Sneak Peak into a College Team’s Workouts

University of Michigan

Always wondered what a college workout looked like?

In this series, we will take a sneak peak into college team’s workouts and present you with various ideas from their coaches books.

Big thanks to coach Marcelo Leonardi for sharing practice ideas with Water Polo Planet.

The Quick Game Drill

Drill Setup

The Quick Game Drill requires two teams of six field players and one goalie. It can be set up at one cage. Conduct a coin flip with a captain from each team to determine who begins on offense and defense. Set up a normal 6v5/5v6 possession with a player in the exclusion area for 20 seconds.

Drill Rules

The individual in the exclusion area will count down and enter the field of play after the 20 seconds has passed. If the team on offense scores a goal, they earn 1 point and retain the possession for an additional 20 seconds (Make it-Take it). If the team on offense does not score, then the player who missed the shot or made an errant pass must swim to the exclusion area for 20 seconds. If the offense does not get a shot off after the teams have gone even (6v6), then the defense has created a turnover. At this point, the team playing 6v5 offense switches to 5v6 defense. The team playing 5v6 defense switches to playing 6v5 offense. We call this the transition phase.

The “Quick”

It is during the transition phase that teams can capitalize on opponent mistakes. If the team on 5v6 defense creates a turnover via a shot block, steal, goalie save, and the ball lands in the water, any player on defense may pick the ball up. Single pass to a fellow teammate is enough in order to score a goal. This is known as the “quick”. When a team scores a “quick”, it earns 1 point and retains possession. 

It is during this transition phase when all players including the goalie must be aware of their surroundings. They have to know what is going on, where the open players are, and where the ball is. That would help to either score the quick or to prevent the quick if you are defence. The level of intensity tends to go up during the transition phase. If the quick is not an option, then the team with possession of the ball can set up and play a 6v5 possession.

Goalkeeper’s Role

The goalie will be neutral and play defense for both teams. If the goalie makes a save out of bounds, then offense retains possession. If the goalie makes a save and controls possession, then the offense and defense will transition. Once the teams are set up, a post player will initiate play with a free pass. If the goalie makes a save and it lands in the water, all players are allowed to put pressure on the goalie in order to score a garbage goal, steal the ball or possibly force a ball under penalty or create a turnover.


First team to score 10 goals wins. You can make the game more interesting by establishing rules that challenge the group. Keep statistics on how many times the team scored on the quick vs. setting up a 6v5/5v6 possession. Track how many saves the goalie makes and how many field blocks happen.  Note how many possessions it takes each team to score 10 goals. If you want to motivate your players further, have them play for prize. Not taking out cages, picking up caps and balls, or doing sprint set could be good ideas. As your team gets more comfortable with the Quick game, you can help the drill evolve by add new rules. Those might be: playing the game with no out of bounds, changing the shot clock to 15 seconds instead of 20 seconds.

Remember…competition in drills will bring out 100% maximum effort from your athletes. It provides you with a tool to assess your athletes and improve conversions percentages on 6v5/5v6.