Tag Archive for Ginyu Force

Mallet Orientation, IMHO

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This is the first installment of a series of thoughts Chris Hill of Ginyu Force has about particular skills in bike polo. The series, (IMHO), will run whenever he sends me another article–but if this first article is any indication, we’re in for some awesome talk about building your skill set.  

There’s an abandoned tennis court down the street from my apartment. I like to roll over there after work and shoot around until sundown. Squint at a fence post, look down at the ball, squint back at the fence post, swing, and hope for that sweet “plink”. On the sidelines at a tournament, I once overheard someone say “50 shots a day” when talking about their practice routines, and I really took that to heart.

Since NA’s I’ve been thinking especially about shooting. It’s so hard. It seems like so many players can put the ball perfectly, exactly where they want every time from anywhere. But how? I love/hate that there isn’t a clear answer. There’s no right way to take a shot. Our sport is still DIY in the technique department. Leaning on the boards, watching NA’s these past few years, I’ve noticed common subtle tricks the top level players use: how they carry their mallet, positioning the ball just so, swinging a certain way. Trying to emulate these techniques has shown a surprising improvement in my shots. So Crusher and I came up with the idea to start a series about practicing and perfecting the fundamentals. I’m not trying to say that I’m of any caliber to be handing out lessons, but I’d like to share some of the things I think about when I’m poking around the ole’ tennis court.

First, mallet orientation.

I remember the Beavers playing at North Americans in 2013. It was my first NAs and I remember watching every one of their games. I was studying, trying to figure out what makes them the best in the World.  Besides being struck by their sheer size and stickball wizardry, I noticed they carried their mallets in a different way. Read more

Interview with Ginyu Force, 2014 SEQ Winners

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Ginyu Force, winners of the Southeast Qualifiers held just last weekend, were willing to sit down with me (read: write me emails) to answer a few questions I had about their team, the event, and their region. I was so happy to have learned about their win and that they’ll be heading off to North Americans where hopefully they’ll give me a free beer or something. Maybe a hug.

I’ll let Ginyu Force introduce themselves for the uninitiated:

[We are] just some goofballs from Tallahassee, Fl. Probably the same as every college grad. Working multiple jobs, thinking too much about polo, saving up pennies for Fixcraft gear, and asking off for every other weekend. Florida is alright though. Year round polo isn’t so bad.

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK! https://www.facebook.com/pages/GINYU-FORCE/121824234636364

Congrats on your SE Qualifier win! How are you feeling right now? 

 

Photo by Wade Thompson

Photo by Wade Thompson

Christopher Hill: Good. Really good. I’m pleased that we stuck to our game plans. We stayed calm and collected, and played “our” game all weekend. It feels awesome to win, especially two years in a row. I can’t wait to get to Minneapolis again!

Arnold Francisco: Feeling great! It feels good to play with Bob and Chris again. We spent the 3 or 4 tournaments we attended before SEQ playing with other friends so it was nice to play in this important tournament together. We had a good time and executed all of the goals we set for ourselves each match. 

Bob Delgado: We are extremely proud to represent our region for the second year in a row. We plan on bringing a solid group of teams to the North American Championship. It’s a shame we can’t bring more but we are doing everything we can to gain more spots for next season.

What were you surprised about at the qualifier?

C: Well, there’s a whole incident where 15 or so players awesome players from Florida were disqualified due to transportation issues (all were on the same bus, which broke down on the way to the qualifier). Long story short, the brackets became very skewed, teams got switched around and there were a lot of strong players that didn’t get their shot at qualifying. Toward the end of the PM bracket on Saturday they made it safely to the courts and organized a “Best of the Rest” tournament on a 3rd court that wasn’t being used in the tournament. It was an unfortunate incident.

Any teams that really put up a challenge? Why? 

C: Dauphins from Mobile are solid dudes. Their club has always been a rival and sister to ours. They know us really well and It’s always a pleasure to play them. I’m stoked to watch them at NA’s. 

Harmony Rose 3

Photo by Harmony Rose

Larry Hoover was tough because Kyle and Serg are both of TBP (well, Serg is formerly of.) They play pickup with us every week and know us better than anyone else there. But we stayed cool and capitalized. It’s going to be great to be in Minneapolis with those guys too. And you know we want to go to that NAH bench tournament! 

