National team selection process

USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program
oldtimer
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National team selection process

Postby oldtimer » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:03 pm

In the "Job Search" section, a post indicating an opening for an ODP coach was recently made. One sentence caught my eye in the listing:

"The Olympic Development Program (ODP) is the pipeline from which all USA National Team members (Senior, Junior, Cadet and Development) are selected"

Not being familiar with the selection process - is this statement factual? Does USAWP limit its search for National Team players to only those who have paid to be in the ODP program (pay for play)?

Just curious...

polomaman
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Re: National team selection process

Postby polomaman » Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:07 pm

Oldtimer,

Makes you wonder about a player like Courtney Mathewson, who probably would not have been in the current pipeline such as it is, and blew up as a player in college. ODP is too narrow as a pipeline. Just my opinion.

T&Tpolo
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Re: National team selection process

Postby T&Tpolo » Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:56 pm

Wow, that's sad. If you can't afford to join the Country Club, you don't get to play!

minnow
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Re: National team selection process

Postby minnow » Fri Nov 02, 2012 3:34 am

USAWP has scholarship opportunities to help those who can't afford. Kids have lots of demand on their time and on the coach's side there are a lot of considerations into being selected beyond how well you can play. For the kids who showed they were able to juggle all of their demands and play in ODP, they should be given a preference in my opinion over a walk on.

oldtimer
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Re: National team selection process

Postby oldtimer » Fri Nov 02, 2012 4:45 pm

Just thinking out loud - if the point of a National Team is to field the best players, what does it matter who they trained with? From what I understand, ODP has 6 'training sessions' per year and two tournaments. In the meantime, the better club players are training 4 to 6 days a week and playing in 15 or more tournaments. Am I misinformed?

It doesn't seem like ODP is really a 'training' program - you can't say it is developing the skills of the players, and it really isn't developing a team atmosphere since the players meet one day every couple of months. So, exactly what is the purpose again? My apologies if I sound cynical...

Alan Cima
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Re: National team selection process

Postby Alan Cima » Fri Nov 02, 2012 5:43 pm

oldtimer wrote:Does USAWP limit its search for National Team players to only those who have paid to be in the ODP program


By law there are open tryouts for the Senior team, but no such requirement for age group teams. It is very difficult for players who do not have experience with the National team or ODP to look good at open try outs. If you are just seeing a skill for the first time it is hard to be good at it. Occasionally non ODP athletes have been invited to age group team tryouts based on observation or recommendation.

polomaman wrote:Makes you wonder about a player like Courtney Mathewson, who probably would not have been in the current pipeline such as it is, and blew up as a player in college. ODP is too narrow as a pipeline. Just my opinion.


Ms Mathewson was a great high school and age group player. She fully participated in the equivalent of ODP at that time and was on the Youth national team and was in the final 16 for the ultra difficult selection of the Junior national team that won the Gold medal at 2005 Junior worlds. Casual anonymous observers may think she "blew up" but one could only think that if one wasn't paying attention.

oldtimer wrote:exactly what is the purpose again?


To develop the skills of the athletes that will enhance the skill level of the pool that we select our Olympic team from. Clubs, high schools and colleges have different goals. They are trying to win games, not necessarily make each athlete the best they can be. A high percentage of players are limited by their teams needs, made into a defender because they are not quite as good as the teams primary center, not allowed to shoot because there is a better shooter on the team, not forced to learn to egg beater because they can throw so hard from a scissor kick, etc.

I now understand your anonymity since you seem to live on the big rock candy mountain where everything is free.

Alan

oldtimer
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Re: National team selection process

Postby oldtimer » Sat Nov 03, 2012 2:05 am

Alan Cima wrote:I now understand your anonymity since you seem to live on the big rock candy mountain where everything is free.

Alan


I like very much the maturity level of those who think their arguments are stronger when they make derogatory statements about others simply because they don't like the question. Thanks for encouraging the very attitude and mentality I see people complaining about with regards to USAWP.

However, I feel I need to reply to what seems to be a very weak argument - hopefully in a more mature manner...

Alan Cima wrote:
oldtimer wrote:exactly what is the purpose again?


To develop the skills of the athletes that will enhance the skill level of the pool that we select our Olympic team from. Clubs, high schools and colleges have different goals. They are trying to win games, not necessarily make each athlete the best they can be. A high percentage of players are limited by their teams needs, made into a defender because they are not quite as good as the teams primary center, not allowed to shoot because there is a better shooter on the team, not forced to learn to egg beater because they can throw so hard from a scissor kick, etc.



The point I am trying to make is that the process seems to be an exclusive one, rather than an inclusive one. I have attended ODP coaching clinics in order to be able to teach my players the 'ODP system', so the argument that the ODP clinics are the only way they can learn them seems fallacious. I can understand that the process is intended to attract a pool of possible candidates and have them play together - but $700 just to be given the chance to try out without first knowing if one has whatever the National Team coaches are looking for seems excessive. Am I overlooking something? Is it possible to try out without paying the full fee?

Alan Cima
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Re: National team selection process

Postby Alan Cima » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:54 am

oldtimer wrote:those who think their arguments are stronger when they make derogatory statements about others


You mean like calling them immature?

oldtimer
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Re: National team selection process

Postby oldtimer » Sat Nov 03, 2012 10:31 am

Alan Cima wrote:
oldtimer wrote:those who think their arguments are stronger when they make derogatory statements about others


You mean like calling them immature?


