Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pet Peeve

I was finally perusing the (pretty great) photos over at and came across one that reminded me of one of my least favorite moves right now that hovers somewhere in the gray zone - in practice, if not the rules. Observe, the arm-check:

Photo ©Greg Van Barben, yanked from the above website.

Check out Mr. Stripes, shoulder-checking SeƱor Blackshirt. Ok, contact in general, whatever. Slam into my body, my shoulder, my mallet arm, my leg, what-the-ever. But stay the hell away from my steering arm, ESPECIALLY from the elbow down. This picture isn't really the best (aka worst) example of this, because it doesn't look like there's a whole lot of power here. But if you go full tilt into my steering arm, the outcomes just aren't much fun. Granted, I will try to hold course or possibly roll off to the opposite side, but IF I should buckle (and I don't exactly have mighty oaks for arms, fellas), your hit will cause me to turn my wheel INTO your bike, which ends up horribly for both of us.

So if we're just ambling along, no HUGE deal. I'm a little perturbed, maybe I dab, maybe you do too, but life and limb are more or less whole. But those hits, especially the hard ones, don't seem to happen too much at anything less than mach seven breakaways where the other player is desperate to stop a goal. This exact thing happened to me at the last big tournament I played in. Hard-fought game, probably the hardest one we played that tournament, against the eventual number one team. We were down, but definitely not getting destroyed. So I finally get a breakway and off course, intensity high, I'm putting my testes into it. Balls out. And yeah, I get checked from my left side on my steering arm and crash hard. Needless to say, no goal. And the other guy was more or less fine, so yeah, as far as he's concerned, great tactic, right?

Now, in all fairness, I'm sure the guy wasn't trying to crash me specifically, just push my off to the side or put me off enough not to score. But it still sucks, and seeing that photo made me remember it, so yeah, rant! Here's some blurry pictures of the play:

The hit...

...and the fall. Both images by Jeff Wagner.

I never did post a report from South in Your Mouth (our first tournament and the one that the pics are from) and yeah, it's been months now, but maybe I'll do that soon, ha.


  1. Arms behind your steering arm or in front of yours doesn't constitute what I would call a "check" but done at speed can definitely hurt someone if it is intentional or not.

    I linked a photo below of what I don't like at speed and that limits a safe exit for the player being "checked" (Is this not chicken winging?) Sometimes the case is reversed where the player on the right could have his arm in front of the player on the left.

    One of the reasons I like to play with the narrow bars is because I can get past people and not get tangled up as much but if the other player has wider bars than I can still get tangled up.

    Which gets me thinking I only get tied up with people with wide bars (or if I have wide bars), maybe that should be a rule bars must be 20" or narrower (or 10" from the stem for the people that would cheat and put it all on one side)?

  2. I always thought chicken winging was a more conscious attempt to actually grab with your elbow - make a chicken wing and pin the other person's arm/mallet/whatever between your arm and your body.

    In the situation I was describing, I was moving forwards at a high rate of speed. The defender came from behind and to the left, making contact with my left (steering) arm hard enough to make me jerk my handlebars to the left, crashing my bike into his. Maybe it's not a traditional check, but I'm not sure what else to call it?

    As far as the image goes, I think it's a gray area and yeah, I don't like it very much, but as far as the rules go, I'm not sure if it's actually illegal? In that picture in particular, I either was in control or am about to control the ball - Charles has come up from behind me, behind me, and is bumping my steering arm. (I'm pretty sure - this is a while back so I don't remember the exact play, but judging from the fact that my arm is ahead of his and I have my mallet down, while his is in the air, both hands on bars, suggesting he just sprinted to catch me). I don't mind this QUITE as much because if he bumps my arm, I'll steer to the right and not directly into him.

    Instead of mandating short bars, I'd rather give people a buffer zone. The more I play, the less I like intentional body to body contact. But I doubt that would happen. I mean, if my bars are shorter, then, in that situation when someone is either leaning into me or checking me or whatever, they can just get closer to do so. In the cases I'm talking about, the contact is intentional, not people that are trying to get around me and block me.

  3. Exactly the reason I am outta this peice(Polo), you mind it plenty and it's no fun for me to see you so visibly affected. Beleive it or not I like you alot Brett. I can remember when we didn't play polo at all, wasn't that long ago. I am not concerned that much about polo so as too make others horribly uncomfortable. My playing style offends you well great. Go blog about it. See ya round. Charles G. Fox.

    P.S. Graham go get bent, and while you're at it try listening to the Killers more and wearing sweet Oakley's ya fuckass!

  4. errbody need 2 call the fukk down, it is a game ;)

    you know...for funsies