Water polo is all about strength, speed and power. Being able to swim the length of the pool in record time won't help you in water polo, however. Wrestling matches take place all the time in a water polo game, so developing shoulder, arm and leg strength is essential to helping you win those battles and become a better player.
Upper Body Workouts
Do more pulling exercises than pushing exercises. Water Polo World recommends a 2-to-1 or 3-to-1 ratio of pulling to pushing exercises. Some good pulling exercises include chin-ups, pullups, seated rows or deadlifts. Doing these exercises will improve your strength of the latissimus dorsi muscles in the back, which is the key to a powerful swim stroke and a strong shot.
Medicine Ball Workouts
An effective way to develop strength for throwing a water polo ball is to do medicine ball throws. You can start with one hand against the wall and bounce the medicine ball off the wall, catching the ball with your opposite hand. Also, try throwing the ball with a partner from different stances such as kneeling, standing or sitting. You can do both two-handed throws and one-handed throws.
While shooting, passing and blocking is about upper body strength, a lot of water polo is about lower body strength. According to Water Polo World, United States men’s water polo coach Terry Schroeder says “Everything in the game is about the legs.” A great exercise is called the Cossack Squat. First, squat down as if you are imitating a sumo wrestler. Then move to your right side keeping your right knee above your right foot. As you move to your right side, straighten your left leg keeping the heel on the ground and pointing your toes to the ceiling. Move to the left side and repeat the steps straightening your right leg. You can add resistance to this exercise by holding dumbbells or a medicine ball at chest height or draping chains around your neck.
Eggbeater is the process by which you tread water. Water polo players generally must swim for 30 minutes straight and could do this three to four times a day during a tournament. Being able to maintain eggbeater for long periods of time will dramatically improve your game. Your legs make large circular motions as you keep your body upright, hence the eggbeater name. The right leg should circle counterclockwise and the left leg should circle clockwise. You can even hold medicine balls or weights to give your legs more resistance. Try to keep your shoulders dry as you practice this skill.
Thomas Mitsos covers high school sports as the central desk reporter for MLive Media Group, where he has worked since 2009. He has also contributed to "Grand Rapids Magazine" and "Grand Rapids Family." Mitsos holds a B.A. in professional writing from Grand Valley State University.