Hardcourt Bike Polo Has Flourished In South Florida (part 1)

Forget American football for now. There is a small game known for getting a worldwide draw in South Florida, especially in Broward County.

Hardcourt bike polo was originated in Seattle in the early 2000s and is a subtle form of grass cycling, invented in Ireland in 1891.

Players form three or four teams and use small hand-painted characters from ski poles to skillfully advance the ball to the goal.

These games are played on the streets and in difficult areas such as basketball courts, tennis courts and roller hockey rinks.

With kindness and balance, the games are fast and played with good strength. Athletes in street clothes ride on fast-moving bicycles and often customize their bikes with handmade wheelbarrows, shortened handlebars and move the brakes to one side so that players can brake with one hand.

The game was held in South Florida about 2007, when a team of 15 or more players will meet at the roller hockey rinks at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. Initially, the FTL Bike Polo meetups were inconsistent until the name came to prominence and re-emerged in late 2011. Now the group meets every Thursday night.

In court competitions can be violent, but apart from court players they promote a cohesive community, often sitting on weekends, celebrating birthdays or simply wandering around. When players are on the road or going to other cities, they can connect to other areas of the polo field and find a bed to hit on.

The Bike polo is divided into seven areas throughout the United States. Kreally ‘K’ Kasai, a long-time resident of Fort Lauderdale and a cyclist, says: “South Florida was one of the last places to bring a bicycle pole, so the increase in excitement we are seeing is the arrival of other cities. See a huge increase now.”

After that, the sport grew and spread to Miami.

The Basics of Hardcourt Bike Polo

When it comes to the basics of Bike Polo, in general, there are two teams with three players each playing in an enclosed rectangular area. Goals are scored at each long end of the rectangle.

When the game starts, the ball is put in the middle of the court and the players wait behind their own goals. Both teams charge the ball in what is termed the “joust”, following a countdown.

A player may hit the ball in two ways, including a shot or a shuffle. The former is made with either end of the mallet head while the latter is made with the side. A player must hit the ball with a shot into the opposing team’s goal in order to score a goal. The goal does not count and play continues if the player uses a shuffle.

After scoring a goal, the scoring team comes back to their half of the court. After that, the scored-on team may cross the half line and restart playing.

The game goes on until a team score either five goals or a predetermined length of time, typically 12 or 15 minutes.

The amount of contact in a certain match may vary but in general, it is restricted to body to body and mallet to mallet.

The North American Bike Polo Association has given out an official rule set for North America, which has been influential to standardizing rules all over the world.

Mallet and Ball

Originally, Hardcourt Bike Polo players handmade their mallets. Later several companies like Ben’s Cycles, Fixcraft, and others, make mallets particularly for the game of bike polo.

In terms of the ball used in bike polo, it is typically made from PVC. Fixcraft is the first company to have produced bike polo balls and still designs better versions.

Bike

Although any bike is acceptable for the game, low gear ratio single-speed bikes have the most advantages for quick acceleration and control on a small court. Most players customize their bikes particularly for the game and their needs.

Court

Commonly, players play the sport on courts like tennis courts, basketball courts, football courts, or street hockey rinks. These courts are usually customized using boards to prevent the ball from getting stuck in the corners or rolling out of the court.

The Two Top Seven Lists of Bicycle Polo

Top Seven Reasons Why Bike Polo is Better than Horse Polo

1. While a horse has a mind of its own, a bicycle always does what you tell it to do.

2. A string of horses are needed for polo, but only one bike needed for bicycle polo.

3. Different horses require different mallet lengths while you only need one mallet in a bicycle seat since you can adjust its height.

4. You can transport bicycles in the trunk or on the roof of your car but you can not do this with a horse.

5. Bicycles eat much less than horses.

6. You can leave your bicycle in the corner of your garage for months or even years, and with a little Armor-all and WD-40, you can make it good as new.

7. They are much easier to clean up after.

Top Seven Reasons Why Bike Polo is Better than Road Biking and Mountain Biking

1. It’s not easy to go mountain biking if you don’t live in or nearby the mountains; meanwhile, almost everyone has a football field around their neighborhood.

