WATER POLO

  Learning and Teaching the Basics  

CHAPTER SEVEN

Shooting: Part 4

   
   Monte Nitzkowski

DRIVING POSITIONS

Now let's take the three main driving positions (eleven, twelve, and one o'clock) and see how the Two-Meter player locates the ball to the Drivers.

ELEVEN O'CLOCK DRIVES: A number of driving angles can be achieved from the eleven o'clock position. Let's look at a few. The Driver fakes his/her head left, then power drives toward the near post of the goal. The defender is to the inside and slightly beaten. The Two-Meter player locates the ball wet and to the outside on the right arm. The ball must arrive near the three meter line so the Driver has the entire cage available to place the shot. The Driver now reads the position of the goalie in the goal (all young players must learn to recognize where the goalie is in the goal and what he/she is attempting to do—called "reading" the goalie). Once the goalie's position is ascertained, the ball can be wrist shot strong side, cross cage, or lobbed cross cage. All Drivers must have good strong wrists and need to know how to wrist shoot. There are two types which can be used: First, the QUICK-RELEASE WRIST SHOT finds the shooter simply swimming through, placing the hand under the ball while in stroke, and snap ping the ball off the palm of the hand with a wrist release. The ball is not lifted up, then shot, but is shot from the water, with the wrist, while in the swimming motion. (Illustrations # 108, 109, 110.)  

Illustration 108 - Approach for quick wrist
shot — ball on water to right side of shooter
at approximately three meters.
Illustration 109 - Hand under ball preparing
for quick wrist shot.

Illustration 110 - Ball released for shot at goal
from on water, quick wrist shot position.

Wrist shots come very quickly and are difficult for the goalie to stop. Second, the POWER WRIST SHOT is similar, but the player lifts the ball up from the water, holds the ball out in front of the body, allows the goalie to make his/her move, then directs the ball into the goal with a power wrist release. (Illustrations # 111, 112, 113.)

Illustration 111 - Power wrist shot —hand
positioned under ball in preparation for lift.
Illustration 112 - Ball up and ready for
release from power wrist shooting position.

Illustration 113 - Shot taken from power
wrist position

Big power Drivers have great success with the power wrist shot, while smaller players generally are more successful with the quick release.

In another drive from eleven o'clock, the Driver starts cross cage with the drive and there are two situations which might occur. First, the defender anticipates that the drive is going cross cage and stays ahead of the Driver. In this case, the Driver might want to cross back to the original side with what I call a reverse turn or "worm turn" (drive with the right arm and pull the left arm back and out of the water). (Illustrations #114, 115, 116, 117, 118.)

Illustration 114 - Worm turn – while
driving cross cage, driver (in whites
hat) find defensive player over
committed to the inside.

Illustration 115 - Driver starts turn
to releasefrom defensive player.
Driver's body follows left arm which
recovers over the surface of water.

Illustration 116 - Coming off the worm
turn and free of defender. Left arm still
scooping and right arm preparing for over
the water recovery and positioning to
receive wet pass.
Illustration 117 - Ball passed wet to outside
right of offensive player as he prepares for
quick wrist shot.

Illustration 118 - Worm turn completed and
ready for quick wrist shot.

This allows the Driver to rotate quickly back to the eleven o'clock side and to be up (free) if the defender has overplayed the middle. The Two-Meter player places the ball wet on the righthanded Drivers outside hand as he/she comes off the reverse turn. The Driver then reads the goalie and places the correct wrist shot. In the second scenario, we imagine the Driver has beaten the defender with the cross cage-drive—the Driver is up and free. The righthanded Driver is now moving to the right side of the Two-Meter player. This calls for a dry pass. Timing is essential.

The pass should begin when the Driver "slides" over his/her left arm and raises the shooting hand. (The slide is similar to a sidestroke move and keys the timing of the pass.) (Illustrations #119, 120, 121.) Because the defender is trailing, the Driver should not rear back (this would allow the defender to catch up) but simply slide and let the trailing legs help fend off the defender. The ball should be passed dry and over the ear of the Driver. This allows for a short range of motion and a good opportunity to keep the arm free for the shot.

