Woman up - the monthly blog of the GB Women’s Water Polo Team - October update
Keep up with the Women’s GB Water Polo team through their monthly blog. This month, the team fight off illness and travelling as their season begins in earnest in the Hungarian National League.
Sprints are a great way to wake up in the morning, especially after being mistaken by the bus driver for a zombie.
A strong start to the Hungarian National League looked unlikely as our team seemed to be dropping like flies due to illness and injuries.
You would turn up to training hoping you were not the only one left because it’s difficult to train as a team when you are basically in a one-to-one session with our Coach, Szilveszter - he doesn't appreciate the latest X Factor gossip, to my dismay!
Now pre-season has finished, we've stopped t-shirt training. This leaves you feeling a little exposed and wee bit cold with no extra layer in the water but also leaves you feeling faster with no extra drag.
We've also started doing sprints which are my personal favourite! They're a great way to wake up in the morning, especially after being mistaken by the bus driver for a zombie on your way to the pool.
Most of the team have to adapt their normal long stroke to short, sharp ones which is to help gain vital space in the game when your team sets off on attack or to catch the opposition when they are attacking.
FIRST WEEKEND IN HUNGARY
We decided our main aim for our next game was to be just as focused in the third and fourth quarters as the rest.
Our first weekend in Hungary kicked off to a cracking start where we beat a young team, Heracles II, 26-5, scoring 100 per cent of our penalties won by the centre forwards. They had an age range of about 14-20 years old so it was a gentle warm up game but good practice for countering and defending in a less stressful situation.
This may sound relatively simple but when the opposition is reluctant to cross nine meters in their attack, practising long jumps back to the pit to steal the ball were more on the cards. They resorted to shooting from far out where Robyn (Nicholls, GB goalkeeper) picked them out of the air. The dreaded lob shot is a goalie's nightmare and if they are slightly off their goal line, the shot can be difficult to save.
The second game of the season required more mental preparation. We were playing the defending champions Dunaujvaros who had a number of Hungarian internationals in their team.
We stayed even all through the first half but unfortunately lost 16-11. We decided our main aim for our next game was to be just as focused in third and fourth quarters as the rest.
On the return flight home, a few of the girls were studying; others watched films together and the rest were flat out asleep. It’s always nice to see heads back, mouths open. It gives us a little giggle.
Szliveszter rewarded the team with Monday as a rest day which was great time to recuperate and to have time away from the team. However well we get on, it’s good for everyone to have time to themselves.
SECOND WEEKEND IN HUNGARY
We have to prepare for anything they could bring in the pool and if it's something we're not expecting, we have to quickly adapt our tactics.
Our next trip to Hungary had four games scheduled. This is excellent practice for when we have tournaments like World League in the summer where we would have approximately four difficult games against teams from around the globe.
We could only prepare to a certain point as there was no reliable information on the teams to come so training contained aspects that we could control such as fitness, personal skills, and several defensive tactics.
After checking in to our hotel for the week on Tuesday evening, we strolled to the famous Don Pepe restaurant where they serve portions that could feed the 5,000 - needless to say we never felt hungry!
Most went straight to bed after this at 9pm although a few stayed up to watch their favourite programme. We call them 'The Grey’s Club' where the members show a certain addiction to a certain series! A few others had a lovely chat, unwind and sip on delicious English tea before lights out at 10.30pm to rest up for our 1pm game in Eger the next day.
It was strange for us to travel two hours to a game and be ready to play because usually we travel a maximum 20 minutes to the game pool. With no morning training we were worried about alterness so we tried waking our bodies up by playing mental games and extra land and water warm-ups before the game.
It was also odd playing a match at lunchtime - we had to have a large breakfast with small snadwiches about an hour before the game. Unfortunately we lost to ZF-Eger 7-4 and were all really disappointed because we thought we should have won, especially after the great performance we gave in the first weekend.
Our second game was a little easier and we beat Kecskemet 28-4 before wins against Honved (28-5) and UVSE (10-4). Honved had a strong, young team so we were happy to win so convincingly against them and a lot of us felt mentally and physically drained for the last match so it was good to see everyone pick themselves up and give 110 per cent as usual.
It's really different for us playing girls at this level. It's a great challenge not knowing who we are playing because this is what it will be like in the Olympics - not knowing wha tactics the opposition may use, who their main shooters are and what their speed and strength are like.
We have to prepare for anything they could bring to the pool and if it's something we're not expecting, we have to quickly adapt our tactics in the game.
With all the games played for that weekend, we reflected on what the team could improve on. The main target was to take more outside shots as the Hungarian teams were expert at dropping back to the centre forward position to steal the ball.
When we returned home, our sponsors British Gas came to watch us train and see a day in the world of water polo. They left with very positive views about the sport and our program which was really encouraging for the whole team.
If you would like to see what happens while we are abroad playing in the Hungarian National League please click here for video updates!
Thanks for reading and look out for next month’s blog update.
Rachel Drabble and Angie Winstanley-Smith (GB Women's Water Polo)