Strength is the ability to withstand intense pressure. Simply put, it means being strong but doesn’t specify a length of time. Stamina means the amount of time any given group of muscles can perform at or near-maximum capacity. Endurance is a term that is similar to stamina, but it refers to how long a particular muscle group can perform a certain action without stopping, not necessary at maximum capacity. In order to be a successful Olympic-level water polo player, you must be ready for total body strength, endurance, and stamina. Upper body strength is needed, both while training and while playing the sport, for handling the ball and defending yourself against other players. In addition to these stringent requirements, lower body strength is required for staying above the water’s surface for hours at a time.
Not only do players never get to rest while they’re in the game, but they must also tread water constantly. This literally means hours on end of doing the egg beater which is the industry term for treading water. And it isn’t enough to just maintain your head above water level. You have to be able to stay far above the water’s surface level in order to make plays on both the offensive and defensive side. In addition, you’ll need at least one arm above water height in order to be effectual during both sides of the gameplay. Without the use of both arms for balance, this means your legs will be doing most of the treading work. It makes it more difficult when you consider the height and weight of the average Olympic water polo player, which is over 6 feet tall and weighing over 188 pounds.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but water polo players need to drink excessive amounts of water in order to stay hydrated. Regardless of how you train, the human body needs water to function while exercising. The reason is that water is essential is not only for hydration, but also in the creation of protein and glycogen, and is necessary for red blood cell transfer. Players must drink before, during and after exercising.
There is another important element to training and that’s the recovery time your muscle groups need in between workout sessions and matches. It’s vital to get enough sleep each night to give your body enough time to recuperate from hours of training. There are different training schedules depending on whether it’s the off-season or not. When there are no games scheduled, there is less of an urgency to recover by a certain date or worry about the additional strain on players’ bodies. Sleep also contributes to alertness and split-second decision-making abilities.