The game of water polo has undergone many changes since its inception in the 1800s. Originally played somewhat like the water football where the players tackled, held and sank each other while fiddling with the ball, this sport was very hostile in nature. However, by the 20th century, water polo had been toned down a bit with the elimination of some of the rough play and a rule that banned the tackling of a player, if he didn't have the ball. Water polo is a fun way of indulging into fitness. There are general fundamental skills and techniques in which all field players must be trained. For instance, all water polo players should be excellent swimmers, have great leg strength, and must be agile. Like any other team sports, water polo too has many playing positions - goalkeeper, defensive specialist, driver and two-meter specialist. To know more on the various playing positions of water polo, just read on.
Positions In Water Polo
The Goalie Position
The position of goalie in water polo is supposedly the most exciting of all. This is one of the key positions in the game, where the goalie has to defend the goal by lugging the opponent’s shots. The goalie is the only player who can touch the ball with both his hands. Also, he is the only player allowed to strike a ball with clenched fists and touch the bottom of the pool when the game is on. A goalie usually positions himself in the center of the goal cage, about half a meter away from the goal line, right between the cage and the impending ball. He patrols the 3-meter long goal area and is called upon to make "saves", to prevent an opponent from scoring. A goalie is not allowed to go beyond the half-distance line, but is allowed to shoot at the opponent's goal, as long as he does so from his own half of the pool.
Drivers need to be extremely agile and tenacious, to begin with. They lead the offense and should be an ace at off-water, wrist shooting, vertical, semi-vertical, perimeter and counterattack shoots. Drivers are field players who specialize in swimming past defenders towards the goal. Drivers must be extremely fast swimmers and should be excellent at hand-eye coordination. Their job is to get free of defenders, receive the ball and take the shot. Drivers also focus considerable attention to defensive play.
Center Forward (Two-meter man or hole set)
The two-meter specialist is the key offensive player whose chief objective is to direct the offense. Usually stationed in front of the opponent's goal, the center forward is a closely guarded position. These specialists are constantly looking for a pass to get a close-in shot at the goal. Their first agenda is the ability to reach the two-meter position. Then they must be able to gain position on their defender, hold position for long, recognize if a two-meter shot is available, absorb fouls and get the ball up and ready to pass to either a driver or a releasing perimeter player. This is why center forward players should be one of the team's best and smartest athletes.
Two Meter Defense
A hole guard is one who defends the two meter man or hole-set from opponent shots. The hole guard’s main target is to prevent the hole-set from scoring, often by purposely committing ordinary fouls. This position is also called as the center back. For instance, if the center forward, responsible for the attack and offense, is in the defensive, it is called ‘Hole D’. The hole has to guard his goal from opponent’s center. It is either played zone wise or using one-to-one technique. In a type of defense known as the 'M drop' defense, the 2 wing defenders split the area which is farthest from the goal. This lets them to acquire a clear way for defense, when their team is in control.
Utility players are those players who are comfortable playing all positions in a pool. The utility players are the strongest players in the teams, who swap places with other players whenever there is an opportunity to score. Utility players are most effective when they drive in and play hole set and quickly score against a defender, who is inexperienced in that position.