Tag Archive for Hardcourt Polo

5 Ways to Destroy Your Bike Polo Club

destroy

Bike Polo clubs are a lot like a family. They are full of people who we really didn’t necessarily choose to be associated with (bike polo brings out all sorts of people), they involve yelling at each other at times, and sometimes you’d just like to step away from the whole lot for a week or so.

But, most times, you feel pretty lucky to be part of your club, and you might even go so far as to say you love the people who are part of it.

But like any good (most likely dysfunctional) family, it takes work to keep that trust and happiness up.

I’m not going to talk about those things, necessarily–well, I am, but in a backwards sort of way.

I want to talk about how to completely destroy your club. From the inside. Covert like. You’re a ninja of club destruction now.

not talkingThe first step in destroying your club is to stop communicating. It’s the single best way to make your club loose that mushy, lovey-dovey feeling of an actual community. Don’t talk about your concerns, don’t talk about club-wide initiatives, and certainly don’t talk about how to make your club stronger.

What are you doing in my developer, you goofy lady?!

What are you doing in my developer, you goofy lady?!

Next, hold a grudge. It can be against a person or several people (even the whole club if you’ve got that much rage to call on. It can be about a situation that occurred sometime while playing that nobody apologized for. Hell, it could be about nothing in particular, just so long as people in your club know that you’re angry. Holding a grudge is a great way to make people feel uncomfortable at all times, and that’s what you’re after. With every pickup day, let the grudge build until it becomes a big ol’ wet blanket that covers and hides any sort of fun bike polo used to be.

holeAnother outstanding way to destroy your club? Inter-club dating and noodling. Now we ourselves have a famous Lancaster bike-polo-playing couple, and they seem to make it work rather well, actually, so I can’t speak from direct experience here, but I have noticed time and time again that clubs get pretty weird when you mix sex into them. The problem isn’t when the folks are dating, of course, but afterwards. At most you’ll have a somewhat present tension when the two are together at pickup, at worst you’ll lose a player (or several players as sides are drawn and “girls/guys only!” tree houses are put up courtside). 

So basically, if you’re going to date someone from your club, you need to get married forever. Problem solved. Life partnering.

passive resistA more subtle way of destroying a club involves a little trick Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi taught me a while ago, and that’s passive resistance. Refuse to help your club in any way. Stop the urge to be useful, and instead only complain when something goes wrong, but don’t give praise when something goes right. Ignore the calls for help, let Timmy drown in the well.

Refusing to help is a good way of spreading apathy across the club, and soon it will be impossible for anyone to even get the court swept before playing. And you’ll be laughing (LAUGHING!) as you watch the pillars crumble. Or playing the violin, if I want to tie in some classic tropes.

mrrudeFinally–and this is probably the most satisfying–be as rude as possible to new players. Make them feel guilty for being as bad as they surely are at the start of their bike polo adventure. Yell at them on court, and talk down about them on the sidelines. Hell, make sure they know that you don’t really want to play with them, and throw A games EVERY SINGLE TIME you pick up the mallets. If they want to succeed, they’ll get better. Otherwise they clearly don’t care enough, and who has time for that.

With these simple efforts, you’ll have no club in no time!

5 Ways to Sneak Polo Into Your Workday

five

I never felt the need to say it outright, but just in case you cats haven’t figured it out yet, I kinda think about polo more than most other things in my life. In fact,  I make it a point to pat my polo bike whenever I walk past it, and I carry my mallets in my car so I can hold onto one when I’m driving to work.

I don’t think this is irrational. Stop looking at me like that, non-believer.

Actually, let me just make a graph of what I spend time thinking about, scientifically constructed of course:

Crusher Thoughts

 

With so much time spent thinking about polo, I often find myself unsatisfactorily distracted with other things interrupting my happy-time daydreaming. I figure I’m not the only one dealing with this, so I thought I’d share a few ways that I get around the burning horror that is the workday and provide yourself with some respite with polo-ey thoughts.

