Volume 1:  Number 6            September 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.

More Tips for the 2 Meter Defender by Layne Beaubien

1) Warm-up:  Very important for all players, but especially defenders, is getting a strong leg warm-up before competition. Vertical and horizontal eggbeater kicking, vertical and horizontal breaststroke kicking, and flutter kicking should all be included. Pushing against the wall or a teammate, wrestling with a teammate for 10-15 seconds before taking off on a 25yd. sprint, and various vertical and horizontal  jumps are always generally mixed into my preparation. you want to make sure that you get your heart rate up and you feel very tired after these exercises. Don't worry! You will recover before game time and you will feel much stronger throughout the first half.

2) Body Position: The most important factor when guarding 2meters is body position. Hips need to be up and on the surface as often as you can get them there. When your team is in a press, you need to try to always be between the center and the ball. Your head should always be on a swivel, looking where the ball is and anticipating where the next pass will go. Try to mix strong, physical contact with quick, light movements to stay in front and control the center.  When you lose position and fall behind, call for help.  stay low and push the center out and away from the goal and into the drop. If you are having trouble moving the center, pushing the hips to either side can knock off his/her base of strength and give you more leverage.

3) Demeanor:  One referee is always watching 2 meters. Since the advantage will always be to the offense, you have to be careful what you show when you are wrestling and fighting underwater. One of the only things refs can see clearly is your face. It is thus very important to keep it calm, cool, and expressionless the entire time you are defending no matter what you may be doing underwater.

4) Take the ejection:  If you find yourself in a difficult situation, out of position, or just physically dominated, always take the ejection with a hard foul before giving up a goal. It is much more difficult for most teams to score 6-5 than from a partially contested shot from 2-3 meters.

5 ) Stay active:  No matter if you are fronting or playing from behind, you need to always stay active pushing and working your opponent. Mixing up different ways of contact will throw off the center forward as well as the referee. Remember, playing 2 meters is as much a one-on-one battle with the center as it is a game with the referee. By staying active and changing the way you engage with the center, it makes it difficult for the referee to call ejections and keeps the center guessing.

6) Maintain contact: No matter what position you are in, you need to always have one hand controlling the center. Whether the hand is under the armpit on the lat, the suit, the forearm, or whatever; you need to always make sure the center can not make a quick back-door move or side slide to get free from you.

LAYNE BEAUBIEN

INTERNATIONAL/CLUB: Has emerged as one of the top all-around players in the world today…Is one of the sport’s top center defenders…Boasts one of the strongest shooting arms on the National Team…Scored in five games at the 2003 Pan American Games, including one in the USA’s 13-7 win over Brazil for the gold medal and a place in the Athens Olympics... Was named as the American Water Polo League’s Most Valuable Defensive Player in 2002…Scored seven goals in the 2002 FINA World League season…Missed the final game of the season due to injury…Scored eight goals at 2001 World Championships…Has played professionally overseas in Hungary and Greece…He was the first American to play Division I water polo in a Hungarian league with KSI of Budapest in 1999…Captained the U.S. team at the 1999 World University Games.

PROFESSIONAL: Played for Paok in Greece for the 2005-2006 season.

COLLEGE: Earned All-American honors following 1998 and 1997 seasons, and was selected MPSF Co-MVP in 1998.

HIGH SCHOOL: Attended Coronado High School in California…Began playing water polo because it was the only successful sport at his high school.

PERSONAL: Enjoys reading, writing and exploring…Best water polo experience was when he represented the USA on the World All-Star Team in Hungary…Took a year off from school at Stanford to travel through Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America… Favorite movie is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS:
2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece, 7th place
2003 FINA World League Super Finals, New York, NY, 3rd place
2003 Pan American Games, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1st place
2003 FINA World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 6th place
2003 FINA World League, Budapest, Hungary, 3rd place
2003 U.S. Cup, Stanford, CA, United States, 2nd place
2003 French Open, Nice, France, 1st place
2002 FINA World Cup, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 7th place
2002 FINA World League, Various Locations, 3rd place
2001 FINA World Championships, Fukuoka, Japan,7th place
1999 World University Games, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 4th place

(Biography by Kelly Foster photograph by  Kirby Lee - provided courtesy of USA Water Polo)

Drawing a Foul and Pressure Passing by Brenda Villa

It is important to practice against pressure. Being comfortable with the ball and being pressed is an important part of playing water polo.

Steps for Drawing a Foul

Player should be in what we call a Center Base Position

Center Base 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

Drawing a Foul

  1. Center Base Position
  2. Snap the shoulder and reach for the ball with an explosive ¼ turn away from the defender
  3. Absorb the contact
    • Shoulders slightly above the surface of the water
    • Keep head above the surface of the water
    • Move torso when turning
    • Move ball when turning
    • Keep legs pumping
  4. After drawing foul, up quickly with the ball

Steps for Pressure Passing

  1. Center Base Position
  2. Snap the shoulder with an explosive ¼ turn away from the defender
  3. Rotate unto back with head up into a semi-horizontal position
  4. When rotating into a semi-horizontal position; use a breast kick to separate from the defender
  5. Keep ball overhead away from the defender
  6. Keep using breast kicks to maintain separation

Importance of the breast kick: The breast kick is a much more powerful kick than egg beater. You can cover more area with a breast kick, thus creating more space between the defender.

