Crafting the ultimate water polo beast

September 20, 2012 — by Nick Chow

If you wanted to create the ultimate water polo player, an ideal athlete who contributes the most to a water polo team, what attributes would he have?

Water polo is one of the most grueling sports. Teams of six players (including a goalie) fiercely compete to score the most goals. The games last an intense 28 minutes split into four quarters, and the team that is able to keep up its relentless offensive onslaught and tenacious defense will emerge victorious.

But say if you wanted to create the ultimate water polo player, an ideal athlete who contributes the most to a water polo team, what attributes would he have?

Junior driver Stephen Cho thinks the first needed quality is strong legs. Water polo athletes lean heavily on their abilities to sprint short distances in the pool to reach the ball before their opponents do. Players said the team’s fastest swimmer is junior driver Cameron Borch.

“Being able to swim fast [is important],” said junior set Mitch Miller. “Because on counter [offensives], you can get down really fast [and defend against the opponent].”

Although swimming is a critical aspect of water polo, the ultimate water polo player would also need to have accurate and powerful shots.

The team’s strongest shooter, players said, is senior set defense Jimmy Speedy. But in terms of accuracy, Cho is the team’s best shooter.

“[Our team’s most accurate shooter is] Stephen Cho, since he’s been playing water polo for forever,” Speedy said.  “He can put the ball wherever he wants in the cage. Every shot is right where he wants it to go.”

In addition, there is an advantage in being left-handed. Since most players are right-handed, left-handed shooters are able to use different angles and spins that the goalie is not used to defending. Unfortunately for the Falcons, no one on the team is a left-handed shooter.

Besides being an excellent shooter, the ideal water polo player also needs to have a strong mentality and a sense of leadership.

“It mostly takes effort and determination [to be a good leader], especially during practices,” Speedy said. “It’s during those times that the true water polo player will shine and he’ll try the hardest and step up to the plate and make sure that everyone’s focused and working on making the sets and focusing in the drills.”

The ideal water polo player must lead by example and show a desire to make himself and the team better.

“I think both the captains [senior driver Tyler Tanaka and senior set Neal Siganporia] are good leaders. That’s because they’ve been on the team for all four years, and they really want to be No. 1 this year,” said Speedy.

Senior driver Tyler Tanaka exemplifies this determination necessary to be a leader. One example occurred when he woke up early for practice to get extra shooting time, on top of the morning lifting session, Speedy said.

While we can dream of creating the ultimate water polo player, it is unlikely to find an athlete who combines all those attributes to perfection.

Water polo is a team game where the individual’s weaknesses are masked his teammates’ strengths. Water polo, or any other sport for that matter, would not be nearly as entertaining with a team of perfect players. As a result, we must be satisfied with the fantastic plays and occasional mistakes that create a dynamic game of water polo.

2 views this week