Volume 1:  Number 8            November 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 playeror 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.

General Tips for Left-Handed Players by Spencer Dornin

Six on Five - Passing and recognition of the open player, notably both post players, is the most important part of being an effective lefty on extra man.  At the same time it is also important to maintain an aggressive attacking posture as well as shooting open opportunities in order to keep defenses honoring you and off balance.

Counter Attack Awareness - On counter attack the right side is usually used as the outlet for the goalie.  Because lefties play on that side, it is important to understand where the advantage is, as well as, to advance the play quickly.  Swim speed and awareness of where all the players are in the middle 10 meters of the pool allows you to make better and quicker decisions in the finishing stages of the counter attack.

Individual Defensive Match-Up - Shutting down the opponent’s best right handed attacker is an important skill as a lefty.  Night in and night out you will match up with the best right-hand player on the opposing team, i.e. Alexander Sapic, therefore developing good defense body position and awareness of the action around you is extremely important to become a more complete player.  Other skills such as shot blocking and drive defense are equally important and should not be over looked.

Posting Up - Being a left handed post up player allows you to create additional opportunities and attacking options for your team.  You should post up when 2 meters in unable to gain position or when the defense is dropping and taking away 2 meters.  In addition you must develop a wide variety of moves, i.e. power turns both to your right and left.    

Front Court Passing and Releasin - In front court the ability to make releases and good passes to both open drivers and 2 meters is very important.  Left handed players usually play with 5 other right handed teammates at a time making them setup players on the right side of the pool.  Thus developing good releases which allow you to make pressure passes without being fouled to open teammates is mandatory.

Weights and Conditioning - Being a post up player strength and endures are keys to being effective.  Total body strength is needed in order to gain position, therefore weights provides a way to add that necessary strength and the ability to dominate weaker opponents.  Posting up also requires more energy therefore taking a better conditioned athlete to be effective.


As a left-handed attacker, Dornin supplies the U.S. offense with more firepower...Played leading role on the 2005 FINA World Championship Team in Montreal, Canada…. Scored 3 goals at the 2005 ASUA Cup in Mexico City, Mexico... Scored in three and played in all but one of Team USA’s games in the 2002 FINA World League.

PROFESSIONAL: Played on Fiorentina Nuoto in Florence, Italy during the 2005-2006 season…

COLLEGE: In 2001, he earned 1st Team All-MPSF and All-American honors at Cal…Named to the MPSF All-Academic Team…Earned All-MPSF honors after the 1999 and 1998 collegiate seasons.

HIGH SCHOOL: Was a 1st Team water polo All-American and CIF Division II Co-Player of the Year as a senior at Laguna Beach High School…Competed in swimming as well, holding his school's record in the 100 free (49.10), and was a CIF finalist in 1998 and 1997…Was a starter on the basketball team during the 1997-1998 season…Was also a three-time MVP and a two-time Pacific Coast League MVP, helping lead his squad to a league title and CIF runner-ups in 1996…Holds the school record for single-season goals with 131, set in 1997…Had 115 goals as a junior in 1996.

PERSONAL: Enjoys surfing and reading when not playing water polo.

2005 FINA World Championships, Montreal, Canada, 11th place
2005 FINA World League
2005 ASUA Cup Mexico City, Mexico, 1st place
2003 World University Games, Daegu, South Korea, 8th place
2003 U.S. Cup, Stanford, CA, United States (USA “B”), 4th place
2003 French International, Nice, France, 1st place
2002 Unicum Cup, Budapest, Hungary, 4th place
2002 FINA World League, Budapest, Hungary, 3rd place
2002 Tristar International, Kranj, Slovenia, 3rd place
2002 Eight-Nations Tournament, Nice, France, 3rd place
2001 Poseidon Cup, Athens, Greece, 5th place
2000 UPS Cup, Los Alamitos, United States (USA "B"), 6th place

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

Tips for Playing Six on Five by Heather Petri

The US National Women's Team follow a fairly simple tactical philosophy:

Attack before the defense is set - The 6x5 is not for resting. At the moment of the exclusion, the defense’s first response could be a reaction to the call.  This is the best time to attack.  The 5x6 defense is venerable in the beginning of the 6x5.  If the 6x5 can immediately gain control the defense will always be one step behind.

