Water Polo Goalkeeper Training 

In every kind of team sport, and especially in water polo, the goalkeeper has one of the most important and the most responsible part in the game. For the goalkeeper in water polo, coaches many times say that goalkeepers are worth half of the team. With that in mind coaches usually build technical and tactical ideas based around goalies. In modern water polo, games end with minimal advantage. Most of the times goalies are the ones who decide the outcome. The goalie is the last corrector of the defense’s mistakes.

Coaching a good goalkeeper (in this case, making a good goalkeeper) is very hard and a coach must CHOOSE GOALKEEPER very early in the training process. That is much earlier than other players find their best positions in the game. This choice must be made sometime in the water polo school when child is between 10-12 years (sometimes later) but their average sport lifetime is longer than players‘.

Goalkeepers have training different than other players. Their training is based on two parts (when we talk about training we talk about active work time). First part, between 35-40% of time must be general swimming training, which is adapted to goalkeeper (horizontal phase, working on aerobic section and general endurance). Second part, between 60-65% of time must be specific goalkeeper's training (vertical phase, specific aerobic-anaerobic preparation, endurance and strength). Modern water polo needs a special type of coach for goalkeeper training. Today's good clubs and clubs which intend to have good results must have an assistant coach and a coach for goalkeepers.

As previously mentioned before, the goalkeeper must be a very reliable person and must have excellent concentration (high level concentration which cannot be easily disturbed) during the game or training. He must give confidence to defensive players and be very coordinated with those players. The goalie must recognize a situation very fast and he has to react very fast, like quick and short jumps to the side with maximum support by legs (not hands!).

The statistic average for a goalkeeper save success; Good goalkeeper is between 40-50%, very good goalkeeper (quality) between 50-60%, excellent goalkeeper (top quality) between 60-70% and over 70% is very rarity, even in the one game.

Goalie skills that need to be perfected* while training in the age groups:

1. Water polo school (8-9 years old):


Free style

Breast stroke

Breast stroke kick

Double breast stroke kick


2. Age group (10 & under)


Fly w/breast stroke kick

Horizontal eggbeater in place

Horizontal eggbeaters with moving

Vertical eggbeater in place and moving

Vertical breast stroke kick in place and moving

Elevating body w/ eggbeater

Manipulation of the ball:

Picking the ball up underneath

Picking the ball up on top (rotating the hand under the ball)

Stopping the ball

Catching the ball (with slight arch)

Throwing in place


Basic tactics (set up offense & defense)


3. Age group (12 & under):


Lateral movement supported by hands (sculling)

Lunges with one arm

Vertical jumps with two arms


Pressing (fronting, with help)

Zone (2-3-4, 4-5, M)


Man down

Counter attack

4. Age group (14 & under):


Movement from side to side of the goal

Transfer from lateral to vertical (two arms up

Lunges with double breaststroke kick

Blocking lob shot

Manipulation of the ball:

Full court throw

Lead pass

Pass on the hand


Counter attack 1:0

Counter attack 2:1

Counter attack 3:2

Counter attack 4:3

Counter attack 5:4

Counter attack 6:5

5. 16 & under

Perfecting individual skills

Introducing different offenses and defenses, 6 on 5

Strength training

6. 18 & under

Strength training

Combining different offenses and defenses

To learn more about water polo goalkeeper training click here