How to Take a Wet Shot in Water Polo

Wet shots are a style of shot taken from a horizontal position off the surface of the water, rather than upright and dry. They are useful in a variety of situations including counterattacks, breakaways, and weak-side drives. Because of the body positioning required, difficult timing, and proximity to defenders, many players find wet shots to be an intimidating skill to perfect. This guide lays out the strategy and steps that go into taking a wet shot.

What is a Wet Shot?

Wet shots are any shot taken while horizontal on the water. Because of this, they are also called “off the water” shots. There are three main wet shots: The screw shot, the tee shot, and the shove shot. Each wet shot can be performed while swimming, and without moving to a vertical position in the water. That means that you won't require a dry pass or need much free space; just the area in front of the goal. Successful wet shots depend on accuracy of placement, timing, and the element of surprise.

When to Take a Wet Shot

Because a wet shot is taken while on your stomach, they come in handy in several key situations. There’s a decent chance that at some point in a game you will be heading towards the goal, open, but with a defender preventing you from popping up to receive a dry pass or take a normal shot. Read on for the appropriate times to take a wet shot during a game.

On a Counterattack

If you are able to break away from the other players on a counterattack, you may find yourself swimming towards the goal with the ball. It’s safe to assume that there will be several defenders doing their best to catch up with you, so firing off a quick shot is very important in this situation.

On a Drive to the Weak Side

When driving to the weak side (right for right-handers, left for left-handers), the task of catching a cross-face pass, getting into a good body position, and firing off a strong shot is pretty challenging. Instead, receiving a wet pass and taking a wet shot is both safer and faster.

To Surprise the Goalie

Goalies look for shooters to pop up, rear back, and throw the ball into the goal. If your positioning is correct and there’s a chance to take a wet shot instead of a dry shot, the element of surprise can make the difference between a blocked ball and one in the net.

How to Take a Wet Shot

Although the style of wet shot can vary, there are a few universal rules. Try to keep all of the below points in mind while you take a wet shot.

Slow Down

It’s easy to sprint to the goal with the ball, only to realize too late that the goalie is right in front of you, blocking all your access to the cage. Keep your options open by slowing down your approach. Remember that the farther you are from the goal, the better your shooting angle will be. Eggbeater in place of flutter kicking can also slow your approach and will help keep a defender from getting around you.

Hot Tip: Slip Your Arms

Moving towards the goal too fast? Start slipping your arms. In other words, move your arms through the water without really pulling. This will keep you from getting too close to the goal and ruining your angle, but will still make the timing of your shot hard to predict.

Keep Your Defender on Your Back

As soon as a defender gets around you, the wet shot can no longer happen. Keep your defender behind you at all times by zigzagging and cutting them off each time they try to go to a side. Make sure that you are eggbeatering, as this will make it much harder for them to swim around you.

Use the Element of Surprise

One of the main benefits of taking a wet shot is the fact that goalies have a hard time predicting just when you’re going to release the ball. When practicing wet shots, disguise them by taking an extra stroke or two after positioning the ball. The strokes leading up to the shot and the motions of the shot itself are not very different, so disguise the shot further making both types of arm movement as similar as possible.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Wet Shot

Because they are tough to learn, many new players opt not to take wet shots when they should. This usually results in stolen balls, missed goals, and frustration. A great way to practice wet shots is to simply swim down the pool with the ball, taking shot after shot until you reach the other side. Don't be afraid to try out wet shots in scrimmages and drills, rather than waiting until a crucial moment in a game to test one out. The most important part of learning a wet shot is getting comfortable with the movement, to the point that the shot can be performed naturally in a game. Mastering wet shots will give you an added boost of confidence the next time you are on a breakaway or driving to the goal after leaving your defender in the dust!

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