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A Bike Polo ‘Zine by Ian M. Summers

This is who we are, this is what we do: Commander-in-chief/writer/designer/photographer/publisher/ stencil-maker/brain-stormer/bike polo player: Ian M.Summers contact info: Email: Phone: 541-653-7103 Twitter:IMSummers Illustrator/inspiration/bike polo master: Eilif Knutson

ing #1 Spr Issue

“Bike polo is the common man’s sport, everyone has a bike” -Ghandi


And this is what we borrowed: Images: Ghandi photo, Various others from Eugene bike polo and Corvallis bike polo myspace pages. Eilif portrait from Ideas: Stolen Sharpie Revolution.Eugene Bike Polo, Corvalis Bike Polo. Portland Bike Polo. (rules and current polo leagues.)

Mission statement


A brief history of little beirut-style hardcourt bike polo The rules



Required and (suggested) bike polo equipment

Forging your hammer



How to become an excellent bike polo player


Why write a ‘zine about hardcourt bike polo? First because it’s awesome and second, because I want to spread the word that it’s awesome. Being a relatively newbike polo player (with only about a year-and-a-half of playing under my belt) I feel that I am in an unique position that allows me to create a somewhat definitive “how-to” or “manifesto” about bike polo. I still remember what it was like when I first played and I still remember all the trials and tribulations it took to get people coming out once a week to mix it up on the hardcourt. I know what new polo players and new polo “leagues” are going through. In my year-and-a-half of bike polo play I’ve been very dedicated to the game. In the last year I’ve only missed 2 or 3 polo nights and have gone out of my way to play more, be it on non-designated nights or in other cities. Thats a lot of polo. This gives me enough experience (and enough of a beer belly) to be able to discuss polo in a way that wont get too much criticism from the veterans (I hope!)


The whole purpose of the Hammer and Shield Bike Polo ‘Zine is to get people stoked on bike polo and spread the word about it in an accurate and fun -to-read manner. We want to serve as a reference for anyone at all interested in bike polo, from the curious first-timers to the 8 year veterans. We wish to facilitate the creation of polo “leagues” across the country by disseminating this information. It will also be a sort of how-to-guide on how to get polo started in your city and how to spread it to cities around you. All with a DIY ethic and the aesthetic of somewhat “outlaw” cyclists. All the contributors to this ‘zine are bike polo players themselves, with varying degrees of experience, but all with a true love of the game. We will do our best to give accurate information and our honest opinions because we want people to learn about bike polo from bike polo players and not from the usually grossly inaccurate local papers. So read up, grab some Hammers (mallets), a shield (bike), some friends, a few 6-packs, and get out there on the court !

POLO 1 2 3


t s i H f e i r A B history of Little Beirut -style H ard Hardcourt Bike Polo of history, As with any tale that matter, its or any story for the beginning. In best to start at lo. ere was cycle po the beginning th y vented by craz This sport was in 91. J. Mecredy in 18 Irishman Richard edy cr at Year, Mr. Me In October of th lo ever cycle po played the first called The Scalp. match at a place the name of the As we can see by cation, polo play original polo lo to s me ving funny na ers have been gi lHa beginning. On things since the re we s e first rule loween of 1891 th on en ling� from th published in “Cyc ly. it spread global formed in Cycle polo clubs S., France, U. e th Ireland, England, acycle polo is fe and Germany and the bition sport in tured as an exhi s where Ireland 1908 Olympic Game 3-1. Time passtrounced Germany s are fought, rule es, 2 world wars d an growing longer change (and keep t e polo stays abou longer) and cycl t rling and croque as popular as cu pular at all). (i.e. not that po

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Fast forward to 1996 when the First Intern ational Bicycle Polo Championship was organized. This compettion has continued to be played ever sinc e. In January 20 01 the Internationa l Cycling Union officially recogniz es cycle polo an d it continues to be played to this day throughout th e world.


t n’t abou “zine is s i et” h e t r t t s Bu e “ about th s t I dr . a o h l “ bed cycle po game dub e h offit o f n o ere is h version T ” . o e polo ke pol ourt bik c court bi d r a h f curate tory o be as ac o cial his t t p m e I ll att ew facts but I wi th the f i w n the i e s l t b o as possi s its ro a h t I bicycle up. e, where l have dug t t a e S to 00s in n Sunday early 20 yed it o a polo, l p e l s c r y e like c messeng t s u J . pread. steam uickly s q blow-off o l o p t bike hardcour

y l t n e r r u c f o t known s i l A bike polo leagues * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tracing the ge ographic lines (and the level of play), I’ve determined that it first spread to either Vancouver, B.C. or Portland, OR . Once in Portla nd, the “Littl e Beirut” rules were established. These rules have been kept simple an d easy to learn in or der for bike po lo to stay accessible and fun. “Lit tle Beirut” rules (and hardcourt bike polo in genera l) were then sp read to the East Coast by Bill Dozer, dubbed the “father of N.Y.C. bike po lo” by my cohort Eili f Knutson.

