Stanford men's water polo head coach John Vargas and Dr. Rich Kent from the University of Maine co-authored the Water Polo Team Notebook, an extensive notebook for water polo teams, coaches and players.
The book provides a road map for building and continually improving all aspects of a team by utilizing writing activities that help coaches and players reflect on performances in practices and games. Through these reflective exercises, coaches and players can delve further into their games and continue to build toward success.
The Water Polo Team Notebook is adapted from the training logs, journals, and thoughts from Olympians and world-class athletes, and reflect the same methods Vargas has used as a USA Water Polo Senior National Team player and coach, as well as the head coach of the Stanford men's program since 2002.
"First I would like to thank Professor Kent for his contribution to water polo and specifically to this book," Vargas said. "I was honored when he approached me about co-writing The Water Polo Team Notebook. His nine years of research helped lay the groundwork for this book project.
"There is no doubt in my mind that completing the activities in The Water Polo Notebook will help you become more aware of your own game and thus become a smarter player," Vargas explained. "I’ve always believed that smarter players will always beat stronger players."
Throughout the team notebook, athletes and their coaches are asked to analyze and reflect. Below are excerpts from models in the book with links to actual examples. (Please note: players’ names have been changed.)
From a "Game Analysis I:"
Moment of the Game:
Our goalie Matt Cyr* blocks a point blank shot from UCLA late in the first half. UCLA’s Murray received a kick-out pass from 2M and his defender had left him to help 2MD, giving Murray a clear lane to the goal. After a couple fakes, Murray tried to force one nearside and low past Cyr but was stuffed. Even though the game was still young and close at that point, this play set the tone for the game. The story of the game was not Stanford’s offense, but their tough defense and this moment is a shining demonstration of the lockdown D. This block put life and energy not only in the entire Stanford team and coaches, but had the entire aquatic facility pumped up and energized. After seeing this play, I knew that there was no way Stanford was going to lose this game.
From a "Game Analysis II:"
This is what a water polo game should look like. An 8-6 final score is the perfect balance between enough offense and exciting goals and good smart defense. A thriller from start to finish. Our goalie put himself on the map as one of, if not the best goalies in the country. UCLA came into game with only one loss and had just handed Stanford a huge 10-5 loss at the SoCal invitational the prior weekend. UCLA definitely expected a win in this game. For Stanford, this was a must win. After a disappointing finish in the SoCal invitational, Stanford needed this game to show the rest of MPSF that they are more than capable of knocking off a top team like UCLA. More than anything, this game showed that Stanford is a tough team mentality and have the character and maturity to forget about a tough tournament and focus on winning a big conference game. As expected, Stanford played very well in their home pool and established themselves as true title contenders. The game was televised adding to the excitement.