Tag Archive for hardcourt

The 6 People I Plan to See at Worlds

We are now a mere day away from October, or as I like to call it, Worldstober. With the heralding of the greatest month put together by Augustus Caesar comes, likewise, the greatest bike polo tournament put together by the people who put together bike polo tournaments.

This will be my first time ever traveling to the championship, and I’m more than a smidge excited by the idea. Point in fact, I’ve been daydreaming about the sorts of people I may or may not meet while attending and reporting on the scene. Here are a few of my more favorite potential attendees/players:

Paul GiamattiThat Guy I Only Know From The LoBP Boards

I’ve conversed with him, challenged him, made jokes with him and ultimately feel as though I have a pretty good understanding of the kind of person this internet buddy is.

And then I’ll meet him, and I won’t believe he’s the same person at all. You’re that short?! YOU ARE MISSING AN EAR?! (note: I’m probably going to be this guy for a lot of you. Just accept my hobbit-ness.)

The Super-Pro who is really approachable/The Super-Pro who is really just as scary as I imagined:

beavsI’ve never met the beaver boys. Any of them, I don’t believe. But I’m horrified to talk to any of them. Chances are they are either going to live up to my nightmares of them ( “Lancaster Polo? What’s that? ::pushes me away while someone pulls down my pants::) or they are going to be alright guys who are willing to chat me up a little bit ( “Lancaster polo? I heard of you!” ::pushes me away with a smile while someone pulls down my pants while laughing::).  Either way, I think it’ll be interesting to see what players from the top teams in the US make of me running around and asking for a few moments of time.

I’m not worried about it. No, really. I’m sure it’ll be juuuuust fine. Read more

My Favorite Last Game & the Importance of Gumption

gumption

Yesterday’s pickup had an interesting dynamic, as some of the always-there, always-serious players were missing (notably Horse and Hbach), leaving some room for a different style of play to emerge–this style of play being a more talkative, more learning style, I would say. I don’t want you to misunderstand me, here: we did play some very tough games, but when one of us would mess up both teams would laugh or give a bit more leeway on the rules because, hey, daddy isn’t around to keep us in line, amiright?

Anyway, the more relaxed atmosphere brought on a weird sort of thing that doesn’t normally happen around these parts: everyone was playing to their own potential. Not to someone’s expectation nor to what they thought was necessary, but to their own abilities. This meant that each player was bringing their own skillset to the court, which made for some really varied, interesting games.

But then Hbach did show up and ruined everything.

Well no, he didn’t (of course) ruin anything–he showed up in the last hour with a fresh pair of legs and the whole course of the day’s play shifted again. Now I had to figure out how to shut the non-tired guy down or, if he was on my team, utilize him as best I could. It was a fun mental exercise for weary bones to undertake. Read more

NAH: You’re Doing It Right: Reffing Certification

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Just a quick note to bring up something that the NAH is currently working on to help facilitate better/more reffing in the NAH. If you look here on ref.nahardcourt.com, you’ll find a new site where players can (either now or in the future) investigate training and certification, a “My Training” tab where you can (I suspect) keep track of what training you have achieved.

The site looks clean and professional, and it seems like the aim is to create a certified reffing body for our sport (which is something I and many have been calling for). Over on League of Bike Polo (ALL HAIL) there is a sister post explaining the site and what it aims to do (including a quiz required for at least 1 player on every NA team to take, and required for those who are interested in being a ref for Nationals this year).

This is what I’m talking about with where the NAH needs to go: requirements for participation, certifications, and responsibility. I’m very excited to see where this development leads, and equally excited to be certified as a ref because, frankly, I have a loud voice and those striped shirts are slimming.

Check out the League post here, and don’t forget to check out the new ref NAH site here. Give some deep thought to becoming a ref and shaping this sport in a revolutionary way.

