The Politics of Throwing Mallets: A Response


Well, if you haven’t guessed it already, today’s earlier post was a direct result of a situation a few pickup days ago. And here, dear readers, is the response from another player. 

Pickup days, egos, And being OK with what is. 

Yes, our club has a good mix of what we’d call A and B players (A and B being relative only to the skill level within our club, as I’m often reminded when I travel to tourneys to get my ass humbly handed to me)   On pickup days we try to mix it up, keep everyone interested, and have fun all while maintaining a relatively high level of play.

The previous article had some big flaws in my mind, and I’d like to counter them.

First off; check your math, and your bias. The Fox News of B players might think that the arrangement of the throws makes a difference but it doesn’t.  All throw, A, B, repeat, and All throw B, A, repeat all give you the same likelihood of double sitting for your respective skill level.  If there are more than six A players, the A player is more at risk for sitting. More B players, then the B player is more at risk for sitting.


Lancaster United Pick-up tourney (11)Last night was a perfect example. We had probably 10 of what our club would call A players, and 2 B players. Some A players didn’t get to play in a single A game all night. It happens.
What would be more inconsistent is letting that B player or A player mess up the structure just because he’s crabby today and doesn’t want to sit anymore.

Secondly, it’s not discrimination, nor is it keeping you from attaining “A” status. Instead of looking at your B game as the losers group (which is both sad, and insulting to the other newcomers in that B group), why not try and play as best you can, and learn from them?  Utilize some tactics you’re seeing the A players use, and try them on your own?  Don’t try and tell me that no one in your B game has something you could learn from… just don’t. Even our A players can learn something from watching B games.  So stop crying, again.

Another good point to consider is the reason we separate A and B games.   Imagine Johnny Tournament and Sammie Newcomer on the court at the same time.  Johnny Tournament wants to play to the best of his ability, meaning fast, precise, and intense polo, while Sammie Newcomer is still figuring out how to hold his mallet, control the ball, and brake at the same time. Someone’s gonna get hurt if they’re both turning it up to 11. That’s why we have all throw games, and they’re played at a safe level for all on the court. A and B games allow those players with similar skill levels to play at the best of their ability without worrying about running into an out of control new comer, or without feeling dominated by an advanced player.

confidenceIf you’re a B player, and when you’re not in the game you’re just thinking about you’re “not good enough” then you need to work on your self-esteem. There are people in this sport who are worlds better than you, and me, and that’s just the nature of it.   Sitting out games isn’t personal. Instead of complaining, use your time on the court to improve, and then come play in the A game when the time is right.

No one listens to people who outcry when they’re not getting play time, because we’re all here for the same reason, and unless we’re purposefully keeping you out of all the games, then you’re just making more noise than the rest of us.

Lastly, and more for just my amusement… consider your last statement:
• Listen to those who outcry when they’re not getting play time… because let’s face it, polo is a damn good time spent with friends, so don’t bugger it up with bullshit because some jackass is not willing to adjust the order they’ve setup themselves as “Polo Master.”

This is contradictory to your whole point of the article.   This “some jackass” isn’t willing to adjust the order because the order was working all night.   The “some jackass” could just as easily be the B player who was crying about not getting in enough games.



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One comment

  1. Peter says:

    This is something we deal with in Philly as well, finding a balance that everybody can kinda live with is tough. When nobody is happy you might have struck the right balance. ;)

    We’ve never had enough new people to designate a beginners night or enough consistent seasoned people to get full “A” game nights. When we had a more consistent number of both groups we had a couple of approaches:

    1. After throwing out a group of six mallets, try to split up the teams as evenly as possible into two groups. A,A,B v A,A,B etc. We’d even go so far as to rate A,B, and C levels.

    2. If games were looking lopsided and/or to change the pace of the game, we’d institute a “three pass rule”. On each offensive zone effort a team would have to pass the ball at least three times before registering a shot on goal. This is great for the new and not-so-new alike, forcing some fundamentals back into the game. Sometimes people forget this is a team sport and this definitely reinforces that.

    3. No shots beyond half court.

    Personally, when playing with newer players I take it upon myself to try to engage them as much as possible on the court. If you’re an inexperienced player and you’re on my team I try to get the ball to you as much as possible, set screens for you, and most importantly tell you what I’m doing.

    I feel communication on the court helps newer players get better faster. Starting out I remember my eyes would be transfixed on the ball when I had possession of it. No court awareness at all. If someone acted as another set of eyes letting me know more than where they were I would have appreciated it. Calling out where teammates were, which way to turn, informing me to ride through a play, when to take a shot, etc.

    If I notice the opposing pick-up team is at a disadvantage I change up how I play to work on a different set of skills. Rather than rolling in to play as a goalie I’ll play a floating defensive position. On offense, I’ll try to slow down the game play and try not to rely on a fast break style of play. Set up more short passes.

    A little bit of mentorship can go a long way.

    My $.02

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