Warm-Up Shooting Drill to Stop Flinching On Near Side Shots

The consistent message on this site is to keep your head up and your eyes on the ball the entire time when making a save. When you close your eyes, flinch, and/or turn your head away from the ball you are more likely to miss the save.

The most common time I see water polo goalies flinch and/or turn their head is when shots are going near side and close to the posts. The increased chance of a deflection off the post and into the face is probably the unconscious reason so many of us turn our heads.

I know no other way to correct this bad habit than through a lot of repetition.

Take as many shots as you can near side and off the posts to get comfortable with these shots and to override your instinct to flinch. Build up your muscle memory to keep your eyes and head on the ball when the shot is going towards a post.

Deep down you know that a deflection won’t hurt. We just have to train ourselves to suppress our natural instinct to flinch.

Warm-up Shooting Drill to Work on Flinching

If you find yourself flinching a lot on near side post shots then integrate the following into your warm-up shooting drills.

Have shooters at all 5 perimeter spots.

When it is time for the 4, 5, 1, and 2 spot to shoot have them shoot to their respective nearside post a lot. The ratio I use is 75% near side and 25% cross cage.

It is shoot-to-score, fakes are allowed.

Having the occasional cross-cage shot keeps the goalie honest and in the proper position within the cage for each shooting spot.

Do this drill at the start of the warm-up shooting drills. Perform this drill at every practice and as many times as needed to overcome your flinching as best as possible.

Enlist the help of your coaches and your teammates to point out to you when you flinch, close your eyes, duck or turn your head away from the ball.

Once you feel more comfortable playing balls off the posts then perform this warm-up shooting drill once or twice a week to maintain your muscle memory.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Ricardo Pereira - October 8, 2016

Althoug in water Pólo is comom to teach GK to look at the ball, studies on antecipation and decision making skills in goalkeepers im várious sports point elsewhere.
Sometimes the speed of the ball is Higher than the human reaction time so it seems reasonable that GK should find cues is shoulder, trunk and mostly the elbow of the Shooter to predict the timing and placemnt of the shot.
E-mail me your opinion about this if you havê some time.
Congrats in your excelente work in thewaterpologolie.com.

    TWPG - October 10, 2016

    Thanks for the comment.

    We were just talking about this the other night. In the documentary Fastball they discuss how the batter only really sees the ball at a couple points along the way to home plate. Usually, when the ball is half way the batter truly sees the ball for the last time and their brain calculates where the ball should be and where they should swing their bat. We wondered if this is true with water polo shots? Are water polo balls thrown fast enough that we don’t really track the ball the entire way and we only see the ball a couple points along its path to the goal? Do our brains then fill in the gaps so we think we saw the ball the entire time?

    I agree with your point about finding cues from other aspects of the shot. “Follow the ball” and “keep your eye on the ball”, at least when I say it, serve as catch-all statements and as an easy reminder to stay focused on everything involved with the shot. Like shoulder, elbow, and body placement as they relate to the release point of the ball. And to not get fooled by the less crucial aspects of the shot like where is the shooter looking at. Don’t get fooled by the look-away shot. Your ability to anticipate, “see” the shot, and react quickly enough, like all sports, comes with repetition and seeing a lot of different shooters and shots over and over again to build up your experience level and reading ability.

      Ricardo Pereira - October 13, 2016

      Thanks for the answer,

      The Complex nature of Water Polo and Water Polo GK motion should be center of further studies to understand what perceptive cues are important to observate.

      For now and without specific cientific knowledge i believe that anticipate the Shooters motions looking at decisive points must be enfatized. inclusively my experience as a GK points to it (However my playing level is very low to be sure).

      I also agree with you that when we tell de goalkeeper to” look at the ball” his eyes observe more than the ball itself however depending on the individual, and in particular the anxious ones, we may promove some “attentional blindness”. This happens when the GK is so fixed on the ball that he misses the underlining attentional cues.

      In the matter of GK Training we must build the process with the right or at least the effective constrains to promove adequade responses and i think we don’t have a reference background in attention and perception. And they are essencial to understand the nature of WP Goalkeeping.

      Thanks again and Keep moving with thewaterpologolie.com

      Ricardo Pereira


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