This is where it starts and ends: patience.

patient

Patience will win out any level of skill or raw power in bike polo. This comes from both my own experience and what I’ve seen as your humble online narrator of the sport. Patience is one of the horsemen of the polocalypse, and if you align it with your own play style, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a stronger player.

Patience starts (and is potentially the most crucial) in the beginning of a polo career. Because, frankly, you’re going to probably suck when you start. In fact, I think 99.95 percent of players are absolutely horrible when they start playing our sport, so don’t let yourself feel bad if you do. The trick of it is having the patience to fail and fail again. Laugh when you fall over, laugh when you miss the ball. Hell, you should just be a little chuckle-fest for the first few months you’re playing the sport, really–because you’re not going to be good, and that’s exactly where you should be.

Patience then moves to skill building: you’re not going to scoop on your first try, nor are you going to nail every pass that zips your way from an over-excited team mate. You’re going to mess up the things that other players seem to do so easily. Yes, you know how to play the game now, but you aren’t, somehow, Nick Vaughan. I know, ,it’s surprising to me, too.

But again, if you’ve got patience you’ll develop those skills. You’ll work on them until you learn how to do them or you learn that you aren’t really very good at them at all, and develop your own set of skills that make you a competitive player.  Read more

You’re Gonna Lose That Joust

WRONG

321 POLO!, arch nemesis of Lancasterpolo.com, recently had an article featuring various polo players discussing the merits and styles of jousting. When I first saw the title and the summary I thought: “yes, this is my chance to take 321 POLO to task!

But then I saw that the article was mostly on how players handle jousting, and all the wind was taken out of my crushery sails. As always 321 POLO! was doing their job as a great resource for bike polo players blah blah blah blah.

What I wanted to talk about was strategy for surviving a lost joust: how to keep your team from instantly being on the defensive. I’m just going to act like the article over on 321 was about how you have to joust and win. It isn’t, but this is yellow journalism at its best anyway, so just deal with it.

YOU’RE SO WRONG IF YOU THINK YOU NEED TO WIN THE JOUST!

Point in fact, I think it’s sometimes a better starting position to lose a joust, and that’s not only  because my legs are stubby and I’m the slowest player in my club (according to Lumberjack’s children) (It still hurts).

Allow me to pontificate on the virtues of not taking the joust win as super important: Read more

50 pictures from Hot and Heavy polo

July 6th Polo (24)

This Saturday was very cool for many reasons, none of them being the blistering heat coming from mother nature’s sweaty pits.

We had guests Rob, Peter and Greg B., it was my first polo day since my heart wussed out on me, and it also counted as my birthday polo adventure.

Overall, I felt pretty alright playing. I tried to take it easy via consistent time in goal and sitting out every other game. My ol’ ticker seemed to appreciate that. Outside of that, it was hot as all get-out and I think most of us were thoroughly exhausted by the end of play.

Here are some pictures to enjoy of the festivities, courtesy of our resident much-better-than-I-will-ever-be photographer, Gretchen. I hope your long-weekend polo happy fun times were just as…uh…happy funnish.

Making the Most of the Least: Working With Bad Players

kid on bike

Yes, I’m talking about myself. Let’s just work off that premise for awhile.

This may come as a shock to some of you, but not every player you play with is A+. Yes, I know, just let that sink in a moment.

But the worst thing I’ve seen – worse than the worst-est player ever, is a good player who basically shuts down because they just knoowww that there’s no point to really trying. So instead of a half decent game you get:

  • A under-performing player who feels guilty/frustrated
  • A good player who keeps shaking their head and looking out at the other team like “well, I’m sorry, just make it quick”
  • A typical player (the third on the team) who is trying to remember what all the songs in The Little Mermaid were

and that’s just not good enough, friends.

So you’ve got someone on your team who has, at best, a love of the sport (and not much else). Chances are you aren’t in a tourney with this person, you’re in pickup. Let that be your first lesson: This game doesn’t matter in any way, shape, or form. You are playing for the joy of playing – and that’s what your under-performing player has in spades. So just stop thinking that you have to put the pressure on.