Attack the 3x2 - The 6x5 must immediately attack the 3x2.  X3 determines the location of the 3x2.  The second or third pass has to attack the 3x2.
Always know what to with the ball before receiving it - Every player must know what to do with the ball before receiving it.  Watch the ball and more importantly read the defense.  The tendency of the defense is to watch the       ball.  While the offense has to know the location of the ball, it is imperative that every player knows the location of the 3x2 and the location of the defensive players in their area.  To clarify, before receiving a pass the offensive player will quickly process four important factors; where is the ball, where is the 3x2, where are the defenders in their area and where is the open shooting lane.  When receiving a pass the next action has to be already decided.  The next action could be one of the following; (1) faking to draw a defender and/or to lock the goalkeeper and x3, (2) faking to create an open shooting lane, (3) catch and pass to a player that attacks the 3x2, (4) catch and shoot to open shooting lane.

Also a great Six on Five will do the following:

Have players in position defensively that will enhance the 6x5 - Players are positioned defensively that at the conclusion of the counter attack they will be in position to play their best 6x5 position.

Have active post players - Active post players will negate the ability of the defense to have one player guarding two offensive players.  Move into open area with the post’s zone.  The movement will create an opening for the post player or an open shooting lane for the perimeter player.  At all times the post player must follow the ball with their shooting shoulder. 

Movement without the ball - The defense has a tendency to watch the ball.  This is the best time for the offensive player to move to a new position within their zone.  The movement can create open passing and shooting lanes.

Pass with a purpose - Know what to with the ball before receiving it.  Make a pass that will set up a goal or lead to a goal.

Fake with a purpose - Again know what to with the ball before receiving it.  The primary purpose of faking is not to read the defense.  The purpose of faking is to draw a defender, commit x3, open a passing or shooting lane and/or lock the goalkeeper.

Have a rhythm - All 6x5’s should have a passing and moving rhythm.  All passes should be lob passes.  All players should rise up to catch the ball and be ready to pass, fake or shoot. 


INTERNATIONAL/CLUB: Began training with the national team on 1998…chosen at the last minute to train with the National Team for the 2000 Olympics…Is a strong contributor on both offense and defense for Team USA...Adds tremendous speed to the USA lineup...Scored in the USA’s gold-medal win over Canada at the 2003 Pan American Games to qualify for the Athens Olympics...Had four goals at Pan Ams...Saw a lot of playing time at the 2003 World Championships and scored in the USA’s semifinal win over Russia before the USA claimed the gold medal...Netted four goals at 2002 FINA World Cup...Olympic Silver Medalist at 2000 Sydney Games... A member of the Golden Bear Summer National Club Championship teams in 1998 and 1999.

PROFESSIONAL: Played for Rari Nantes in Florence, Italy during the 2005-2006 season.

COLLEGE: Was a Collegiate All-American in 1999...Earned 1st Team All-Regional Qualifier...2nd Team MPSF, 1st Team MPSF Tournament and 1st Team All-National honors in 1999...Was named Team Captain at Cal Berkeley during the 1999 and 2001 seasons...Was fourth on the team in scoring with 33 goals in 199...Was a member of the 1997 and 1998 Cal Berkeley Collegiate National Teams which placed second in each season

HIGH SCHOOL: Was a founding member of Miramonte High School’s first girls water polo team after having played on the boys team...Helped Miramonte win the North Coast section title her senior year...Served as a two-time captain of the water polo and swim teams at Miramonte...Was a Senior National swimmer with Walnut Creek Aquabears.

PERSONAL: Petri is known as “Peti” among her friends and teammates…One of the most experienced players on the National Team…Loves water polo because of the team comradery and working toward a common goal.

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 World Championships, Barcelona, Spain, 1st place
2002 FINA World Cup, Perth, Australia, 2nd place
2002 Holiday Cup, Palo Alto, United States, 1st place
2002 USA Cup, Chicago, United States, 3rd 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
2000 Olympic Qualification Tournament, Palermo, Sicily, 2nd place

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