Volume 2:  Number 3            June 1, 2007

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.

Tips for Playing Five on Six by Terry Schroeder, Assistant US Men's Coach

Man down defense is one of the most crucial parts of any water polo game.  Throughout my career as a player and a coach I have come to understand that a great 5 on 6 usually means the difference in a game (especially a big game).  In 1984 and 1988 our Olympic team had one of the best percentages in the Olympic tournament during our 5 on 6 defense.  I believe our 5 man defense was one of the big reasons why we won medals in both Olympic games.  As I watched tapes from the 2004 Olympic Games, I believe that  the Hungarians won the gold medal because they had the best 5 man defense in the tournament.

Here are some tips on playing great 5 man defense.

  • Always think about legs and lanes!

  • Get yourself into passing lanes whenever possible

  • Always know where your legs are – your legs will determine where you can jump

  • When your man on the perimeter does not have the ball you are in a head in (towards the post) feet out position, so that when your man receives the ball or even as the ball is in the air towards your man you are jumping out towards him/her (in the shooting lane) over your legs.

  • Avoid too much swimming – use your legs to jump

  • Avoid getting into a vertical position – even when shot blocking you should be ready (one leg behind you) so you can explode back over your legs and return to the post.

  • Focus on shot blocking – funnel the ball towards the center of the cage.

  • Good shot blocking means staying on balance on your legs.

  • 5 on 6 takes great team work move in tandem one player releases another – never leave the post open. Do not allow any goals form the post.

  • Basic 5 on 6 Defense
    Basic 5 on 6 Defense
  • X1 and X3 MUST take away nearside shot. Jump to near side lane and get yourself on balance. Depending on how far you have to jump you may have to go with your near side arm. X1 use right arm first and X3 uses left arm first. This will help you be balanced after you jump out. Then if possible you can switch to matching arms.

  • Bottom line use whichever arm you are comfortable with but make sure that we do not get scored on near side.

  • If anything give up a little more room to the 5 man on the perimeter. Make him/her shoot through at least two sets of shot blockers arms and a goalie.

  • X1, X2, X3 (back line) needs to communicate any shifts or rotations

  • Center defender be careful not to sit in front of the goalie.

  • Look to move and knock down when possible, however, do not get pulled out of the shot blocking zone you are responsible for.

  • Watch the eyes of the perimeter players they will usually tell you where the next pass is going. Very few players throw a look away pass on the 6 on 5

Your energy level and awareness needs to increase during the 5 man defense. Some teams/players get frustrated when they get kicked out and instead of focusing on the task at hand (playing great 5 man defense) they get frustrated and pout about the call or argue with one another. Usually, this team will get scored on while they are down. Other teams/players welcome the challenge of being down a man. They realize that getting kicked out is a part of the game and they know if they can stop the opposing team while a man down the other team will more than likely get frustrated and it will become even harder for them to score.

Welcome the challenge! Get excited about playing 5 man defense. If you and your team can win the battle of 5 on 6 vs. 6 on 5 you will win the big games.


Terry Schroeder, Assistant US Men's CoachUSA Water Polo Hall of Famer Dr. Terry Schroeder accepted an assistant coaching position with the Men’s U.S. National Team in January 2006.

Dr. Schroeder is considered one of water polo’s all-time stand-out players. He captained the National Team from 1983-1992 and has coached Pepperdine University’s men’s team for 20 years. Under Dr. Schroeder’s lead, the Pepperdine Waves have a cumulative record of 307-195 (.612), have attended the NCAA Championships eight times and claimed the NCAA championship in 1997. Schroeder was inducted into the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1998 and was recently inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

With Schroeder as U.S. team captain, the team finished second to Yugoslavia at both the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games and placed fourth at the 1992 event in Barcelona, Spain. The team also captured the FINA Cup in Barcelona, downing longtime nemesis Yugoslavia in the title game.

A graduate of San Marcos High in Santa Barbara, Calif., Schroeder earned All-American honors at Pepperdine in 1977, 1978 and 1980. He graduated with honors in 1981 and then completed his doctorate studies at Palmer-West Chiropractic School . Schroeder and his wife, Lori, reside in Westlake Village, Calif. with their daughters, Leanna and Sheridan.

(Biography by Jennifer Ross - provided courtesy of USA Water Polo)

Tips for Taking Game Stats by Kyle Kopp, Assistant US Women's Coach

After the World Championships, I was asked a number of times what are the statistics we are keeping during the game.  We record some basic information regarding ourselves and our opponent that can be beneficial during the game and will provide immediate information at the conclusion of the game.  Our stat sheet has the following information.

  1. Attempts and Goals for both teams

  2. We record specifically record the player and the type of attempt that is being taken by that player; Our attempts and goals categories are; Center, Counter Attack, Perimeter, 6x5, Penalty, Transition Counter Attack and Drive. We want to know exactly what type of shots were taken and scored and by who. In addition, the attempts and goals are recorded by quarter.

  3. Majors for both teams

  4. The following are used to only track our team

  5. Bad Pass and Offensive Foul Turnovers

  6. Lost Possession Turnovers

  7. Field Player Shot Blocks

  8. Missed Defensive Responsibilities

We also have a section that is titled notes and I will write down important information that I will tell Guy during the game or we will talk about after the game.  For example; I will track if a team has been scoring goals on their next possession after we have scored.  This will be mentioned during the game and at the breaks in the game.  We establish key themes for the game and I usually write them down in the note section and see if we are following our game plan.   

At the end of the game I will total the attempts and goals for each team.  We will know ours and our opponents 6x5 and penalty shot totals.  Also the number of turnovers, lost possessions, shot blocks and missed responsibilities for our team will be totaled. Shortly after the end of the game I will give Guy the stat sheet and he will have immediate information that he can use as a quick analysis of the game.  Our immediate focus is usually the 6x5 totals and our turnover/lost possessions to attempts ratio.   

Statistics are by no means the only way to analyze a game and/or team. However, the statistics we use can provide the necessary information to give immediate feedback to the team and if we are in a position of not be able to use video to analyze the team then we can use the game statistics to determine specifically what we should be working on in practice leading up to the next game.


Kyle Kopp, Assistant US Women's CoachKyle Kopp joined the Women’s National Team staff in 2001 after a successful career as a center with the U.S. Men’s National Team, joining fellow Long Beach State alum, Head Coach Guy Baker.

Kopp is a 1996 and 2000 Olympian, and during his career he was known for his aggressive style of play and tireless work ethic. While with the National Team, Kopp was party to a 1997 FINA World Cup gold medal and two Pan American Games gold medals in 1995 and 1999.

In his playing days at Long Beach State, Kopp was a three-time All-American and All-Big West selection, capturing All-Tournament Team honors at the NCAA Championships in 1988 and 1989. In 1988, Kopp was named as the Big West Most Valuable Player after leading all scorers at the NCAA tournament.

(Biography by Jenny Ross- provided courtesy of USA Water Polo)