There is something to be said for picking up a habit – despite all the lovely ones I have which will ultimately lead to my destruction, habits can also be a positive way to reinforce good behavior day in and day out. I’ve been giving lots of thought to what kind of habits help a polo player out in the long run, and instead of really formulating those thoughts I decided on a snappy title and to work myself into something from that point forward.
1. Highly successful bike polo players do what is uncomfortable for themselves during practice. They make sure that they don’t have “a good side” or a particular side of the court that they can only shoot on. They recognize what position/situation they don’t excel at – and then they work on getting better at it.
2. They also look at themselves objectively. There’s no point in thinking you’re the worst bike polo player in the country (believe me, I’ve tried), because it doesn’t help you get any better. To the same end, it doesn’t help to think of yourself as the best player in the western hemisphere, either. Taking an objective look at what you’re able to do and unable to do is a great way to start a list of things to work on. Alternately, being objective on your skill-set can be an outstanding way of identifying who has the skills that compliment your own, and that can lead to a pretty outstanding team.
3. Great bike polo players depend on others to help during games. You’re a team of three – not a team of one with two other guys there to tap mallets with after you score.
4. The successful polo player is familiar with the rules but not a slave to them. It’s great to be able to quote the NAH ruleset as a party trick, but it’s dumb to over-use that skill when playing. If it’s pickup, you shouldn’t take it so seriously that you stop play to correct someone for a minor infraction. Likewise, if you’re playing in a tourney, It’s the ref’s job to call it out, not yours.
5. They also help develop the club. While you may be one of the top players in your club, you’ll only benefit as much as the newest/most underdeveloped teammate does. If you have skills that could benefit a newer player, consider spending fifteen minutes of pre or post play to explain them to a new player. It not only helps make games better as a whole, but that new player will feel more confident and welcomed to grow in the club.
6. The bike polo player that experiments with new products/ rules/ bikes/ strategies will likewise find themselves at a benefit. It isn’t so much that they will benefit from the new things specifically, but that they’ll have a much more open mind and be willing to try new things. In a sport as young and developing as ours, keeping yourself open to everything that comes down the pike can help you more rapidly identify the changing course of the sport.
7. The highly successful bike polo player will have fun no matter the score. I’m not saying you should smile like and idjit the entire game. You’ll freak people out doing that. However, a good bike polo player recognizes that a lost game is a temporary thing – even in a tourney. Having a good attitude about the sport helps your other teammates feel comfortable, loosens up your play, and makes you all around a more enjoyable sort of person to be around.