Combining techniques and actions from rugby, basketball, swimming, throwing and wrestling, the sport of water polo requires strength, endurance, flexibility and speed. To build these skills a workout that includes exercises for cardiovascular endurance, total body strength and flexibility and speed drills is necessary. Water polo workouts are usually performed during the off season to keep in shape and build strength for the next season.
Strength and Flexibility
Most water polo workouts require some form of strength and flexibility training to improve throwing, blocking and defensive tactics integral to the sport. A water polo workout may use exercises such as squats, dead lifts, presses and pull ups to build strength. Trunk strength is especially important to throwing, which is a main form of action in water polo. Exercises that strengthen the back and abdominal muscles create a powerful throw and increase stamina. Shoulder flexibility is a main focus in water polo workouts to prevent injuries in the rotator muscles and improve throwing abilities. Overuse and acute injuries to the shoulder are most common in water polo so strengthening these muscles is essential for long-term health. Any exercises that work the proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) pattern strengthen the rotator muscles. The PNF pattern refers to repetitive patterns of movement that stimulate the propriocetors, or sensors that inform the body of joint angles, muscle length and tension, so that the body may integrate the information and determine the position of the limb in space, and hasten their response. Most water polo workouts require a specific level of base strength before beginning the power strength training required specifically for the sport.
Cardiovascular speed and endurance are important components of water polo workouts as the sport requires players to sprint across the pool to complete plays or defend the opposing team. These exercises include out of water sprinting or cardiovascular endurance training, such as jogging or bike riding, but more commonly include timed laps across the pool and different strokes to improve the strength and function of various muscles. In addition to cardio, reflex training is essential to water polo workouts because players are required to jerk, snatch or quickly change movement directionality based on the action of the game. Reflex training can be performed out of water with a medicine ball that will also help increase overall power.
Drills work the specific skills, techniques and muscles needed to play water polo. Many drills include treading water and timed laps. Other drills focus on defense and power. These drills are mostly based in the mechanics of the sport. If a team or player is having difficulty with a particular portion of the sport they may be asked to perform a specific drill or set of drills to improve their performance. Drills generally improve skills through practice and tend to focus on game play. They often come at the end of a water polo workout.