How do you hold it?

LancasterUnitedBikePolo111912 (42)

…and other questions I’ve been asked while at a urinal during the Fall Velo Swap.

If there is one thing I notice consistently happening with new players, it’s the shoddy way they hold their mallet shaft. I think it’s a mix of being freaked out about riding around one handed, being more focused on steering, and just general lack of knowledge. It’s actually the first step I take in determining how strong a person is as a player: how are they holding their mallet? If it’s loose and back, chances are they aren’t going to know how to use it to the full effect.

This is kind of hard to explain and I’m in an office, so I don’t have my mallets with me (well, they’re in the car, but last time I came in with a polo mallet my boss had to have a chat with me about business appropriateness. Whateverrrr….).

Anyway let’s pretend this here highlighter is a mallet. This is how a fair amount of new or under-confident players will hold it:

mallet grip (1)

OK – before we get started: I did take this picture with my hand under my desk, my cube mate did notice and asked what I was doing, and I explained that I needed to document the highlighter. We’re kinda confused with each other right now.

Alright: so the picture: as you can see from the hilightmallet, the grip is loose, the wrist is bent back with the weight of the mallet itself, and it would be amazing if, during the process of swinging, this person hit the ball with any force.

Generally, this grip results in lost mallets, missed shots, and plenty of trouble.

 

The preferred way to hold your mallet is, of course, with a bit more vim and vigor:

mallet grip (2)

Here we can see the hilightmallet is tightly grasped, and the wrist is engaged and straight. As the player maneuvers the ball, their wrist may bend back a bit, but through muscle movement (and not because of a lack of engagement in managing the weight of the mallet). Shots will have more power, as  the wrist and arm aren’t acting as an absorbing element to the swing and contact. the mallet end is consistently in a more predictable place, and the shooter can expect a more accurate shot.

Is this brain science? No, not at all. But there is so much time spent in the training of athletes in other sports on hand position that I thought it funny we don’t necessarily include it in our “welcome to the sport” advice to new players.  At least we don’t in my club.

So there you have it. A tiny thing that can have a big impact. Back to work.

 

 

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