2. There’s no need to carry your drinks on your bike and you are never more than 100 yards from a cooler.

3. There’s no need to carry all kinds of tools and they are always a few yards away.

4. Polo bikes don’t need all that expensive suspension as the field should be relatively smooth.

5. Polo bikes needs nothing more than one gear, although sometimes it is nice to have a little riding to the field.

6. You never have to carry your bike more than a few yards. There is also very little chance of being hit by a car.

7. You get to play a game rather than going for a ride. Hitting the ball is also a great way to take out your aggression.

The development of North American Hardcourt Bike Polo

Although bike polo is more than 100 years old now, hardcourt bike polo occurred only 21 years ago, in Seattle, a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States, by a group of bike messengers trying to pass time between jobs.

Hardcourt bike polo, which used to be played in alleys, parking lots and even on rooftops, quickly grew with the love of bikes and bike culture. Tournaments were held as side events in messenger races, known as alley cats.

In 2007, there were about 20 cities through North America that claimed  established clubs thanks to the spread of the game through the internet and messenger culture. The next year, the largest competitive tournament to date and also the first North American Championship (featuring 35 teams) was held in Chicago. This competition was run in conjunction with the 2008 NACCC messenger championships, but it is independent. The Chicago tournament exploded the scene as well as galvanized the North American hardcourt polo community, which quickly made it the right time to start organizing tournaments with hardcourt as the sole focus.

Early in 2010, democratically elected 21 representatives from North America, established the North American Hardcourt (NAH), which is the first organizing body that would start to address the concerns of a rapidly growing constituency. NAH has since been instrumental in influencing and encouraging a change to standards: a set of rules and refereeing, familiar court dimensions and goals, a swiss-round tournament format, and much more.

Nowadays, there are around 200 hartcourt bike polo clubs in North America alone, with about 1000 players competing in the most recent version of the NAH Tour Series. This culminated with the most successful NAH Bike Polo Championship up to now, setting records for viewership of the sport and perhaps the deepest field of competitive players in any tournament.

History of Hardcourt Bikepolo

If you want to discover more about the history of Hardcourt Bikepolo, in this article, we would like to introduce a short summary about this sport. For more information, you can also find on wikipedia or on the NAH website.

Chronology

    1999 – Hardcourt Bikepolo was born in Seattle.

    2001 – Game spreaded to the East Coast of the United States.

    2002 – The first club was born in the Axles of Evil, Portland, the US.

    2003 – Demonstration event at CMWC, Seattle, the US.

    2004 – First tournament. WSPI, Portland, the US.

    2005 – Tap Out rule is introduced.

    2006 – Bikepolo arrived to Europe.

    2008 – Bikepolo started spreading worldwide.

    – First North American championship in Chicago, the US.

    – First World championship in Toronto, Canada.

    – First Bikepolo-specific on-line forum was created: Bikepolo.ca, then Leagueofbikepolo.com.

    2009 – First European Championship in London, the United Kingdoms.

    – First FTW (Femme-Trans-Women) exclusive tournament was held  at Ladies Army, Vancouver, Canada.

    2010 – First World championship in Europe in Berlin, Germany.

    – First NAH-sanctioned ruleset was written.

    2011 – First European ruleset was written.

    – First tournament management tool was created: podiumbikepolo.com.

    – First permanent bikepolo specific court was built at Vancouver, Canada.

    – First mandatory Co-Ed tournament in Europe was played. Hell’s Belles Vol. 1. London, the UK.

    2012 – First European team (Call Me Daddy) to win World Championships.

    – First FTW exclusive tournament in Europe was played. Hell’s Belles Vol. 2, London, the UK.

    2013 – Bikepolo hit peak growth.

    2014 – EHBA (European Hardcourt Bikepolo Association) was created.

    2015 – First professional series was created. Professional Hardcourt Bike Polo, PHBP.

    – The crease was introduced.

    – Interference rule was introduced.

    2016 – First World championship in ANZ (Australia & New Zealand) region was held at Timaru, New Zealand.

