Scouting Water Polo


Robert Gaughran

California All Sports Clinic


I. When Scouting Consider:

A.   Coach’s Philosophy

B.   Offense Used

C.   Defense Used

        D.   General outline of what they do during warm up.

E.   How they Line up after a goal.

F.   Positions of players.


II. Individual Positions

A.       Offense

               1.   Players in Positions 1 and 5 (Guards)

                      a.   Do they counterattack and how often?

             b.   In what kind of physical condition are they?

                      c.   Will they take the shot on the counterattack and which hand do they use?

                      d.   What kind of close in shots do they take and which hand will they use?

          i.   Can they do push shots?

          ii.  Can they do 1-2 shots?

          iii.  Do they take a step on close in shots?

                      e.  Will they shoot more often from their position than drive?

                      f.   Do they veer to side or wrap around when shooting?

                      g.  What side of cage do they shoot?

                      h.  Would they rather pass than shoot and on the pass  who do they look to first? 

                      i.   Which type of passes do they use   baseball pass, layout pass, and/or push pass?

                      j.   Can they pass while swimming or do they have to stop first?  

                      k.  Do they look where they are going to shoot?

             2.   Players in Positions 2, 3, and 5 (Forwards)

                   a.   How fast are they?

                   b.   What angle to the face of the  cage is their best shot taken?

                   c.   Are they left-handed or right-handed or can they use both?

                   d.   Can they shoot while swimming or do they have to stop first?

                   e.   What side of cage do they shoot?

                   f.    Do they look where they are going to shoot?

                   g.   On what side of the cage do they usually shoot cross-corner?

                   h.   Do they shoot high or low?

                   i.    Where do they shoot mostly from the 7, 4, or 2 meter line?

                   j.    What kind of close in shots do they take and which hand will they use?

       i.   Can they do push shots?

       ii.  Can they do 1-2 shots?

       iii.  Do they take a step on close in shots?

                  k.   Would they rather pass or would they rather shoot – if pass who do they look to first? 

                  l.    How often do they shoot off the 7-meter foul?

                  m.  How good can they drive and do they play for the penalty shot or shoot?

                  n.   Can they pass while swimming or do they have to stop first?

                  o.   Do they swim back to help the goalie – if so, often or never?

                  p.   When they are vertical  and guarded, what do they usually do:

                              i. Play for the foul?

                              ii. Make a layout pass?

                              iii. Make a backhand pass?

                              iv. Make an over the head pass?

                  q.  Will they shoot when pressured?

                  r.  Do they have to see the goal to shoot?

                  s.  When they shoot are there any tells or tip offs?

           3.   Two Meter Player (Hole Forward)

                   a.   Can he be moved out to the 4-6 line?

                   b.   What is his best shot?

                   c.   Does he follow a definite pattern of moves when shooting? 

                   d.   Does he follow through on his shots?

                   e.   If he doesn’t shoot with both hands which hand does he use to shoot?

                   f.   Which shots can he do:

                              i.   Right-handed sweep?

                              ii.  Right-handed back-hand?

                              iii. Left-handed sweep?

                              iv. Left-handed back-hand?

                              v.  Step-out or layout?

                              vi. Tip-in?

                   g.   What is his position when shooting:

                              i.  Perpendicular in the water?

                              ii.  In a back layout?

                              iii. In a front layout?

                              iv. High in the water?

                              v.  Low in the water?

                   h.   Can he move the defender with his legs?

                   i.    From which part of the cage does he shoot?

                   j.   Will he follow the defender when the defender counterattacks?

                   k.   Does he look when he shoots?

                   l.   What is the best defensive position to keep him ineffective?

                   m. Can he play other positions well?

                   n.   Is he the key to the teams success?

                   o.  Would he rather muscle a shot than pass?

                   p.  Can he easily draw fouls?

                   q.  Which direction can he turn a defender – to the

                        left, to the right, or both directions?

