Water Polo: Take Your Best Shot

Posted by Nick Folker on Nov 19, 2015 7:50:53 AM

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5 Exercises To Help You Master Your Water Polo Shot

The water polo shot is a complex movement. The following five exercises can help you add balance and velocity to your shot, whether it is scoring on a fast break or from a set-piece. The movements will also help you maintain control and shot strength throughout the game as your opponents fatigue.


The water polo shot begins in the lower body and ends with an aggressive follow through with your shooting arm. Many water polo players make the mistake of training only rotational and forearm exercises. However, strengthening your entire kinetic chain of muscles is crucial to not only power production but also injury prevention. Any weak link in the kinetic chain can send all the force into the wrong area, compromising technique and exposing the body to acute injury.


The mechanics of this complex movement are important. First, we focus on building stability, range of motion and power through the major muscle groups in the legs. Lower body strength and stability creates greater force production as it allows the player to set up a solid base when shooting. Additionally, by emphasizing single-leg and single-arm exercises, they balance strength and increase stability in both legs and both arms.


Core exercises that focus on rotational strength are the critical piece to transferring power from the lower body to the upper body. Therefore, the stronger your mid-section, the more control you have over your shot, and the lower the risk of injury for your shoulders and upper extremities. Your posterior kinetic chain is also responsible for a large portion of your force production, so be sure to go through strength exercises for your back.


Add these five exercises to your weight room routine to add some velocity to your Water Polo shot.

1. Lying Thoracic Mobility - Squeeze

Level: All

Equipment: Anything soft you can squeeze with your knees.

Coach’s Tip:

Thoracic rotation is very important to the water polo shot. The key here is to squeeze your knees together, then press them into the ground as you rotate.


2. Slideboard Lunges - Combo

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: Slideboard, slideboard booties

Coach’s Tip:

The 3 different lunges in this combination help the water polo player with improved flexibility, stability, and strength in the legs, while stabilizing the hip capsule. These exercises are a must for all players to help set a wide, solid and balanced foundation for the shot.



3. Slideboard Freestyle

Level: All

Equipment: Slideboard, slideboard booties

Coach’s Tip:

The freestyle movement is great for shoulder and mid-section strengthening. With the amount of swimming and grappling involved in water polo, these movements help strengthen the shoulder capsule and improve “fingertips to toes connection” for swimming.


4. TRX Alligator

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: TRX bands, suspension training bands

Coach’s Tip:

This exercise improves shoulder mobility and stability. It helps decrease the risk of injury to the shoulder capsule prevalent from overuse from the combination of swimming, grappling and shooting.

For novice athletes, use resistance bands instead of the TRX.


 5. Band Anti-Rotation

Level: All

Equipment: Resistance Bands

Coach’s Tip:

Although the water polo shot is a very powerful, complex movement, an athlete needs to be stable and strong through the mid-section to generate power for shooting. Anti-rotational exercises aid in transferring power from the lower body and torso to the shooting arm.


Enjoy these five exercises and unleash your improved shot on your opponents.


About Bridge: BridgeAthletic is dedicated to bringing elite level, personalized strength training to every athlete. As athletes and coaches, we know the difference access to great coaching can make. Now, BridgeAthletic is bringing that competitive advantage to everyone, everywhere. Launched in 2013, San Francisco-based BridgeAthletic builds water polo-specific, personalized workout programs delivered via smart phone or tablet to competitive athletes and the coaches who train them.


Sport-Specific BridgeAthletic Strength programs for individual athletes include Swimming, Triathlon, Running, Cycling, Water Polo, Lacrosse, Soccer, Football, Baseball, Volleyball, Basketball and others. BridgeAthletic was co-founded by Michael Sharf, a UC Berkeley D1 water polo player and Nick Folker, Olympian and former UC Berkeley Strength and Conditioning Coach. 


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Topics: S+C, Competition