    – First European championship in Squad format. Dominion Cup, Turin, IT.

    2017 – First North American championship in Squad format at Frederick, the US.

    – First World championship in Squad format at Lexington, the US.

    2018 – First EHBA-sanctioned ruleset was written.

    2019 – First World Championship in Latin America at Cordoba, AR.

History of Hardcourt Bike Polo

Hardcourt Bike Polo is a key part of traditional bicycle polo. In order to understand more about it, let’s trace back from the very first day of its foundation to nowadays.

1999

1999 is the year when Hardcourt Bike Polo was established. Seattle may be the hometown of this sport. The first group of bike polo played the sport in alleys, parking lots and on rooftops. After that, thanks to bike lovers and bike culture, bike polo has developed rapidly. Tournaments held as side events in the messenger races named alley cat.

2007

Nearly 20 cities started to set up bike bolo clubs though out North America due to the messenger culture and the internet, contributing to the spread of this game. In 2008, the biggest competition of bike bolo was held in Chicago, which featured 35 teams, it was also the first North American Championship. This tournament was launched at the same time but independently with the 2008 NACCC championships. The event in Chicago stood out and attracted the community of North American hardcourt polo, which was considered as the sole focus for organizing tournaments with hardcourt bike polo.

2010

In early 2010, 21 representatives were chosen along with the birth of the North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Association (NAH). This is the first organizing part whose function is to deal with the rapid growth of constituency. At this time, the first NAH-sanctioned rule set was issued. It shifted the format, the standards, goals, court dimensions, and so on.

Nowadays

In North America alone, about 200 clubs were established, along with around a thousand players competing in the latest format of the NAH Tour Series. It reaches its primetime thanks to the success of North American Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship in setting the record for viewership as well as competitive fields of any player in any tournament.

The most important rules new bike polo player needs to know (part 2)

3. Don’t run into other people

This may seem obvious but let’s make it explicit: you can’t run into people with your bike. Why? Because it interferes with their ability to play the game and could result in injury.

It is considered a foul if you carry momentum into another person with your front or back wheel or from the side with your handlebars (or any other part of your bike).

It is your responsibility to control your own bike, body, and mallet.

With that said, some incidental bike-on-bike action is a normal part of the sport of bike polo. For instance, if your front wheel bumps or touches another player’s bike but doesn’t interfere with their capacity to engage in the game or damage their equipment, you are most likely good.

4. Stay in control of your mallet

Your mallet is how you maneuver and shoot the ball when playing. And at the same time you use it to play the ball, you need to be super careful that it doesn’t get hung-up on another player’s bike or body.

A couple of mallet rules:

  • Keep your mallet below your and other player’s handlebars. Your mallet should be kept low, other than normal, safe windup and follow through when shooting the ball. You’re responsible for where your mallet is and ends up. No one wants to get hit in the face, hand, or body with a mallet.
  • Don’t “slash” other people’s mallets. While you can and should try to steal the ball from the opposite team, and you can touch and interfere with the ball carrier’s mallet, you need to maintain control. Don’t just swing wildly at the ball or the other player’s mallet with excessive force, people are going to get bent out of shape real fast if you damage their equipment.
  • Don’t jam other people’s wheels with your mallet. It is illegal to put your mallet under other players’ wheels and is called jamming. Jamming usually results in the other person dabbing or crashing since your mallet stops their wheel unexpectedly and suddenly. Keep your mallet away from other players’ wheels.

The most important rules new bike polo player needs to know (part 1)

If you have found your local bike polo club, perhaps even played your first game, and people have explained some rules of the sport but you’re still unclear about the game, here is a list of the most important rules that every new bike polo player needs to know.

1. If you “dab”, you have to tap back in

Dabbing means you put your foot on the ground or use something besides your mallet or bike to keep your balance and not fall.

You are dabbed if you put your hand or foot on a horizontal surface like the ground or the top of the goal. Leaning on the goal with your body to prevent yourself from losing your balance is also considered dabbing.