Visualize Playing a Match

thinkingI don’t know where I heard this story, so it might not at all be true (but that doesn’t change it from being a good story): an American POW in Vietnam found himself locked in a container that only had enough room for him to sleep in the fetal position and stand with his back and knees bent. It’s pretty horrible, but he realizes he needs to entertain himself or else he’ll go insane. So what does he do? He imagines himself golfing. Everyday, he stands up to a hunch and imagines he’s on the green, swinging at a ball and putting and everything else.

Well, he gets out of Vietnam, eventually, and goes to play golf: and his game is significantly better than what it was before he got locked up in a little cell. Reason being that he visualized playing so much that he fundamentally understood the game better.

And while I certainly don’t draw a direct line of comparison between a cubicle and a POW cell, the mindset can certainly be the same: escape the thing you’re doing by using your brain and imagination.

Sneak in Polo Videos

They are all over the place, and it won’t take much to have a little screen of it going while you’re doing other work. Sure, you’d be a dummy to ONLY have that up on your screen, but even just listening to the sounds of a match is a great way to escape the tedium of the workday.

Get Other People Into It

I’m known as the polo guy at work. It makes people stop me in the hallway to ask about upcoming “matches” with “other teams.” It gives me a chance to talk about polo with the people outside of my own head, and is a great little breather between writing articles about Legacy Support and drinking much too much diet soda.

Plus, I have in the past recruited people to come play! Sure, one quit playing and the other only came out once, but still!

Visit Forums/Websites

LoBPThere are lots of places on the web to get insight on the sport. Between blogs, forums, and club-specific sites, you can almost certainly delve into something you’ve never thought about before on a weekly basis. And really, who doesn’t like getting unreasonably upset at another person for a very tiny reason from time to time (looking at almost any forum on LoBP (ALL HAIL).

WRITE AN ARTICLE FOR A WEBSITE!

Okay, so maybe this is just me, but I think there are lots of very smart people in bike polo, and there are lots of websites that are looking for smart people to give their opinions. The open word document is universally accepted as work in the western world, so why not subvert the system and write up a polo blog post? Send it out to 321, GOALHOLE, Boston bike polo or any of the other great polo sites out there. Chances are high that the folks there will read and publish your work (if it’s worth a damn), which will give more voices to the sport and give you some time to really think about polo.

I MEAN I NEVER DO THAT, RIGHT? I’M WRITING THIS FROM MY HOUSE YESTERDAY EVENING.

First Look: FBM Ballista

FBM Ballista (11)

Last year, custom polo bikes were all about the sudden and urgent shift to 26” wheels.   Polo specific frames were popping up left and right aimed at the smaller, slightly more agile wheel size, while the 700c crowd was left with a choice between the MKE Bruiser….and……the MKE Bruiser.

It (finally) feels like the steam from the 26” revolution has slightly cooled, and we’re finally starting to see support for those preferring the speed and familiarity of the larger wheel.   FBM stepped up to the plate early with their FGFS Sword frame, which was fairly well received as a workable polo frame, and then really got people excited with the release of their all new Ballista frame, a prototype of which was seen under the asses of Koyo Maeda and Evan George of Assassins fame.

A production pre-order happened, monies were exchanged ($750 to be exact), and quite a few people (our own Jon Kokus included) waited not so patiently by the door for the big brown van to arrive bearing gifts.

Well, for some east coasters, Yesterday was that day!

Here is your first look at the 2014 FBM Ballista polo frameset.

 

2014 Eastside Thaw: A Reporter’s Diary, Day 2

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When I wake up, it’s to the gentle sounds of my phone’s impression of wildlife. From the point I lift my hand up to switch it off, my body is screaming in pain.

My fingers are swollen, my wrists won’t bend, my elbows feel like they’ve been shattered and my shoulders aren’t even pretending to be functional.

My neck is strained, by back aches, and my spine is a’screaming.

My legs are pretty alright, though.

