Volume 1:  Number 5           June 15, 2008

US National Men's Water Polo Players or Coaches

Each month a playeror coach from a US National Men'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.

Goalie Fundamentals by Ryan Brown, USA Men's Assistant Coach


First it is important for a goalie to establish a good solid base position.  The goalie should have his or her knees up just slightly below the height of his or her hips.  A goalie's hands should be out in front just outside the shoulders.   The back should be straight and it is important that the goalie not to hunch over and round the back. Also the goalie's shoulders should be above the goalie 's mid thighs or knees. 

Drills for Basic Position

A good drill to work on the basic position is called the "High and Wide" drill.  In this drill the goalie is always trying to make his or her eggbeater as high and wide as possible.  For the first half of a lap get in a good basic position and really stretch the legs by making the eggbeater very wide. The goalie should be using the hands, but lightly, and the goalie should have the shoulders out of the water. The shoulders should look like the goalie is ready for a shot.  On the second half of the lap the goalie should focus on getting higher out of the water and keeping the same wide eggbeater.   The wider the goalie can make the eggbeater the more water there is that can be push with each kick. This will allow the goalie to stay up higher and longer without having to use the hands.  Goalies can do this drill both forward and laterally.


From the Basic Position do a lunge to one side, but do not come out of the water to do this lunge.  The goalie's shoulders should be parallel to the surface of the water as he or she slides the lead hand along the top of the water. Then a push with the trailing hand is made and at the same time a powerful breaststroke kick is executed.  As soon as the goalie covers the distance (about 1 Meter), the goalie needs to move back to the basic position. This technique is used when the goalie needs to move across the cage quickly because of a cross pass or because the ball is moving around the perimeter.   It is important after each slide that the goalie reset to the basic position as quick as possible.

Drills for Slides

This can be done in the warm up.  As the goalie is working on lateral walking he or she can add some slides.  There are several ways to work on slides. One way is to do one slide then another and so on until the goalie is across the pool. Another way is to mix the slides with the lateral walking. Another way is to do three quick slides then some lateral walking then three quick slides again and so on. When doing quick slides it is very important that the focus should be on a quick recovery back to the basic position. A quick recovery allows the Goalie to reset for the next slide.  Slides can also be done in the cage moving from one side of the goal to the other.


One of the most important skills for a goalie to learn is to square his or her shoulders to the shooter.  Squaring shoulders to the shooter will give the goalie the best angles for blocking any shot on goal.  This is true of a straight shot or even a shot off a cross pass.  Thus, a player with the ball anywhere in the pool in a matter of seconds can become a shooter and it is best for the goalie to try to have his or her shoulders square to that player with the ball. Again squaring shoulders on the shooter allows the goalie optimal angles for covering the goal and for blocking the player's shot. 

When a cross pass occurs it is important, of course, for the goalie to be square to the passer since the passer could become the shooter. When the pass is made the goalie must use a shoulder turn with a slide to get across the cage and more importantly to square the goalie's shoulders to the shooter.  Also when passes are going to the low positions on the front court (such as the 1 & 5 positions) and on the 6 on 5 (such as the 1 & 6 positions) remember that the goalie can be inside the cage a small amount to get the best angle on the shooter.  The whole ball must cross the goalie line to be a goal.

Drills for Squaring the Shoulders

Place the goalie in the cage and have a passer on one side of the pool and a shooter on the other side.  After the pass the shooter will only be allowed to shoot nearside.  This will make sure that the goalie gets used to getting his shoulders all the way around and squared up to the shooter.  You can go both  directions and from any pass to any shot in the pool.  Mix the shots up from a high position to a low position and then get the shooter closer to the cage where the shooting angles are not as good.  You will find that the farther the shooter is from the cage, the goalie will rely more on a slide and less on a shoulder turn. Whereas the closer the shooter is to the cage the more the goalie will rely more on a shoulder turn and less on a slide. 

Ryan Brown, former head coach for the University of the Pacific women’s water polo team, joined the National Men’s Water Polo Team as the full-time assistant coach in January 2006.

Brown was head coach of the Pacific women’s program from 2002 to 2005, compiling a record of 28-94. He led the team to a school record 11 wins in 2005 and a final ranking of 20. Pacific picked up two Mountain Pacific Sports Federation victories in 2005, the most since 1998. He also led the team to a school-record six game winning streak in 2005. In the summer of 2003, Brown represented Pacific at the 2003 World University Games.

He was an All-American water polo goalkeeper at Pacific and completed his undergraduate education in the fall of 2000. He went on to earn an MBA in 2001 while coaching. Brown and his wife Rebekah were married in September 2006 and reside in Tustin, CA. with their two dogs, Tytis and Jewlz. [email protected]

US Olympic Team Silver Medalist 08