Volume 1:  Number 3            June 1, 2006

US National Men's and Women's Water Polo Players or Coaches

Each month a player or coach from a US National Men's Team and a player or coach from a US National Women's Team will give the water polo community some tips on how to play a particular position or a fundamental skill. In turn WPP will post a photograph and concise biography to help the water polo community get to know the players and coaches.

Becoming a Premier Attacker by Tony Azevedo

In my opinion the six most important tools that a player must develop in order to become a premier attacker are as follows:

The first would be ball handling, you must be able to control the ball at all times, whether you are under pressure or not. This can be done through lots of passing and playing with a ball at home.

Next, I would say that quickness is a key tool to have. In order for you to get away from someone stronger or get your arm open for a shot you have to be quick. Their are many short sprinting things you could do for this.

Strength is another important aspect. Weights or simply push ups at home will allow just the right amount of strength that will increase shot velocity, quickness, speed and getting open.

For me the most important aspect is game awareness. You must be able to know when the right time is to do something, whether it is getting your teammate open or simply taking the ejection. I would recommend watching video and many games as well as constantly asking questions when you are around upper level athletes.

Anticipation is another important tool. Their are many people out their who are fast in swim sets but they never get open in the game. This is because they do not anticipate. This tool comes from game awareness as well as constantly watching the game and making your decisions beforehand.

The last tool for an attacker would be creativity. This does not mean taking weird shots or no look passes, but constantly trying new things and not being afraid to take that chance. Their are many big fast people out their but what separates the best from the rest is what they bring to the game. Creative players bring many new aspects almost every practice.

Best regards,

TONY AZEVEDO

INTERNATIONAL/CLUB:
Led the team with 18 goals at the 2005 FINA World League and 13 at the 2005 FINA World Championships… Ranked 5 th in scoring percentage at the 2005 FINA World Championships…. Second overall and led the U.S. with 15 goals at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece including a hat trick to help the team qualify for the 7th place game...Became one of the highest paid players in water polo when he signed to play professionally for Italian club team, Bissolati Cremona...Scored a tournament high 33 goals during the 2003 Pan American Games... Finished as the top scorer in the FINA World League with 12 goals...Led the team in scoring at 2003 U.S. Cup with eight, including three versus Australia … Was named as the world’s seventh-best male athlete in the June 2003 edition of Men’s Journal…Scored 12 goals in four games in Team USA’s first place finish at 2003 French International…Led Team USA in scoring with 29 goals in the first year of the FINA World League, including seven in the season opener against Croatia in Los Alamitos (Calif.)…Was sixth in the league in scoring, but was only player in top six that didn’t advance to the Super Final…Was the only U.S. player to net at least one goal in each game…Leading scorer at the 2001 World Championships in Japan…Led team in scoring with 14 goals in Japan despite playing with a broken ear drum…Scored 13 goals in outstanding Olympic debut at the Sydney Games in 2000, the fourth highest scorer in the world...Selected by color commentator Jim Kruse for NBC’s All-World Team following Olympics...Was the high scorer at the Pan American Junior Water Polo Championships in 1998.

PROFESSIONAL :
Led Latteria Sorensia in scoring for the 2005-2006 season in Cremona , Italy …third in scoring in all of Italy for the 2005-2006 season

COLLEGE:
Became the first-ever player to win the prestigious Peter J. Cutino award four consecutive years...Was awarded First-Team All-American honors from 2001-2004...Named MPSF Player of the Year four consecutive years from 2001-2004...Named the 2004 American Water Polo Coaches Association Player of the Year for the fourth straight season... Mountain Pacific Federation four-time winner... Named co-Player of the Year in 2003 NCAA tournament...Scored 80 goals in his senior season...Shattered the prior record by over 100 goals when he became Stanford’s all-time top scorer with 332 goals…Was named as the Player of the Year at 2002 NCAA Tournament…Scored 95 goals in 2002, becoming Stanford’s top single-season scorer…In 2001, he earned NCAA Player of the Year and All-American Player of the Year…Voted the 2001 NCAA Tournament MVP…Voted Co-MVP of the 2001 MPSF Tournament…Named MPSF Player of the Week twice…Winner of the Stanford Block “S” Freshman Award…The nation’s leading scorer with 68 goals, which was a freshman school record and ninth-best in school history.

