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Bike Polo Pregame Warmups

March 28, 2013

Few athletes do nothing before a competitive game. Even professional athletes have their share of odd, pregame rituals. Wade Boggs used to eat a whole chicken before each game. Alexander Ovechkin apparently likes to get laid before and after he takes the ice, although who knows if he or Maria can handle it. Some bike polo players probably like to enjoy a little grass before they play, but not in the same way Les Miles does before and during games.

Warming up for bike polo

We all have some pregame preparation, goofy or not. Ball handling, stretching, mallet waving, rocking out to Taylor Swift or whatever, we do loosen up. So we decided to ask a couple of seasoned, talented guys this question: What do you do to warm up before hitting the court?

Jason Stevenson (Portland): Usually the three of us —  Arlyn, Eric and I — go for a ride away from the courts for about a half hour of low intensity riding. We talk about the upcoming match and our approach. We then do some jumps out of the saddle maxing out about 10 times, then cool down on the way back to the venue and stretch out.

Nick McLean (Lexington): You know that first pickup game of the day where you feel like you’ve never played polo before? You want to avoid that feeling in a tournament game where seeding or elimination is at stake. Warming up before a game is a simple way to prepare yourself for the intense situations you find yourself in during a competitive polo game, and something I believe is largely undervalued. Before a game there are a few things I try to work on to get ready.

1. Passing: Find a patch of unoccupied pavement (preferrably the same surface you are about to play on) and hit the ball back and forth with a teammate. Start off a few feet apart and slowly increase the distance. You don’t need to be on your bike to do this. You basically just want to warm up the wrist/arm and get used to handling the ball at that temperature. If scooping/wristy stuff is part of your game, get some of that in as well.

2. Bike and ball handling: Grab your bike, mallet, a ball and spend a minute or two dribbling the ball around. Think about the typical moves you make in a game and work the kinks out prior to game time. If you are into endo or wheelie turns or skid a lot, now would be a good time to warm those up and familiarize your bike with the court surface.Wheelie turn in polo

3. Shooting: Often there isn’t a great place near the courts to practice shooting. Be ready to go on the court as soon as your team is on and you might have time to take a few. Warm up the shots that you generally take in a game. Start off going for accuracy rather than power, but take a few rippers as well.

4. Body: Stretch, stay hydrated and make sure you get something to eat through the day. Dial in your buzz! Seriously. You are at a polo tournament. If you are partaking, learning to ride that line between nervousness and recklessness can save you some skin and maybe a goal or two. Figure out what works for you, and if it’s bourbon, come find me.

Alright, now tell us: How do you warm up?

Photos courtesy Sheffield Tiger and salvolg
Hot Tip, Product

Fixcraft’s Bag of Tricks

January 18, 2013

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Fixcraft is trying out some new things, and you can test them out! Go to the Prototype section on their website to check out the RT 0.8mm shaft, the 2500 Pick Up head, and the LIFELINE Long/Short Pull Dual Linear Cable. Try them out, give Fixcraft some insight, and let’s advance polo together!

Culture, Editorial, Hot Tip

Election Season is Upon Us

January 16, 2013

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I’m sorry to say that Tim Altnether is not running for any real presidential position. Maybe the President of Party, but there wouldn’t need to be an election for that since his 2012 Lock-In attire speaks for itself. I’m also sorry to say that the real purpose of this article is not to show off my excellent Microsoft Paint photo editing skills. The real purpose is to discuss the upcoming NAH elections. (This information is relevant to the entire polo world, not just NAH members.)

Since every club in the world does things a little differently, it is important for the poloverse to have a place to come together and discuss what has and has not worked for them. League of Bike Polo is a fantastic site, in that sense. It allows for the hashing out of problems that players experience, as well as giving them the ability to express an opinion, no matter how poor their argument may be. This ability to come together is a great first step in allowing polo to grow and maybe even give it some legitimacy in the sports world.

While discussing the problems is the first step, the remaining steps are made by the real decision makers. As we all know, at the end of the day the real decision makers are not the people posting on the forums, but they are the club and region representatives. The North American Hardcourt election season is coming up, so it’s time for people to step away from the computer and work on real change.

Right now clubs should be meeting up and discussing which members would be best suited as their representatives. In the most basic terms, this seems like an easy position to fill: the occasional email sent to a regional representative and maybe a group phone call once a year.  This leads to the assumption that any Polo Schmo with a telephone and a computer can represent a polo club, but digging past the surface you will find more important qualifications.

