Core Exercises for the Water Polo Player

By Thomas Martinho PT, DPT

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Training the core is vital for all athletes. The demands of water polo, however, make the core an area in need of extra attention. The core has two main purposes: to create stability in the lumbopelvic region, and to produce and transfer forces through the kinetic chain. In water polo, athletes cannot use the ground for a stable base of support. This means that they rely more on the core, both to create stability within the water, and to produce/transfer the forces that cannot be created through pushing off the ground. Without core stability in the water, an athlete will feel off balance and have decreased leverage with grappling and shooting. In addition, a deficiency in the core will create a break in the kinetic chain, resulting in decreased production and transfer of forces. This will lead to compensation in other areas and increase the chance of injury, especially in the shoulder. 

It’s important for water polo players to train both dynamic stability and force production through the core to meet the demands of the sport. Use these exercises to ensure your core is up to the task.

Baby Roll To Side Plank Clam

This exercise is designed to create core stability during movement. This will allow an athlete to be balanced in the water and create a solid foundation to throw and eggbeater from. When performing this exercise, make sure the low back is in a neutral position and not arching. Shoulders and hips should stay in line with no rotation of the trunk. Include a waterpolo or medicine ball to make the exercise more difficult and challenge your shoulder stability. 

Mountain Climbers on Gliders

Perform mountain climbers with your knees wide to better mimic the motion of an eggbeater kick. Focus on keeping the core tight and avoiding side bending or arching the back while driving your knee.

Medicine Ball Crunch Throw

When performing this exercise, make sure you initiate the movement with your core. This exercise helps train force production and coordination of the arm and trunk to improve your shot. 

Pallof Press and Chops on Physio Ball

When performing the press exercise, keep hands in line with your sternum, preventing rotation at the trunk. During the chop, initiate the rotation with the core while keeping the hips facing forward. You can use a cable machine or a band. The press exercise is intended to train stability in the core while the chop creates rotational forces. Sitting on the physio ball creates an unstable base to mimic the demands of waterpolo. Challenge yourself by keeping your feet close together or placing them on a foam pad. 

Seated Bosu Rotational Medicine Ball Toss

Sit on a Bosu ball to create an unstable surface. Using your core to initiate, rotate the trunk and throw the ball against the wall. Make sure you keep your core engaged to stay balanced when catching the ball. Once you have the motion down, try elevating your feet to increase the difficulty. 

Bosu Hollow Hold with Ball Pass

Elevate your feet and trunk while sitting on a Bosu ball, engaging your core. Try to maintain balance while passing a water polo ball against the wall. Include a band around your hips and incorporate clams for increased challenge. 

For more on the importance of strengthening your core or sport-specific questions, please reach out to speak with a physical therapist!

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