HIGH SCHOOL:
Earned All-American as well as All-Academic Team honors from 1996-99 at Wilson High School in Long Beach , CA ...Selected to All-CIF Team from 1996-99 and was CIF Player of the Year three times…Father Rick was an assistant National Team coach in 2004 and coached Tony throughout his age group career and during his first three years at Long Beach Wilson.

PERSONAL:
Biggest influence in water polo is his father, Rick Azevedo...Favorite musical artists are Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springstein...Says he plays water polo “to win a gold medal for the USA .”

(Biography by Kelly Foster photograph courtesy of Stanford - both provided by courtesy of USA Water Polo)

How to Field Block Shots in a Zone Defense by Lauren Wenger

Zone defense is used when a team has a strong center and the ball is in position for a center entry pass. A zone defense can be useful by all levels of teams, from a new age group team to the Olympic Team. A huge benefit of zone defense is the defensive player’s ability to move quickly to the area of highest threat and block the shot. Here to explain the basics of shot blocking in a zone defense is National Team Athlete Lauren Wenger.

POSITION 1:

Zone Base Position: Head In-Feet Out

  • Horizontal on a hip
  • Face the ball
  • Head facing towards center
  • Feet pointing towards the perimeter
  • Top arm (Lead arm) near stomach and lower arm in front, both arms are sculling

TRANSITION 1:

Zone Base Position to Shot Blocking Base Position: Steps

  • Begin in Zone Base Position
  • Pivot over the hips covering as much area as possible
  • Lead arm comes up to take away a quick shot
  • End in Shot Blocking Base Position

Pivot over the Hips: Steps to movement into the Shot Blocking Base Position

  • Quick scull backward
  • Bring knees toward stomach area
  • Quickly swing over hips
  • Breaststroke kick to complete pivot

POSITION 2:

Shot Blocking Base Position:

  • Lead arm takes away quick shot
  • Match hands for shot blocking
  • Arm slightly bent at elbow and positioned slightly in front of the body
  • Other hand is sculling in front

Shot blocking steps:

  • Cut off shooting lane responsibility
  • Shadow: Follow the offensive’s player’s ball and/or body movement
  • Close out (if necessary):

    • The vertical movement towards the offensive player with the ball
    • The sculling hand makes first contact with the offensive player
    • Shot blocking hand goes for the arm with the ball
    • Finish close out with breaststroke kick

TRANSITION 2:

Shot Blocking Base Position to Zone Base Position: Back to the beginning

  • From a vertical position to a horizontal position
  • On pass; Rise up, then fall back leading with the arm closest to the ball and slide into the Head In-Feet Out Position
  • Follow the ball-Always face the ball
  • Breast kick to complete positioning towards center player

LAUREN WENGER

INTERNATIONAL/CLUB:
Wenger has worked her way up through the National Team Program since 2000…Spent two years on the Youth National Team, one year on the Junior National Team and has been on the Senior National Team since 2005… Played a key role in USA ’s silver medal finish at the 2005 FINA World Championships in Montreal , Canada …Scored the first goal against Hungary in the gold medal match of the 2005 World Championships.

COLLEGE:
Led USC to a NCAA 2 nd Place finish during her senior season (2006)… Nominated as one of three Pete Cutino Award finalists for 2006… Selected to the 2006 NCAA All-Tournament First Team… Known as one of the top defenders in the country… As a 2004 sophomore, Wenger scored 19 goals...earned NCAA All-Tournament second team honors. Wenger finished fifth on the team in scoring with 27 goals in her 2003 freshman season...led the team with two goals in a 7-6 overtime loss on April 26 against UCLA at the MPSF Championship...scored three goals in an 11-9 win on Feb. 2 against UC Santa Barbara.

HIGH SCHOOL:
She earned All-America honors at Wilson High in Long Beach , Calif. ..Earned All-CIF and all-league first team honors...also played on the 2002 Pan-American championship squad...earned scholar-athlete award all four years.

PERSONAL:
She is majoring in policy, planning and development...parents are Steve and Janet...her sister, Jana, is a junior on the team

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS:
2005 FINA World Championships, Montreal , Canada , 2 nd Place
2002 Junior Pan-American Championships, 1 st Place

(Biography by Kelly Foster photograph courtesy of USC - both provided by courtesy of USA Water Polo)