There are several characteristics that your club should look for when nominating /voting on a representative.  S/he should be someone that is well versed in the current rules, as well as have an awareness of rules discrepancies presented on League and elsewhere.  They should have a willingness to talk to club members when someone has an NAH matter that they need clarified or if they have something they would like brought up to the NAH board. This characteristic should go hand-in-hand with patience. Every club has that one person who seems to complain about everything that NAH is doing.

On top of these, they should be well spoken. They need to know how to clearly explain NAH changes to the club and voice concerns to the regional representatives. They would and should be the ones to bring up your club’s concerns to your regional representatives so that it can officially be looked into. The club rep is your club’s connection to the grander poloverse, so they need to put in the effort that allows your club to be heard.

In the near future, your club should be meeting again to discuss voting on representatives for your region. Although there is no word on who is running for reps in the regions at this time, it is important to think about which traits would lead to a great regional rep, instead of turning it into a popularity contest. Just like club reps, the regional reps should have an awareness of rules and rule discrepancies, an open door policy, patience, and good communication skills. Since these reps are diplomats of your entire region, you should expect more from them than club representatives.

They should be organized. It is important for them to keep track of all the concerns presented to them by club representatives and then bring them up at the NAH board meetings. As an organized leader, they should know how to keep things on track. If they see NAH slacking off, they should step up and bring the board back together to keep the discussions fresh and pertinent. They must have a strong dedication to the sport and region. They need to make sure their regional qualifier has a location each year and then make sure it is being organized to its fullest potential. They need to be at their regional qualifier helping run things and be there to help answer any questions about rules, format, etc. They should then plan to attend the North American Championships — even if they didn’t qualify — and do the same thing. The regional representatives need to be bike polo’s William Wallace or Maximus Decimus Meridius, in our fight for a brighter hardcourt future

It is time to step away from the computer and into a bar, pizza parlor or living room, and discuss with your club what is important for it in the growth of hardcourt bike polo.  Talk about what steps are necessary to reach this utopian polo future, decide which people should head the fight, and then help put them in charge because the club and regional representatives are the ones that allow every single polo voice to be heard, instead of being lost in a thread of hundreds of comments.

Hot Tip

How do you set a pick?

January 7, 2013
Setting picks in bike polo

Setting picks in bike polo

Picks are effective. But holy hell they’re frustrating.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, picks have the ability to shut down your opponent physically and mentally. Competing against players who routinely pick you out is no easy task. So if you can set picks while you play bike polo, you’re adding a tool to your arsenal that few have mastered.

Since they’re such an effective—and often frustrating—part of some players’ game, we figured it’d be worthwhile to ask a few dudes:

“How do you set a pick? What do you see develop on that court that gives you the opportunity to set a pick?”

Pierre Delamare (D.C.): Don’t abuse it. That was my biggest mistake when I started using them. They are nice for the game and are effective when they are used sparingly and have the surprise effect. If you don’t respect that, people that can read blocks well will turn them against you and score easy counter attack goals.

My technique for blocking people is just to make sure their front wheel is at your hip level. This way even if he is a bigger guy, it’s usually hard for them to move you. Also, don’t hold them too long. Just disrupt and keep moving. Expect to be pushed around—and rightfully so—when you do block.

Getting screened in bike poloLaurent (Geneva): For me it’s really close to screening. It’s not really my goal to stop the opponent, but depending on the direction you and he are going, you may have to stop to keep the opponent from getting towards the ball. Setting a pick, to me, is important to help your teammate not getting under the pressure of two opponents. Also by stopping them, you slow up the game. If you’re in the path of your opponent—and you stop him—it means he’ll have to restart in another direction from no speed at all and you’ll be able to keep him locked because you’re the one in front.

On how to set it up: I’d slide on that part saying that it’s kind of by feeling. I may prefer picking than screening because a stopped player would have more difficulty to reenter the action than someone still in motion. So I’d say when you can do it, just pick him!

Eric Kremin (Milwaukee): I am not a big promoter of picking, but it does have a time and place. A spot that I seem to fall into picking a lot, oddly enough, is in the corner. After winning the ball I look for a forward pass. Then I try to keep that defender stuck behind me when leaving our defensive zone. That can help create a breakaway or a 2-on-1 or 1-on-1. It also leaves you open for a back pass because that defender is now stuck behind you.

Now we want to hear from you. What do you see that enables you to pick out an opponent?

(Photos courtes of SPIRALONE and salvolg)

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