First and foremost, the fewer rules the better. Bike polo is about getting together with a bunch of friends and having fun on bikes for a couple hours. However, when the tournaments come, especially when they attract players from cities other than the host, rules/guidelines are necessary to help everything go smoothly.
There is not yet a universal set of rules by which all must abide because the game is played differently around the world, and nobody wants people in another city/country to tell them that they’re playing wrong. The following rules could be considered (hardcourt) New York Style, or Boston Style, as there’s very little variation between the two cities.
- This is hardcourt polo. Walls help, but all you need is a hard surface.
- Three players per team
- Street hockey ball (Franklin – Balls & Pucks – the ones below the AGS line. Three temperature ranges)
- The game starts with players behind their goals when someone yells 3! 2! 1! GO! or some equivalent.
- Games play to 5 points, but are limited to 10 minutes in most tournaments or when there’s tons of players waiting to play.
- Goals are one bike length across. Take someone’s bike and put a cone at both ends. Voila.
- Goals are a couple feet away from the back wall similar to hockey, allowing for space to play behind them.
Basic Gameplay Rules
- Don’t be a jerk. Everybody came out to have fun.
- If one’s foot touches the ground they must tap out on the sideline at center court before touching the ball again. There is generally a cone or a designated spot to hit.
- Goals may only be scored by hitting the ball off of the ends of the mallet. Pushing the ball through with the side of the head is called a shuffle, and will not count for a goal even if the ball makes it through.
- Only “like contact” is allowed. Body to body, bike to bike, and mallet to mallet.
- After a team scores, they must retreat at least past the halfway mark. Allow the other team to bring the ball halfway up before defending/making contact.
- A team may not pass the ball through the opponent’s goal from behind and immediately score by hitting it back through. Generally at least one pass must be made before the ball can be scored.
- Never throw/release a mallet during play.
As you play it becomes apparent that there’s tons of gray area within these general rules. But to get started, these’ll do just fine. I think the best way for new players to learn is to just get in a game and play. People are always willing to point out what to do when the time comes.
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