|Defending the Drive and Setting Up Your Teammates by Adam Wright|
The famous saying that Defense wins games and Offense sells tickets could not be more right on than for the game of water polo. The game of water polo is generally a low scoring sport. You see how the people who run the sport are constantly changing rules to increase goal average but usually there is not a dramatic difference. I can remember one of our most important games internationally was at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona Spain. We were playing in the quarter final against Greece to advance to the medal rounds and the outcome of the game was 4-3 in favor of Greece. From the outside it is easy to think that the offense was the cause for losing the game and indeed it was a part of it. But after taking a look at the film both teams were getting opportunities but not converting which happens in all sports. Looking closer at the film the defense for both teams was amazing but we ended up losing that game because of a defensive lapse on one possession. One lapse on the defensive side can cause the outcome of the game whereas one lapse on the offensive side generally will not cause the outcome of a game.
Things to be thinking of while playing defense.
1. The Ball - where is the ball, it is important for all the players to know where the ball is at all times.
2. Your Man - the person you are defending, do not lose sight of them, so as you are looking for the ball you should be checking or feeling the person you are defending.
3. The Center - everybody needs to be aware of the centers position, does
your guard need help or can you press, is the center rolling out to one side
or another and can you help your guard.
4. Area - the area is the space of water around you, some players can cover
allot more area than others, this means if a teammate gets beat on a drive
or needs some sort of help, can you help them yet recover back to the person
you were originally guarding.
5. Anticipation - can you anticipate what the offenses next move will be.
You have to constantly be aware of these five things on defense.
Defending the Drive
When the offensive player begins his drive try to scull with him for as long as possible. At some point you will have to come over your hips and begin swimming. Allot of players have the habit of giving their hips to the offensive player which makes them quite vulnerable. When you have to come over your hips, you should swing them the opposite way of the drive. I like to compare it to a back spin from break dancing. When you swing your hips out the opposite direction this will propel your body in the direction you want to go. Most importantly this will give you full vision of all the players and you will be able to know where the ball is which is one of the five things to be aware of. Lastly you will also be able to catch or knockdown the overpass to the driver because you can see the ball coming. You will not have to worry anymore about the passes to the driver that you never see.
Setting up Your Teammates
On all sports teams each person has a certain role. No one role is more important than the other. Setting up the person who scores the goal is just as important as the person who scores the goal. The United States has a tendency to think the best athletes are the ones scoring the most points, whether it is basketball, soccer or any sport for that matter. Allot of the time the action leading up to the point scoring is much more difficult. Think of Magic Johnson, he would come down the court dribble past three or four people pass the ball behind his back to Kareem, who would in turn have a easy slam dunk. Each athlete should try to identify their role on the team. On our team we have shooters who should get the opportunity to shoot more than others because they are better at it. We have defenders, centers, goalies and drivers. Each person has a certain position on a team because they are better at that certain aspect than others.
As a set up person I feel you need to have vision of the whole pool always. What I mean by that is knowing where you and your teammates are at all times. I think the most important aspect is knowing your teammates movements, where they like the ball, when they like the ball, and what kind of pass they like to receive. For example, I know Tony on a drive likes more of a tear drop pass over the defender so it gives him time to work for better position. With this pass I like to throw it to him as he is swimming so the ball is on his hand when he stops. That is just one situation of many for one person in particular. I know that if Tony is on the outside, he likes the pass fast and behind his head so he can release it quickly. For two meters I know that Bailey likes the ball closer to his hand or on the hand given the situation. All these are just examples. Now imagine there are thirteen people on one team and hundreds of situations, but as a player it is important to know your teammates.
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