With the World Championships just a grasp away, I imagine a lot of teams are making some game plans. Hopefully, you go into every match with a game plan. Even if you were to walk into a game where don’t know the team you are playing against, you should have noticed a few things whilst they are warming-up that might have given you a few ideas, or worst case, you’ve decided to mark the weakest player in the hope they haven’t improved since you saw them play last!
But what would your team then do when things don’t go the way you planned? When should you give up on Plan A and try Plan B? Obviously, there isn’t really an answer. Each match and each opponent will be different, but here are a few things to look out for.
4 tactical changes to turn a Segway Polo match:
1. Change your approach, then change back. Sometimes the player your marking will find a good rhythm in where you are about to travel to. If the person you are trying to mark is in a good rhythm, then you should drop off them and take a few balls from another player. Give them some time to cool off and then go back to to the first player later. Hopefully, they might be a little less sharp when you mark them again.
2. ‘Second touch’ in defensive transition. Sometimes you make a lot of digs/ taps against an opponent but have trouble converting them into goals scored. Teams often make a lot of digs because their defender is agile and fast, but then have trouble putting the ball in the net on the counter attack. This can often result in either frequent, quick goals scored or a gap for a while, maybe even a whole chukka, of no goals, before you group together and have a chat between an end change-over.
A good solution is to play the ball into space, whenever the opportunity arises. (The ‘opportunity’ is when the defense player can make an ‘easy’ dig i.e they are not diving in to grab the ball and become out of control). In this situation, bump the ball up the field above your blocker. This should give your team a lot of options when the ball comes to them; Pokes, hard passes or sharp cut shots, hopefully into the net.
3. Vary the direction and depth. This is another way to break a side’s rhythm. A short pass to another player at the last minute is very often a good option because apart from being hard to receive, it breaks your opponents approach for the attack. The effect of the short pass can be maximized by mixing it amongst a string of long passes. If you are losing a match and having trouble scoring, think about where you have been playing to. On your next run, start from a different place on the line or pull the ball out and carry it for a while, aim for a new location and change the depth of the pass, as well as the height and direction but make sure it is a worth-while shot – there should actually be a player there to receive it.
4. Change the way you are attacking. Usually, when things are not going your way, you are having some trouble with getting the ball. If you are receiving the ball, then think about how you are losing that goal scoring opportunity and try to change it.
For example, perhaps the opposition’s goalie is a talented player and they’re stuffing every shot you play. Ask your team-mate to set you a little more off the post and then start shooting over and around the back. Take the goalie out of the game and play against the defender instead. Combine this with a good tap-in from your team-mate, to create a different angle that you can use against the defender.
On the other hand, maybe the defender is awesome and they are digging every shot you play. In this situation, you could try hitting lightly at the defender to put them off before shooting around them. Try poking the ball higher onto the handlebars, (although you’d have to have good accuracy) or aim at the sides of the Segway. Many blockers are weak when the ball hits their wheels or the handlebars, as opposed to their mallet because due to how soft the spongey-ball is, it will simply bounce off them before they have the chance to react and will bounce back at you. This is similar to events where you play indoors.
So my point is, the key to turning a losing situation into a winning situation is change. If you’re losing, then something needs to change. I think it feels better to lose trying some new ideas and maybe making things worse, than by sticking with the same plan through an entire match and losing anyway.
I cannot believe that it is now less than 2 months away! How exciting!