So it’s in this state that I wake up the rest of those staying in the room: Kyle by shaking his shoulder, Horse by Kyle’s exclamations, and Yeager’s already up just by virtue of the noise everyone else makes. Then it’s a round robin of people trying to stretch and realizing their bodies aren’t quite into it, and then staring blankly at the wall or phones or anything and wondering if maybe not playing for 2 months makes the first tourney a bit hard to get through.

The answer, dear reader, is yes.

squidbagBut we trudge to breakfast where I begin to gather the extent of the uselessness of my hands. I can’t quite manipulate the fork or knife, and sitting up straight is difficult. Still, I eat the mysterious yellow sponges and meat circles and head back upstairs to dress for the day.

The 1 minute bike ride from the back of the hotel to my car hurts in ways that I will never be able to express.

The second day is a bench tourney, wherein about 9 players are joined by a captain who chose them. While I had my doubts as to how Alexis perceived my performance the day before, it seems I did well enough to get picked up into his team.

“I think you and I have a good feel for each other now,” he says to me, “so we’ll have a little advantage in there.”

I think about telling him my ailments, but Ben Z. is within earshot and I don’t want him to give me his judgement face.  Read more

Lefty Brilliance: Learning to Work With Wrongsiders

lefty

The Wrongsiders

Wrong-handed, sinister, southpaw. The lefty players of the world (your humble editor included) are subjected to a slew of pejorative terms from the larger right-handed masses. And while we struggle to use scissors or to avoid ink marks on our pinkies, we have our secret benefits as well.

For instance, did you know left-handers typically die earlier than right handers do?

Wait.

Okay. Wait.

A recent thread on LoBP (ALL HAIL) asked what the future of left handers was in bike polo. The last time I looked, the general consensus was that there should be a lefty army tournament, which would be really fun.

But the sentiment is clear: left handers are a misunderstood bunch, with their plays often accompanied by a growled “lefty bullshit” from a goalie or shouted by some right handed plebeian on the sidelines.

Furthermore there are players out there who simply don’t know how to play with a left handed player (or are rusty when the opportunity comes up). Fear not! I will give you a few helpful hints. Read more

Scoring Goals as a Form of Social Proof

moustache

I received another mysterious missive from writer HandlebarMustache420, this time discussing his/her view of what it’s like to be new in the sport and what he/she believes is the way to get into the culture. While I don’t exactly agree with the conclusions drawn, I do appreciate different voices and views, so why not share it with the whole polo world (all 12 of you that read the site): 

newDo you remember your first tournament? I do. It was a nightmare. I didn’t know anyone, obviously, and I walked around the pre-tourney party like a lost kid in a supermarket, eagerly looking for someone to hold my hand and glom onto in conversation. I didn’t know what to talk about. “Where are you from?” sounded trite and unnecessary in my head. I had only been playing polo for six months and I was intimidated. I felt uncomfortable and out of place. More than that, I was playing with some random kids out of necessity, and that, combined with my lack of skill and experience, guaranteed us to fall into a dead fucking last position in the bracket. It was enough to make me want to quit polo entirely.

utra playerNow let’s fast forward two years to my most recent polo tournament experience. I remember walking into the party and feeling like the long skinny Tetris piece— because it seemed like everybody was waiting for me to show up and wow this is such a terrible analogy, it makes me feel physically ill. What changed? Sure, I’m marginally better at bike polo, but I have still never won a tournament. I don’t drink excessively or do a lot of drugs or party too hard like some cool polo kids I know. What is it then that makes people desirable as acquaintances? Read more

Your Snowed-In Survival Kit

survival kit

Looking out my window, I can tell this snow storm is a survival situation. If you’re anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic to New England, chances are you’re in the same frozen boat that I am in : the snow is building up, the car is disappearing under it, and your supply of whiskey is concerningly low not that you’re looking at it so early in the morning, right? 

