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6 tips for winning the physical battle in water polo

Water polo is one of the world’s toughest sports, requiring speed, strength and agility and high levels of endurance.

You need to make quick decisions under pressure and understand the many complex tactics and game plays.

However, there’s also a certain amount that goes on under the water.

Whether it’s kicking, pulling, grabbing or shoving underwater, water polo players are always aiming to get in the best possible position and gain an advantage over their opposing player.

So how you can you make sure you’re winning the physical battle in water polo?

Here are six tips to help you embrace the physical side of the game, avoid any injuries, and ensure you come out on top.

6 tips for winning the physical battle in water polo

  1. Head up – the golden rule of water polo is do not put your head under the water! You want to be able to see the ball, your teammates and the opposition at all times. But also, if your head does go under the water, you’re much more at risk of getting an accidental kick or elbow in the face, out of sight of the refs.
  2. Get skin-tight – if you think you can get away with wearing baggy swim shorts, or a loose fitting swimming costume, think again! Not only will you be less mobile and less streamlined, but also you will be more susceptible to getting grabbed by the opposition. Girls, if you can wear a higher necked costume with a zipped back, this will reduce chances of getting your straps grabbed.
  3. If you’re going to grab, go low – grabbing swimsuits, wrists or forearms is part of the way some players grapple for position, keep track of where their opposition is or begin their spin to get past a player. If you’re planning on doing this, make sure you stick to grabbing out of sight, or you’re likely to get excluded.
  4. Stay horizontal – if you have a good body position, it makes it much harder for the opposition to grab you. It also decreases the likelihood of you being on the receiving end of any stray kicks. So when on the arc or wrestling for position in the centre, try and maintain a horizontal body position.
  5. Make sure oppositions’ nails are cut – you may come out of the pool from a game with the odd scratch or two, but if you encourage the referees to check nails are cut before the game, this will help. Any scratching is usually accidental, but again, if you keep good body position you’re less likely to pick up scratches.
  6. A win is a win – try not to get distracted by the physicality of the game. At the end of the day, it’s whichever team has scored more goals who claims the win! So keep your focus on doing everything possible to get the ball in the back of the net!