            4.   Goalie

                   a.   Can he make long Passes?

                   b.   Can he make accurate passes?

                   c.   Can he lead the ball out quickly?

                   d.   Does he try to steal the ball out of the 2-meter position?

                   e.   Does he swim after the ball when the ball is inside 4-meters and/or outside 4-meters?

                   f.    When attacked does he panic and/or take the ball under the water?

                   g.   Can he set the breakaway, the square-out, and/or the flare?  

     B.   Defense    

            1.   Players Defending the Players in the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

                  Positions. (Guards)

                  a.   How fast are they?

                  b.   Do they play the passing lanes?

                  c.   Do they over commit themselves?

                  d.   Do they leave early on the counterattack?

                  e.   When on the counterattack do they swim with head up or down?

                  f.    Do they hold their hands up when defending a player with inside water?

                  g.   On the counterattack do they use the gross and go?

                  h.   Do they grab suits?

                   i.    Are they cheap-shot artist (i.e. do they punch a player when the referee is not looking)?

                   j.    Do they jam back and pick up players in the best position to score?

                   k.   Do they give their man a stroke on the drive before picking them up?

                   l.    Do they stunt on the counterattack?

                  m.  Do they hand-check the driver?

                  n.   When guarding a swimming player do they swim with their head up or down?

                  o.   Do they make Mickey Mouse fouls on the perimeter?

            2.   The 2-meter Defender (Hole Defender)

                   a.   Does he play in front or in back?

                   b.   Does he move first or does he let the 2-meter player make the first move?

                   c.   Does he hold on to the 2-meter player and if so how – arms, waist, or hips?

                   d.   Does he go over the shoulder or under the arm when playing the ball?

                   e.   Does he turn his head when the 2-meter player shoots

                         (i.e. is he a chicken)?

                   f.    What shot can’t he stop: 

                              i.   Right-handed sweep?

                              ii.  Right-handed back-hand?

                              iii. Left-handed sweep?

                              iv. Left-handed back-hand?

                              v.  Step-out or layout?

                              vi. Tip-in?

                   g.   How far can he push the 2-meter player from the 2-meter line?

                   h.   Does he try to swim the 2-meter player from the offensive 2 to the defensive 2?

                   i.    Does he try to switch when a new 2-meter player is swum into the 2-meter position?

                   j.    Is he mentally tough?

            3.   Goalie

                  a.   Does he position well?

                  b.   When attempting to block a shot does he:

                            i.   Use one hand?

                            ii.   Use two hands?

                            iii.  Turn his head?

                            iv.  Come up once and then sinks?

                            v.   Takes the first fake given to him?

                            vi.   Go high with his arm?   

                            vii.  Go low with his hands?

                            viii.  Keep hands over head?

                            ix.   Keep hands in close to protect his face?

                            x.   Scull with his hands deep or shallow (heavy hands or light hands).

                  c.   Does he play on the goal line or closer to the

                        2-meter line?


III.  Pool Conditions

      A.  Is the pool all deep, shallow to deep, or all shallow and if shallow h ow shallow.

      B.  What is the cage backed with – canvas, webbing, ropes, or iron bars?

      C.  Are there diving boards over the playing area?

      D.  Can there be a referee on both sides of the swimming pool?

      E.   If the sun is a problem, then what times of the day will it be a problem?

      F.   Are there one or two sets of shot clocks?

      G.  Can the bench at both ends see the game clock?

      H.  Does the table or the bench throw in the counterattack balls?

       I.   Is the pool lighting the same at both ends of the swimming pool? 



(For the most part I tried to keep the content of Robert Gaughran’s original hand-out “Scouting Water Polo” intact; however, I did take a few liberties with the original work. I changed the outline form, combined a couple of topics, updated some of his terms (for example changed the term “Guards” to “Players in the1 and 5 Positions” and the term “Forwards” to “Players in the 2, 3, and 4, Positions”, added a few new suggestions, and added a few words to Robert’s suggestions for my own clarity.  Robert said essentially that I could do with his hand-outs what I pleased, and hopefully, what I did would please him. - Doc)