Tag Archive for bike polo pickup

What I Learned at Pick-up Last Night: Muggy Edition


Yesterday was a good day of pickup, the weather just threatening to turn rainy but instead maintaining the pregnant possibility of rain–a mugginess that left my nether regions to turn into a swampland and my shirt to cling impossibly to my many slopes and rolls.

I know you were looking, Hbach. It’s okay. I’m not offended.

Anyway, I learned (as I hopefully always do) a few things along my sweaty adventure. Here they are:

passA great pass is worth ten break-aways. I, being a lefty, often find that my team-mates are not in the very best positions for me to pass to them. It’s not their fault of course, being wrong-handed is confusing even for me.

This often leads me to drive up the court and try to take my own shots. Does it make me feel a bit like Horse? Yes, yes it does; but it also makes me feel terrible when I fail to actually get a goal while my team-mates are so nearby.

Last night I saw how useful it is to depend more on passing than clever legwork around the opposing team. Not only does it save a whole mess of energy, but it redirects the energy and attention of the other team, allowing more opportunity for them to become confused and poorly positioned.

work glovesWork gloves do nothing for your hands other than protect from scratches and scrapes. Hbach managed to club my thumb and it hurt. It hurt bad. I can’t quite bend it the whole way and I blame my gloves for it. NO IT’S NOT BECAUSE I LOST MY GLOVES IN D.C. IT’S THE INANIMATE OBJECT’S FAULT. Damned leather gloves. Useless.

Now that Northern Standard have ceased producing polo equipment (dashing my hopes for a V2 of the Enforcer gloves), I need to find a new pair that have digit protection at the very least. My hands are my money-makers, and you can take that statement however you like.

swordI don’t know the rules around sword-fighting: last night I had a few instances where I was fighting off two opponents from getting the ball from me when my own team-mates were either far away or tapping back in. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if holding/slapping other mallets away (not hard enough to do any sort of damage, really!) is legal, strictly speaking. I wasn’t necessarily holding the ball on the wall or anything like that, but I certainly was aiming to stop the other team from getting possession. I’m looking for some clarification, here. Irregardlessessly, it made me feel like a sword-master, and that was worth the penalty call, if I were to get one.

And when the ref says I was assessed a ball-turnover penalty, I’ll say “not today.”


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. Read more

A,B,All-throw, and the politics of tossing mallets

Lancaster City Hardcourt Bike Polo

Magbee (Magpie, as I call him) has been a bike polo player since before I started playing. While I am certainly more frequent (due to work obligations he took about a year or so off, more or less), he has witnessed this club’s beginnings and is now part of its growth. Here he shares a recent experience with throw-in politics:

Lancaster United Bike Polo has very regular pickup days. Sundays after Noon, and Wednesdays after 4pm (for those who apparently don’t work regular business hours) or “after work” for all the rest who don’t skip out of work. We play our pickup games in typical fashion, with mallets being thrown three to either side to determine teams. This is a simple, unbiased, and effective method to randomize game play. This works.

Now and then, the club has a great showing (typically on Sundays), and there are 12+ players in attendance. This is great for the club, as we have many new players eager to play and hone their skills. However, players are sitting longer, drinking more beer, and ultimately bummed they’re not playing as much. This can be a trying time. Usually we move to fairer approach to selecting teams to increase gameplay for all involved. This would be the A, B, All-throw method.

The A, B, All-throw method is highly effective at selecting fair-ish teams to play in a semi-regular rotation. You have your “A” players who have attended tourneys, played for several years, spent more money on their bikes and polo gear than their kids for the holidays, and who are just all-around great players. There are your “B” players who may or may not have played for several years, may have taken time away from polo, are new to the sport, or just can’t seem to hone their hand, eye, feet coordination to an “A” playing status.

A and BIt is relatively easy to determine who will be categorized as A or B, but this process can be a bit discriminatory for those who wish to increase their skill. Yes, the selective nature of categorizing as A or B does make games more fair, and it does help with the self-esteem of those honing their skills in hopes of someday achieving A level, but it still discriminates.

Now, I could easily rant and rave this whole post away discussing pick up polo discrimination and how the A players are keeping the B players down by keeping them out of their games, but this is not that post. This post is focusing on the A, B All-throw method that keeps the discrimination to a minimum when properly executed. So, now that we have the explanation out of the way, let’s dive into how this should really work. Read more

What My Office is like on a Pickup Day

angry office

My day starts when I refuse to take off my polo gloves to turn off the alarm. Eventually my wife wakes up and turns off the alarm with my face. Good morning, I say to the world.

