There’s been a lot of hub-bub in the ranks of Lancaster United (by a lot I mean there has been a few emails here and there between four or five players) about working on our passing game. It becomes painfully apparent that the get-the-ball, shoot-the-ball-as-much-as-possible game is great within our own ranks, but it’s pretty damned useless against other clubs. We want to do better when we go out to play with the other kids, so we decided to dedicate time during pickup for a just-passing game.
And we were horrible. I mean, really bad. Try to imagine a seal playing bike polo and you’ll pretty much have the experience. We kept at it for a few games until I became frustrated and just started to play like I always do (which, really, isn’t far from a seal playing bike polo), and that was that.
I don’t think that we should steer away from working on what we aren’t good at (hell, that’s something I say on this blog all the time), but there is a level of commitment that can be damaging to your game and even your own level of enjoyment. When we decided to “have a passing game” we abandoned all other aspects of the game as a whole: shooting, blocking, laughing ,etc. We focused so intently on passing that we forgot the point of polo isn’t to pass.
It made me think of some of the great teams in bike polo, and how they are more fluid than all that. You look at The Guardians or Beaver Boys or The Means and you’ll see a team that isn’t thinking “oh I need to pass more” or “I need to shoot this time”, you have a group of people who are acting as the situation calls for. Sure, those guys will pass the whole game until someone rolls out of position (which is fun and glorious to watch), but they aren’t doing that for the sake of doing it – it’s a way to reach the end goal, which is winning the game.
Where we went wrong (and I think I’m probably using the editorial “we” in this case) is imagining that, by choosing to pass over choosing to make a shot I could have gotten in, I was eliminating the flow of the game that makes passing work.
Why am I writing all of this? What’s the point? Well, really, I just want to remind all of you polokins that there is not really a single skill in polo that is not related to another. Shooting ability translates directly into passing which translates directly into court position. Everything works together and should work together. When you’re working on honing a specific skill (which you should), you shouldn’t do so at the expense of other skills. No opposing team is going to call out “ok, this game we’re only going to work on air mail” (ok, maybe that could happen, but it certainly isn’t the norm) – you need to learn how to pass well while still playing the game actively, or else you’re creating an isolated skill that doesn’t take into account the flow of the game.
This is where I think I went wrong when working on my pass game, and I’m hoping that by being a bit more intelligent on the way I learn the sport, I can strengthen it’s weakness while still raising my overall skill across the board.