Breaking Habits

breaking habits

Habits, we all have them. Some of them are pretty spectacular (like Irish’s habit of hitting the ball really, really hard, or Karl’s habit of defying physics…most days…). But there are also useless habits that polo players can find themselves taking part in.

By way of example, I have the habit of getting to involved in keeping the ball and slowly trudging my way towards goal. I should look around and pass – I should be interacting more with my team. But I just keep on trucking towards the goal in what will inevitably be a missed shot.

I also have the habit of sitting too close to people on the bench and asking personal questions, but I’m comfortable with that one.

So how does one beat a habit in polo? According to research which I will misquote and is more than likely made up, if you do an action something like 30 times (maybe it’s 45. I know it was a number that had numbers in it), it becomes a habit. Using this quasi-science, let’s look at some ways to bust the trend and expand your instincts. 

get it?

get it?

First, try to do the opposite of what you are comfortable with at least a few times each pickup day. Instead of holding onto the ball, pass it. Instead of passing it, Hold on to it. Basically, fight against your comfort instinct and just experiment. This will surprise the players you’re against, expand your understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and furthermore help break the habits you’ve built. 

Ask other people “what do I always do?” After they stop telling you about how close you sit on the bench (or explain that you always talk about your mother), chances are they’ll be able to shed some light on habits you weren’t even aware of.

Pro tip: if Horse has his tongue out, he’s going to try something sneaky and/or powerful.

You (being you) might not be able to see what your habits are, though they might be clear as day. Asking your club-mates can help you identify them (or, even better, ask one other player to let you know when you’ve just performed a habitual move – so you can become aware of it in-game).

Once you’ve identified a detrimental habit, work like hell to break it. I’m not saying you should completely stop the action (if your habit is always passing, you shouldn’t try to stop passing altogether, you dummy), but you should break the want to do it all the time.

If you manage to make yourself more flexible of a player, you’ll be less predictable to your opponents and a more valuable player for your club. Those are both things that any of us could stand to achieve.



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