, OR Bike polo Here in Eugene startCorvallis, who came by way of Ports ago by way of ed playing year court irut-style hard land. Little Be read, continued to sp bike polo has avof mouth and tr mostly by word w be ers, and can no eling polo play da, and the U.S., Cana found all over nized urnaments orga Europe with to all over.


* * * * * * * *

Ann Arbor, Michigan Ashland, Oregon Baltimore, Maryland Berlin, Germany Boise, Idaho Boston, Massachusetts Bozeman, Montana Budapest, Hungary Cherry Hill, New Jersey Chicago, Illinois Columbus, Ohio Corvallis, Oregon Dayton, Ohio District of Columbia East Vancouver, BC Eugene, Oregon Geneva, Switzerland Hannover, Germany Lafayette, Louisiana London, England Los Marcostan, Los Marcostan Madison, Wisconsin Milwaukee, Wisconsin New Haven, Connecticut Newport News, Virginia Ottawa, Canada Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Portland “little beirut”, Oregon Richmond, Virginia Sacramento, California Saint Louis, Missouri San Francisco Bay Area, California San Francisco, California Seattle, Washington Tallahassee, Florida Turlock, California

s le ru e Th *As Written by

New York Hardcour t

-Two teams of three players. -Any type of bicycle is allowed. Handlebars must be plugged. -Mallets must resemble a croquet mallet with a wide side and a round end. Modified ski poles and plastic pipe are the most common materials. The handle end of the mallet must be plugged. -The ball will be a street hockey ball. -Goals will be a pair of orange cones spaced one bike length apart. -If a goal cone is disrupted it is the responsibility of the player who disrupted it to fix it. -Some games are timed and end after 10 minutes. Some games are not timed. -Start of a game: Each team will be stopped behind its own goal line and the ball will be positioned at center court. Play will begin with a “3 2 1 GO!” from the sideline. -Players may not play the ball with their feet at any time. -Scoring a goal must be made from what started as a hit. A hit is made from the end of a player’s mallet. A “shuffle” does not count as a goal; if the ball is shuffled through the goal, play continues uninterrupted. -After a goal is scored, the team who scored returns to their half of the court. The team who was scored on takes possession of the ball. -Call out the score after each goal. -Passing “backward” through the goal (from behind the goal line to in front of it, through the goal, a.k.a. “goal offsides”): When the ball is passed through the goal in this way, a goal CANNOT be scored by the first player to play the ball. Any subsequent player to play the ball may score. If a ball is shot from in front of the goal line and does not go through the goal but bounces off the back wall and comes out through the goal, the ball is in play and can be scored. A ball that crosses a goal line backwards must be “hit” before it can score. -Players must not touch the ground, or “foot-down”. Each time a player goes foot-down, that player is out of play and may not play the ball until they ride to the side line at center court and ring the bell. Then they may return to play. It is poor etiquette not to go immediately and directly to the tapout bell once you go foot-down. Only one side of the court has a bell, not both. -Contact rules: “Like” contact is allowed. Player to player (body to body), except grabbing or pushing with hands. Mallet to mallet (generally, hitting another player’s mallet is poor etiquette if that player is not attempting to play the ball or in front of the goal, playing goalie). Bike to bike. -Everything else is NOT allowed: Mallet to player, player to bike, mallet to bike, etc. -Throwing of mallets is not allowed at any time, in any situation. -Most games are played to 5 points. Some games are played to 3 points. -Trash talking is allowed.


required (and suggested) Bike polo equipment Here’s a quick run down of some bike polo equipment you need to make sure that your games run smoothly.

-Bikes: Obviously everyone needs their own fully functional bike to play. ll sets eally two fu -Mallets: Id ough to y there is en (12), that wa upted rr te ay isn’t in make sure pl . get broken when mallets -Street Hockey Balls: You should have 3 or 4, as balls get lost and/or destroyed.It’s best to get the ones that are temperaturerated for your playing conditions. m to designate -Road cones: 4 of ‘e These can where the goals are. ound town. usually be “found” ar illustration by Eilif Knutson

-Tools and a tire pumpFor some reason bikes seem to break and get fla ts often in polo, which means that its esp ecially helpful to have the ability to fix them. Just throw in the basic tools for bike repair and some strong tape (hockey or duc t are the best). Make sure that your pump fits both Presta and Schrader valves. -Score keeping device: To settle score disputes when people lose track. The “scoreboard” is best located next to where people “tap-in” after they foot-down. -Something to carry everyt hing in: a bucket, tub, box, or empty 12-pack con tainer, all work well to make portage easy and pre vent people from forgetting something.


