ODP "System of Play"

USA Water Polo Olympic Development Program
Go WP
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ODP "System of Play"

Postby Go WP » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:37 pm

Another round of ODP just ended, what do we think of the style of play encouraged? By appearances, creativity is shunned and sitting around feeding post is applauded. Other than via counter, kids ignore opportunities for fear of demotion for bucking shape.

Our Olympians don't play this "Olympic" style and Tony Azavedo would be benched 10x/game for his deviations. The kids that advance in our current ODP system (aside from dominant 2M and 2Md) are the risk averse.

momofpoloplayer
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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby momofpoloplayer » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:05 pm

Go WP wrote: By appearances, creativity is shunned


Your comment is right on the money. A few years back when my son was in the system (right about the time of the changeover from the zone based system to its current state), his high school coach prophetically told him that ODP was very black and white--a sort of textbook approach. The coach went on to tell my son that because he played 'in the grey', he probably wouldn't last, and the coach was right. What he meant by being 'in the grey' was the ability to improvise, think on your feet, play a little unpredictably. As a defender my son found those who were 'in the system' much easier to defend because he knew exactly what they were going to do--it was pretty textbook. On the other side, those who were 'in the system' had a harder time defending the unpredictable player.

The ODP "system of play" may have led to a certain amount of predictability in our upcoming players.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby jinvta » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:53 pm

100% correct, the puppets will advance. Just look at the number of centers that advance to NTSC compared to attackers, it is ridiculous! You can make perfect passes into set, but if the center isn't skilled enough to score, the center will advance and the others won't. It is just the nature of ODP and why the talent pool has depleted over the last year and will continue to weaken. Players have a very good chance to make NTSC if they are a center, a lefty, or over 6 ft, otherwise good luck! Unfortunately for those players who only play in black and white, their ODP success will not necessarily translate into NCAA success. The only "pipeline" out of ODP is the cash stream it generates to USAWP. Olympians will be selected based on their recent NCAA and professional accomplishments, rather than their selection to an 8th, 10th, or 12th grade ODP team.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby oldtimer » Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:31 pm

Thanks for validating my impressions. I went to an ODP coach's clinic last year and came away skeptical. I had intended to enroll my son, but decided after that clinic to look for other training opportunities for him.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby coyote » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:24 pm

Excuse me but I noticed a typo with regard to ODP.
I believe the subject should read
ODP "System of PAY"

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby Go WP » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:15 pm

coyote wrote:Excuse me but I noticed a typo with regard to ODP.
I believe the subject should read
ODP "System of PAY"


Good one Coyote, but I don't mind it being a USAWP fundraiser and I don't need the value proposition to make sense. What I mind is creating a pipeline toward mediocrity.

And this isn't sour grapes. Each of my kids played a ton and made those silly final teams that generally go nowhere and play nobody. They just compromised their play to advance and some of it took some undoing when they got back in a real world where you're trying to make your defender look bad and win games.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby pumpfake » Thu Mar 21, 2013 2:48 pm

I can't agree more.
In our area (Nor Cal), many many talented HS players don't do ODP because 1. ODP teaches the exactly same thing every year, 2. Their so called "system of play" is so monotonous and boring, 3. My son and other players who did ODP said they did not improve at all, and 4. The evaluation they received from the coach was useless.

Go WP
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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby Go WP » Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:50 pm

And I would add to PumpFake's statement by saying that I do not blame the hardworking coaches on deck. They are simply doing as instructed.

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stickman
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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby stickman » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:23 pm

I've been out of the ODP system for some time, so I my questions may not be relevent but...

Wasn't the ODP 'System of Play' originally developed by Guy Baker?
Since he's gone has Adam Krikorian adopted the same system?
Is this the system the women's team used to win gold?
Do the men use the same system of play as the women?
Has the 'system of play' adjusted at all in recent years to accommodate for the adjustments in the rules of the game?

Maybe one of the current or former ODP organizers could address the concerns about what is being taught.
It seems to me that the system does work...at least for the women/girls, but not for men/boys.
My guess is that with significant changes on the horizon for the MNT, there will be a filter down effect for the ODP on the boys side.

However; for the women/girls...if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby VenturaCoach » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:14 pm

Having worked in the system for one season. There are some very good fundamentals being taught. Specifically, with regards to defense, and body position. One issue I see, which Dante spoke already at length about, is that compared to the international players at the higher levels...our perimeter shooting is so much weaker. It seems any serious ODP system should dedicate ALOT more time in and out of the water, in and out of practice...developing legs, and arm strength...passing and shooting ability. Let me stress, I don't think the system will necessarily correct it. I think guys need to be more like Tony and carry a ball around 24-7 ....throw med balls, and practice shooting a lot on their own. Sort of like the great basketball players who spend many extra hours in the gym or in the driveway....all by themselves perfecting various shots from different places on the court.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby mbaywaterpolo » Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:45 pm

I'm reading this thread and from all the stuff being said, most of it makes sense. However, nobody is really suggesting alternatives to what ODP is teaching from a tactical perspective. I like the idea of focusing more on shooting, but at some point we have to get to tactics. In all honesty, what could be taught in only a few weekends that would lead to good water polo without stopping creativity? If coaches give players free reign to drive anytime or go wherever they want, especially in a club water polo setting this is only going to lead to problems. How do we find that balance between the system and creativity?

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby Doru Roll » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:07 pm

mbaywaterpolo wrote:... How do we find that balance between the system and creativity?

