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: The last time you played this team on fast breaks or counterattacks many players got a consistent "jump" on your players. What do you do in practice to make certain this doesn't happen as much the next time you play them?
ANSWER: The number one thing that a coach can do to improve the teams overall awareness in all phases of the game is to use shot clocks during practice. Unfortunately having shot clocks available and setting them up for practice is difficult and time consuming. However, it is well worth the trouble. Many players come into my collegiate program with a poor
understanding of time. Most counter attack teams prepare their counter attack situations by watching the shot clocks and the ball. Players know when they are defending a player who is not an offensive threat and they will anticipate shots and turnovers to get a jump on an unprepared players. If shot clocks are always present it will be natural to be
conscience of the time during a game. Using shot clocks and educating players in the importance of time management and time of possession has several benefit sand one of which is stoping the other teams' players from getting the jump on your players.
You can give your players specific instructions on how to attack offensively based on the clocks.
- No shooting until 10 seconds or less
- No driving with less than 10 seconds
- No passes into 2M until 10 seconds or less
(All are tactics I would implement against a team beating us on the counter attack. Counter attack teams generally do not like to play active defense, and the longer you keep the ball the more defense they will have to play. When the shot clock has less 10 seconds left the players on the non attacking side of the offense should recover to defense to protect
against the counter.)
If reading the shot clocks are natural for your players offensive restrictions such as these will not create major problems.
Ball handling is also essential to this strategy. If your offense makes bad passes and commits offensive fouls there might be nothing that can save you.
Dan Klatt is in his third season as head coach of the UC Irvine women's water polo team.
Klatt led the Anteaters to their best finish in school history in 2006 as the team finished sixth in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation finishing the season with a 18-15 record overall.
Klatt graduated from UCI in 2001 with a degree in social sciences before joining the U.S. National team. While at UCI, Klatt was a two-time All-American in water polo and a first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) choice. He also swam for the Anteaters from 1997-1999, capturing the 50 and 100-yard freestyle titles at the 1999 Big West Championships. Klatt was also a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Water Polo team that competed in the Athens Games.
Klatt has served as the Foothill High School girls’ water polo co-head coach since 1999, winning four consecutive CIF Division I titles. He has been named the CIF Southern Section Division I co-Coach of the Year twice as well as the Orange County Register co-Coach of the Year last season.
“Dan has distinguished himself as a talented teacher and tactician,” Chichester said. “His success coaching at the high school level and participation on our national team presents the type of person we want to have lead and enhance the quality of our program.”
ANSWER: When I was playing my old coach used to tell us that if all you do is watch the game while your in the pool then you are of no use to your team or your self. He would say being a spectator while playing in the game places you in the most expensive spectator's seat in the house and that the pool was for players not spectators.
Anticipation is one of the most difficult skills to learn. In fact there are some coaches who believe that you can not teach anticipation and that it is an innate skill that you are born with. Of course I don't belive that for a second because if I did I would be out of a job. (If the President has his way I will be out of a coaching job fairly soon any way because there will be no more varsity polo at the Rock.)
Anticipation is one of those skills that have to be verbally pounded into the players. In practice on almost every transition the coach has to be yelling, "Go! Go! Go!" He or she is yelling not at just the offense but the defense as well. The players have to be made aware that ones position in the pool can either hinder or facilitate the skill of anticipation.
For example, a player moving to an open lane on the weak side of the pool while on defense shows that the player anticipates a jump on his or her defender when the ball turns over. The offensive player who moves with the defensive player when he or she moves into an open lane is anticipating the counterattack and is getting in a position to help stop it. On a bad pass a defensive player on the weak side should anticipating a fast break to start the counter attack. Inside water by the offense should start the defenders on the weak side anticipating the countattack. These are some of the reasons why a player can't be a spectator while he or she is in the pool.
I will close with a couple of drills that have been done at the Rock for ages. The first drill teaches players to keep their butts up so they can take advantage of anticipation and the second drill places the player in situations where they can work on anticipation.
In the first drill the coach is on the side of the pool with a whistle in his mouth and the players are in the pool facing the coach. The players are several yards apart and they are sculling with their butts on the surface of the water. The coach points either to the right side, or left side, or forwards, or backwards. On the sound of the whistle the players swim two stroke in the direction the coach is pointing and swims two strokes back to where they were sculling. Also the strokes are sprint strokes.
The second drill is called "Shoot and Go" which is a scrimmage with this two rules added. Each team only has one shot on goal per possession and after the shot, whether it goes in or not, the defending team must start the counterattack.
Jim Yeamans completed his seventh season as head coach of the Slippery Rock University men's water polo team in the fall of 2004 and finished his sixth season as The Rock's women's coach in the spring of 2003.
Yeamans approaches both the women's and men's seasons in the same, enthusiastic manner. He also brings a proven record of success to the program in which he was once both a player and assistant coach. As a Rock senior in 1980, Yeamans was a Mid-Atlantic Conference Division I All-American.
After completing his playing career, Yeamans served as a Rock assistant coach from 1981-83. He then served five seasons as head men's coach and two seasons as the first-ever women's head coach at Indiana University of Pa. before returning to his alma mater as head coach in 1998.
His crowning achievement to date came in 1993 when he earned Eastern men's Coach of the Year honors.
In addition to his Rock duties, Yeamans was an assistant tryout coach for the 1996 U.S. Junior National women's team and has been coach of the Pittsburgh Renegade Water Polo Club since 1985.
Yeamans was named in the fall of 2001 as the Division II representative on the NCAA men's water polo committee.
Yeamans earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education (sports information emphasis) in 1983 and a master's degree in sports science (aquatic administration emphasis) from Indiana University of Pa. in 1992. He currently serves, in addition to his water polo coaching duties, as Coordinator of Aquatic Programming in The Rock's Robert N. Aebersold Student Recreation Center.
Yeamans stepped into some big shoes when he assumed The Rock reins from Doc Hunkler.
Yeamans and his wife, Georgia, live in Slippery Rock Township with their sons: Shawyn, 13; and Andy, 10.