Video

2013 London Open Footage

November 21, 2013
LO2013 poster (1)

In the four years of it’s existence, the London Open has built a reputation as one of the biggest and best international tournaments. Last year the tournament happened to coincide with Worlds, so you saw the best players from all over the world in attendance. Since WHBPC2013 was held in America this year, we didn’t such a worldly presence at the tournament, but Europe’s best players were on hand.

This video surfaced a couple day and it allows those of us who couldn’t make it this year to join in with those who want to reminisce, and savor some hot London Open footage. Enjoy!

Hot Tip

Heckling Hardcourt – Vol. 1

November 20, 2013

EDITORS NOTE: Sam Bell has been nothing but amazing since joining the 321Polo team. When she came to me with the idea of starting a series where she heckles different aspects of bike polo, I couldn’t wait to read the first segment! I’m sure everyone will enjoy her heckling as much as I do!

HecklingHardcourt

If I’m going to be a sub-par polo player, I might as well be a top notch heckler. As I really only like participating in sports that involve heckling, I feel like I have a decent amount of experience to a my own heckling segment here on 321 Polo. Even despite what Dillman may have said on the first Mornings With Machine, which ironically happened at night.

For my first installment of Heckling Hardcourt I’m going to heckle the voters of the NAH survey.

Seriously, I have a bone to pick with whomever is voting for keeping the format ten minutes or first to five. Lets totally keep a tournament format that is impossible to organize properly because games on finishing on an inconsistent basis. Seems like a good idea right? Obviously people who are voting have never run a tournament, but I am sure they will be the first to complain and say how poorly a tournament is run. Bravo voters!

Shall we move on? Ball jointing is like amateur hour, you don’t really see much of it in tournament play and it’s even pretty rare in pick up as well. However during the worlds, I saw a bunch of calls for ball jointing in the offensive half when a player was going to scoop the ball. Lamesville. Maybe our definition of ball jointing is just a crappy as ball jointing itself, but if that’s how we are going to call ball jointing, then why the heck are we only allowing it on the defensive side?

Finally, I think we should discuss the crease. Dear voter, how often do we struggle with spectators and trying to get more people interested in watching our sport? The answer is heaps (or a lot if you’re Merican). Double goalie is the most boring tactic EVER! It may kinda work for some of the top teams, but it is a snoozer when it comes to watching. Implementing a crease totally gets rid of that for us! I mean COME ON VOTERS!!!

Editorial

You All Are The Best!

November 19, 2013

thank-you

Overnight we surpassed 1,000 Likes on Facebook. Thank you all so much for following us all these years and for telling your friends about us. We appreciate it so much! To show our appreciation we are going to have a product giveaway (more info on that will be announced soon).

Again, thank you and if you haven’t Liked our Facebook page, then you can do so on the right side of this page.

Long live hardcourt bike polo!

Editorial, Interview, Player Profile

Meet Your World’s Refs: Joe Rstom

November 18, 2013

The fourth and final ref that we would like to introduce you to is actually the head of the NAH Reffing Committee. After seeing him handle reffing duties at North Americans and then Worlds, anyone can clearly see why he is the prefect candidate for this position. He is a simple man with a lot of heart dedicated to the growth of hardcourt bike polo. In the countless personal conversations that I’ve had with him, I know he has a game plan to better the state of reffing for the 2014 season. Not only that, he has the drive to actually put the game plan into action so that hardcourt reffing, and the sport as a whole, can take two giant leaps forward! Everyone, I proudly introduce to you Joe Rstom.

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321Polo: What is your home club?
Rstom: Mankato, MN

321Polo: How long have you been playing bike polo?

Rstom: 4 years

321Polo: When was the first time you reffed at a tournament?
Rstom: I refereed a bit at the Midwest Open 3, but the Battle for the Midwest was the first tournament I felt confident refereeing. Then Midwest Champeenships, North Americans and now Worlds.

321Polo: What do you think of fans heckling you?
Rstom: The fan heckling never really bothers me, and overall it was much better at Worlds than any other tournament. The spectators that bothered me would come up and tap me on the shoulder in the middle of a game and say “Hey, hey, hey, hey ref, hey, you need to watch for that steering arm and mallet hack and toppling over in the corner”. You can imagine my responses…

Anyway, I’d like to note that the respect coming from the players was noticeably improved. When I saw a new team I would introduce myself and set the expectation for respectful dialogue. I think this combined with confident whistling dictated the overall dynamic of the game; from the way players treated me to the way they treated one another. There were exceptions to this, but I saw a lot less bickering amongst players and referees than in the past. That is something to be proud of as a community.

