You ALWAYS Have Numbers For Polo


Guest post by Alias Tagami of DC Bike Polo

Clubs have highs and lows for turn out on any given play day, and having big numbers means big club success, right?  Well, maybe.  Let’s try this another way, what defines failure?  To me, it is people wanting to play, and not getting to. So if you don’t have six players, is it worth your time to show up?  I believe yes, and here’s what I think you should do with your time.



You’ve got one player, yourself, go practice.

OneSure you might feel pathetic, but you blocked the time off, right?  This block of time was for polo, so use it for polo.  The temptation is to use your time for other things, but nothing says you must spend all of that polo time for polo.  Think of it as time gained and skills improved.  Moreover, it’s your own way of committing to your game and your club.
Okay, that was a hard sell…


You’ve got two players, it’s social, it’s knifefight time.
twoThere’s a long heritage of polo in non 3v3 form, and the skills you learn in these ancestral games are important.  You won’t be wasting your time. Setup two beer cans water bottles and have a little one-on-one polo samurai showdown to knock over your opponent’s can bottle.  I like this because it works on the small surgical ball-play that you might not get to work on in a full game.


You’ve got three players, no polo fun? False.  Play Bruceball or 5-Hole
3Bruceball might have other names with other clubs, but here in DC, it’s named for the living legend, and longtime bike courier, Bruce.  Put a bag or some Pomeranian sized object on the court in the center of any area that has some closed line around it.  The objective for the ball carrier is to hit the bag.  The game is 1v1v1, so the other two might work together to defend against you.  If there is a turnover, the ball must be taken outside of the enclosed lined area to reset it (much like playing half-court basketball and dribbling back to half-court before shooting after a turnover).
5-hole is a really simple game.  All three players have 5 lives.  You lose a life when either opponent shoots through your 5-hole.  Last player standing wins.  Taunting is encouraged mandatory.


You’ve got four players, play 2v2 polo but with caveats.
4Honestly, I hate 2v2 polo.  It just doesn’t have the balance of offense and defense that I like.  I feel like someone is always playing perma-goalie, and it just feels unfulfilling.  But who says that 2v2 has to be a small version of 3v3?  You set our own rules for play ultimately, and making play engaging might mean taking some liberties.  Mix it up.  Require all goals involve a pass first.  No half-court shots.  Only half-court shots.  No player can score twice in a row. The point here is that changing the game can be a strategy in working on specific skills while making a fun game.


You’ve got five players, so play Traitor.

5Play 3v2?  No.  Don’t do it.  I mean, do it the traitor way.  Hassan taught me this game.  Said he played it in London (can’t recall if he called it “traitor” or I did).  Personally, I find it as fun as 3v3, and way better than normal 3v2.  Here’s how it works.

Two teams on the court, don’t even bother throwing the mallets, just go line up with three on one side, and two on the other.  If you are on the team with three and you score, you move to the other team.  You are the “traitor.” If you score while on the team of two, you don’t switch, you get a point.  You only get points when on the small team, and the game is done when a small team makes three consecutive goals.  Every time there is a player change, the score is reset to zero.  Only the small team can win. This is a great game because the teams auto-balance over the course of the play, and to win, you have to overcome a disadvantage.

All of these non 3v3 polo games develop important skills and help your club bond.  Club community might be most important when numbers are struggling.  So if you’re a new club, you’ve got people injured, players with seasonal time commitments (like CX), or you’ve had people move away, you can still have a lot of polo in your life.


sixYou’ve got six players.  Well, 3…2…1…POLO! #duh

(Author’s Note:  These games are great while you wait for slackers to arrive even when you do have good numbers)

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  1. Medic says:

    The other version of “traitor” that has proven to be a lot of fun is called cut throat. the rules are the similar but it can end up with only one person on a team. you can only win when you are one and score on four. have fun playing for the next three hours.

  2. Wes says:

    A few notes for practicing by yourself.

    1 Set a goal you want to achieve before the rubber hits the hardcourt. Pick out one, or two, elements to your game you want to improve. Example, Play till you have done that desired 180 wheelie… or play till you have done the 180 wheelie and kept possession of the ball.

    2 Don’t just get on your bike and lazily practice for 30 minutes, get bored, and go home.

    When I practice on my own I set a timer in my pocket for 12 minutes, and actually PLAY for those twelve minutes. Then after the time, take a break, drink a beverage, smoke your ______, then back on the court for another 12.

    I find this way more fulfilling than just going and whacking the ball around for a while, I find I get bored of that. So if you time your playtime and take breaks keeps you and your play from getting lazy and having no fun.

  3. […] to do with less than 6 players:…olo/#more-8764 I like the sound of traitor polo. 3v2 with the goal scorer on the team of 3 switching to the small […]

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