This is where it starts and ends: patience.

patient

Patience will win out any level of skill or raw power in bike polo. This comes from both my own experience and what I’ve seen as your humble online narrator of the sport. Patience is one of the horsemen of the polocalypse, and if you align it with your own play style, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a stronger player.

Patience starts (and is potentially the most crucial) in the beginning of a polo career. Because, frankly, you’re going to probably suck when you start. In fact, I think 99.95 percent of players are absolutely horrible when they start playing our sport, so don’t let yourself feel bad if you do. The trick of it is having the patience to fail and fail again. Laugh when you fall over, laugh when you miss the ball. Hell, you should just be a little chuckle-fest for the first few months you’re playing the sport, really–because you’re not going to be good, and that’s exactly where you should be.

Patience then moves to skill building: you’re not going to scoop on your first try, nor are you going to nail every pass that zips your way from an over-excited team mate. You’re going to mess up the things that other players seem to do so easily. Yes, you know how to play the game now, but you aren’t, somehow, Nick Vaughan. I know, ,it’s surprising to me, too.

But again, if you’ve got patience you’ll develop those skills. You’ll work on them until you learn how to do them or you learn that you aren’t really very good at them at all, and develop your own set of skills that make you a competitive player. 

Finally, in your “pro” game (and here I mean the level you’ll reach when you stop worrying about whether you’re going to fall over on a joust–let’s call that “pro”), you’re going to need to have both patience against your opponents and patience for your new guys.

The patience in competitive play comes from waiting for an opponent to make a mistake. Sure, the lad or lass might be leagues ahead of you in skill, but you’ve got a sharp eye and a patient manner: you can wait for them to take a shot prematurely or flub a pass. That’s when you are able to turn the tides against them. Sure, you shouldn’t just sit back and wait for mistakes–but Greg Russo has a thing or two to tell you about waiting for the other guy to make the first move, and if any of us could become more like him, we’d have quite a bit more points under our belts.

The patience in pickup and otherwise for your own club-mates pays itself back in a few ways. For one, you won’t come off as a jerkhead to the rest of your club (which will, in turn, help them feel more comfortable to learn), and it also helps you become more of a mentor than a gatekeeper. Patience with polo players who are learning can mean the difference between a few star players and everyone else, or a club of rising skill levels and abilities.

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