Water Polo Goalie Workouts

Water Polo

In a team sport, such as water polo, the players depend on the goalie to win a game. A water polo goalie needs power, strength, endurance and flexibility to perform his job and support his team. These physical qualities are improved during team practice, but can also be enhanced with a goalie-specific training program.

Anaerobic Power

During a game of water polo, the goalie often explodes out of the water to block a shot. Because his feet don't touch the ground, the goalie must have tremendous leg strength. And, since this explosive movement occurs quickly and for a very short duration, the goalie's body relies on anaerobic power.

To train anaerobically for this move, practice short bursts of jumps out of the water -- between one and five jumps -- followed by an active recovery rest of two to three minutes during which you tread water. Do five to 10 sets, depending on your level of fitness. If you are a beginning goalie, decrease the number of jumps and sets and lengthen the recovery interval. Include anaerobic power workouts once or twice a week as part of your fitness routine.

Anaerobic Endurance

Intense competition may bring repeated shots at the goal. For this situation, a water polo goalie requires anaerobic endurance to continuously block the shots without fatigue. Training for anaerobic endurance includes longer durations of work and shorter recovery intervals. For example, the goalie performs 20 seconds of jumps followed by 20 seconds of treading water and repeats this five to 10 times. The jumps should include reaches with one and two hands and various angles on the jumps such as to the high and low corners, crossbar and sliding position. (Ref. 1 and 2) Include this in a goalie routine once or twice a week.

Cardiovascular Endurance

A water polo goalie not only protects the goal, but also has an opportunity to score or set up his team for a goal. This requires quick reaction time when he has the ball. The goalie can swim toward an opposing player to steal the ball and pass it to a teammate. For this type of play, the goalie needs cardiovascular endurance which is enhanced through swimming. The goalie should swim laps with his team and should also perform swim sprints to improve his fitness for when the opportunity to steal a ball presents itself. The goalie can swim 2 to 5 meters quickly and then actively recover with a slower pace for approximately two minutes. Cardiovascular drills can be used once or twice a week. (Ref. 1 and 2, page 96)


The eggbeater leg motion is what propels a water polo goalie. If a goalie is experiencing any knee or hip pain from this motion, he needs to spend time increasing the flexibility in his knees and hips. Also, to reach the high and lower corners with both hands, a goalie requires shoulder, chest and back flexibility. (Ref. 1 and 2)After practice, or following a workout, the goalie stretches on land to keep his range of motion. For example, stretch the chest and shoulders by clasping both hands behind the back and raising the straight arms until the stretch is felt. Or, clasp both hands in front of the body, straighten the arms and turn the palms away until a stretch is felt across the back. To keep the thighs and knees flexible, stand on the right leg, bend the left knee to raise the foot toward your bum and grasp the left ankle with your left hand. Following this, cross the left foot onto the right thigh and bend the right knee until you feel the stretch in your left hip. Each stretch is maintained for 15 to 30 seconds and repeated two or three times.