Also consider this: everybody, no-matter how you think of them, as at least one inherent ability on the court. Maybe it’s disrupting plays or maybe it’s calling out positions of other players – hell, maybe it’s just hitting the ball out of play. Find the player’s strength and let them use it. This boosts their confidence and also their ability to help you out.  Read more

The Difference Between Us: Recognizing Mistakes v. Style

janus

Horse, for better or worse, is my bike polo coach. I think it’s a mix of us talking about polo so much, he being the guy who got me involved in the first place, and the fact that Horse pretty much has an opinion on everything (and is very willing to share it). It works out pretty well, as he’s one of the best players we’ve got and knows how to explain plays, techniques, and other sundry details of the sport to me in ways that a writer can understand (“Crusher, shooting the ball on the goal accurately is like the way a woman’s hair looks in the moonlight – it’s just right, man. It’s just right”).

However, there are times when he makes suggestions where I just get peeved. It’s not when I’ve made a big, obvious mistake and he points it out (though that does curdle my girdle as well), but more when he points out a way that I play as something than needs worked on.

This got me to thinking: are there times when players are trying to correct something that really shouldn’t be corrected? I don’t think anyone would deny that people are all individuals and there’s not a single best way to play polo, so why is it so hard to recognize when another player simply has a different style than your own?

New?

newguyThe most obvious identifier is how long they’ve been playing the sport: if they are only a month in, it’s safe to assume that suggesting things is not trying to impose your play style on someone else. In fact, the worst thing to do would be not telling a new player what they are doing wrong.

Dangerous for no reason? Read more

Monday Morning Bike Polo Strategy: J Block

J block (6)

Bike polo strategy is often maligned by those who think the two are oxymorons. You go out, you hit the ball around until you get it in the goal, or you curse a lot and get drunk.

And we all know how fun that particular strategy is.

But let’s–just for the sake of Monday fun–say that you want to work on some strategerie for your next pickup day or tourney. Well, why not try this mediocre-ly named strategy I’ve often seen a few of our top level players pull off in pickup (often on me, and often resulting in my hopping off my bike and chasing someone down like an anamorphic toad):

I say, give me back that ball, ye douche!

I say, give me back that ball, ye douche!

The setup is simple: the opposing team has possession and you want to get that ball away from them. While this is generally the aim of most games (getting the ball away from the opposing team), this little maneuver can help you do so quickly while at the same time eliminating a potential threat to the scoring teammate.

Just a note: this whole move is really a matter of seconds – don’t let the slowness of showing how it’s done make you think it takes half of the game. Also note that I’ll be using Tagamigrams™. Read more

Reading Minds: Know What The Other Guy Is Going To Do

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D’ya ever play against someone who just was everywhere? You try to move the ball up and he’s blocking you – you try to pass to a teammate and that one guy is right in between you as soon as the ball is away.

That guy – man, what a jerk!

It’s like he knows exactly what you’re trying to do and exactly what he can do to stop it. He knows how to “read” you, if you want to use the appropriate parlance. It’s a frustrating skill when used against you, but a terrific skill to use against other players. So how can you work on getting that skill up to snuff?

First, I recommend watching players play. Oh really? Yes, really. Instead of looking for opportunities to trash talk every single pickup game you’re not in, watch to see what hints people give to other players on their team (assuming they are actually communicating to teammates, of course). Look to see how they approach the goal and when they decide to shoot – and when they are trying to be fancy and just want to trick the goalie.

Watching your own club is good for two reasons: it moves you closer to learning how to  disrupt plays, and it also helps clue you in to rapidly finding other player’s indicators ( a useful skill to pick up for tourney play).

codeAfter you’ve observed your own club as if they were water buffalo, try to catch those indicators while playing. If you can, while actively participating in play, see the dead giveaways from other players as to what move they are going to try, you’ll be well on your way to disruption. Read more