San Jose Express on hiatus...
SJX is doing remote training until at least June 22.
This is a difficult time for all of us, but we will make it and come out even stronger.
I will be blogging frequently during this time.
San Jose Express is more than just a water polo team.
We are a community and family.
Stay safe and strong!
In the last blog post, I talked about using katas to teach, rehearse and strengthen basic water polo skills.
Which then leads down to "What are the basic skills needed to play water polo?"
And then what are verbal cues you can use to quickly teach those skills?
I've found the best cues are ones that are short and give a visual image. And if you can make it fun for kids then it's even better.
So there are three basic body positions in water polo. The first, is the Sea Horse
The Seahorse is the basic vertical position in the water. Hips are down, head is up. It's not a water polo position you want to be in frequently, but sometimes it's a great choice. It's also the preferred choice if you're tired and need some rest.
The second basic position is the Water Strider.
This one is the second basic water polo position...the Water Strider. The hips are up high and it's easy to move quickly. Or I should say, easier to move quickly. It's never easy. This is the preferred position for most players and one we spend a lot of time on developing.
The third position is of course, the Sea Otter.
UAs you can see, this is on the back. From here you can typically see the pool the best. You can move fairly quickly and it's easy to catch and throw the ball.
OK, we got the three water polo positions. What's next?
Well, each of these positions there's three kicks you can do...
1. Flutter kick. Great for swimming fast. Not good at all in the Seahorse position.
2. Breaststroke kick. Very powerful. Great for sudden, explosive movements.
3. Russian kick (formally known as the egg beater). This kick gives a lot of stability and directional control.
I believe that the ability to go from one kick to the other is very important...and needs to be trained and taught. It seems like it should be simple, but because so many polo players don't change their kick quickly, it requires teaching and progressions.
So with each of these positions, there's three kicks you can do.
But wait...there's more!
Of course there is. You most also practice moving in these positions.
Moving in water polo is interesting. In the USA we spend a lot of time working on swimming skills. Yet, subtle movements of a few feet make a huge difference in a game. This is something I picked up from observing the Euro kids practicing.
A few feet give you a much better angle on a shot. A few feet get you much closer to stealing a pass. A few feet get you open when previously you were well covered.
Here are the movement directions that water polo players go...
1. Forward and Back
2. Side to Side
3. Rotate to the right, Rotate to the left
4. 45 degree hip turns
5. Up out of the water.
That's really nine directional moves. Of course, you could combine the movements (Strider to Otter, Sea Horse to Strider) as well.
But wait...there's even more!
There's one more variable for these basic moves.
And that's arm position.
You could have both arms in the water sculling. This is the easiest way to do it.
Or you could have one arm out of the water. This is a typical defense position and a ready position for catching a pass. And obviously, what you need to do to shoot or pass the ball.
And finally, you can have both arms up out of the water. This takes the most strength and power out of the legs. Water polo goalies are masters of this but all players work on the leg strength to be able to keep the arms up.
From these three positions, nine movements and three arm positions there are hundreds of variations that water polo players will use.
My goal is to have San Jose Express be masters of these positions.
They need to transition from one to the other quickly and know when to use one or the other.
They need to have to strength, power and skill to use all the combinations of them.
I'm looking forward to seeing the team back in the pool.
Until then, stay safe, sane and active.
Coach Ron Usher