-Beer: ‘cause polo makes ya thirsty!





ed: Stuff You’ll ne


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ub, hockey i pole, golf cl sk taf sh et - Mall ndle etc. stick, broom ha - Hacksaw black ABS pipe - 1 1/2” or 2” rge bit - Drill with la are the best eet metal ones sh g on -l ws re - Sc - Hockey tape - Sharpie





o m all ets



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t e m Ti

rmine Its best to dete t. af sh et ll ma untill it (cut) your and choking up Step 1: resize ke bi lo po ur mber that g atop yo e and cut. Reme pi ar length by sittin sh a th wi wieldy and e. Mark it they are more un t feels comfortabl bu h ac re re give you mo longer mallets ss accurate. are quick but le s et ll ma r te or sh

Step 2: cut yo ur mallet head . First determ going to use 1 ine whether yo ½’’ or 2’ pipe u are . The smaller more precise sh size gives you ot and is ligh a bit te r, a better chance but the larger of hitting the size gives you ba need to determ ll at high spee ine how long yo d. You also u want the head is usually adeq , about 3-4 in uate. Mark it ches with a sharpie and cut. of your malhead. Drill out the top Step 3: drill your mallet tighter it fits the shaft diameter. The let’s head to be close to ts the head from rotating. the better, as it preven

Step 4: put it together. Put your head on your mallet shaft and wedge it down as far as it will go. Then drill one screw through the top and one through the side . If built right, two screws should suffice. Remember that more screws equal more weight. e malap the head of th g hockey tape wr in Us oses: . rp it pu pe o ta tw serves Step 5: rew heads. This sc e th ous and up er r ng ve da co let and a bit less et ll ma e th s ke ws ma on the ground. It covering the scre ads from catching he w re sc e om rotatth ts it preven to prevent it fr s lp he d an ad he the grip so you also strengthens hockey tape for in le nd ha e th wrap having to ing. You should lting in either su re , et ll ma ur et of yo ain why your mall don’t lose hold or having to expl up it ck pi to foot down s the court. just flew accros

Step 6: play polo, br eak mallet, build an other. shower. rinse. repeat


How to become an


bike-polo player in 10 easy-to-follow steps



e k i b ea


Ri : 1 ep

So you’re looking to become an excellent polo player? Good we could always use more. This simple ten-step guide will assure that in no time (2-8 years) you’ll be stealing balls from the best. The first step, obviously, is to ride a bike. This isn’t to say that you should ride a bike to play polo, as that is a given (unless you’re riding one of those equine beasts), it is to say that you should be riding a bike all the time. To succeed in polo you need to be able to handle a bike in all situations. Including (but not limited to): commuting, grocery-getting, barhopping, camping, racing, dodging cars, etc. The better you are as an all-around cyclist, the better you will be as an all around polo enthusiast.

It helps to ride a bike that is similar to your polo bike (but not your polo-bike, more on that in step 4). This way you get a better feel for what the type of bike you’re riding and what it is and isn’t capable of. I, for example, play polo on a fixed-ge ar, so I also ride a fixed-gear everywhere. A few people that play polo on mountain bikes, also race mountain bikes and 20” polo players are partial to BMX riding. Hell even if you ride a beach cruiser you may want to build a bike similar for polo. Conclusion: being an excellent polo player is a lifestyle, not a hobby.


step 2: C




Before you try and commit to playing polo, you have to get those pesky “responsibilities” out of the way. To do this desig nate at least one night a week as your “polo night” and ditch all of your other responsibilities. Simply say to your boss, girlfriend, professor, mom, or priest that you have “something you need to take care of” on that particular night and there is no way you can EVER get out of it. Stick to this story and you are guaranteed at least to have that one night to play and become a better player, and a better person. Of course, there is a catch to this. As polo doesn’t happen in a vacuum, you also need to convince your friends to make the same commitment. Easy enough to do if your friends are all cyclist, beer-drinking, scumbags, with day-jobs, like mine. Just promise them a good time, beer, and an escape from the “real-world” for a few hours a week and in no time people will be coming out of the woodwork to play polo with you. On to step 3…



t e l l ma

r u o y You’re riding your bike and ditc hing ild

Bu : 3 ep


your responsibilities, now it’s time to get serious and build your own mallet. Most polo “leagues” have loan er mallets that people bring and let anyone use, if you want to be exce llent these mallets are beneath you. It is essential that you craft your own weaponry and play with the same (or the same 2) mallet every-time you play polo. Like riding a bike similar to your polo-bike , this helps you learn the nuances of your particular tool and perform amazing feats of polo ing.