You can't. Once something becomes a "system", soon after it also becomes bureaucratic, unimaginative, expensive and inefficient as well. Just think of the other "systems" most of us regularly deal with: education, social security, healthcare. Kim Everist's departure will likely not make things better any time soon either.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby oldtimer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:33 pm

The odd thing for me wasn't that it was a 'system', but that (as others have said) the options for various techniques and skills was severely restricted - leaving no room for differences between players with regards to abilities. Just one example - we were told that the only acceptable technique for shooting from the perimeter was 'up-slide-up-shoot'. No deviation. It was explicitly stated that if you did not do exactly this movement, you were not to shoot. Period. No quick catch and shoot. No drive in and shoot. No other shooting technique - even on a counter attack. Several of us asked various 'what if' questions, and we were told emphatically that if the player could not 'up-slide-up' then there was to be no 'shoot'.

There are other examples both offensively and defensively, so the question is not whether a system is desirable - but whether a system that does not allow for *any* creativity or deviation based upon the individual's specific talents and skills seems to make a team very predictable to play against. It wasn't that the skills taught were wrong, or useless - it's just that having more tools in the toolbox (rather than just screwdrivers and hammers) seems like a desirable thing.

This is slightly OT, but I remember when Bruce Lee first came on the scene. His philosophy was completely at odds with what every other martial arts 'master' was preaching. They all tried to enforce a specific discipline - no deviation in techniques. Bruce Lee advocated taking what works from all disciplines so your unique talents would be utilized to their maximum. Look at what martial arts is today. Though there are still specific disciplines, the most popular (and arguably the best fighters) are 'mixed' martial artists - some boxing, some wrestling, some judo, some jujitsu, some of this, some of that... and each has their own style.

momofpoloplayer
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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby momofpoloplayer » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:40 pm

mbaywaterpolo wrote:In all honesty, what could be taught in only a few weekends that would lead to good water polo without stopping creativity?


There it is; the crux of the matter. I was very much in support of ODP early on when it seemed like it was about regular training. Once the time commitment decreased, it seemed like the utility of the program decreased as well.

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Re: ODP "System of Play"

Postby mbaywaterpolo » Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:48 pm

@oldtimer Wow. It sounds like the issue in your case was with the specific coach. I played ODP this year, and although a weird amount of emphasis was placed on the up-slide move, it was never presented in the terms that your coach said. That's unfortunate.

I'm about to write way too much about this whole thing and I hope somebody sticks around to read it:

I just want to theorize on something here. In almost every discipline in life, there are people who will tell you they know the "right" way to do stuff. To come to these conclusions, its basically taking a list of things we know for sure are good in that sport. For example, in water polo we can pretty much determine what the best ways to score are. It generally goes something like this:

1) First line counter attack.
2) Five meter penalty.
3) Shot from two meter man.
4) 6-on-5.
5) Second line counter attack.

This list could change with conditions. For example, a five meter penalty might be easier than having a defender right on your tail on a breakaway, but you get the general idea.

The point I'm trying to make is, there are things we know for sure in water polo. It is accepted at every level of water polo by every country that taking a ejection and causing a 6-on-5 is better for the defense than giving up a shot from the two meter man. That is why almost every country at the international level will foul and drop when the set gets ball side. This is a defensive SYSTEM. System's are the things we are getting back to here. However, the issue I think we are all disappointed about is the OFFENSIVE systems that ODP is teaching, not the defensive ones. This is where we reach the problem.

What is the best way to score in the halfcourt? Preferably an easy shot from your two meter man. Except, its never that easy. Teams foul and drop, and there's no way your two meter man is going to have more than a couple seconds to work with the ball unless somebody REALLY screwed up. I think what we're disappointed with here is the ODP system is too reliant on the two meter man, and needs to get the attackers involved more. In the current ODP system, if somehow your two meter man can't get position anywhere, the game is over. You have already lost. What kind of system can be run that prevents this from happening?

The first answer that comes to mind after that is either a driver offense or a double set offense. My high school used to run the double set, and it can be effective in breaking a drop, but it is simply not good to run every time in the halfcourt. Your two meter men end up with no room to work because the wing players are even closer to them. A driver offense is seen occasionally as well, and it seems like the perfect way to combat the current ODP system's issues. Yet, here we hit a problem.

Our issue is that ODP teams only practice together for five sessions before they head off to the Regional Championships. Four of these sessions are 6 hour, and one (the Evaluation Camp at the halfway point) is 8 hours. In the grand scheme of things, this isn't very much time. The average high school team is going to practice AT LEAST 10 hours a week with each other, and even most high school teams don't run very much of a system. Then, how is it we expect ODP to be able to implement a system with only six hours a week? And even worse, they don't even practice most weeks! Those five training sessions are spread out over five months!

You can't run a driving offense like that! You'd have guys swimming all over the place for no reason! It would be terrible!

ODP has a crossroads. If they want to actually put in good systems, they need more practices. The issue is, they would attract less players. Some of the zones cover huge areas, and I had to drive over 2 hours to get to some of the practices I went to. These practices take up an entire day. If ODP decided to practice significantly more, they would lose players. This would be a terrible business decision for them, so they are going to stick with their current model.

Is the current offensive system bad? Yes, for a club team it probably would be. Yet, when you consider how much time they have to implement it, its really not that terrible. It sticks to the fundamentals of getting the ball to the two meter man.

I'm kinda tired of typing. The whole ODP has issues, that much is obvious. Yet is there really a better way? I'm not so sure.

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