Wednesday, February 29, 2012

San Antonio Has the Best Tacos

I shoulda come up with a recap from the President's Day Polo Social in San Antonio a while back, but I wanted to go through the 600+ pictures I took and narrow it down a bit first. Consequently, I've lost a little of the fire that I took home with me (not talking about the awesome tacos, although those were fire as well), but I'll do my best to remember some high points.


So San Antonio had this really awesome court (affectionately known as "The Slab") that they built on top of a concrete foundation like five feet high. The sides were scavenged plywood from an old haunted house with pallets behind it, and the power was still connected so they could rig up lights. Not enough light for my camera, but plenty of light to play by. Yes, it had its imperfections and rough spots, not necessarily the NICEST court to play on, but the overall feel was pretty awesome. If someone was going to make a movie about polo, THAT is what the court would look like. I heard one person compare it to the community center in Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo; someone else, the headquarters of the Foot Clan from the first live-action TMNT.

DSC_1425The Slab. Also, a dog in a hoodie and me fixing a flat. Not pictured: the hordes of hecklers that were giving me shit. Picture by Adam.

Basically just a rad, diy spot. Of course, I say they HAD a spot, because it seems right after everyone left that weekend, the owners, spurred on by the people that own the bar across the street, revoked their permission and someone went in and smashed some of their lights. Super bummer. But I'm really glad I got to play there before it had to happen.

The tournament itself was pretty nerve-wracking, as they always seem to be. I really didn't hit my groove til about three or four games in. Lotsa good Texas teams to meet and play. Andy, Charles and I made up the Power Snatch Kids - a name I came up with like three years ago and have been waiting for the perfect time to use. Adam was on Texarkanessee with Nathan from Little Rock and Jean Michel from San Antonio, who ended up being our personal local for the weekend, squiring us around from taco carts to house parties and sundry tasty holes in the walls.

DSC_1722Texarkanessee, featuring Jean Michel, the PERSPECTIVE SHAKER.

Both teams ended up tying for sixth out of fifteen - not too shabby, not spectacular. Charles, Andy and I just weren't gelling as well as some of the other teams there. We never really practiced together, just pick up, and I felt like it showed. We were all pretty decent individually, but we just couldn't get passes, blocks, or any kind of team-think going. Most games, we just muscled through. So when we came up against teams that played together more and had actual plays on top of being good individual players, we kinda barely held it together. I think there was one team that placed better than us, San Marcos Razor Blades, that we could beat on a good day - they beat us by one two times in the tournament, once in a crazy-defensive 1-0 - but we pretty much did the best we could possibly do, barring incredible luck. I had one incredible game where I was just on and hitting shots that I normally wouldn't even try to take, as well as one of the best games in goal I've ever had - unfortunately against Three Kings, the team that took us out in the end.

DSC_1442Andy and Charles go in for the kill. Photo by Adam again.

It's too bad that we didn't get into South Central, because this really felt a preview for Austin. With just a little work, I feel like the Power Snatch Kids could do really well once we get a feel for playing with each other. But still, good tournament, made some friends, played alotta polo, that's what it's all about. At least unless or until people start getting paid to play.

As I mentioned before, I took an ungodly amount of photos, and even with cutting a TON of stuff, I still ended up with more than 200, which you can check out on my flickr. But here's a very few personal faves, if you don't wanna wade through 'em all:









Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Holy carp

So much for going to South Central, JEEZUS.

holy carp

A closer view:


If I'da been just 1.02 seconds faster...Ugh. Suuuuuck.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cross the Pond

Came across this description of player ability over on the polo section of the London Fixed-Gear and Single Speed Forum and thought it was a pretty good description:

Stage 1
You're brand new to the game. For some reason, you've found yourself on court, on a bike and with a mallet in your hand. Try as you might, you cannot hit the ball. How people can ride so fast, cover their brakes, play on their off-side, do weird scoop shots and read the game tactically you have no idea. In learning terms, this player is unconsciously incompetent. That is to say they have no understanding of what to do or what they need to do to attain that understanding.

Stage 2
You've played some polo. You've crashed a few times. You tweaked some things on your bike and you have your own mallet. You've worked out that sometimes you need to play in goal and sometimes you're happy to sit there if there are two better players on your team. You've realised that there are things you need to learn to get better. You are consciously incompetent.

Stage 3
You can play polo but it takes mental effort and concentration. You need to focus to play your best. You need to ask yourself questions like “Am I in the right position?” You have become consciously competent.

Stage 4
Polo is in your blood. You do things without thinking. If another player asks you a question about a specific situation then you can't explain why you do it – it's second nature. You've developed a style and character to your play. You have become unconsciously competent.

Stage 5
Consciously unconsciously competent. You think about why you unconsciously do the things you do and you can explain it to other people. You can talk about and test your skills and theories against other people's theories. Consequently you become exposed to new ones that expand your own competencies.

The move between stage 1 and stage 2 will take care of itself. You may only be in this stage for a few hours which is why a lot of players don't really remember their early days and how alien it feels to try and hit that ball.

The move between stage 2 and 3 is tough. To make the move you need to start to question everything you do on court. What happens if you try new things? Ask yourself who has a polo game that you respect and look at what they do. Ask why they do it. If they can't explain it, try doing it and work out why they do it for yourself. It's about finding answers.

The move between stage 3 and 4 is experience. It's knowing yourself and your decisions inside-out. You can't get there until you've perfected your decision making process though – otherwise you will be making wrong decisions and feeling unsure of yourself. You need the confidence to trust your decisions.

The move between stage 4 and 5... I don't really know. I'm not sure if anyone is at that level in polo yet – I don't think there's been enough time in the game's evolution.

The other thing to remember is that these states are fluid when applied to specific areas of your game. Let's take the example of your shot. Say you discover something that changes the way you shoot – suddenly you shoot in a consciously competent way as you try to remember the new technique. Over time, it becomes unconscious until you start to tweak your technique again. Things can get worse before they get better!

London really holds it down. They have enough people to have two leagues going with nine teams each. I'd like to think I'm a solid stage 4 player - and that Memphis' best are all around there. But maaaaaan it'd be cool to have fifty active players in the city...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Urine Trouble

Last night at polo, Adam's mallet got consecrated by our new puppy, Didgi.


For the too-hot-for-tv version, click here if you dare...