If you’re dabbed, you cannot touch the ball or be part of the gameplay till you tap the boards with your mallet at half-court. It’s your responsibility to stay out of the other players’ way, as much as possible, so you don’t interfere with the match until you tap back in. You can then rejoin gameplay immediately once you have tapped back in.

2. It isn’t a goal if you scoop or shuffle it

For a shot to be counted as a goal in bike polo, you have to strike the ball with the opened or capped end of the mallet, not the broadside.

If you hit the ball with the broadside into the net, it is called a “shuffle” and won’t count as a goal. Additionally, if you throw or scoop the ball with the mallet’s opened end into the opponent’s net, it doesn’t count as a goal.

Other than when you are shooting, you can control and maneuver the ball any way you want. You can scoop or shuffle the ball to pass to your teammates, strike it on the opened or capped end, whatever works!

Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Hardcourt Bike Polo

You might have never heard of hardcourt bike polo, but it has got rapid growth recently. It is inclusive, has a few simple rules, and requires just a little investment. Although it is very exciting to watch, it takes some serious skills to handle the bike and at the same time play the game. Here are five things that you might not have known about hardcourt bike polo.

1. Bike polo is an actual sport

It has been around in some form since 1891 as Richard J. Mecredy – an Irish fellow – invented “horseless polo.” The resurgence of the sport took hold in America and then around the world when Seattle residents start playing Hardcourt Bike Polo (meaning that playing bike polo on an asphalt court opposed to a grass field) in 1999.

2. It is played around the world

There are 473 bike polo clubs in 56 countries on every continent.

3. It was featured in the Olympics

It was featured under the name “Cycle polo” as a demonstration sport in the Olympics 1908 when Ireland beat Germany for the gold. Unluckily, the popularity of this sport declined during WW I and II and didn’t get steam again till the 1980s.

4. There is an actual Hardcourt Bike Polo World Championships

A Hardcourt Bike Polo World Championship started in Philadelphia in 2009 has been held every year since. Teams qualify by winning national and regional tournaments. Last year’s tournament, The Beavers (San Francisco, the US) beat Call Me Daddy (Paris, France) for the championship.

5. It has only a few simple rules

Hardcourt bike polo games are played with 3 players on a team, with no specific positions.

In order to score a goal, you have to hit the ball with one of your mallet’s ends, not the side.

If you touch your foot to the ground, you have to touch your mallet next to the center of the court to be allowed back in play.

“Like contact” (including bike-to-bike, body-to-body, mallet-to-mallet) is allowed.

What to Know about Missoula Bike Polo Core Team

On a Sunday morning, a group of four boys rode their bikes and plunged forward. The sound of the brakes squeaking and we see traces of grinding wheels on the concrete brick floor. These 4 people are fighting over a ball to goal. They are members of the Missoula Bike Polo team: Dave Tenney, Mitchell Whitener, Edward Francis, and Jeremy Haas. And this place is the UM garage parking, where the wind whistles, creeps through concrete columns and walls and is where they come to play Hardcourt Bike Polo every Sunday. For Francis, he calls this sport hockey on bicycles.

Missoula Bike Polo takes its name from the land of Missoula. The group was formed by accident when a person discovered the sport online. He found it quite funny, so he decided to invite his friends to try it out in a parking lot. From there, they became the founding members of the Missoula Bike Polo team. They have posted on Craigslist with the desire to call for new players. Currently, they only need to spread the word and talk to each other to have more members join.

Francis, a key member of Missoula Bike Polo, is a seafood distributor in the town. I’ve been playing this sport for over 8 years. Because he was Hardcourt Bike Polo, he equipped himself with shin pads and armor. After a long time with many collisions and falls, the paint was heavily scratched. He shared that he often wears armor more than other friends, but this is also the reason that he often crashes.

Another member who has played for more than 7 years is the Whitener, a delivery driver. Despite his large body, he still manipulates very quickly and can weave flexibly between other players.

The oldest player is Haas, a seamster. He has been playing for 11 years and has been a participant in Missoula since its inception. The other key member, Tenney, has been playing hardcourt Bike Polo for 3 years.