Individual Drills: The following individual drills can help a player become better when pressed with the ball. The drills can be done by doing laps or staying in the same area across the pool.

  1. Eggbeater in the Center Base Position
  2. Without the Ball, from the Center Base Position, Snap to the Ball and Glide
  3. Without the Ball, from the Center Base Position, Snap to the Ball, Rotate to Semi-Horizontal Position, Breast Kick and Glide
  4. Without the Ball, from the Center Base Position, Snap to the Ball, Rotate to Semi-Horizontal Position, 2-3 Breast Kicks and Glide
  5. With the Ball, from the Center Base Position, Snap to the Ball and Glide
  6. With the Ball, from the Center Base Position, Snap to the Ball, Rotate to Semi-Horizontal Position, Breast Kick and Glide
  7. With the Ball, from the Center Base Position, Snap to the Ball, Rotate to Semi-Horizontal Position and 2-3 Breast Kicks and Glide
  8. With the Ball, from the Center Base Position-Snap to the Ball-Draw Foul and Up Quickly with the Ball

BRENDA VILLA

INTERNATIONAL/CLUB: Is the experienced members of Team USA, boasting a quick and powerful shot that is known throughout the water polo world...Been a member of the Senior National Team since 1996…Led the team in scoring with 16 goals during the 2005 FINA World Championships, landing her as the second highest scorer in the tournament…Scored 10 goals at the 2005 FINA World League… In the 2004 Olympic Games, she scored four goals against. Hungry and two against Russia to guarantee a medal…Olympic Bronze Medalist at 2004 Athens Olympic Games…Scored 10 goals for Team USA at the 2003 Pan American Games, including two in the gold-medal win over Canada to qualify for the Athens Olympics...Had a team-high 13 goals to lead USA to gold at the 2003 World Championships...Was named to the Media All-World Team at the 2002 World Cup, tying for most goals scored with nine...Olympic Silver Medalist at 2000 Sydney Games...Scored game-tying goal with 13.1 seconds left in eventual loss to Australia in gold medal game...Scored the winning goal in the Olympic Qualifying Game against Hungary at the Qualification Tournament in Palermo...Selected as Female Hope for Tomorrow by World Water Polo Magazine...Scored eight goals to lead the U.S. in scoring at the 1997 FINA World Cup.

PROFESSIONAL: Spent the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 seasons playing professional water polo for the Italian Division I Team, Orizzonta, in Aci Trezza, Italy…Won the LEN Champions Cup Finals in 2006, the team’s seventh Champions Cup and the their third in a row.

COLLEGE: MPSF Player of the Year in 2003...A finalist for the 2003 Peter J. Cutino Award...Finished Stanford career with 172 goals (three seasons)...Was honored with the 2002 Peter J. Cutino Award...A finalist for the 2002 Women’s Sports Foundation Sportswoman of the Year Award...Member of 2002 NCAA Championship Team...All-Tournament 1st Team honors at 2002 NCAA and MPSF Championships...In 2002, she led Stanford in scoring with 60 goals...Had a team-high 69 goals in her freshman campaign in 2001, when Stanford finished second at the first Women’s Water Polo NCAA Championship...Named Division I Water Polo Player of the Year in 2001...MPSF Co-Player of the Year as a freshman...Selected as the College Player of the Year in 2000.

HIGH SCHOOL: Earned 1st Team All-CIF honors three times on Bell Gardens High School’s boys water polo team...A four-time girls 1st Team All-American.

PERSONAL: Recalls her favorite water polo moment as defeating Hungary to qualify for the first ever Women’s Water Polo Olympic Games

INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HIGHLIGHTS:
2005 FINA World Championships, Montreal, Canada, 2nd place
2005 FINA World League, 5th place
2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece, 3rd place
2004 Holiday Cup, La Jolla, CA, 1st place
2004 FINA World League Series, Long Beach, CA, 1st place
2003 Holiday Cup, Los Alamitos, CA, 1st place
2003 Pan American Games, Dominican Republic, 1st place
2003 FINA World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 1st place
2002 FINA World Cup, Perth, Australia, 2nd place
2002 Holiday Cup, Palo Alto, United States, 1st place
2001 FINA World Championships, Fukuoka, Japan, 4th place
2001 Holiday Cup, Los Alamitos, United States, 1st place
2000 Olympic Games, Sydney, Australia, 2nd place
1999 Holiday Cup, Los Alamitos, California, 3rd place
1998 Holiday Cup, Los Alamitos, California, 2nd place
1998 World Championships, Perth, Australia, 8th place
1997 FINA Junior World Championships, 3rd place
1995 FINA Junior World Championships, 3rd place

(Biography by Kelly Foster photograph by Kirby Lee - provided courtesy of USA Water Polo)