A: Dauphins from Mobile, AL. Mobile has always been a strong club with great people on and off the court. KG, Jaques and Bernard (who recently returned from a few months of school in France being sure to spend free time playing polo with some of the best in the world) play a very awesome game together. I’m glad they qualified because I believe they will represent the Southeast region as a strong and smart team.

The 2nd place team Larry Hoover, made up of 2 Tallahassee players, was also a challenge. They know how we play based upon their familiarity with how we play at pick up. The tenacity of their play style was certainly proven in their game against Dauphins as they came back from being down 2-0 to winning the game 4-3. I love teams that fight until the last second and I’m glad those boys are headed to NA’s!
Last but not least – Broken Bones from Memphis, TN. Solid guys and great players coming from a very young club in the region. They travel to a lot of tournaments and put a lot of work into being better polo players as well as trying to grow the Southeast. Our regional rep, Adam Hite, is on this team. They are very fast and their defense is incredibly strong. I can’t speak for Bob and Chris but they were definitely the team that made me hustle on the court. It was a great time.

B: We played a lot of good teams along the way.  The ones that stick out most are Larry Hoover (Mostly Tallahassee), Dauphins (Mobile) and Broken Bones (Memphis). We knew going in that those were the teams to beat. However the team wearing the Ninja Turtle shirts really caught us off guard. It took us over six minutes to break down their defense and score our first goal. 

As the #1 team in the SE region, how do you think you’ll stack up to the other region’s top teams?

C: Last year we were the quintessential “first timers” from your article on types of people. I was just so stoked to see top-level teams play for real. It was eye-opening. Getting shredded by the Beavers is always a humbling experience. But now we know what to expect. The stars in my eyes won’t be as blinding this year.

Wade Thomson 2

Photo by Wade Thompson

A:  We were lucky to not only qualify for NA’s in 2013 but also make the trip up to the biggest polo tournament on the continent. Last year was quite the eye opener for me. I think we were under the impression that there were some teams we were for sure going to beat. But one thing I learned is that every team there is there for a reason: they are the best players in their region and they traveled to show you why. I have changed a lot of aspects about how I play since then and I believe we know what to expect at a caliber of polo we rarely get to experience. Every game is different for us. There are a few basic rules we have set for ourselves but for the most part, we kinda figure out what we are going to do during a game 30 or so minutes before the match. So the short answer is: I have no idea how we will do but I know we’ll have a fucking blast finding out! One thing is for sure: I hope we get to play The Guardians! 

B: We will see come July. 

How has the SE region developed you as a team?

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Do You Have Plays, or Do You Have Ground Rules?

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Guidelines of play might be better for a team

I recently interviewed Ginyu Force (an interview that I’ve yet to post, but will soon) about their SEQ tournament win, and something struck me about one of Christopher Hill’s answers to a question I posed.

When I asked Chris what they felt the needed to work on or what they did well he mentioned:

We don’t have plays so much as ground rules. When we’re in this situation, do this. In that situation, do that.

J block (6)And that struck a chord in me (a C sharp, I think). For some reason, I had thought for a long time that the difference between an alright team and a great team was the ability of the team to have a series of plays in their back pocket. Point in fact, I had many conversations with Horse where we figured out certain plays and practiced them a bit. But as soon as Chris gave me that answer, a light switch flipped.

Of course great teams don’t just have plays. That’s too limiting. They have ground rules that they follow. This promotes not only independent and critical thinking, but allows each member of the team to react to whatever the other team throws at them.

Think of it this way: you have a certain play that really works 60% of the time. Well, what do you do when that 40% presents itself? If all you have is that play, any sort of communication or understanding you had with your fellow teammates disappears as soon as things go wrong.

With the “ground rules” method, you have contingencies for how to react to various things.

  • If the other team gets a breakaway, the player closest to the goal gets in front of it, the next closest tries to disrupt the ball carrier, and the furthest away blocks out other opponents from getting involved in the play.
  • If the ball is hit downcourt, player X hangs back, player Y pursues the ball, and player Z gets in front of the goal.
  • When your team gets the ball, reset and then move as a group spaced out evenly, etc.

It’s not quite a play, as it doesn’t depend on a set of perfect situations and positions–it depends on reacting well to outside criteria; which really is all we do in bike polo anyway. It makes your team more apt to act in a way that is positive and usable for the next series of moments (recovering the ball, shooting, passing, scoring a goal, etc) rather than putting all of the work into a hopefully successful play.

Anyway, it struck me as an interesting shift in how one can look at plays and ground rules, and I thought I’d share it.