Passing the ball is a motor skill that allows the player to prepare for shooting, the last phase of the attack. As stated in one of my previous articles, the eggbeater sustains the player and supports the ball passing phase as well as allowing to receive the ball from a teammate. This might lead to the possible shooting phase. Passing the ball in a correct way is very important because it enables the team to create favourable situations for good game tactics. The final phase could involve either scoring a goal or wasting the ball together with the whole attack asset. Besides being a waste of time and energy, it might also help the opponents in taking advantage. In any case, since both the technical skills are important, a good training is needed. As first, both passing the ball and throwing it aiming to score have a great deal of evaluation and braveness by the player. He/she knows that in the case of failing the ball pass, might help the opponent team in attacking. Moreover, if the player misses to score a goal, that might lead to the opponent team in going for an effective tactic of counter attacking.
The passing-shot mechanisms are part of the coordination skills, which need to be trained from the early age (preferably teenage) of the athletes by using exercises of growing challenges. This will allow the young water polo players in developing abilities in grabbing the ball with both left and right hand. This starts from distal extremities of the upper and lower body parts and reaches the proximal extremities of core.
It is necessary to dedicate most of the training of young water polo players who are between 7 and 15 on improving their technique in taking the ball and the passing-shot. This should be done both in the water and in the gym.
A good eggbeater as well as balance in the water are essential to have a good passing and scoring technique. Therefore, it is easy to spot a good scorer and a good dribbler by his/her posture and the good eggbeater.
The pass-shot skill starts from the shoulder griddle, where the humerus is. The humerus is the fulcrum of the arm’s and forearm’s movements. It passes from the elbow and ends in the hand.
During the phase of receiving the ball from teammates and trick the opponents, the aim is to have the most mobile shoulder girdle to be able of loading the arm with the appropriate force that allows the shot or the pass to a teammate. It is here that the elastic force offers its contribution to performing a perfect shoot and also to prevent injuries since the shoulder is one of the joints which gets overused the most by water polo players. In fact, it is involved in almost every movement, such as passing the ball, shooting, swimming, contrasting and floating in the water. It is important that the core of the water polo player is as much as possible out of the water: this will enhance the strength of the pass-shooting. In the case of shooting with the right arm, the rotation of the left shoulder will be involved as well as having the right arm out in front of the body together with the right shoulder positioned behind the neck but ready to rotate in the front. That will enable the natural anti-clockwise or up-down movements of the shoulder when involved in efficiently passing or shooting.
Concerning the elbow, its role is to support the shoulder and help the wrist. As support of the shoulder, the elbow is involved in loading the force to shoot and to dribble. As for the wrist, it is involved in giving a direction to the pass or shoot.
As stated earlier, wrist and hand are the last part of the body involved in the direction of a shoot. Their importance is high and it is easy to miscalculate slightly the direction which has a major negative impact on the final execution of the pass or shooting. Other forces involved in this process are the change of speed with acceleration and deceleration.
As happens in many types of sport, we sometimes need to speed an action up or oppositely we have to slow it down due to the strategy we are using to win a match (chrono and time wise), an opponent action or to store and gain power of the next execution. So there will be specific moments when the working arm has to control and slow down the motion and then accelerate to pass or shoot.
When attacking, the player has both to occupy a specific position previously given by the coach and twist the torso towards the opposite team’s goal. In accordance to which position the player is, he has to apply pressure by hands and when ready to receive a pass, his favourite arm must be held out the water over the head or in front of the face ready to catch the ball.
It’s essential teaching the players to manage and pass the ball in any position so they will have the right experience to deal with different phases during a game and the ability to shoot from different scenarios when attacking. That gives the players a wider view of the game and the goal, which both tend to change according to the position of the player, the moment of a game (6 – 6, man up / down) and the time running out on ball – possession condition (30 seconds ball possession rule).
There are different ways of passing and shooting both static and dynamic. This may require specific gym sessions based on shoulder girdle, cuff rotator, elbow and wrist drills and exercises.
We could pick up some methodologies and exercises from baseball as the biomechanics of shooting and passing is very similar to the Waterpolo one.