play That being said, it is helpful to tcraf when s ngth stre rent on your inhe : play to like you If et. ing your mall et mall k quic and t ligh a fast build y mal(ski-pole), defense build a burl etc.), le, hand m broo k, stic let (hockey that a mix of both then make a mallet club golf a e (lik both of is a little my for fear t don’ I style mallet). steal safety, like to run into people, and balls, play aggressive defense, et mall my y rall Natu s. make long shot to k stic ey hock en wood a is made from ble. ucti estr -ind nigh be burly and As “nigh- indestructible” things tend to get destroyed in polo, it is essential to have a back-up mallet. Your back-up mallet can be an exact copy of your normal mallet, or you can use the back-up mallet as an opportunity to branch-out. My back-up is lighter and more fragile but amazing for those quick offensive plays. Conclusion: build your own mallet, play with it all the time, and soon it will be an extension of your body.


step 4

: build

your p



Along with a hand-made mallet, building a retrofitted bike specifically for polo is essential if you want to beco me an excellent polo player. First, find a beat up old frame that is similar in size and function to the one that you normally ride. Then aid some spare-parts bins for the components you need to complete the buil d. When looking for parts you want ones that are heavy and durable. Don’ t spend to much time or money on parts gathering, most likely they are going to fail and/or break,

Here are some suggestions for building an excellent polo bike: Gear your bike as easy as your polo situation allows. Personally I prefer about a 2:1 ratio but many people run an even easier ration. Geared bike tend to experience mechanical failure more than single-speeds or fixed-gears, so keep this in mind if you plan on gearing your polo bike. nt Front discs/wheel guards are common and essential for an excelle mallets prevent they wheel, your polo-bike. They not only strengthen end of going through it (that tend to send you toppling over the front exan provide they and ground) he your bike, smashing your face into cellent surface for blocking balls.

These suggestions are just that, suggesti ons. Different people play on a myriad of different bikes and it’s most ly a matter of personal preference. You will play better polo with a bike that you are used to and don’t have to worry about allowing you to more easily progress to step 5…



p e e k r o f y tep 5: Pla


You have the time, the mallet, and the bike, now it is time to develop the skills necessary to become an excellent bike-polo player. First, you need to take playing seriously. You shouldn’t be noodling around the court, wasted, falling off your bike, hurting yourself, and being detrimental to your team. Every time you roll out on the court be ready to play, and play hard.

to play without fear. Don’t worLike in any contact sport, you have running ging past your head, other players ry about your bike, mallets swin ball kind. Only worry about keeping that into you or bodily injury of any ing as in theirs’. If your team is play out of your goal and putting it mate goal them and make sure that the ulti they should be communicate with is winning the match. Although some people take polo too seriously, if you want to become excellent you have to play like you mean it. Only then will you be in a situation to develop the advanced skills needed to become excellent. Playing like this will make you better but there is one more step to accomplish, beating your rivals…


step 6 : Know thy en them c emies, loser Keep than y our fr If you’re playing polo how it iends. should be played

(aggressive, fast, and for keeps) you are going to develop personal rivals. Either the guy who always blocks your shot, the guy who always catches you on breakaways, or the guy who has bike you just cannot stand to look at, etc. The rivalries you develop and the people that frustrate you while playing are opportunities to better develop skills that you’re not quite so strong at.

I, for example, cannot stand lefties. They hoard the ball and use their left-handedness to thwart my attempts at scoring. It is frustrating. Those damn south-paws especially have an advantage when people are not used to playing with lefties. So what’s the solution to my problem you ask? Keep ‘em close. them out as possible. Figure ls va ri ur yo th wi much team as well You want to play as with them on your ay Pl u. yo op st their techthey use to you’ve discovered ce and remember what On . ck ti ey th ks) develd learn how w of their own tric fe as against them an a s ha er ay pl loping new decent polo vals, and keep deve ri niques (and every ur yo ng gi an ch techniques them. Keep will have a bag of u yo op skills to stop ly al tu en Ev . urnament new rivals an essential for to , er skills to stop your ay pl no ar fe at you will that is so deep th play.


