Yesterday was some good polo in the Amish heartland. The park we play in was full of folks playing lesser sports, the overcast sky decided kindly not to rain, and there were plenty of lessons for me to reflect on during my daily reminiscence:
1. Sabrina is getting pretty damned solid at passing: Sabrina is one of our newer players and has been slowly learning the ropes of the game. Last night she made some ah-may-zing passes which lead to scoring opportunities, and it made me understand this little lesson: don’t think of your new players as always being this way. Sabrina will, at some point, break out of her newb shell and become a solid polo player – yesterday she proved it with her ability to read positions and plays, and complete passes to fit opportunities.
2. Patience, Patience, Patience, Shoot: When you’re in your own defensive zone and have control of the ball, take a few seconds to figure out what you want to do. There were two instances where I slowed the ball down and navigated around the other team to create scoring opportunities (both times, actually, they had all of their guys up and nobody in goal, so I shot from my defensive zone for a goal). The lesson here is two fold, really: Think of barriers before goals - that is, don’t think of how to shoot on the goal until you’ve addressed how to get past the barriers (the other team’s players).
When I thought of this, I saw that once I got through their line of defense I was clear to shoot cleanly. The second part: Take your shot, not the shot the defense is presenting you. A good defensive player can dictate how and when you shoot–oftentimes in a way that is less than favorable for a goal. Don’t let them manage that. You decide when to shoot if at all possible, and you should give yourself the time to come to that position.
3. Gene takes off his helmet when angry: And you won’t like him when he’s angry.
4. Think 2 plays ahead: Your team mate is trapped against the wall. Do you move towards them in an attempt to can open the ball away, or do you hover across from them? Do you instead call them to push it back and hope you can get there before the other team does?
The trick here is looking at what kind of plays will be generated in each case, and choosing the most likely to succeed. Let me add a caveat here and say that you shouldn’t be thinking too much while playing – you’ll run into walls and embarrass yourself – but you should make some quick gut decisions on how you’d want to see the play progress. Don’t just try to fly by the seat of your bibs all the time.
5. Some days you just don’t want to play physical: I really didn’t want to grind on the ground or the boards yesterday, and it showed in how I played. I braked earlier, allowed for right-of-way and generally played more technical than physical polo. I don’t know why, and I don’t really have a lesson other than the obvious: play styles during pickup won’t necessarily be consistent. yesterday I was a light touch kinda fella. Maybe next pickup I’ll go back to my Crushery ways. Who knows.