Review, reflection and now ready to recharge – the trek to Tokyo begins…
Blog from Water Polo Australia High Performance Manager, Tom Hill
It has been a little over two months since the water polo competition at the Rio Olympic Games was all wrapped up…scary thought isn’t it? Feels like an age ago, but also like yesterday.
Since then there have been many discussions had with all involved in the campaign that were part of our Australian teams and those back here in Australia that played a role in the support team.
We have conducted surveys in conjunction with the AIS and AOC, sought feedback from other sports and their reflections on our teams performance and critically analysed what happened with all players, coaches and support staff.
This post is about sharing those key learnings with you which will in turn form the basis of our planning for the Tokyo cycle.
The team fell agonisingly close to progressing to the semi finals and fighting it out for the medals after losing in a quarter final, albeit without a key centre back. Having said that, the long and short of it is that we failed to achieve our goal.
What did we learn?
- Skills need to be of a higher quality with decisiveness of action and taking educated risks
- Players need more exposure to different styles of play and high intense, meaningful games
- Needed more time to instil the culture development embarked on post 2015 World Championships with the level of player accountability required to play this way; messaging from coaches needs to be consistent, measured and decisive
- You can’t replace world class; at the elite level against good teams in knockout games you need all 13 players contributing to win
- Our unique environment in Australia needs re-considering on how we maximise it for the purposes of producing podium level performances.
If you said to me that we would earn five points from the group stage I would have replied with who do we play in the quarter finals? Unfortunately this time around five points wasn’t enough to secure progression. Some key factors contributed to this, including a late player withdrawal through injury one week before arriving into Rio and on average a team three years younger and 80+ international games less experienced than the top four.
What did we learn?
- We need to be mentally prepared for the big moments and develop a core belief system
- Execution of skills needs to be of a higher quality and more consistent under pressure
- Development of consistent training environments with intense competition both domestically and globally is required
- Team balance important with quality players in key positions and a united group to become a top team
- Don’t rely on other results to progress through to the quarter finals.
Our aspirational vision of becoming the best nation in the world took a dent, but what it means is that we need to evolve the way we do things and the way we play. Over the next month we will prepare our final 2020+ High Performance Strategy and present this to the AIS and State Institutes of Sport.
The headlines will include strategies to address our key learnings as well as a focus on the junior pathway and building capability and talent lower in the pipeline. As this strategy unfolds we will share this with you so that we can collectively work towards a brighter, medal filled future.
Until next time…be your best.
Tom Hill, WPA High Performance Manager