After spending most of my time in Karlsruhe watching and talking about polo, and thinking a fair bit about it, I think we need to focus on a few things in Birmingham.
- Play faster (sounds stupid, but a lot of the time people are pretty sedate). Learn to sprint out of the saddle with your mallet on the bars, consider clipless, make sure you’re on the right gear, get decent brakes because half of going fast is being able to stop quickly.
- Close people down immediately and put pressure on opposing players even in their half, but don’t over-commit two out-field players too deeply. One person should try to ‘hold’ the centre court and control any breaks.
- Play ‘closer’. Lean on people a bit. Shoulder-to-shoulder contact is fine. Sometimes we’re too timid and it gets exposed at tournaments.
- Always keep the goal covered: not necessarily perma-goalie, although if someone wants to step-up, play fixed and focus on that position, you could become very valuable and we could do separate seeding for that position which could mean you’d make Black Stabbath with ease and go to as many tournaments as you like.
- Dribble less, pass/shoot more: I’ve been particularly guilty of this, which is why I’ve gone back to a non-cheater mallet. It’s relatively easy to dribble past newer players, but when you try it at tournaments, you get tackled.
- Develop long-range shooting accuracy, and take shots when there aren’t defenders in the way of goal. Too often we try to dribble it all the way to the goal-mouth for a tap-in. It also puts pressure on your opposition to leave one of their players back, too.
- Make use of lefties (Dan_LJ/2squeak…) they need to watch and learn from better players in other cities(Hayden/Will, DavidSynthese etc etc). Positioning is everything…
- Learn to ‘read’ the game and anticipate breaks: I see many newer players sitting too deep even after their team has lost possession and a break is forming.
- Use the ‘4th Man’ AKA the barriers, to pass off and make clearances.
- Practice playing ‘backhand’: if you’re righty, practice getting receiving, dribbling, passing and shooting on the left hand side of the bike. If you’re lefty, vice-versa.
Don’t take the above to seriously. I’m aware that for some (maybe most) Brum players, polo is just a bit of local fun and that they’re not too concerned about playing better at tournaments. But other people have made comments that they want more feedback and are clearly putting a lot of time, effort and money into progressing.
Ultimately, these are just my opinions; feel free to suggest your own!