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.