3 Takeaways from The 2024 Water Polo Championships

The 2024 World Aquatics Championships wrapped up after many exciting games from both the men’s and women’s divisions. Croatia persevered under pressure winning two penalty shootouts and earning gold with their win over Italy in the men’s division. On the women’s side, team USA won close game after close game, eventually reaching the championship and winning gold over Hungary, 8-7.

Results from Doha 2024

Men’s DivisionWomen’s Division
๐Ÿฅ‡๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USA
๐Ÿฅˆ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary
๐Ÿฅ‰๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain

Dive Into the Details

With the tournament completed, results posted, and game footage available, take some time to review the results and learn from some of the best water polo athletes in the world.

Here are three takeaways from the tournament to learn from for teams aspiring to improve their performance in the pool.

1. Set The Pace, Start Off Strong

The team that won the first quarter ended up winning the game two-thirds of the time.

Despite a few blowouts at the tournament, most games were decided by just a few goals. Two-thirds of the time the team that won the first quarter by outscoring their opponent ended up winning the game. Teams that started out strong proved that the beginning of the game is crucial.

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Of the 48 men’s games that were analyzed, 33 teams that were winning in the first quarter ended up winning the game. Only 8 times was the team losing in the first quarter able to come back and win. The remaining 7 games were tied going into the second quarter.

The women’s division analysis was even more definitive. The team winning in the first quarter won 83% of the time. Of the 48 games, 40 teams that were winning in the first quarter ended up winning the game. Only one team came from being down in the first to win and the remaining 7 games were tied at the end of the first quarter.

Takeaway: win the first quarter

2. Shoot Like The Best, Take Smart Shots

Here’s a list of the top 10 goal scorers from the men’s division of the 2024 water polo championships.

PlayerTeamGoalsShotsShooting Percentage
VERNOUX ThomasFRA264065%
FONDELLI AndreaITA203263%
di FULVIO FrancescoITA184441%
FATOVIC LorenCRO183650%
ZALANKI GergoHUN183551%
GEORGESCU Vlad-LucaROU174043%
GRANADOS ORTEGA AlvaroESP163447%
BOUET AlexandreFRA153148%
INABA YusukeJPN153148%
MARINIC KRAGIC JerkoCRO153345%
Top Scorers PDF

The top scorers from the men’s tournament averaged a 50% shooting percentage, making 1 out of every 2 shots. This efficiency not only reflects the individual talent of the top scorers but also speaks to their understanding of shot selection, placement, and timing.

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This table highlights the top 10 goal scorers from the women’s tournament.

PlayerTeamGoalsShotsShooting Percentage
McDOWALL MorganNZL314274%
NINOU EiriniGRE243765%
KESZTHELYI RitaHUN203754%
JOUSTRA Kitty LynnNED1919100% ๐Ÿคฏ
HOUGHTON EmmersonNZL184738%
GURISATTI GretaHUN173352%
van de KRAATS SimoneNED172568%
WILLIAMS AliceAUS173253%
BIANCONI RobertaITA163348%
GIUSTINI SofiaITA162759%
Top scorers PDF

The top scorers from the women’s division averaged a 54% shooting percentage.

This statistic sets a benchmark for aspiring players and teams looking to improve their offensive performance. It emphasizes the importance of honing shooting skills through practice and game awareness. Coaches and players can study the techniques employed by these top scorers to glean valuable insights into what it takes to succeed at the highest level of competition.

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What’s a good water polo shooting percentage?

Some of the best players in the world shoot as high as 60%. Top scorers in world championship tournaments average 50%. Water polo athletes should aim to make above 40% of their shots.

Try these shooting drills at your next practice to work on your shot accuracy.

Takeaway: Focus on taking high percentage shots

3. The Importance of Penalty Shootouts

Of the 48 men’s division games at the 2024 championships in Doha, 6 went to penalty shootouts.

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The results of these shootouts was particularly important for two teams at the tournament. Montenegro, in particular, faced a challenging ordeal, engaging in three penalty shootouts throughout the competition, falling short in two of them.

Croatia found themselves in two intense penalty shootouts during the tournament. The first occurred in the semi-final game against France. Croatia came away with the victory, securing their place in the finals against Italy. In a remarkable display of resilience, Croatia once again faced a shootout in the championship match, ultimately clinching the title.

Only four penalty shootouts occurred during the women’s tournament, each carrying significant weight in determining the outcome. Hungary was involved in two of the four penalty shootouts and ended up winning both. Their first came against Netherlands in the quarter-finals. The very next game Hungary would go to shootouts again against Greece. By winning both they were able to advance to the championship game against team USA.

Takeaway: practice your penalty shots

Sources: Water polo world championships 2024

Here’s What to Work on At Practice

Better prepare for tournaments by practicing your warm up routine to ensure you start each game with high intensity. Winning the first quarter is crucial to setting the tempo for the rest of the game.

Start taking stats at your tournaments to determine your shooting percentage. With this information you’ll be able to figure out if you’re taking the right shots. If your shooting percentage is low then you might not be choosing the best shot in the moment. Lastly, spend some time at practice taking penalty shots in case your next game comes down to a shootout. A game of 5-alive is always fun.

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