But if my stint in the Boy Scouts and half-hearted prepper-of-a-boss have taught me anything, it’s the indomitable spirit of survival-ism. So I’m here to make sure all of us locked in at home/at work make it through this beauty of a snowstorm by using the

LANCASTERPOLO.COM HARDCOURT SURVIVAL KIT

VHS

Item 1: Videos

When you open your kit, you’ll first find some tried and true cures for being stuck inside: The following Mr. Do Videos, which will more than likely take some of the strain off:

World Class Polo: http://mrdovideo.com/2013/10/world-class-polo/ 

Ladies Army 3 Final Game: http://mrdovideo.com/2013/10/ladies-army-3-final-game/

North Americans 2013, Beavers Vs. Guardians: http://mrdovideo.com/2013/10/the-final-showdown-beavers-vs-guardians/ 

MREItem 2: Articles To Chew On

So the videos didn’t keep you as warm as you were expecting, huh? Well, looks like it’s time to go a little deeper into the survival kit. Why not spend some time reading about the sport.

Heck, if you can’t play it but can’t stop thinking about it, why not make yourself a little more heady about the subject and impress all your friends by being able to cite a blog about the sport? They’ll love that in June when you manage to get yourself shoveled out. These articles, like the finest of MREs, are a mix of sugary sweet, heavy energy, and little bottles of hot sauce that take FOR-EV-ER to open and really don’t have quite enough in them, do they?

The Sugar

I Made Bike Polo Memes

More Meme Mashup

The Bike Polo Dictionary

16 Signs You’re Turning Into A Bike Polo Player

The Protein

Get Better At Fast Shots And Bad Passes

Stop Thinking About Goals

Bike Polo Pregame Warm-ups

Tips to Become a Bike Packing Guru

The Unidentifiable Package Inside the MRE You’re Going to Eat Anyway  All Kinds of Polo

50 Shades of Ruben, Vol 10

 A Message From MalletHeadz

crumbsThe Bottom Of The Pack

What? It’s still snowing? Well, I didn’t want to break this out, but I will if you’re down to the last thread of survival: the LOBP forums.

May God Have Mercy On Your Soullllssssss

No, but really. If you need to take up the rest of your life time, hopping into the forums and just disagreeing with some people is a great way to take up six hours or so. That should see you through: https://leagueofbikepolo.com/forum/active

I Don’t Have a Club

clubhouse

I remember, maybe two weeks after joining this club (known as Lancaster City Bike Polo at the time), I felt like I was part of an organization. Loose, perhaps, but there was still a sense of order and responsibility. Polo elders had their say, Horse and Kyle seemed like the leaders of the group, and when something needed doing, it got done.

It was that feeling that first drew me into the sport, because I certainly didn’t have any sort of skill on a bike and I couldn’t hit a ball to save my life–yes, yes, I still can’t. shut up. But that sense of being part of something larger than myself drew me in, and it made me feel as though playing great polo was secondary, perhaps, to being part of it.

Within the first few months of playing, we had a few club meetings at bars just to make sure our club was healthy and heading the right way. We talked about where we could play other than the middle school tennis courts. We talked about getting sweatshirts made and I brought up starting a little blog to get ourselves known in the larger polo world.

And behold: we had sweatshirts made with our club’s logo, we found Fairview (where we still play), and Lancasterpolo.com has grown up to be what it is now. Accomplishment. Achievement.

Fathers Day Bike Polo (72) (Copy)But that was almost three years ago now, and somewhere between then and now, my club stopped feeling like a club at all. It seems like we’re just a bunch of people who gather at appointed times to drink, shit-talk each other, and play polo.

And that sounds like a great way to spend time, does it not?

But let’s look at the trouble in this ongoing scenario, and it’s one that’s been bothering me for some time now.

With the majority of Lancaster United seeming rather disinterested in growing to a regional level of play (i.e. going to tourneys with the expectation of competing), and with not a single team existing within the club itself that manages to go to tourneys (the closest being team Scrimmage, Ted, Troy and me, all of us playing at ESPIs in Frederick once), every pickup day is more or less just that. There is no drive in the club, and that lack of direction makes for “meh” pickup days, at least for me.

