Once you learn how to swim, the opportunities that you now have are vast and exciting! One of the most interesting paths that you can take with this newfound skill is the sport water polo. Water polo has a lot of similarities to soccer, except it takes place in the water. There are seven players in the water at a time for each team, and it’s split into four quarters. During the game, each team is attempting to score goals on the other. The game requires great swimming skills, hand-eye coordination, steadiness, and teamwork. In order to excel in water polo you must make sure you are a proficient swimmer, can handle the ball well, and continue to exercise in your daily life.
The most important thing that you need to do before you start playing water polo is make sure that you are comfortable in the water. Ultimately, if you are not a good swimmer, you are not going to be able to keep up with the sport while in the water. Swimming is the most important aspect of the sport. Similarly to if you were playing soccer. If you cannot run for any length of time, you would have a difficult time playing the sport. Same thing applies here.
It is helpful if you have had experience in competitive swimming, for many reasons. One, the strokes that you learn and are trained in for competitive swimming are also the strokes that are going to be the most beneficial for you while playing water polo. Knowing how to swim is fantastic, but unless you have a competitive swimming background, there’s no guarantee that you’ll know all of these. Two, you’ll have experience seeing the pool as a competitive environment. If the only sports that you have ever participated in have been on land, it may be an adjustment to compete in the water. It can be helpful to have that background in order to ease that transition.
There are some swimming techniques that will help you immensely as a water polo player. First, it’s important that you can tread water. There will be moments where you will have to stay in one spot in order to be available for a pass, and you’ll have to stay in your position for that. Second, you’ll have to stay high in the water. Make yourself available for the other players! Finally, you’ll have to get comfortable swimming with the ball, which adds another layer of difficulty to the sport. Not only should you be proficient with your swimming skills, but ball handling as well.
Once you have the swimming down, the next most important thing is knowing how to handle the ball in the water. Without that, you have no sport. Learning how to handle the ball is going to be one of your best assets as part of the water polo team. It can be easy to let the ball slip, or to let the ball negatively affect your swimming, therefore slowing down your overall play of the game. Learning how to juggle both ball handling and swimming properly for the sport is incredibly important. Part of this is control. Working on your aim when throwing and catching the ball allows you to have control over how the play is going to go.
Make sure you practice steadiness in the water. If your hold on the ball is not steady, you risk giving the ball over to the other team. Once you’re comfortable in your swimming ability, add the ball into your practices. Make sure that you can comfortably swim across the pool with a ball in hand. You should also practice dry and wet passing! A dry pass is when both players are up out of the water, and therefore the ball is being thrown in the air. A wet pass is when the ball is touching the water as you are passing the ball. Both are incredibly important to master. Another thing you want to make sure you are practicing is shooting. Though shooting training can be a bit monotonous, it’s important to know that in the heat of the game you can accurately shoot the ball from different angles. It’s helpful to practice with others there to block you.
No matter what athletic sport you join, it is important to expand your training so that your body is as prepared as it possibly can be. Don’t limit your training to just water training. Hit the gym! Go for a run! Attend a dance class, go rock climbing, bike to a park. Staying active in your everyday life will lend itself greatly to your sport and integrate it into your lifestyle.
Increasing your overall body training will make everything about water polo easier. Every single aspect of the sport will be enhanced when your entire body is being trained. There are certain specific skills that will help you in the game that being athletically trained will assist you in, such as keeping your hips up on defense. This is important for position training. You want to be able to stay on the player that you are defending, and if your hips are up and ready for the next move, you’ll be able to make that move much quicker.
Along with physical training, you’ll have to work on some mental and strategic training as well. Water polo is a fast sport, so learning how to anticipate the next couple of moves is going to make sure that you stay on top. The best way to do this is to know the location of the ball at all times. This takes immense focus, and therefore a lot of practice. The more you play the game, the better at this you will get.
SwimRVA Rapids Water Polo
Once you have prepared in the best ways that you can, give water polo a try! Not only is it a great skill to have to play a sport as complex as this, being a part of a team can become a very important part of your young life. Luckily, SwimRVA has a water polo team! The Rapids emphasize toughness, health, hard work, positivity, and social skills! https://swimrichmond.org/programs/water-polo/