Volume 1:  Number 4            July 1, 2006

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

Each month a playeror 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.

Tips for the Two Meter Player by Ryan Bailey

Setting two meters is the toughest job in the pool. Field players get to take it easy and rest while we two meter players have to battle it out in front of the goal. We have to keep our cool at all costs, show no emotion, and have no reaction when the calls are not going our way. Two meter players have to be tough, smart, and know when to pick their battles. Its the most important position on the team. I wouldn't want to change my position for anything, even though sometimes, during swim training, I envy the goalies. Here are my Tips for the Two Meter Player :

1. Pick a side: While it would be great if the defender stayed directly behind, it doesn't happen often. Its much easier to pick either the right or left handed side of the pool and hold that position. Let your teammates work the ball around to you, its too tiring to try and fight and follow the ball around the perimeter. Pick a side and stay there. Feel where the defender is with your back, have your elbows out making yourself bigger and more difficult to get around, or turn around and face the defender while still holding your position.

2. Entry pass: When you see the ball is in a position that it may be passed to you get ready. If you are facing the defender, spin into the defender, feel for the defender with your back, and push back into them. When the ball is coming in, you have to work harder than ever, using your legs and body to slide in front of the defense if they are trying to come around. Hold your position first, then go for the ball.

3. Possession: Step out to the ball. You have to read the situation. Is the crash close? Do I have time? Is it time for an exclusion? Do I have a shot? Its a split second decision that has to be made.

If its a bad pass or if the crash is close, kick the ball back out, and keep working. Exclusions are more common than scoring goals and they are important for the team. Shots are the third option, if your open, go for it.

4. Shooting: The most important thing in developing a good 2meter player is spending time in front of a goal. Getting comfortable shooting with a defender on your back, feeling where the defender is, and learning to adjust your shots by where the pass lands are all extremely important. The only way to learn this is by spending lots and lots of time shooting hole shots. If you take anything away from this article, this should be it.

5. The priorities for a two meter player are this:

1.) Possession: don't turn the ball over;
2.) Exclusion: work for the team;
3.) Shots: score the goal.
6. Find Good Competition: Its great to be the best player on your age group, high school, or college team. It shouldn't satisfy you. If you want to be the best player you can be, you need to find players who are better than you, stronger than you, or older than you and play with them. Playing against better competition makes you improve faster than anything else. Better competition makes you think more, swim faster, and concentrate a lot harder. When I was young, I would finish practice with my high school and head for Junior College teams, or masters teams workouts in the area. Its extra work but it pays off.

7. Have Fun: At my level, the games get real serious and pressure packed. Sometimes I forget to remind myself how much fun I am having. The workouts, the guys on the team, even the swim workouts, are lots of fun. I think its important to remember to have fun, but remember there is nothing more fun than winning.

Thanks,

RYAN BAILEY

INTERNATIONAL/CLUB:
Outstanding Offensive Player at the 2006 Premier League Championships…Key player on the U.S. offense for the 2005 FINA World Championships in Montreal, Canada… Scored in two games at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece...Scored in six games at the 2003 Pan American Games, including two in the USA’s 13-7 win over Brazil for the gold medal and a spot in the Athens Olympics...Scored six goals in the last four games of the 2003 World Championships...Was named as the 2003 American Water Polo League Outstanding Offensive Player after helping Newport to the championship over New York…Finished with 15 goals in four games, including five in the tournament opener at AWPL…Has fared well on opening night in the first two seasons of the AWPL, scoring a total of 12 goals (7 and 5)…Was named as the USOC Water Polo Male Athlete of the Year for 2002…Scored 12 goals in the 2002 FINA World League season from center position…Scored a season-high three goals in USA’s upset over Hungary in Moraga (Calif.)…Was a co-recipient of Chuck Metz MVP in 2002…Had a tournament-best seven goals in one game at 2002 Senior Nationals…Was named as the Most Valuable Offensive Player in the debut season of the American Water Polo League (18 goals)…Scored eight goals, including the winning goal in the final seconds to beat Croatia at the 2001 World Championships…Scored three goals in his Olympic debut in the 2000 Sydney Games…Holds the team record in the bench press at 365 lbs. and has the fastest recorded shot on the team at 54 mph.

PROFESSIONAL :
Played for Jadran in Split , Croatia for the 2005-2006 season… Played professionally for JUG Dubrovnik in Croatia and played in two European Championships in 2004.

COLLEGE:
Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year in 1998... Four-time All-American at UC Irvine.

HIGH SCHOOL:
Attended Millikan High School in Long Beach , CA

PERSONAL:
Australia is his favorite vacation spot...Cites Ted Newland, his former coach at UCI, as his biggest influence in water polo….Says his best moment in a game was when he scored the opening goal at the 2004 Olympics… Favorite movie is Wedding Crashers…Began playing water polo when his older brother, Joe, began playing for Wilson High School .

