Volume1: Number 3 Men's Varsity Coaches November 15, 2006

Bi-weekly a varsity coach from the west coast and a varsity coach from the east coast is given the same question solicited from a member of the water polo community. The coaches answer the question independent of each other and their answers are posted here together with a photograph and short biography of each coach. We hope to have the men's varsity coaches to answer the questions in the fall and winter and the women's varsity coaches to answer the questions in the winter and spring.

QUESTION: Your team has a dominant 2-meter player but you do not have any good outside shooters. The team you are to play will use either a 3 drop or a 2-4 drop. What would be your game plan for playing this team, and why?

Terry Schroeder, Pepperdine University

ANSWER: I would look to try to get my two meter man opportunities to isolate whenever possible. On the defensive end I would try to keep my two meter man on the top (perimeter) so that when the ball turns over he could be the first one down on the offensive end. often times he may be able to isolate and get set before the opposing team is able to get set up in their drop defense. This may give me a few good opportunities to get the ball into our two meter man and get him some good shots or chances to draw ejections.

On our front court set up I would try to get my two best shooters at the 2 and 4 spot if that was the drop they were running and then I would drive one or five across to isolate the two meter man on one side with basically a two man game. The defense would be forced to stay back which would give me an outside shot form pretty close range or if they chose to knock down the perimeter I would have my two meter man.

Another option if I had a secondary two meter man that was pretty good. I could run some kind of post up play that might isolate him on the opposite side away from where the prime two meter man is set up. This would make the defense adjust and might open up a number of options.

With a three drop I would make sure my best shooter is at the three spot and drive the 2 man down towards the 5,4 side. The three man could slide towards 1,2 and have more space to move into a pocket for a closer shot or if the defense jumps towards him he might be able to put the ball into two meters.

A big key with this team is that the players who are not the best outside shooters - need to learn to break down the game into a two on two or three on three in which their defender is dropping and they need to attack that defender and make him either drop back further and create a very close shot for themselves or make the defender jump out at them and then pass the ball to two meters.

Terry Schroeder

Santa Barbara native, Dr. Terry Schroeder is a third generation chiropractor. He is a 1981 Magna Cum Laude Sports Medicine graduate of Pepperdine University and a 1986 Cum Laude graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. He was the 1986 Chiropractic Student of the Year and the 1988 Palmer Chiropractic Alumni of the Year. He is an active member of the American Chiropractic Association and the California Chiropractic Association.

Terry is Team USA's only four time Olympian in the sport of water polo. He was a member of Team USA during the Olympic boycott in 1980. After the boycott, Terry re-focused on his Olympic dream and became the captain of Team USA. In 1984 and 1988 he led the team to Olympic silver medals. He retired in 1988 and then made a comeback in 1990. Dr. Terry was again named captain of the team for the 1992 Olympic games. Team USA placed fourth in Barcelona.

Dr. Terry Schroeder was named the Player of the World in 1981 and 1985 in the sport of water polo. He was also selected to be the model for the Olympic torso that stands out in front of the Los Angeles Coliseum. In addition, he was selected by the captains of all the sports represented in Seoul, Korea to carry the flag for Team USA in the Closing Ceremonies of the 1988 games.

He has written chapters in two different books; The Spine in Sports by Robert Watkins M.D.; and Awaken the Olympian Within by John Naber.

Dr. Terry Schroeder has been married to his wife Lori for 20 years. Lori is also a chiropractor. The Schroeder's have two children; Leanna (10/14/94) and Sheridan 8/10/01).

Felix Mercado, MIT

ANSWER: I am an old school coach so I will be using the old school numbering system for a set offense (see example below).  Also I will be referring to the dominate 2 Meter man as (D2M)

Here are two different approaches to attack the opposing team that will drop.

1. You want your best player to touch the ball.  If every time he goes into set the opposition is running drops to deny him the ball you must find ways to isolate him to get him the ball.  Have someone else set 2 meters and have D2M run some ball side drives and post defenders up.  You must make sure that your team is in position to get him the ball as soon as possible.  This will also require D2M to be ready to make quick power moves before the crash has time to adjust.

2. The second scenario requires you as a coach to have a little bit of faith in your outside shooters.  The most important thing is to put your shooters in the best possible position to take the best shots.  D2M will have to have patience and also play somewhat of a decoy to make this work.  If a team is running a 2,4 drop you will need to drive, drive, drive! The first option should be to pass and drive.   If the 2 passes to 3 and then drives towards 1, either they will be open in front of the cage or, 1 will be open because x1 covered the driver, or three will be able to set the ball to your D2M. Another option is to have the 4 and 5 position drive early and often will 3 slides away from 2 (2 having the ball).  I will then have D2M move towards the post furthest away from 2 (the 3 post).  It will look something like this:

  Player 2 must then attack the cage and make 1 of 3 decisions:

1. Walk it up and have the defender commit to you, then put the ball into set.

2. Walk it up and take a good shot cross cage top corner so if the goalie blocks the shot it may go out of bounds for a new shot clock.

3. Walk it up, if X3 comes to knock you down pass the ball to 3 for a shot.

 If a team wants to run a 3 drop which is also called an M defense this takes a little more patience. Here is how to attack that:

Pass the ball up to 3, who then backs up.  He then attacks a side, always in a position to shoot.  The flat on the side he attack will move in to a good shooting position closer to the goal, and the wing will post up.  When the defensive player that is gapping attacks 3, he will pass the ball to the flat that rotated who will be ready to shoot.

Felix Mercado

Felix Mercado was named head coach of MIT's water polo program in the summer of 2005. Mercado assumed the role after serving as the Engineers' assistant coach for the 2004 campaign.

Before arriving in Cambridge, Mercado spent 11 years coaching national-power Ransom Everglades School in Miami, Fla. During his tenure with the high school juggernaut, Mercado helped guide Ransom Everglades to three Florida State Championships in the boys division and coached the girls program to six straight Final Four finishes. Mercado was also the head coach and founder of the Raider Water Polo Club Foundation, and led the program to six Southeast Zone Championships. He has offered his coaching expertise at numerous national team development camps for USA Water Polo and is the current head coach for the U.S. Water Polo Northeast Junior team.

Mercado is also the head coach of the women's club team at MIT. In his two years at the helm, the squad has posted a record of 30-3 and made back-to-back appearances at the Club National Championships.