Interview with Goalie Betsy Armstrong

Sandy Vessey-Schneider
Water Polo Planet

Betsy ArmstrongBetsy Armstrong, now retired after a long prosperous career including two Olympics, is the youngest goalie interviewed thus far. It is interesting to note that while she is one of the few Olympians to come from outside of California, she is one of the most recognizable female players of all time.

Where did you grow up? Ann Arbor, Michigan

What clubs did you play for? Wolverine Water Polo which then became Great Lakes Water Polo

What High School and College did you go to and when? Ann Arbor Huron High School, then the University of Michigan

What years did you play on the National/ Olympic Teams (if applicable)? 2006-1015, including the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games

  1. What drills do feel are the best for the following: (a). Lateral movement, (b). Leg strength, (c). Reaction time?

    A. lots of slides/base to side movement is the best way to drill lateral movement. B. for leg strength I like using stretch cords/resistance bands the best, I think you get a lot of work without putting too much stress on your joints which weighted resistance can do C. for reaction time it’s all about drilling lots of fast, explosive jumps and lunges.


  2. A two on one counter attack is coming your way, how do you communicate with your defense?

    I direct the defense towards whichever position I feel less confident blocking the ball from. Sometimes it is personnel related, sometimes it is position related. I always want the shot to come from where I am feeling the most confident.

  3. What 6 on 5 defense do you prefer to work with and why?

    It really depends on what kind of team we are playing and where their major shooters are, so it really varies every time.  But I love feeling confident in my shot-blockers around and in front of me.

  4. How do you communicate with your 2m defense?

    Give examples of directions you give and why. I am really constantly talking to my 2m defender the entire time, in the beginning of the possession it’s a lot of my telling her where the ball is and where to anticipate the help from. Then once she comes behind we communicate to one another about where the zone should come from, and then we are both communicating to the overall defense. It sounds like we are talking a ton, but we really worked to develop a way to talk to one another that doesn’t require too much extra language.

  5. Betsy

  6. How do handle “one on goalies”?

    Just staying focused on the ball and in the moment—if you’re afraid of getting scored on your not thinking about blocking the ball in front of you—you’ve already let you mind pass the very moment in front of you. Stay light and feel explosive.

  7. What advise can you give a high school goalie?

    Have fun and give your best every single day—to yourself and your team.

  8. What skills, talent, and physical traits do you think are important to become a top notch goalie?

    Mobility, speed, balance and lightness.

  9. What was your favorite game, and what made it so special?

    Hard to say, there are so many great ones. Probably the semi-final at the 2012 Olympic Games versus Australia. The way our team came together in the face of adversity is something I hope to experience again in life.

  10. How has the game changed for goalies since you played?

    I just retired this past summer so I don’t think it has actually changed too much. There are some potential roster numbers getting changed which would impact the number of subs we have, and potentially the number of goalies we have, but other than that we’ll see what this next year holds.

  11. Betsy

Once again it’s worth pointing out how she, as well as so many of the best goalies, mentions the importance of the “Goalie/2MD Communication”. As Betsy put it,” We really worked to develop a way to talk to one another that doesn’t require to much language”.  Armstrong is tall in stature, however I found it especially encouraging to young goalies, when asked about “what it takes to be a top notch goalie” she responded with “mobility, speed, balance, and, lightness”. ATTENTION all high school coaches and players: This two time Olympian advises young players to “have fun and give 100% everyday”!