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8 tips for playing goalkeeper in water polo

Often thought of as the toughest position, the goalkeeper in water polo is the last line of defense and undoubtedly a crucial role within any team.

From stopping shots, to conducting the defence, assisting on counter attacks and creating game changing moments with key decisions, playing goalkeeper involves a wealth of variety and the need to think on your feet.

Here are eight tips from London 2012 Olympian Rosie Morris to help you on the road to being the best goalkeeper you can be.

8 Tips For Playing Goalkeeper in Water Polo

  1. Legs, legs, legs – the first rule of goalkeeping is it’s all about the legs. As a goalie, you will need to do a lot of leg work, be it sets of jumps, egg beating with arms out, working against a bungee chord, or leg exercises in the gym. However, all that leg work will be a waste of time if your legs aren’t working 100 per cent when you’re in goal. So make sure you’re always reminding yourself, ‘legs, legs, legs’.
  2. Watch the ball and not the player – it’s easy to fall in to the habit of watching the player rather than the ball, especially when they’re faking in front of the goal. This will lead to you reacting after the shot has gone, and letting in more goals. So, no matter what, keep your eye on only the ball and nothing but the ball!
  3. Expect the unexpected – it’s crucial to be ready for anything at any time within the game. You should know that a shot could come from anywhere, at any time, so never take your eye off the ball, or make the mistake of thinking you can slack off for a few seconds!
  4. Move with your head first – every movement in goal should begin with your head. Headers in the goal are a great way to practice this, as you’ll begin to get in the habit of your head leading every save. It will not only help you get extra distance on each jump you make, but will also increase your chances of saving the ball as you will be more likely to follow the ball and watch it on to your arm or hand.
  5. Be ready for the rebound – you’ve made a terrific save, the crowd go wild, your teammates are celebrating – but your work is not done yet. Always be ready for the rebound and never relax after a save, unless the ball is clearly out of play. Straight from the save, resume the ‘ready position’ with your legs working at 100 per cent in anticipation of another shot.
  6. Light hands – the more tired you become, the lower down your hands tend to go. Try and keep the hands sculling near the surface, so that they are always ready to make the save, especially when the ball is within close proximity.
  7. Learn to conquer the lob – learning how to deal with lobs is hugely important for goalkeepers in water polo. Learn to watch the ball, anticipate the lob, know which players are more likely to lob, and practice the movement with and without the ball time, after time, after time, until it becomes second nature.
  8. Be a wall – most importantly, you have to have the goalkeepers’ mindset. Believe that you can and will stop the ball. Believe that you’re a wall, and nothing is going to get past you.