When someone first starts the altogether goofy endeavor of playing bike polo, they nearly always look as foolish as can be. There’s so much to consider: the mallet, the bike, the wall that is APPROACHING OH MY GOD HOW DO I AVOID THAT WALL?! and so forth.
And it’s so easy for those of us who have been playing for a while to suppress those memories to the same dark, secret corner of our minds that hold the memory of Uncle William drunk while dressed up as a clown and that time we peed ourselves in front of the classroom in 5th grade. Same event, actually.
But it’s a horrible thing for us to forget, as you’ll hopefully get new players and you’d be able to help them learn faster than you did if only you’re willing to take some time to teach them.
It’s with this in mind that I present a few practice drills that our dear Horse has developed to help newer players learn the basics of the sport. Keep in mind: these are probably boring as hell to more seasoned players, but to newer or less skilled players, they are well worth the effort.
Point in fact, I learned while going through these little maneuvers that I could certainly stand to work on my turning and comfort in doing so quickly. So maybe even the more experienced players should give a try to some of these just to be sure that they aren’t themselves missing out on basic bike polo skills.
1. The Simple Circle/The Figure 8
The premise of this one is simple, as described in the name. Get two cones/bags/whatevers and put them about four bike lengths apart. Then just have your students (or yourself) ride around going one direction. Then go the other direction. Try to turn as closely to the bags as possible. start slow and then speed up until you don’t feel like you can comfortably go any faster (to start).
Next, keep the bags exactly where they are, but cross in-between them (making a figure 8). Do the same thing as before: start slow and then speed up a bit. These two exercises are teaching you how to turn effectively, which is a skill you definitely need to have on lock down.
2. Three bag figure 8
Now spread out those two bags a bit more and add a third. Try threading through the three bags, now. staying as close to the three bags as you pass them. Essentially, the first bag you pass will be on your left, then the next one on your right, and the last on your left again. You’re weavin, baby!
This will teach you to be comfortable with your bike working alongside momentum and speed, as you should try to do this one as quickly as possible. Again, do this by trying to stay as close to the bags as possible.
3. You’ll feel drunk
Now get just one bag (hell, make it your own!) and try to circle around it going both directions, mallet in hand. Try keeping your back wheel as close to the bag as possible. While doing this, figure out a place to vomit.
A few notes here:
- Keep your pedals even (not one down and one up) when going through the three bag figure 8. By keeping your pedals even you are more ready to start pedaling once you clear the obstacle.
- When going around a turn (in the simple circle and figure 8), keep the pedal on the side your turning into up. it stabilizes your weight and reduces the chance of a pedal strike.
- If you feel like your front end is wobbling/bawking while doing this, try putting as much weight as you can on your saddle. By doing this, you’re taking weight off the front end of your bike, which reduces that twitch.