I have heard of other clubs imploding, of course. The common thread in those stories is typically that the people in the club stopped caring about polo and instead cared about just having a fun, drinky time with friends. They used polo as a vehicle to see buddies and shoot the shit.

Again, I can hear you polokins out there screaming that’s the point, you dummy. You’re taking it too seriously!

I hear you, my dear readers, I do. But let’s say I want to compete on a bigger level than just a pickup game. Read more

A Little Strategy: The Hand Drill

Hand drills

Let me let you in on a little secret about bike polo: there are only three people out there who want you to miss your goals–out of six people! Assuming that your own team mates (or yourself) aren’t hoping that you’ll massively flub the next shot, you’ve really only got to worry about those other 3 players and what they plan to do.

In my limited amount of time in this sport, I’ve found that the best way to get rid of those 3 is to cut them out of the play. One possible way is a little maneuver I call the hand drill.

The basics are simple: keep your polokins spread out in such a way that the opposing team finds itself either a. stretching itself out to cover or b. turtling into the goal, giving your team free range of the court.

I don’t have my Tagami-grams on me, but to illustrate:

 

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Basic Hand drill positions: assume one X has the ball

This is one potential way that the positioning could happen, if the other players are indeed playing man-on-man defense.  You’ll see that there are multiple opportunities to shoot the ball, and the path of ball/player movement can be readily shifted:

2013-11-12 08.00.21

Ball movement

Player movement

Player movement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But let’s say that the other team does indeed turtle up. Well, then what you

2013-11-12 07.59.06

have, dear friends, is a shooting gallery. You just use as much court as you want, attempt to trip up the goalies, and make sure to keep someone who either has good legs or is far enough back to stop any potential turn-overs.

There is often a problem with players bunching up on the ball or ball carrier, and by keeping this little strategy in mind, you can, potentially, have a situation where all of the other team’s players are too close to one of your own, allowing the other two (if spread out as such) to get the ball and make an easy goal.

 

Top Players Don’t Do Tricks

dogtrick

Why The Basics are Still Best

If there was one thing I was expecting to see at Worlds, it was some amazing trickery with the ball. I mean, these are the top players in the world competing against each other. Maybe there’d be a moment where one of them would actually make the ball disappear, only to re-appear moments later a foot from the goal where a team-mate would be waiting to zap it into the goal with laser-eyes.

Laser eyes, everybody.

Instead, I saw quite a lot of the same stuff I see on the Lancaster United courts: just performed without flaw and consistently. I saw rudimentary bike polo.

The very best players/teams established themselves as the best by working on the basics of bike polo (mallet control, keeping the ball protected, and intelligent shooting) over and over. They train on the same thing that new players are learning, and that’s what makes them outstanding players.

Consider the moment that you get the basics down. I realize this is kind of a rhetorical question, as I don’t think many of us have the date written down of when we stopped falling over every three seconds and were able to actually engage in a play, but let’s use generalities. Once you managed to become an “okay” player, you probably started working on the more exotic things in bike polo: scoop passes, nose pivots, etc., etc. While these are all certainly valuable in the sport, they are far removed from the more basic (and arguably more valuable) skills of passing, shooting, and ball control.

The Beavers are a great example of this simple truth: they are fully capable of doing amazing, flashy things–but they oftentimes will stick to the basics, and that’s what leads them to, oh I don’t know, winning world championships. They don’t depend on fancy tricks to get them goals, they keep those tricks in their back pocket and instead rely on the ability to always cycle through the standards of the sport.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t learn how to do wheelie turns (Horse, stop crying. I’m not saying that), but you shouldn’t think that being able to do a wheelie turn is going to get you to the podium. What will get you there is dogged practice of the most fundamental elements of bike polo. You need to be able to keep the ball on the end of your mallet without thinking. You need to be able to use your team-mates as buffers and passing opportunities. You need to work on shooting from close, mid, and far ranges, not just micro-shots and not just huge, court-long ones.

A mastery of the basics, dear readers, are what make for champions.