Tag Archive for cycle polo

Interview with Matt “Horse” Krofcheck, Polo Powerhouse

I recently sat down (and by sat down, I mean at my computer to type out and email these questions to him) with Matt to ask him a few questions about the sport, how he became involved, and what he thinks is upcoming in the world of bike polo.

 

Tell us a little bit about how you came to play bike polo – who got you into it?

 

I started playing polo about three years ago after Kyle repeatedly bombarded me with weekend texts asking me to come out. I always rode bmx on sundays, so it was a random weekend when everyone else (bmx) was away and I was free. 

Very briefly, what was your first setup like (bike, mallet, etc.)

Well, my first setup that i played with was my college commuter bike, which was a Windsor track bike. Fixed, no brakes, and i used to bring riser bars to polo in my messenger bag and switch them out to play. That only lasted about a month before i was strictly on risers. My first polo specific build was a Kona Paddywagon.  
As for mallets: before the end of last year, I was just like most with whatever Kyle would build me out of whatever was laying around. Now I’m pretty sold on the company offered stuff. Fixcraft XT pole and St. Cago capped head is my go-to setup now days (until the fixcraft UHMW heads come out).

 

What do you think of how big Bike polo has become in Lancaster? Why do you think it grew so rapidly?

  Read more

Three things I learned at polo last night: half day edition

Last night saw the brief reintroduction of yours truly to our fair court of shenanigans. While the day was short lived (a mix of my man-child Horse scheduling a stylist appointment at 5pm (“but it’s the only time he could see me”)(“I didn’t want to look homeless”)(“Blah blah blah blah”)) and two guys cutting out early – I was happy to see…feel…my knee was up to the task.

So, as is normally the case, here are the three things I learned in that short, sweet time.

1. You will forget your skillz: Yup. I came back full of salty sass and was amazed at just how many things I was fouling up. I didn’t play horribly (for me) mind you, but man o’ days I surely was out of practice.

I didn’t get angry, though, as I could remind myself – repeatedly – that I had been out for a few weeks and nursing a bum knee. If you find yourself coming back after a long break, just be patient with learning the ropes over again.

I think a lot of players who step out of the game for a spell come back and think they’ll never be able to “catch up” again.

Bull. Rome wasn’t built by Ikea.

2. Don’t forget to keep an eye out: It’s easy to zone in on the ball and forget that there are 5 other guys on the court. I saw a few mix-ups that could have easily been avoided had one of the parties (or both) kept an eye on where they were heading. How many times has the wall snuck up on you? Yeah – that’s what I’m talking about.

It’s something that  I think comes with experience, but being able to have a rough idea of where players are while working the ball is a pretty good skill to work on. It helps you keep control of the situation while also opening up the opportunity for passes or clears.

3. Take criticism, or don’t : I remember when I first started playing the sport, I soaked up advice and criticism from anyone. I listened to everything the polo elders told me and worked so damned hard at the advice they gave.

When I started getting my sea legs, however, I noticed I’d get wicked angry at anyone who gave me advice. Half of it was due to my knowing better (I realized I should have passed instead of shot, but I did it anyway, alright you codpiece?), and half of it was because I felt like it was embarrassing.

A good thing to keep in mind is that criticism from your club is almost always meant to help. I’m not talking about shit talk here, I mean actual advice. If your club stops giving you advice altogether, it means you aren’t even worth the effort, which is far worse.

On the other hand, just remember where the advice is coming from. If old-head Bill tells you to keep your mallet down, it’s probably pretty decent advice. If Johnny Comelately tells you that you should have passed to him before going for the goal, maybe you should use your own judgment.

Furthermore, if the criticism is really getting to you, just nod your head and go ahead playing the same way you were. Just because someone says something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Ways of Identifying Polo Players: A Primer

Bike Polo Players walk among us (it’s true!), though sometimes it’s difficult to accurately identify and categorize them. I submit to you my tips for identifying a bike polo player in the wild – including common habits and rituals that are keys to revealing the true nature of the polokin.

Dress

Polo players are most commonly a derivative of the hipster (barista effenemmus) and as such carry some of the more common coloration patterns one would expect to find on that venerable species. The bike polo player has some notable differences, however:

Please note the ironic hat, facial hair, and Bam-Bam Bracelet. Also do be sure to note the unironic “Hustler” mesh shirt, signalling that this particular Polo Player is the “silverback” of the group, and not to be trifled with.

In fact, facial hair in and of itself plays a major role in identifying certain sub-species of bike polo player (sleepinicus majoris and femalis frightenium) and one quite often can indentify a bike polo player simply by examining the amount and outrageous nature of a person’s facial hair.

As an example, on of the following picture is, in fact, a bike polo player. The other is, in fact, Elton John:

 

Judging by facial hair alone, we can easily see which is Sir John and which is a polo player. (hint: Elton is the one that looks like he has lots of money, the bike polo players looks like he might wear tin foil under the helmet).

 

Calling

Bike polo players have developed a language that is remarkably separate from all other species of man. Through extensive research, we’ve identified several key phrases:

  • Wheel Dicking
  • Foot Down (or Dab)
  • Mallet Hack
  • The sequential backwards count of the numbers 1, 2, and 3

A sure-fire way to rapidly identify a bike polo players is to shout any of these phrases when they are within earshot. Monitor their reaction, then neutralize them with a tranquilizing dart to tag and release.

Diet

With these three tips in mind, you’ll be able to quickly identify the bike polo player in your midst and take proper action (this being mockery).

