How to Shoot a Skip Shot in Water Polo
The skip shot requires speed and placement to bounce the ball off the surface of the water and into the cage. Although the motions of a skip shot aren't overly complicated, they do require both power and finesse. It usually takes new players a little while — to master the skip shot, but once they do it is well worth the effort. Because skip shots are so deceptive, they are an excellent option for anyone shooting from the perimeter. This guide will walk you through the steps of shooting a skip shot.
Step 1. Pick up the Ball
The beginning of a skip shot looks like a standard power shot, which adds to its surprise factor. Lift the ball with your strong hand and bring it up behind your head. Point your opposite shoulder and hip at the goal.
Step 2. Aim
Rather than aiming for somewhere in the cage, you will be aiming for a spot on the water a few feet in front of you. The angle of the ball's trajectory after the bounce will mirror its angle before it hits the water. The further away the bounce, the lower the ball's path will be. If the ball hits the water nearer to the cage, the resulting bounce will be higher, which is ideal for high corner shots. The accuracy of your shot depends very much where the ball hits the water.
The placement and angle will change depending on a few factors. If you have a nearby defender, you may need to skip the ball under their arms and into the goal with a low angle. If you want to hit a high corner the ball will have to touch down closer to you, and with plenty of power. If the goalkeeper looks ready to lunge out, the skip shot should hit under their arm and into the cage.
Step 3. Get Up High
Using a strong eggbeater, get high up out of the water. Use your non-shooting hand to scull in the water for an added boost. The higher you are, the more leverage you will have to add power to your shot. It is not uncommon for elite players to get out to their waist when shooting skip shots.
Step 4. Throw the Ball
As soon as you pop up, throw the ball at the surface of the water with as much force as possible — the faster it's traveling, the better the skip — and put a good backspin on the ball. The strong backspin prevents the ball from "sticking" to the water. Follow through on your throw, slapping the water with your hand when you are finished.
Hot Tip: The 27 MPH Rule
A water polo ball has to be traveling at a velocity of 27 miles per hour to be skipped off the surface of the water. Any slower and it will simply land on the surface and stop. This is called "burying the ball." It may take some to develop the strength to throw at this speed, but most players get it eventually.
It's important to remember that the surface of the water is rarely still. Choppy waves from other players' movements can greatly affect the direction of the ball on a skip shot. Different balls also have different skipping styles. An underinflated ball travels very differently from a properly or overinflated one. An old ball whose grip has been worn away is easier to skip than a new one whose rubber surface provides more friction.
Skipping is Worth It
Practice skipping lots of different balls in various scenarios. Play with distance, power, defenders, body rotation, and the skip angle to see what works best for you. The skip shot truly is one that can only be mastered over time, so don't be discouraged if your first few attempts fall flat (literally). Once you have a reliable skip shot, you'll know that you've become a serious shooter.