n, u f e

v a h r, e e t b r u k o c in r e D h t 7: n p o e it st p e & ke

With all the talk of playing hard and beating you rivals, I am making polo seem like a fiercely competitive, grudge-filled, legitimate sport where doping runs rampant and people wear full spandex body-suits. In truth, polo is nothing like road racing. It is more akin to rugby. Sure you get on the court and beat the hell out of your friends, but once you step off the court it’s more about congratulations and “cheers mates!” This is how polo should be. Keep your rivals on the court, and have a beer with them after the game. It’s all in good fun and everyone who plays polo is just looking for a good time. Don’t get mad at people for screwing up plays (including your own team) and don’t stay frusterated after the game ends. Be cool and offer a congradulatory high-five after the game. This type of dynamic encourages people to keep coming, keep playing hard and keep having fun. As polo doesn’t happen in a vacuum, you need fun people to play with all the time. So build friendships, drinking buddies, polo solidarity. Everyone will become a better player because of it.


step 8 : adva nced polo techn Enough with these d e iques fense general tips, it time to talk specifI- ics, and In the next steps I will give you some advice on specific polo techniques that should be developed on your journey to excellence. I’ll start with some defensive techniques. It seems that a lot of people downplay the importance of defense in a polo match, but it is what separates a good team from a great one.

The first techniques I’ll call “hanging back.” It applies mostly to the beginning of the game and point drives where you are facing the other team head-on. If you have a powerful offensive playe r it is best to let them charge for the ball while you hang back at about 1/4 court. This allows you to recover any knocked away balls and preve nts the other team from making long shots or getting a clean break away. Another technique, and one that most players pick up on quickly, is clearing the ball or “yondering.” This involves hitting the ball hard with a back swing, sending it up court and away from your goal. This should not be a go-to method of ball handling, but should be used strategically. It is especially effective when you have been hanging back and can cleanly send the ball up the court to your teammates. The third essential defensive technique is strategic rough play. Smacking other people mallets when they lean on them, leaning into people to make them foot-down, stopping in fron t of people while they are trying to move up court etc. are all acceptable forms of defense in polo. So use them frequently and strategically to chan ge the momentum of the game.



e t o l o p d e c n va d e A s : n 9 e p f Of ste

Offensive play and ball handling are perhaps the most fun parts of polo playing. This is where you get cheers from the crowd and congratulations from the opposing team. Because of this attention, many people forget that they are playing on a team when they have the ball. Any one person,no matter how good they may be, can be stopped by three other players, so keep your teammates involved when you have the ball. This being said, passing is an essential part of bike polo. Good pass ing can make up for the shortfalls of any particular player and it eliminates the need for fancy ball-handling tricks that can be sometimes thwarted by your rivals (remember step 6?). So pass often and you and your team will be that much better for it. Passing doesn’t work without in-game communication. Calling out your position and listening to where your team is at is essential for making those passing plays and getting out of potential tight spots. The most commonly yelled communications are: “center”- you are in the center of the court ready to make a shot, “drop”-you are directly behind your teammate and ready to receive a pass, and “clear” or “send it up”-telling the ball holder to send it up court.

With all the talk of passing, I should emphasize the need to de velop decent shooting skills. One clean shot can do the work of ten passes, so take shots when you see openings. You should always be looking for holes and try making shots that seem more difficult like, shots between peoples’ wheels, angled-shots, back-hand shots, and half to full court shots. The crazier the shot, the more respect you will receive, so go crazy and dial in those hard-to-make ones. And remember, never shuffle


when its time for shooting.


s II e u q i hn

step 1

0: bra

nch ou


You are well on your way to becoming an excellent polo player you ride a bike, you’ve made time for polo , you’ve made a mallet and a polo bike, you play for keeps, outplay your rivals, have fun, and are developing advanced defensive/offensive skills. You will never be an excellent polo player, however, unless you branch out.

You need to mix it up, play in different cities with different people and play tournaments. Different cities have different styles of play and an excellent polo player should be able to show up to a polo game anywhere and dazzle their opponents. So get out there. Travel with your mallet and look for polo in places that you wouldn’t expect people to play in. Bike polo continues to grow. More and more cites are starting to play and because of this the bar of “exc ellence” continues to grow higher and higher. So keep playing, keep deve loping your skills, and keep having fun and one day you’ll be celebrat ing your West Coast Invitational, East Coast Invintational, or National Championship victory with the best.


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Hammer & Shield Issue 1  

A self-made zine about Bike polo containing history, rules, and how-to guides