Illustration 119 - Driving cross cage and
preparing for slide positioning, pass and shot.
Illustration 120 - Offensive player in slide
position on side and over extended left arm.
Ball being passed from Two Meter player to
Driver.

Illustration 121 - Ball ready to be shot from
slide position.

TWELVE O'CLOCK DRIVES: The same rules apply to twelve o'clock drives. For the righthander, once inside, if the drive moves to the Two-Meter player's left, the ball will be placed on the water (at about three meters). If the twelve o'clock drive moves to the right of the Two-Meter player, the ball is passed dry. The only difference will be the location of the dry pass. Because the angle of the drive is steeper from the twelve o'clock position, the Driver will not slide, but rather pops up at about a forty-five-degree angle and takes the ball dry from the Two-Meter player. With the angle of the drive from twelve o'clock, the defender will be in a position to slip through if the Driver slides. If the Driver pops and takes the ball dry, there is an opportunity for either a good shot or a penalty throw award. The pop up should take place near the four-meter line.

ONE O'CLOCK DRIVES: Driving from one o'clock presents the Driver with a number of shooting possibilities. One of the best drive situations from one o'clock finds the Driver "head faking" toward the right, then power driving toward the near post of the goal. If the Driver springs free, the Two-Meter player will "hit" the righthanded Driver with what is called a "timing pass": The Two-Meter player determines when the shot will be taken. As the Driver is driving (swimming) toward the post, the Two-Meter player passes the ball when the Driver's right arm is pulling (stroking) under water. The pass is thrown above and in front of the Driver's right shoulder. (Illustrations # 122, 123.)

Illustration 122 - Timing pass to shot. Two
meter player passes ball dry when right arm
of driver is pulling underwater.
Illustration 123 - Ball ready to be shot as
right arm rotates out of water and catches
ball for shot. 

In full stroke, the Driver shoots the ball as his/her arm recovers above the water. This is an excellent shot from the one o'clock drive position. Again, it's important to emphasize that the Driver does not stop and rear up for the shot. This shot is taken in the full stroke position.

Another popular drive from the one o'clock position is the cross- cage drive. This should start with a head fake to the left, followed by the right, cross-cage drive. When the Driver moves past the Two-Meter player, the ball will be placed wet to righthanders and dry to lefthanders (slide). For the righthander in this drive position, two shots should be considered. If the defense is trailing, the ball should be wrist shot. The Driver needs to know the position of the Goalkeeper and wrist shoot either near or far side. If the goalie is "crashing" to the near side, the cross-cage lob is an excellent possibility. If the defender is even-up on the cross-cage one o'clock Driver, the Two- Meter player can locate the ball a little wider and allow the Driver to throw the crossover backhand. In this situation, if the Driver is to shoot the backhand, he/she should shoot it "in stroke" (don't drop the legs) and should release the ball early in the shoulder rotation. This will allow the ball to go cross cage to the far corner of the goal. (Illustrations #124, 125, 126, 127, 128.) Properly thrown, this is an excellent shot from the one o'clock, cross cage drive.

Illustration 124 - Start of one o'clock,
cross cage drive leading to either a right
hand wrist shot or crossover backhand.
Illustration 125 - Two meter player ready to
make pass to driver who is cross cage driving
from one o'clock position.

Illustration 126 - Hand pressing ball down
into water to start motion for a crossover
backhand shot.
Illustration 127 - Wrist rotating as player
starts to throw crossover backhand shot.

Finally, two important points need to be made regarding "shooting from the drive": First, players should throw the backhand only from two meters (the Two-Meter specialist) or from the one o'clock, cross cage drive. Many athletes want to throw the backhand from the other drive positions. This should not be encouraged. The angle of attack from the eleven and twelve o'clock-drive positions is not conducive to backhand shooting. Second, it is important to mention again, in my drive readout system, the Two-Meter specialist throws the same pass to the lefthander as to the righthander but the wet and dry rules are reversed: The righthander receives the ball wet to the Two-Meter player's left and dry to the right, whereas the lefthander receives the ball dry to the Two-Meter player's left and wet to the right.

Illustration 128 - Looking from other side as
driver releases crossover back hand shot