I run a brush through my hair and wax my moustache. Why would I take a shower? My man stink is part of what identifies me to my team mates on the court. I think about wearing an ironic tee shirt to work, but remember the last conversation I had with HR about it, so I put on a button down.

For about fifteen minutes, I consider riding my polo bike to work. How cool would that be? I could even bring my mallet and practice ball control on the way–and then people would see me roll up and they’d all wonder how I could be any more cool, but then they’d see the facecage on my helmet and they’d know…they’d know.

However, I remember that I work about 35 miles from where I live, and that I have little stubby legs. I concede that riding to work would take me until Saturday. Patting my polo bike on her saddle, I tell her that maybe next time I’ll ride her to work. We both know it’s a horrible lie.

A BMW cuts me off about halfway to work, and try to figure out a way to wheeldick the driver. That train of thought somehow lasts all the way to the parking lot at work. I get out of the car, pick up my mallet from the back seat, put it back down, pick it up again, and then satisfy my urges by swinging it into the tire of the car next to mine a few times.

I don’t notice the person who owns that car is still sitting in it until she starts shouting at me. I tell her the pressure in her tire is fine, and that there’s no need to thank me. I don’t think she’s a manager.

The first person I see in the office is an intern. I check him into the snack table and declare body on body is perfectly legal. He tries to say something, so I check him into the snack table again.

I open the refrigerator in the break room, and find that my stash of Natty Bo is gone. I close the fridge to discover a new reminder that alcoholic beverages are not permitted at the workplace. I guess there will be no pre-gaming today. However, they haven’t found the whiskey in my desk drawer.

Oh. Well I guess they have.

My boss asks me to step into his office for our mid-day meeting, and then tells me we need to get a project done by the end of the week. While he’s talking, I draw a diagram of how to disrupt a play from mid-court. He looks at my drawing and I tell him I’m “mind mapping.” It looks like he believes me, but to make sure I say three more corporate buzz words, and that seems to do the trick. When I leave his office I remind him that it’s bike polo day. He still doesn’t know what that means.

In between acting like I’m doing work and checking LoBP, I glance at the numbers we have saying “in” on Facebook. I count that we have six, but a few minutes later count that we have 5. I panic. My hands begin sweating. I shout at someone who walks by and tells me good afternoon. I count again and we have eight people.

“Okay,” I type on the Facebook page, “NO MORE PEOPLE CAN COME.”

A few minutes later I check again just to make sure we do have six.

At 2:45 I begin packing up my things. One of my co-workers starts telling me about how his dog recently learned the command to roll over, so I tell him how I recently learned how to make accurate over-the-bar shots. We try to out-do each other’s stories until I realize I’m competing with a dog, and turn back to my desk.

It’s 3pm. I stand up, shout “three two one” and run for the door. I finish off the last of the gin I picked up during lunch and throw the bottle at the recycling container on my way towards the front door. It goes in with a satisfying break of glass. I shout “count it!” and don’t stop running until I’m in my car.

Then it’s Vampire Weekend blaring at full volume until  I get home.

The RVA Pickup Day: An Unexpected(ly successful) Journey

2013-04-28 07.59.55

A little while ago Horse Invited me to travel down to Richmond, Virginny, for a big pickup day between multiple clubs (I honestly can’t remember all of them, but I want to say it was Lancaster, DC, RVA, and Charlottesville, maybe?). Naturally I was up for it as an irresponsible escape from completing my thesis for the MFA, so I signed on to travel with my fellows:










The pickup day was Sunday, which was fortunate as I received my new mallet stuff to test from Fixcraft on Friday and I had all of Saturday to walk around the house with it, frightening the cat. On Sunday I woke up around 5:30, put on my polo outfit (something off the shoulder, you know, for the boys), and went to pick up Horse.

2013-04-28 08.00.03We were supposed to meet Irish at Cycleworks at 7 AM sharp, so naturally Horse slept in until I was at his doorstep and stumbled onto the sidewalk with little knowledge as to what was actually happening. AND THEN WE WERE OFF!

…to Sheetz to get some breakfast. We agreed that if Irish wanted to stop somewhere, we’d just tell him we hadn’t eaten and then eat again. Ah, the joys of being big.

So we met up with Irish, loaded his Suburban, picked up Yeager, and were off. We stopped at a rest stop which had Ice cream and Red Bull, so I got that too, because go to hell, that’s why.

And then we looked, just casually, at the radar. Read more