Goalie Strategy: Protect The Carrier

The perma goalie is an often maligned character in bike polo. Sure, they can (if they are worth their PBR) stop a game from going 5-0 in the first three minutes, but they don’t lend anything to the offense and are probably daydreaming while they sit back there squinting at what’s happening up court.

After pickup on Sunday Horse and I went for our second burritos of the day and discussed our club, tournaments, and strategy. Generally speaking, our conversations go something like this:

Horse: Blah blah blah this is why you need to improve your bike blah blah

Crusher: Blah blah blah lofty but completely  BS suggestion on style of play blah blah blah

However, I was pleasantly surprised when Horse (as he often does) made a suggestion considering a few things I can improve in my goal work. Granted, he cited my high gearing as part of the problem before he made the observation, but that’s just so I could feel comfortable, I’m sure.

He laid out this little piece of goalie double duty on me and I instantly seized on how intellgent and simple a plan it was. While I could explain this in text, why not bust out the figurines that Alias gave me!

First, the setup: one of the defensive players (2) has managed to strip the ball from an attacker. They are beginning their movement behind the goal. The goalie (1) sees this and begins to move out of position.


Now the ball carrier (2), the player continues his move around the goal with the other team’s player (4) following. the Goalie (1) blocks off the other team’s player (6) and extends the barrier created by the goal. At the same time, the 3rd player on the goalie’s team (3) takes position in the goal in case the plan doesn’t pan out.


At this point,  the goalie (1) stops just short of T boning the ball carrier (2), effectively stripping the pursuing player (4) and still blocking off another (6). The goalie at this point has two options: to turn with the ball carrier or hold tight to eliminate player 4 from the play.


Let’s say the goalie continues on with the ball carrier. The goalie can effectively lock out player 6 and 4 from pursuing, and perhaps even create a block against player 5 if they are able to get some legs. At any rate, the ball carrier is has the momentum advantage on anyone else on the court.

If player 5 (in this example) is actually in the other teams goal during all of this, the situation becomes easier to pull off and you’ve still created a 1 on 1 situation for the ball carrier to score.

I realize this is pretty basic stuff for most of us, but I hadn’t thought of it this way before. Anyway, it excited me to try out, and I’ll let you know how that goes when I do.


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  1. john from dc says:


    Everyone on the defensive team seems to be right handed (and everyone on offense is left handed, like that would ever work!). It seems that in order for 3 to fill in for 1 smoothly, it’d be much better for them both to be facing the same direction, and therefore both be either left or right handed.

    Now let’s say we’ve got a left handed goalie (like yourself or myself) on a team of righties. How might this play be adapted to suit us?

    • Crusher says:

      Glad you brought it up – I was playing the numbers a bit with my diagram (I really only thought to make the goalie right handed and didn’t consider the handedness of any other piece in the diagram)- but let’s say you are one of the 10% of Americans who are in fact left handed. I think it actually works a touch better: when the ball carrier goes behind the goal they are open to an easier grab by anyone pursuing, sure, but they also aren’t worrying about getting the ball tied up in your (the goalie) wheels as they go past, and you as the goalie aren’t getting the additional element of the mallet/ball in your way as you create the extended barrier between the carrier and the pursuing player.

      As far as everyone on the offense being left handed: not intended in the diagram, but I can see how you’d get there. Let’s say the pursuing player on the red team is following after the ball carrier -the goalie would need to come out further as the ball carrier came past in order to (for lack of a better term) stutter the gathering momentum of the pursuing red player. Even if it’s just a hiccup of time, the ball carrier has a distinct advantage in speed.

      Thanks as always John for keeping me honest here – I need to consider the handedness of my little wooden bike polo players when demonstrating, I suppose. The plot thickens.

      • john from dc says:

        Haha, I don’t mean it as critique, I just want to try this play at our next pickup and have the handicap/advantage of being a southpaw.

        The fill-in for the goalie by the opposite handed player is the tricky part, as far as I can see. But if both players are on the same page, you can probably make it work. I’ll let you know how it goes.

        • Crusher says:

          If it wasn’t meant as a critique then why does it hurt so bad, John?

          I agree about the tricky part you mentioned – please do let me know how it goes and what changes you had to make in order for the strategy to work.

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