I would like to just spend a few minutes, before beginning the article, admiring how well I made that graphic. Just look at it. It’s a fist going through corrugated plastic. I knew the MFA would be worth it!
But I’m not here to stare in amazement at the glory that is two stolen images being blended together into perfect harmony. I’m here to address the very serious issue of getting stuck in the just-before-getting-better rut that polo players often find themselves in. And, more often than not, stay in for much longer than they should.
Let me explain:
It’s so easy, after getting past the new-player jitters, to assume that you’ll just become a better player through consistent playing and effort. To a large extent, that’s very true. However, there’s another point that isn’t nearly as recognized, and it comes when you stop developing as a young bike polo player. Much in the same way as public education fails when explaining sexual development to kids (“Well, you get hair places, you voice changes, and then babies, lol! Have a good time with crushing self-doubt and confusion about gender roles!”), bike polo really doesn’t have very solid, understood advice about what to do to go from a pretty alright player to a next-level (this being your next level, not “the” next level, which is a confusing, goofy term) player.
Of course, there are folks who aren’t necessarily concerned with developing past a certain point in their play style, and that’s okay, too. If you’re in this game to just have fun and blow off some stress from the day, so be it. But I’m willing to bet there’s at least a few readers out there who find they really aren’t moving past the point they are now, and they’d like to.
My first bit of advice is to watch Mr. Do Videos with analysis in mind. It’s fun to watch bike polo videos just for the sake of watching, but it’s so much more valuable to watch bike polo to figure out what the big names (haha) in our sport are doing to be so good. This is an easy thing to do, and it pays off if you’re able to discern strategy and intelligent play from the tape.
Next, try plays. Maybe it’s just a Lancaster United thing, but we almost never run plays. It’s silly, especially considering how effective even the most simple elements of plays are in opening up scoring opportunities. Find a few people in your club who are up for some playmaking and executing, and give it a shot. If nothing else, it will add some variety to pick up.
Also consider exercising specifically for polo. Now, I don’t do this at all, and chances are I won’t, because laziness is my favorite. BUT, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t. Building up your endurance, core strength, and bike muscles (i.e. leg bits) will help you worry less about how tired you are after matches, and make your focus all the more centered on the game itself.
Do those things, and I think you’ll find some new skills and talents opening up to you, and you’ll step on through to the other side of your own abilities.