If you can't tell the difference between maligning someone simply because they don't use a 'real name' and attacking their character as a method of attacking their argument vs. addressing their counter argument by calling it immature because it is - then it is obvious where the problem lies. Try sticking to addressing the actual point being discussed and perhaps the discussion can be maintained at the level it should be.

For whatever it might be worth, you have no idea what my personal situation is or what I might feel entitled to in life - and you would know no more of my background even if I did use my real name. It has cost me as much as $10,000 to send one of my sons to a single National Championship figure skating event that he qualified for, so your argument is invalid.

At the risk of belaboring the point - quite frankly, my initial statement was meant to be more about the Senior National Team selection rather than the younger levels. My apologies for not making that clear. It has been stated numerous times on this message board that a player with skills sufficient to qualify for the NT should certainly have the ability to adapt to any system relatively quickly - so why wouldn't a talented player be able to walk on, try out, and then train with the team for a few months or a year before a major event? The ODP coaches clinic seems to be intended to help increase the pool of players with knowledge of the skills and system even if they haven't been through the program. So I guess my concern, if you will, is more about the specific statement that ODP is the "pipeline from which all National Team players are selected" (emphasis mine). The implication of a 'pipeline' is that you don't enter the process near the endpoint - you have to enter it early on, with the further implication that if you haven't been participating then you have no chance of making the National Team no matter what your abilities are. Hence - pay for play.

Again, for whatever it is worth - my experience with other sports (gymnastics and figure skating) where there are National events one must qualify for suggests that the importance of participating as a youth is very small- and largely a waste of money for the participants (though very lucrative for the coaches and sport administrators). The vast majority that participate very early do not continue to participate as they age, due to numerous factors including how their bodies develop and how their minds develop - everyone matures at a different rate. Injuries and burnout take their toll as well. Success at the age of 10 or 12 is a very poor indicator of success at 18 or 20. I have seen many athletes that were mediocre as young teens become exceptional several years later. These are athletes that would almost certainly not be able to participate in an ODP type program when they are 12, but would be very competitive at age 18 or 20. Admittedly, both of those sports are individual vs. team endeavors so they don't translate directly.

caliwaterpolo
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Re: National team selection process

Postby caliwaterpolo » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:37 pm

I think it's good to to have some kind of common training program with the nation's (or particular zone's) best kids a few times a year with selection being done at one point. I don't have a problem with that.
I just wonder about the selection process itself. From what I've read, it seems like the National coaches and assistant coaches comes from particular clubs within the zones they're selecting from. Anyone who thinks this is not a conflict of interest has their head in the clouds. Of course a coach is going to push his own kids, whether or not they're the best player at their position.
I think there needs to be a neutral panel at every selection camp......

jinvta
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Re: National team selection process

Postby jinvta » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:46 pm

Most good coaches have more than one goal and therefore are not only trying to win games. The Positive Coaching Alliance endorsed by USAWP stresses the development of individual players both physically and mentally, promoting the double goal coach.

In pursuing the goal of winning games, it is the job of all coaches to develop their players individually to be the best that they can be. It is not the sole job of ODP to teach a secret set of skills that only the ODP coaches know about. Most good coaches from reputable clubs are teaching the same skill set to their own players, and therefore those players don't need the ODP system to learn those skills. Some of the top clubs no longer participate or provide minimal participation in ODP, and thus the selections are skewed toward the few clubs that bring in the most athletes.

ODP is a big money maker. Not a single athlete is rejected from the ODP system. I am not sure if this is how it has always been, but it seems to be how it is evolving. It is possible to get a scholarship for the initial ODP training, but anything beyond that (NTSC, training team) is considered fundraising. In order for a selected athlete to participate they must "fundraise" $1000 for NTSC and an additional $1000 for the training team.

Agree with caliwaterpolo that the selection system is biased and discourages further participation by those not from a few select clubs. Something is clearly wrong when several B team players are selected above A team players based upon their performance in a 9th/10th place game out of 12 teams vs. the A team players playing in the 1st/2nd place game at a much higher level.

PoloMom68
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Re: National team selection process

Postby PoloMom68 » Sat Nov 03, 2012 11:57 pm

jinvta wrote:Not a single athlete is rejected from the ODP system.


I happen to know that this is not true. Last December, the SoPac 8th Grade & Under coach cut 10 boys. He did allow over the number he was originally suppose to but did not let every player that tried out on the team.

oldtimer
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Re: National team selection process

Postby oldtimer » Sun Nov 04, 2012 12:25 am

jinvta wrote:ODP is a big money maker. Not a single athlete is rejected from the ODP system.


For the record - I don't think it is a bad thing for ODP to be a fund raising event for USAWP, particularly if the money is used for helping the National Team. Based upon what I have read, the $700 pays for the 32 hours of 'training' they get - and it pays for travel/hotel fees for the few who are actually selected to the team. I would also guess that the cost of ODP is far less than what it generates overall. I don't know the exact numbers, but there are 11 zones, and there are 6 groups in each (3 boys age groups, 3 girls age groups). Presume 30 players in each group per zone. That's about $1.3M in fees. Not sure how many coaches per group or how much per hour they make - but I'm guessing $200-$300K in coaching costs? Travel/hotel for 6 teams of 14 - let's say another $100K for a couple of tournaments. Another $100K for administrative and calculation errors - there's still $800K (just a WAG) to fund the Senior National Team, which would be a good thing, I think.

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