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.