Short v Long Mallets: a Study

3 mallet

Let’s just get this out of the way right early in the post: I will not make any jokes about male anatomy. I am discussing bike polo mallets and that’s that. If you’re looking for a bunch of cheap suggestive innuendo, read a Better Homes and Gardens article.

There has been some discussion in the past about the regulation of length in polo mallets. The consensus, as far as my myopic eyes have seen, is that polo mallet length won’t be standardized anytime soon (unlike lacrosse mallets which are a regulation size, for instance).

So it comes down to personal preference – which is true of most things in this sport. Granted, you don’t see tricycles being used in the sport, but I think it would take at least a few games before anyone told little Timmy Trike that his ride wasn’t kosher. Far removed is the length of the mallet you use: Trace, for instance, uses a mallet that is probably up to my chest (I know, not saying much there, but all the same). I’ve started using longer mallets, whereas Kyle uses a shorter build.

While this does all come down to what you find works best for your game, I think there are some inherent qualities between short and long mallets:

  • Short Mallets
    • Weight of mallet head less important
    • Better control of the ball closer to bike
    • Potentially more “flickable”
    • Doesn’t look like you’re compensating for anything OH I BROKE THE RULE I SET UP FOR MYSELF!
  • Long Mallets
    • Easier to make powerful shots
    • Better chance of stealing
    • Obviously more reach

I was going to add where I thought goal tending fit in here, but to be honest I think it just changes how one goal tends a bit. With a longer mallet you have the potential to disrupt the shot before it’s taken (by simply pushing the ball out of the swinging mallet’s way). With a shorter mallet you’re more likely to “catch” a ball that has been shot. I don’t think either quality makes a long or short mallet “better” for goal tending.

In the end, I’ve noticed that I’m losing close control (that is, ball handling when the ball is nearer to my bike) with a longer mallet. I’m thinking about chopping down my current build by a few inches just to see what kind of difference it makes.

Naturally it comes down to what you’re comfortable with. I’m sure some of you Poloaticians have thoughts on this, right?

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6 comments

  1. TraceO says:

    I did begin playing with a whopper-of-a-long mallet, but have reduced the length slightly with each successive build. What I find amazing is how much adjustment needs to be done when you attempt to play with a mallet that is even 1 inch shorter than you are accustomed to. I know I look and feel like a complete idiot on the court as I adjust to the reduced reach of each shorter mallet I build. However, the increased control I have discovered with a slightly shorter mallet makes the embarrassing adjustment period worth it. Those of you who have seen me play can keep your snide remarks about my increased ball control to yourselves.

    • Crush says:

      That’s helpful Trace. I have felt like the mallet I most recently made is just unwieldy given the length. I think the desire to cut down the size makes sense as far as control goes.

      But let me ask you this: have you noticed significant changes in your reach ability? Do you notice that you have to saddle up a little closer to other players in order to make a move for ball control?

  2. Lumberbach says:

    Trace, is there perhaps something you could shorten on your bike – to enhance your control of it?

    my 2¢ on mallet length – keep it long, learn to choke-up as needed

  3. TraceO says:

    You blog readers out there take special note of whatever Lumberbach writes, ’cause the man is Merlin on the polo court (he is almost that old too).

    Regarding keeping the mallet long and choking-up on it… that makes great sense on paper, but in practice I just can’t do it, but obviously you can Lumberbach because you are a ball-stealin’ fool.

    This is yet another way my general lack of eye hand coordination is haunting me. Heck, I started riding bike in the first place BECAUSE I lacked eye hand coordination, and now I have to attempt to have it? Good grief.

  4. mattkrofcheck says:

    My mallet has gotten shorter and shorter over time. while i’ve definitely noticed it takes some adjustment (with even an inch or half inch shorter mallet) as far as ball handling and shots are concerned, i can’t say that i’ve noticed any decrease in defensive ability.
    I’m curious what Mike from DC would say about this. His mallet is like 25″ long. (go ahead, i set you up for a joke on that one)

  5. […] dias estavamos comentando sobre o tamanho dos mallets aí descobri esse post no blog […]

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