There is a standing rule in Lancaster United and, I think, probably one in a good number of clubs out in the
poloverse polanet that states, simply, take it easy on newer players. It makes sense and it helps introduce someone to the sport without introducing them to your shoulder/the court surface at the same time.
But I think there isn’t a standing rule on when to stop being so gentle/careful with our club, and it hurts us in the long run, probably.
It depends, of course, on how well individual players progress from being brand new to a bit experienced, but if the more experienced players don’t start introducing the other elements of the game to them (steals, easy blocks, etc.) they’ll never learn how to deal with those problems, and grow as a player.
Naturally, you’ll feel like a jerk the first time you steal the ball away from a new player who, up to that point, had been able to watch you circle them like a predator while they made their way to the goal for a shot. But that’s okay. Feel like a jerk. The sooner you can turn the pressure up on them, the sooner they’ll be able to grow into a more well-rounded player (and the sooner they stop feeling like a disadvantage on the court, which is something that can surely happen to a player who’s been at it for a while but is still coddled).
With the more recent recruits we’ve had here in Lancaster, there have been a few times where the phrase “it’s okay to play against me like everyone else” has been said. In each and every case, doing what was asked–playing against the newer player as you would anyone else–has resulted in a exponential growth in their enjoyment and confidence.
This suggestion–to be aware of how long you keep the training wheels on someone–isn’t flying in the face of playing against someone the same way they play against you (which I think is very important to do during pickup, too). If a player is not into checking and heavy contact, don’t be that jerk. However, don’t hold back if the new player once to see what that game is like. There’s a chance they’ll tell you to tone it down or that they decided they aren’t ready for it quite yet; but that should be their decision, not yours.
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