321Polo: Are there any major changes you hope to see in the reffing world next year?
Rstom:  There are 3 major changes I’d like to see for tournaments next year:

1. An organized Referee Association and Certified Referees – Online certification is going to be my big project over this off-season. The system was built this year to simply get people ready for a fully developed certification test. There will be videos, there will be graded testing. We will see how this goes, but the idea is that if you are hosting an NAH tournament, you will be required to have a certain number of certified referees. This leads me to my next desired change:

2. Incentivized Volunteering – Referees simply need to be paid for standing in the sun (or rain) and maintaining this level of focus for hours on end. Even with scheduled and assigned goal judges, they still disappeared without notice, which means the other volunteers need some incentive too. Tournament Organizers should start budgeting for this, because you will see an immediate return on the investment. (On a side note, I think cash prizes should become the norm too, but that’s a different issue).

3. A Scalable, Multiple Referee System – The first 2 days of these large tournaments should have 2 referees on each court, all day long. It can be done with 6 people if the two take turns with the whistle. The 1st referee watches on-ball play, or the most important off-ball play, and the 2nd referee tracks peripheral off-ball play. As you cut out courts, you add referees. A 3-4 referee system, mirrored on the other side, or goal judges who can actually signal for infractions would be the way to go. Also, we shouldn’t have to sit on fences and stand on boards, but being on the court is something I have yet to experiment with. Maybe in 2014!

Editorial, Hot Tip

Stepping Up: Getting Ladies Tournament Ready

November 14, 2013

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It’s no real mystery that us ladies need to step up our game.  Of the 48 teams in the double elimination tournament at Worlds, there were only two teams with women on them (badass women at that), but I think we can do way better.  Here are some things that ladies and dudes need to do to help more women get tournament ready.

Stop Treating Us Like Girls

One of the the things I noticed is that dudes don’t tend to do very much checking to the ladies.  I’m not saying to be a total dickbag and start checking the shit out of all the ladies in your Club, but you need to start treating the tournament bound ladies like you would male players.  This includes being rough, because a lot of us need to harden the fuck up.  One of my favorite compliments (that could go as either a compliment or an insult really), was being told by one of our super bangin’ SF players that he doesn’t take it easy on me and checks me as hard as he checks the dudes.  As much as it makes me want to roll my eyes into the back of my head, I took the compliment as being a player who can take some shit.

But I’m a Girl

The one thing that rubs me worse than any other, is when female players expect to be treated different. NO YOU SHOULDN’T.  Plain and simple, if you want to be a competitive player in a co-ed sport, there should be no false expectation that you should be treated differently because of your gender.  The NAH rules have been created and revised a thousand times in order to ensure that players remain as safe as possible.  If this isn’t enough to ease your mind about being checked into the boards, then I suggest a Machine style pad job where you are wearing such a plentiful amount of padding that the sheer size of your shoulders causes your opponents to tremble.

Pick Ladies for Your Teams

In one of the pre-Ladies Army V interviews, I read that even though a woman may be as good as a male player, the male player will almost always get picked over the female player because it is assumed he is better.  Listen dudes, compatibility should not be gender specific,  so quit ignoring the ladies in your Club and ask them to join your team in a tournament!

The Goalie Comfort Zone

It sucks feeling like you are no good up front, but sitting in goal isn’t going to help.  This is essentially the topic of the recent Lancaster article.  From a tournament perspective, its essential to be decent in goal.  Not only does this give you a break when you push it offensively, but it allows your team to switch up offensive plays making it harder for the other team to defend you. (YAY!) It took me a while in pick up to break myself of just sitting in goal or hanging back while my teammates played forward.  The look of that empty goal just scared me a little, but then I realized it was just pick up and I had two other teammates who were equally to blame for the open goal.  The more you play up the better you get at it, just the facts ladies, so get on out there!  What has bummed me out the most this year, was participating in a tournament where one of the female players got yelled at for coming out of goal.  She made a great play by coming out of goal at the perfect time and went to take the ball to our end of the court.  She didn’t make the shot, and her teammate told her to get back to goal.

I often feel that it’s a continual struggle to prove I’m not complete crap when it comes to polo, and I know other ladies feel the same way.  It’s important to be vocal about wanting to get better in your Club and ask questions about being tournament ready, this took me a while to figure out.  Not to say that all of the above is going to make ladies more dominant in tournament play, but I do think it will help up even the playing field.

Author: Sam Bell
Photos courtesy of Liam Gilson