When you haven’t gotten any (polo) in a while

I’ve been out of the roster for bike polo nearly (count em) 4 pickup days now. It’s made me kind of…funny.

I’m willing to admit withdrawl, that’s the first step, isn’t it?

But I had to find a few ways to fill my time:

1. Making otherwise unexciting polo pictures more exciting.

2. Writing convoluted posts about polo strategy (see here and here and here)

3. Ice cream and puppies

Man…I really hope my knee is up to spec by next week…

Quick Polo Strategy: Layers of Defense

 Watching the pickup games on Tuesday, it struck me that certain people have a natural edge together. I’ve always (and I think any polo player does) known that I play better with certain folks than others. What is surprising – and what hit me on Tuesday – was that it really doesn’t chalk up to individual skills.

Sure, you put two three outstanding players on a team and you’re pretty much assuring a good outcome. But honestly, I’ve been on teams that should have been tossed around like a Lolcat on the web but instead proved to be tough as nails and win games.

It comes down to inherent strategies: how well do certain players work out positions, roles, and recoveries. If you have three solid players on a team but not a single one of them is willing to chase a ball that got away from the pack, you’re losing that breakaway opportunity. Likewise, if you have a team of average players who are all willing to communicate, chase, defend, and pass – well  – they’re going to be a lot more useful as a team.

The first polo strategy I think any team can adopt is that of zone coverage. This depends very much on whether you’re in the offense or defensive half, but every team should  practice the zone coverage mindset. Read more

Sometimes Filming Ain’t So Grand

And sometimes it makes for a very quick little video featuring spills, thrills, and shit-talking.

Malletheadz Bike Polo Mallets

I just had this pop up in my inbox this morning – apparently there is a group called Malletheadz, and they make…bike polo mallet heads a la white pipe style:

The mallet heads cost fifteen bucks each (a bit high, don’t you think), and the people have been around since 2010:

Malletheadz was established in December 2010. Since our Generation I Mallets were introduced, our Engineering and Design Department designed and crafted our Generation II Mallets which have been proven to be stronger. ALL Malletheads feature a lifetime warranty.

photo from malletheadz

So what makes these mallet heads special?

Um…well…they are white. Aaaaannndd….they…uh…

lifetime warranty maybe?

They apparently have “Technicians”, “Engineers” and a “Research Department”. That’s unique.

According to the site, they are the sturdiest, best mallet heads available – one of the reasons I’ve never heard of them.

To be fair, I’d be happy to test one of these out and give a full review, but they do look suspiciously like the pipe you can get from USA plastics already. And I don’t know if I’m keen on anyone pre-drilling shaft holes on my mallet.

What’s Glove Got To Do With It? Bike Polo Gloves and YOU!

Wearing gloves in bike polo is a pretty typical thing to witness, and there are two overarching varieties of glove that you’ll find on the court: the thin, bike/handyman glove and the thick Lacrosse/Hockey glove.

bicycle glove

lacrosse glove

The two serve different purposes, really. The bicycle glove is meant to give you a little bit of protection against those nasty widdle scwapes and brwusey wooseys while giving some more control and grip, while the lacrosse glove give you great protection but can possibly make you as skilled with a mallet as a thumbless giant trying to put thread through the eye of a needle (not a giant sized thread and needle, just a regular, human…sized one…nevermind). Read more

Fixcraft/NAH Develop Bike Polo Specific Ball – What That Means for You!

Photo from 321 POLO!

The good folks at 321 POLO! announced to the world that Fixcraft an NAH have developed, tested, and are soon to release the very first hardcourt bike polo ball (pictured). According to the blog post:

The Hot Ball – a collaboration between Fixcraft, one of several player-owned businesses making hardcourt equipment, and North American Hardcourt (NAH), a non-profit, player-run organizing body. Fixcraft initiated the collaboration and financially backed the development of the ball; NAH facilitated the distribution and research by getting prototypes into the hands of players and gathering feedback. The result is a ball that stays harder than any other ball in hot weather and more visible when the lights get low.  In addition, further emphasizing the mutually supportive nature of the collaboration, Fixcraft offered to donate a portion of the profits from the ball to help NAH become more stable financially.

On one hand, I look alot like this guy. On the other hand, he never played polo.

When I first saw this post in my news feed last night (yeah, I totally knew about it before this morning ::hair flip::), I was immediately conflicted. Seriously. On one hand, anything bike polo is wonderful. We’ll be keeping money within our own ranks and be supporting the development of the sport. On the other hand, I always get a little worried when something that was Mad Max about bike polo goes and becomes more…controlled, I guess.

On the other hand (that makes three hands), I also really didn’t care. Overall impact might be very small – something for tourneys but not necessarily for everyday play. So I decided the best way to frame my 3 handed weirdness was to come up with some arguments/opinions that may occur in our little sport: Read more

Gotta Be Gritty: President’s Day Polo Social

Gotta Be Gritty posted a great set of pictures and a recap of the recent President’s Day Polo Social:

So San Antonio had this really awesome court (affectionately known as “The Slab”) that they built on top of a concrete foundation like five feet high. The sides were scavenged plywood from an old haunted house with pallets behind it, and the power was still connected so they could rig up lights. Not enough light for my camera, but plenty of light to play by. Yes, it had its imperfections and rough spots, not necessarily the NICEST court to play on, but the overall feel was pretty awesome. If someone was going to make a movie about polo, THAT is what the court would look like. I heard one person compare it to the community center in Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo; someone else, the headquarters of the Foot Clan from the first live-action TMNT.

Check out the great pics (featuring a dog in a hoodie) and the rest of the write up over at Gotta Be Gritty.