ASU women's club water polo practices without coach, discusses improvement

Tuesday was not an average practice for the ASU women’s club water polo team.

Coach AJ Grucky was out of town attending a wedding, and after three consecutive weekends of games, the team took Monday’s practice off to enjoy a little free time. Tuesday’s practice turned out to be a time of reflection on the past few weeks, and the team spent half of practice on the deck discussing how all the players could improve as a unit.

Senior Rachel Proctor said these types of conversations are rare but necessary sometimes.



“It needed to happen, because we have played in so many games over the past three weekends," Proctor said.

The team opened up the conversation by expressing how each player could communicate more effectively during games. Several players even apologized to teammates that they may have offended during matches the past few weeks.

“The team needs to have constant communication and some time to express their frustration," Proctor said. "That’s what these meetings are for.”

Afterward, Proctor and the other captains told each player to think about three roles they provide for the team. The common role mentioned was being a defender.

When the discussion ended, the Sun Devils hopped into the pool and spent the remainder of practice working on defensive drills.

The absence of their coach did not stop the club’s captains from pointing out some areas of concern. Proctor and the other captains noticed a lack of help defensively in their last tournament.

They emphasized defensive rotations Tuesday to help alleviate the task of covering the 2-meter threat. Because the 2-meter position is the closest person to the goal, the captains pointed out that stopping their opponents from scoring should be their main priority.

Fronting opponents was also stressed throughout practice. Fronting, which is putting your body between the player and the ball, can often deny opponents from receiving passes from teammates.

There were a lot of stop-and-go moments, as the team chose to work on its communication skills by correcting one another’s mistakes.

“Some practices are more discipline-based than conditioning," Proctor said. "This was one of those practices.”

Each time someone was confused as to when she should rotate or struggling to front her defender, the captains would stop the practice and correct the problem.

The Sun Devils have a few things to work out defensively before the Southwest Division Championships, which take place in Tucson on April 12 and April 13, but the women are ready for the challenge.

Reach the reporter at or follow him on Twitter @GraemeFlynn27

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