Tag Archive for bike polo play

How to Beat the Beaver’s Strategy


In a post which appeared previously on everyone’s favorite hate site, a well thought out treatise was provided which explored just how the Beaver’s manage to win games (and, as the author posits, win them so very boringly). While I’m not taking issue with Ben’s points–I think they are pretty damned accurate, in fact–I do take issue with the idea that this is the end all, be all strategy to win.

Let me rephrase that statement: I refuse to think that the problem is the immaculate strength of the play. I think the problem is how people are falling into the trap of it without thinking.

Bike polo, as with any other sport anywhere that has ever existed, gets into ruts when it comes to how people play and what they think is effective. Folks will run the same sort of play in football as they have for decades because hey, it’s effective. But what if I told you it’s effective because the other team became used to that play and it’s effectiveness, disregarding the possibility of coming up with a more clever counter play?

The point is, it’s rather easy to think that the Beavs have it all worked out (in fact, they kinda have), but it’s silly to think that this one play is going to be the very thing that destroys the enjoyment of bike polo. Let’s take a look at the play as laid out by Ben:

Beaver Strategy

Ben’s Picture, not mine

Okay, so for one thing, those are enormous goals.

Anyway: there are some suppositions in this strategy chart I’d like to suggest. First: the goalie can’t move. I get it, that player really shouldn’t move, perhaps, given that Joey is bearing down on him at Mach Win, but as Rob Biddle has aptly showed me on multiple occasions, it’s very possible for the goalie to roll out and challenge an incoming player effectively. Second is the idea that [RED 2] is forced to go after the ball carrier.

The only thing you have to do in bike polo when it comes to strategy is figure out who you’re going to blame when it doesn’t work.

[RED 2] has a few options, I think. They could cut off [BLUE 2]’s progression, or place himself on the opposite side of [BLUE 1] to create a pinch between [RED 3], [BLUE 3] and [BLUE 1].

Hell, realistically this is all dependent on how the other team sets up. If they know they are playing the Beavers (and, really, c’mon), they could simply choose to all pursue the ball carrier directly, or cut off blocks to ruin the play. The benefit of this, assuming that you’re able to strip the ball, is that you now have a wide open shot on goal as all 3 of the opposing team are out of position to defend.

While I certainly respect the idea of this play (and the fact that it’s very successful right at this moment), as soon as something is discovered, it is often countered. I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see podium teams drill themselves to beat this play (and in that process develop some new super-play that we all can get bored by).



My Favorite Last Game & the Importance of Gumption


Yesterday’s pickup had an interesting dynamic, as some of the always-there, always-serious players were missing (notably Horse and Hbach), leaving some room for a different style of play to emerge–this style of play being a more talkative, more learning style, I would say. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, here: we did play some very tough games, but when one of us would mess up both teams would laugh or give a bit more leeway on the rules because, hey, daddy isn’t around to keep us in line, amiright?

Anyway, the more relaxed atmosphere brought on a weird sort of thing that doesn’t normally happen around these parts: everyone was playing to their own potential. Not to someone’s expectation nor to what they thought was necessary, but to their own abilities. This meant that each player was bringing their own skillset to the court, which made for some really varied, interesting games.

But then Hbach did show up and ruined everything.

Well no, he didn’t (of course) ruin anything–he showed up in the last hour with a fresh pair of legs and the whole course of the day’s play shifted again. Now I had to figure out how to shut the non-tired guy down or, if he was on my team, utilize him as best I could. It was a fun mental exercise for weary bones to undertake. Read more

Thursday Quick Play


Horse and I have been trying this little move in practice (yes, you read that right) having seen it a few times during North Americans. In essence, the person who has the ball rolls up to goal and, at the last moment, pushes the ball to a team mate who has been trailing them.

The images you see are as we practice (me being a lefty and horse being a righty). First, I get the ball and roll up as if I’m going to take the shot on the back door of the goalie:

step 1At this point, the goalie is probably thinking “meh, it’s only Crusher,” but let’s pretend the person with the ball has an actual shot in hell of making a goal, okay?

I, as the ball carrier (the O closest to the goal, rolls in front of the goalie in the next step, provoking them to move a little bit with me as I “find my shot” (they want to keep their wheel in the way, naturally):

step 2As you can see, the’ve left their back door wide open, so when I drop the ball, Horse (the blue O at the top of that image) has a good chance of getting a goal.

Naturally this is all just a super-theoretic drawing–those other two X players are going to be getting in the way the whole time, so you may have your third player come up from the back and block one off or disrupt in some other way. At any rate, if you can make this play work, it’s devastating in it’s ability to make an easy shot come about.



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

From Me to We: a few quick tips on building teamwork

ESPIs Seven 2012 (432)

The biggest difference between a team of bike polo players and just three people wearing the same colored shirts who play bike polo is simple: it’s the mindset of teamwork. Polo is a sport that promotes the idea of individualism in play (this is you taking the ball up, this is you shooting, this is you cursing as the ball makes a 90 degree turn away from the goal, somehow), but doesn’t reward a lone wolf sort of player.

So while it’s a natural feeling, I think, to conceive yourself as a single element that may or may not have a positive impact on the game, it’s not the right feeling to have, nor is it the right mindset to have if you hope to create a strong, dependable team.

ESPIs Seven 2012 (270)We here at Lancaster United bumped into this as I suspect many clubs have: when planning for ESPIs in Frederick last year, we wanted to come up with the best teams possible to send. Well, the best team possible, really. Instead of thinking about who plays well together, the 3 “best” players teamed up. This left six more of us that were interested in going but didn’t expect (we were, after all, not one of those three) to do well. Because of this, we formed up teams with each-other based on how well we played together and, generally, just because we were fond of listening to each other sleep in hotel rooms.

The A team we sent didn’t do nearly as well as all of us expected, and the reason was, frankly, because they weren’t a team. They were three great players who were all playing a 1 v 3 game against every team they came up against. No matter how good of a player you are, that kind of strategy won’t win a tourney and it certainly won’t win you any easy victories, either.

It’s teamwork that gets a, ahem, team, to succeed. While some people just come by this naturally, others need to work on it a touch during pickup. There are three elements that I want to touch on: Read more