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS:
2005 FINA World Championships, Montreal , Canada , 11 th place
2005:FINA World League, Group B
2004 Olympic Games, Athens , Greece , 7 th place
2003 FINA World League Super Finals, New York , NY , 3 rd place
2003 Pan American Games, Dominican Republic , 1 st place
2003 FINA World Championships, Barcelona , Spain , 6 th place
2003 FINA World League, Group B, Budapest , Hungary , 3 rd place
2003 U.S. Cup, Stanford , CA , United States , 2 nd place
2002 FINA World Cup, Belgrade , Yugoslavia , 7 th place
2002 FINA World League, Various Locations, Group B,3 rd place
2002 Eight-Nations Tournament, Nice , France , 3 rd place

(Biography by Kelly Foster photograph by  Ross Herman - provided courtesy of USA Water Polo)

Tips for Playing the Center Position by Moriah van Norman

The center is the most important component of the offense. The center will determine an opponent’s defense. The center contributes to the offense by scoring, assisting on goals and earning majors. The center should be the top conditioned in the pool and it is important to plan specific center training into each training week.

What makes a good center?

  1. Leg and eggbeater strength
  2. Overall strength
  3. Endurance
  4. Vision
  5. Explosiveness
  6. Quickness
  7. Patience
  8. The ability to swim fast when tired from offense to defense
  9. Controlled intensity
  10. Ability to make quick decisions
  11. Mental toughness
  12. Leadership

Center’s Key Responsibilities

  1. Gain ball side position
  2. Maintain ball side position
  3. Explosive move, (snap) to the ball

Center’s Base Position: Center has ball side position

  1. Sitting in a swivel chair
  2. Back slightly hunched
  3. Chin to chest
  4. Shoulders out of the water, slightly exposed
  5. Elbows raised and parallel to the shoulders
  6. Hands sculling at chest level

Face to Face Position: Defender has ball side position, whether side or front position

  1. Semi-vertical position
  2. Arm to arm to maintain space between the Defender and the Center

Reasons for Face to Face Position

  1. Maintain sight line to the ball in order to anticipate center entry pass
  2. Conserve energy - It is important to note the Center should not waste energy wrestling. Be calm and maintain Face to Face Position until the ball is in position for a center entry pass.
  3. Protect the suit from being grabbed by the Defender

Turn, Spin and Seal Movement

Turn, Spin and Seal movement occurs once the ball is in position for a center entry pass. The three movements must be powerful and explosive and happen quickly in order. Turn, Spin and Seal movement begins from the Face to Face position.

Turn: Center’s inside arm, (arm nearest the goal) to the Defender’s outside armpit

Spin: Center’s outside arm, (arm farthest from the goal), to the Defender’s inside armpit

Seal: Center explodes into the Defender’s chest, establishing base position

Defender has Front Position

Defender allows the center to swim past, in order to gain ball side (front) position. The Center should not waste energy wrestling or trying to establish base position before the four meter line.

  1. Swim to the point where the defender takes front position
  2. Face to Face Position
  3. Begin moving the Defender away from the goal at a forty-five degree angle
  4. Maintain sight line to the ball
  5. Anticipate center entry pass
  6. Turn, Spin and Seal

Shooting: Three Important Factors

  1. Where is the Defender? Behind, side or front
  2. Where am I in relation to the goal? Left, right or center of the goal at two, three, four meters…
  3. What type of center entry pass? Good, off right or left, short or long

Have one and two processed before the center entry pass arrives, then only three has to be processed. It is important to master only one or two shots. The same technique applies for all shots, from the base position an explosive move (snap) to the ball over the legs. The explosive movement, (snap) creates separation from the defender.

MORIAH VAN NORMAN

INTERNATIONAL/CLUB: Proved her outstanding skills as one of the world’s top centers at the 2005 FINA World Championships, helping to lead Team USA to a silver medal…Scored two goals for the U.S. Team in the Championship game against Hungary and four goals from hole in the tournament…One of the few U.S. athletes to compete at the World Championships and Junior World Championships in 2005, winning gold at Juniors…Co-led the team in scoring at the 2005 FINA World League Series with 12 goals…Played on the championship teams at the 2003 Junior World Championships and 2002 Pan American Games…Went to Holland in 2002 as a member of the U.S. ‘B’ Team.

COLLEGE:
Selected to the All-MPSF First Team and ACWPC All-American First Team in 2006…Scored 52 goals for USC during her senior season and concluded the year among the Trojan’s top five all-time scorers with 175 goals and helping her team to the NCAA Championship game (2 nd place)… As a sophomore, became the second player in USC women's water polo history to win the Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top collegiate women's player...In leading the Women of Troy to the national championship, Van Norman was named as MPSF Player of the Year and earned All-America and All-MPSF first team honors...Earned NCAA All-Tournament first team honors... Earned All-America and All-MPSF second team honors in her 2003 freshman season after leading the team in scoring with 65 goals.

HIGH SCHOOL:
She earned four-time All-American honors at University High in San Diego, Calif... Member of San Diego Hall of Champions...Named CIF Player of the Year and league most valuable player in her senior season.

PERSONAL:
She is majoring in creative writing...Parents are James and Marsha...Her brother, Jordan, is on the USC men's water polo team...Her goal is to represent Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS:
2005 FINA World Championships, Montreal, Canada, 2 nd place
2005 FINA World League, Kirishi, Russia, 5 th place
2003 FINA Junior World Championships, Calgary, Canada, 1 st place
2002 Junior Pan American Games, 1 st place

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