Kyle, Godfather of polo in Lancaster and all around lexicon of confusing verbal cues, is fond of saying (after a long shot is taken on goal), “come on! You ain’t that desperate!”
And while I am loathe to disagree with Papa Karl, I gotta say in my defense, I’m always that desperate.
And you should be, too.
The thing about working on your longer shots is that, quite simply, you should only really be using them when you’re in a tight spot. Sure, it’s fun as hell to nail a goal from your own goal line, but unless you’re playing on RVA size courts, you’re also opening yourself up to a lot of mistakes (missing, of course, but also ball turnover, losing momentum, etc.). But the thing about tight spots is, naturally, that you don’t know when or how they’re going to occur. By being prepared for that eventuality, you’ll be more likely to work your way into a better position.
I’ll give you an example:
Ted, Troy and I (TEAM SCRIMMAGE AWWW YISSS) were playing a match together, and we found ourselves in overtime. I got control of the ball maybe 10 feet in front of our goal and lined up/took a long shot.
Glory be: it made it into the goal and the match was over. Now, could I have done my slow little dance up to the opposing goal and taken a higher % shot a few feet away? Yeah, assuming that I have any more likelihood closer than further away, I could have. But I would need to work my way through three rotating defenders, and that may have cut my likelihood of scoring way down.
I have been, for the past few months, taking pot-shots at goal from the opposite side of the court. I’ve gotten alright (for me!) at getting closer and closer to the goal. It’s another thing to add to my toolbox for bike polo, and something I feel every player should be competent with.
Will it always work? No–God no, it won’t. Will you mess up so much sometimes that your other team-mates will get grumpy? I mean, probably?
But if you can get that long shot down to something close to good, you’ll find yourself with plenty of opportunities where it’s a useful way to get that important goal.
However, don’t think that you need to windmill your arm around to get that big shot off. Try to move your arm as little as possible when taking that shot (while still keeping power). Point being, as you arc your arm up over your head like a barbarian bringing their axe down on some poor Roman, the ball is still moving. You’re increasing the likelihood of that ball getting out of position, hitting a rock, etc. You’re also damning yourself if you miss, as your follow through will render your mallet altogether useless.
So, instead of swinging wildly at the ball, try a controlled, powerful swing. I’ve managed to get myself to a point (after two flipping years of being aware) where my swing doesn’t get past my shoulder, and sometimes even stays below my saddle. I put all that power into my shoulder and elbow, which seems to give me enough to zing the ball down court. By doing so, I’m limiting the chance for an opponent to steal the ball, interrupt my mallet-movement, or even just get in my way.
In summary: learn that long shot, but forget that big swing.