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Water Polo squad structure at Beckenham SC

1. Squad Structure

• Mini polo is for young people who are typically 9 – 12 years old. They need to be quite good swimmers when they first join and the focus is on building the basic skills of ball handling and the way that we tread water which is called eggbeater. There is weekly training during term time from 4.30 – 5.15pm at the Alleyn's School pool. Entry to the squad is only allowed when there is room in it and after an initial assessment (mainly of swimming ability) which is conducted by the squad coach. The squad do play some competitive games against other clubs but the primary aim of this squad is to introduce young people to the sport in a way that combines enjoyment with skills building. Progression from the squad is mainly determined by ability and the next step is the Development squad [note: Although this has never happened so far, parents do need to be aware that if an individual gets too big to play with the other mini polo squad members but is not considered to be good enough to move up to the development squad we would have to ask that they leave the water polo section. This is for safety reasons]

• Development squad is either the next step on the development path for mini polo players or the first step for slightly older children who are too big or too good to start in the mini polo squad. Entry to the squad is again dependent on there being room in the squad and then follows from an assessment at a trial. Ability is the most important factor but size does also play a part. Squad members will typically be between 11 and 15 years old and the absolute maximum age is 16. There is weekly training at Alleyn’s from 5.15 – 6.45pm. The proximity of training with the younger mini polo squad is quite important as it serves to illustrate where players have come from and where they are going to. The Development squad continues to focus on building basic skills but it also adds the element of match play. There is a half hour game at the end of each training session and the club also enters a number of local competitions. The Development squad, like the mini polo squad, is for boys and girls alike because the convention is that water polo is played as a mixed sport up to the age of 16. In many clubs it is the boys who dominate but this is not the case for Beckenham as we active encourage both sexes to play the game.

• Invicta Water Polo Club. Any description of the development opportunities that Beckenham offers can only be complete when one also explains Beckenham’s relationship with the club called Invicta. Invicta is separate from, but strongly linked to, Beckenham Water Polo. It focuses on top level water polo and has a similar relationship with a number of other mostly Kent based clubs. At the senior age group it enters two men’s and one women’s teams in the national water polo league. It also runs training sessions and enters junior and youth teams in the national championships where it has been one of the most successful teams over recent years. The better players from Beckenham’s Development squad are recommended to join Invicta and gain additional training and playing opportunities with them. Invicta is the key to solving the critical mass problem that all clubs would otherwise face as it takes a lot of beginners to produce only a few top players and one needs quite a few top players to make a worthwhile training session/team

• Senior Water Polo. Beckenham also has squads of both men and women who train at West Wickham on Tuesday evenings and at Alleyn’s on Sunday evenings (immediately after the Development squad session). The seniors compete in local leagues. In addition to “the grown-ups”, these squads include the best of our junior players who have reached the point where they are better served training with older players. The move from Development to seniors is decided upon by the senior coaches but with a strong element of recommendation from the Development squad coach.

2. Coaches

The club has several qualified coaches all of whom operate in a voluntary capacity. The chief coach for the mini polo squad is Julian Moore (e mail: [email protected]). Simon Woolley (e mail: [email protected]) coaches the Development squad. Both coaches are helped by a number of other people. These include members of Beckenham’s senior squads as well as some parents who have appropriate water polo and/or swimming backgrounds. The coaches are also supported by a number of the older juniors who have graduated from the Development squad. Coaching experience is a useful skill for these sixth formers to gain and they are all familiar with the coaching philosophy which is adopted by Beckenham SC.

3. Recognition & discipline

The Development squad swimmers in particular are of an age where it is important to have a clear framework related to recognition and discipline. There are two main strands to this. First, we apply a Coaches’ Expectations and a Code of Conduct which describes what is expected of members of the Squad. The Expectations and the Code of Conduct are attached. Both spell out the word WATER and together they spell out how the Squad will function. All Development Squad Members along with their parent/guardian must sign the Expectations and Code of Conduct to signal their understanding of them and as a commitment to implementing them.

The second strand concerns recognition. There is a trophy which is awarded each year to the coach’s development squad player of the year. The award is based on achievement, attendance and contribution to the squad. The trophy is engraved and is retained by the winner for the following year. The mini polo squad also award a trophy and this is given at the end of each term. Next, squad members are also eligible for Jack Petchey awards. This follows from Beckenham SC’s affiliation with the national charity The Jack Petchey Foundation which seeks to encourage youth endeavour. There is also the recognition of being selected to represent, for example, your county in the sport of water polo. Over the last ten years, Beckenham players who started in the Development squad have won selection for county, regional, English schools, junior international and full GB international level. The players concerned and the club take great pride in this and our hope is that through our continued efforts this track record can be sustained into the future.

In Mini Polo the Collins Cup is awarded on a termly basis to the player who has contributed the most to the squad.


Simon Woolley

Development Squad, 
Beckenham SC 

October 2014


Coaches Expectations

ater Polo

• Come to learn the sport, save the chat until training finishes

• Know the rules

• Understand the culture of the sport


• Arrive at training on time – ready for 6.30pm start

• If late, await permission from coach to join in

• Attend all sessions or tell coaches why not


• The aim is to play for a winning team, not score a goal

• Pass is the first thought when in possession

• Mark is the first thought when defending


• Great effort is needed to play the game well

• Work hard throughout training

• You should be exhausted at the end of the game/session


• Show respect for coaches and match officials

• Pay attention to signals – whistle and hand


Code of conduct

Good conduct will be maintained via a five point scale that also spells out WATER.

1. Words of praise for success or just good effort

2. Admonition – a quick telling off for avoidable mistakes

3. Tasks - e.g. 5 press-ups for poor behaviour or repeated avoidable mistakes.

4. Exclusion - Sit on the side for 5 or 10 minutes for bad behaviour

5. Removal for remainder of session for severe bad behaviour

Beckenham and Invicta Water Polo - How does it work?

Beckenham SC competes regionally in the London Water Polo League

Invicta competes nationally, e.g. Kent ASA and British Water Polo League competitions

Two separate clubs – work together to provide opportunity in competition and training.

Invicta Water Polo Club was formed in 1992 to give players in Kent and the surrounding districts the chance to play Water Polo at District and National level without having to leave their home clubs. Although all the club's officers and players are drawn from other clubs, it is an independent club for the promotion of water polo at District and National level only. The club has a structured youth development policy and has thriving Youth and Junior teams. Many former Youth and Junior players are now established senior team players.

For more information on Invicta Water Polo, click on the following link Invicta Water Polo 

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