I went to my second session of kayak polo last night. I mentioned my first in an earlier post on pool sessions. I’d meant to go this morning, but when they added another “Saturday Social”, I opted for it instead.
If you’re interested in kayak polo , you can read about New York Kayak Polo on their site; they rely on Meetup now for scheduling, so don’t be put off by stale dates on their site. It’s a fun game, the NYKP people are amazing, and it’s a great way to stay active in the winter season.
We started with some warmup drills. OG worked with me to improve my throw which, surprise, works better with torso rotation. The trick is that you end up rotating your boat as well, which is why polo players get good at one-handed ruddering – a skill I meant to develop this summer anyway.
Once we’d played pass-the-ball a bit, we lined up and took turns shooting the goals. Each had a goalie, and a passer to collect and pass balls, and one by one we took our runs at the goals. I was much better at getting on target than last time. Now, if I could only do something about that pesky goalie.
The lead organizers had us try working a play. This was a good idea, because my experience with polo so far is that with these being pickup games, most people play with no tactics other than, “get the ball, block the ball”. In the play, basically the ball started in the corner and the offense team would pass the ball, one player to the next, across the pool, to shoot from the opposite side. I’s refreshing to know that tactics are a consideration – and not a total surprise that they are, considering some members have actually played competitively and won championships.
So we played. We switched up teams a bit, took a halftime, then played some more. While I didn’t score any points this time, I did play “chase” role to harass whoever had the ball. By the way, it’s easy to foul in this game if you aren’t careful. Players competing for a ball will clash their paddles but once a hand is on the ball, paddles can’t touch it. A player with possession of the ball also can’t have a paddle wielded less than an arm’s length of distance from their body. I learned this one in zealously trying to block passing options.
In between halves, people practiced their rolling skills. Most of the regulars worked on their hand rolls, which are a bit easier in polo boats than sea kayaks. I’m pleased to report I managed at least a couple of paddle rolls on the side I need to improve on, but I also completely failed once and had to wet exit. What happened was, my paddle angle was in completely the wrong angle and couldn’t get it right. One trick, which I’ve tried but needs development, is to let the paddle float for a bit to let the blade align with the surface.
Well, I did a few more, including a couple in the improve-on side, and that more or less restored my confidence.
Afterwards, a few people went out to dinner, but the Cowgirl and her ride-sharemates were plumb exhausted, and we drove back to Manhattan and went home. I’m feeling it all this morning – some minor aches and creaks, but that beats the slothful loss of musculature I’ve been feeling in these cold winter weeks.
Till next time.