When the play is called, player 2 should move out slowly, player 4 should move to the point and player 5 should move to the right. The play should always be started when the ball is with player 6. Otherwise, the defense will immediately pick up player 2 coming out and is able to make the proper defensive adjustments. As the play unfolds, if player 2 gets free, player 6 should pass 2 the ball for the shot. The key player is 6 because 6 must read the defense. The defenses' moves determine where player 6 passes the ball. Obviously, player 6 needs to be a stable, intelligent, high caliber athlete. See Figure 25.

Let's look at some of the passing variations for the #2 Out Play, and remember, player 6 must read the defense at all times.

Figure 26

In Figure 26, the defender between player 1, and player 2 follows 2 as 2 moves out. So player 6 passes to player 1 who moves to the 2-meter line as the defender follows player 2.

Figure 27

In Figure 27, as player 2 starts to move out, the inside defender "stays home," but the defender on player 4 drops in and picks up player 2. The ball should go from player 6 to player 4, who has moved to the point position. Player 4 can penetrate and shoot, or if his/her defender comes back out, player 4 can attack in on the defender then, depending on who is free, pass to either player 2 or player 1. As the #2 Out Play puts the team in a Three-Three structure, when player 4 attacks the defender, the offense is two-on-one on the righthander's side.

Figure 28

This shows player 2 having moved out, but the defense is playing well and there is no free player. This does happen. In this case, the team can run a Three-Three Offense, or, if time permits, the offensive team can rotate back to a Four-Two Offense.

The Player-Five Slide Play

The Player-Five Slide Play is another common play and an easy one to run within the :20-second ejection period. It is used extensively in international water polo.

Figure 29

If the Goalie tends to over commit to the lefthander's side, or if the Goalie is weak laterally, the Player-Five Slide Play works well. Also, if the guard at 5 drops in to cover a possible pop-out by the 3 post player, the play can work well. Simply start a series of passes between player 5 and player 6. Move player 4 over to the left, and slide player 5 to the point. The pass should come from player 6 to player 5, who should quick release shoot to the high and far corner of the goal.

Team Right Slide Play

Here is the play called, Team Right Slide Play.

Figure 30

Start playing straight-up Four-Two Offense, then slide the entire team to the right on command. The slide puts the righthanders (1 and 4) in maximum advantage shooting position. The Team Right Slide Play works well against young defenses as they tend to lose sight of correct positioning. Oftentimes, younger players follow the shift and, as a result, defend players who have moved out of scoring position.

The Three-Three Rotation Play

Figure 31

The Three-Three Rotation play has a multiple number of passes between 5 and 6. Then the POINT PLAYER drives into the opening near the post.

Rotation plays can be run from the Three-Three as well as the Four-Two. Let's take a look at a popular Three-Three rotation play. See Figure 31. Begin by moving the ball to player 6, then start a passing sequence between player 6 and player 5, attacking in on the defenders after each pass. When the defender on player 5 pulls outside on 5, give the ball to player 6 and drive the (POINT PLAYER). The POINT PLAYER should move toward the 3 post and to free water between defenders. The POINT PLAYER should pop up to receive the pass from player 6. If the defense has committed wide, the POINT PLAYER should be free for the shot. As the POINT PLAYER drives, the offensive HOLE should slide to the 2 post position.

If the POINT PLAYER is not open on the drive, player 6 should look to make a pass to the HOLE player who has moved to the 2 post. See Figure 32

Figure 32

If the player defending on player 1 picks up the HOLE player moving to the 2 post, player 6 will pass to player 1 who should have moved out toward the pocket. The 1 player may have the shot, but if the shot is not there, 1 should look for the 3 post player inside. The 3 post player actually is the former point player who started the original rotation. See Figure 33.

Figure 33


(Monte began coaching water polo internationally with the Pan American Games in 1967 and retired following the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles . He served as Assistant Pan American Coach in 1967 (Gold Medal) and 1975 (Silver Medal), and as Head Pan American Coach in 1979 (Gold Medal) and 1983 (Gold Medal). Monte was the Assistant United States Olympic Water Polo coach in Mexico City (5th place) and Head Olympic Coach for the 1972 Munich Olympics (Bronze Medal), the 1980 Moscow Olympics (boycott) and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics (Silver Medal). The 1980 Olympic Water Polo Team was one of the finest teams ever to represent the United States and was con­sidered a strong contender for the Gold Medal. During his career, exclusive of the boycott, every Olympic Team which Monte head ­coached won an Olympic Medal. Monte was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale , Florida in 1991.

Monte has written two excellent water polo books, United States Tactical Water Polo and Water Polo, Learning and Teaching the Basics. Starting March 15 , Water Polo Planet will feature a monthly water polo article by Monte Nitzkowski. His books can be found at his Water Polo Consulting Service web site. - Doc)