Do You Practice Bike Polo?

This isn’t a post for the new players nor is it for the old heads. It’s a post for the slightly used bike polo player: do you practice? Like – at all?

I find myself at an interesting crossroads – I no longer feel the drive to practice bike polo as much as I had when I first started playing (read: practice was pushing the ball ahead of me without crashing into a road sign or a fence), but am acutely aware that there are skills I never picked up. I can hold my own when it comes to moving the ball and getting around folks (and shooting, and goal tending, and making fun of people when I’m not playing), but I am cognizant of my weaknesses.

I feel like there are very few players in Lancaster United who spend hours practicing their bike polo mojo on days that we aren’t playing. I know Karl does, and I know Yeager has in the past, but I don’t know of many others.

This isn’t such a good thing, I think. All sports, no matter how supercool/underground/hipster fueled, require practice and constant skill building. Learning during pick up is great (and yes, that is a form of practice if you want to get down to it), but pickup doesn’t allow you to drill on your weaknesses nor practice new techniques effectively.

So how can you implement a practice regimen?

Give yourself 30 minutes a day. Instead of surfing around on the worldwide interwebs or trying to teach your cat how to use the toilet (he already knows, he just hates you), give yourself a half hour to specifically work on your weaknesses. Are you great at shooting on goal? Super! Now do something you’re horrible at. Do it for 30 minutes straight so you can do it without thinking in a game. Do it so much that you start worrying whether you remember how to shoot anymore.

Get tips from the elders. Sometimes you don’t know what you are bad at – and that’s ok, chum. Find some players on your team who you look up to and ask them what they think you could strengthen. Chances are they’ll have a good idea of what you’re good and bad at, and can point you in the direction needed to strengthen your game. Even if you think you’re the cock of the walk, listening to what others see as your downfalls is a useful exercise.

Set a goal, and follow up on it. It’s hard enough to dedicate yourself to the ambiguity of “practice”,  so do yourself a favor and set some goals. Make them realistic, too. Something like “be better than Horse” isn’t really an achievable goal, as there are a lot of factors that would go into that effort. Instead, set goals like “block 4 out of 5 shots while in goal” or “move the ball through my frame while going up court more effectively.”

Setting goals also gives you the chance to achieve something in your practice, and—God forbid—recognize that you’re getting better.

So do you mid-range players keep practice on the agenda, and how?   

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6 comments

  1. Nick Kruse says:

    This blog rules. This post is superb. Lancaster, I want to play polo inside you.

  2. irishvelo says:

    Please don’t feed the monkey. We already have one horse with a big head!

  3. Bob says:

    Im fortunate enough to have an hour lunch and a double tennis court at my work, twice a week usually ill bring the ol polo steed and practice a bit at lunch, shooting on cones, ball handling

  4. Alias says:

    I practice every time I’m on my bike riding around DC. I just casually check other riders (“IRL players”), and run screens on cars. I should work on my shooting too.

  5. Joe says:

    The big turning point for me this year was practicing outside of pickup. Any physical motion under pressure requires muscle memory. You can’t expect to go out and hit a one time shot at full speed in a tournament final if you haven’t hit that shot a million times already. I’ve only been playing since 2010, and last year was my first tournament. We were AWFUL. Since then, I realized the only way to “catch up” to the players with years of experience is to put in the time necessary. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Ask any athlete, especially tiger woods. Now I’ve been working on my various shots and passes and they come naturally in competitive play. And it feels so f**king good!!! No longer a bottom of the table team, gradually climbing our way up the ladder.

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