Today USA Water Polo announced the national roll-out of “Splashball™,” a new recreational program for young people designed to foster strong aquatic skills for beginning swimmers in a safe, fun environment. Aimed at children aged 5-9, Splashball™ uses flotation, shallow pools and other kid-friendly elements to allow players to graduate to a friendly version of water polo directly from swim lessons.
“We hope that all of our USA Water Polo clubs will offer Splashball™ this year,” said Scott Tanner, USAWP director of sport development. “We also are making the program available to Parks & Recreation departments, YMCA’s and YWCA’s, JCC’s, and other community-based organizations that want to expand their offerings. We believe that Splashball™ is a natural next step to basic swimming lessons, which will dramatically increase water safety and fitness”
Splashball™, which is a “no-contact” version of water polo - long considered one of the toughest of Olympic sports - is designed to allow kids to try the game with the same ease that they sample soccer or lacrosse. Variations from the Olympic sport version allow for any type of swimwear, such as board shorts or “jammers,” use of flotation devices like vests or noodles, and the ability to bounce off the bottom of the pool, if shallow. The game allows them to build their skills in a safe, supervised aquatic environment.
“This is a perfect program for parents who want their kids to truly develop a high degree of comfort and safety in the water,” said Christopher Ramsey, USAWP CEO. “When they see the yellow ball, kids forget their fear and go after it. This creates dramatic improvement in swimming skill, conditioning and confidence. Kids also benefit from being part of a team in a fun, exciting atmosphere.”
In pilot programs in Orange County and Sacramento, California and Greenwich, Connecticut, participants have made extraordinary progress developing aquatic skills. Unlike competitive swimming, water polo requires kids to change direction in the water, learn to use their legs to powerfully tread water and become proficient using their arms to pass and shoot. These additional skills translate into safer swimmers who are at ease in any aquatic environment. Splashball™ also motivates players to improve their swimming skills and speed.
A key component of Splashball™ is its partnership with the Positive Coaching Alliance. PCA is a nationally recognized program that emphasizes the value of sport to teach life lessons as well as competitive experience. Through PCA principles, Splashball™ will promote the values of effort and learning necessary to achieve mastery. Splashball™ also adopts the PCA magic formula of surrounding every constructive criticism with at least five positive ones. Unlike highly competitive water polo programs for older players, Splashball™ emphasizes:
n mastering skills and having fun over keeping score
n the joy of exerting effort to improve
n the fun of learning new things and mastering them
n positive reinforcement to reward effort
n teaching that mistakes are "OK" if we learn from them
USA Water Polo will provide assistance in securing Splashball™ coach instruction, equipment purchase and templated marketing materials to clubs and community organizations adopting a Splashball™ program. As the National Governing Body for water polo in America, USA Water Polo selects and trains America’s Olympic water polo teams and services more than 35,000 members of its club system. Splashball™ is expected to dramatically increase the pool of available water polo players in America during the next ten years.
USAWP and Disney Sports will make it possible for Splashball™ players and their families to travel to Southern California for this year’s inaugural Splashball™ Festival. The festival will combine playing opportunities organized by USA Water Polo and a weekend of family fun that will culminate with an athlete celebration at Disneyland ® Resort with their families.
The Splashball™ Festival for 2010 is scheduled for June 18-20 in Anaheim, California. For information on how to register teams and players visit www.splashballusa.org.
photos Janos Schmidt