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Max Inner and Outer Mallet Head Dimensions

I would like to start a discussion on the current NAH rules stating that a 2.25" inner diameter or less constitutes a legal mallet head and that the outer diameter can be infinite.

I remember talking to NAH members about this 2 or so years ago when McMaster tubing began popping up in tournaments. Before McMaster heads made an appearance the largest inner diameter that I was aware of was 2", the outer being about 2.375". Everything I heard from NAH reps at the time - again 2 or so years ago and only behind the scenes as I am not and have not been a NAH rep - was that 2" inner diameter would be the max inner diameter, possibly 2.125" as some tubing technically measured as 1/8" over 2 inches.

Some of the heads I measured at pick up these past few weekends were 2.5" outer diameter, ranging between 2" to 2.25" inner diameter. I don't understand why in a sport with maybe the narrowest definition of a "good goal" (all in the name of preserving the skill of the game) is so lax on mallet heads that, in my opinion, have only one true purpose, which is to simplify the game. As far as I know, every kind of ball handling skill that is done with a 2.25" ID can be done with a 2" ID.

These are my thoughts, 2" inner, 2.375" outer. Maybe some share my opinion, maybe no one does. I just felt as though I should bring it up as I begin talking to my regional rep and those NAH reps on the rules committee.

Also, I do not feel that using the current crop of fabricated and marketed mallet heads as a defense is a valid one for keeping the rules as they are.

I do agree that one standard mallet head size seems appropriate. Whatever size that may be, I don't care. It would help ensure a level playing field.
But in our current marketplace, 2500 is readily available and widely used.. so I'm going to use it.
I think it's "the singer not the song" here though. The guy (or girl) who works the hardest will be the better polo player in the end. Not the guy with the special stick.

PS- I think the straight blade versus curved blade hockey stick comparison made in the previous thread is a great analogy.

PPS- as you have pointed out, outlawing 2.25" ID heads will be a difficult argument with so many currently for sale (and in use).

I'm inclined to say that the game is enhanced from the bigger stuff. Easier to shoot, you can do cool ball trick passes, scoring opportunities and shots on goal are increased -- I think these are things that make the game better. Do they make it easier? Yeah, for sure. But I think that's okay to an extent. I'm not trying to have the hardest sport, I'm only trying to have the raddest one. I think the bigger heads open the game up, and help it be more rad.

Maybe I'm a hypocrite though, because I myself am in favor of allowing mallets that only have orthogonal surfaces, though.

AND we've been messing around with this shaft-shot stuff at pick up recently and it's getting a little ridiculous some of the possibilities for goals and it's really NOT that hard. I am so staunchly against allowing them, and I can only imagine if people start increasing the size of their mallet shafts to make THAT easier too. It honestly surprised me what high percentage of our sport was okay with breaking one of the two original rules - that shots must come off the end of a mallet. I think it was an error. Sorry I'm off topic.

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fixcraft.net

Nick Kruse wrote:

I'm inclined to say that the game is enhanced from the bigger stuff. Easier to shoot, you can do cool ball trick passes, scoring opportunities and shots on goal are increased -- I think these are things that make the game better. Do they make it easier? Yeah, for sure. But I think that's okay to an extent. I'm not trying to have the hardest sport, I'm only trying to have the raddest one. I think the bigger heads open the game up, and help it be more rad.

Maybe I'm a hypocrite though, because I myself am in favor of allowing mallets that only have orthogonal surfaces, though.

I don't understand this orthogonal surface/side hole thing. It sounds awfully close to the curved blade debate in hockey except that it in our case it has no impact on shots, just on ball control. Where is the debate in hockey ? Gone. Something of the past. So why is it still a problem in polo ?
All I see is pride from players that have acquired enough skill to be competitive with a less than optimal mallet head. The arrogance of the righteous, enrolled in a crusade against those opposing the divine moral order of the mallet head by using curved walls/holes to get more control on the ball. I guess I could call it loss aversion bias as well, since all that time spent in mastering the straight wall could have been tremendously reduced by better equipment, and that is perceived as a loss.
Someone needs to explain that to me...
Also, the less one needs to dedicate to keeping the ball around, the more one can focus on team play, making it a better sport to play/watch, i.e. more rad as you said.

so do you also approve of full court, full speed, coast to coast ball jointing? no look ball control at its finest, NOT! i think that removing ball control from bike polo won't lead to better plays since historically "cheater mallets" (any hourglass shape or cutout) led to serpentine style maneuvering countered by hacking and ramming and slashing...not rad. not rad to play OR watch.

Well I (jokingly) acknowledged the hypocrisy. You can call it "pride" or "loss aversion bias" or whatever you want that helps you reduce the opinion of others. But it makes you sound like a way bigger snob than just saying that you disagree.

I have two responses:

1) The opinions on mallet restrictions and their relation to ball control are a spectrum. The line that is considered "too far" is drawn by everyone at their own place. I draw it at beveled surfaces and holes over 2.25". You can find some people who agree with me.

2) Your hockey analogy is far from complete. I think, if you googled "Hockey Stick Rules NHL" you'll see that the restrictions on blade curve as well as many other dimensions of the stick is regulated. Their rules, much like our debate here, fall at a point on the spectrum of regulation. They determined what they believe is "too far" and wrote the rules accordingly.

My opinion on bevels or curves is not loss aversion. Nor is it pride. Nor is it a "divine moral order"... it is a point on the spectrum. So quit with your psychoanalyzing bullshit. Also, hey I like your bike a lot.

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fixcraft.net

Most the mallets for top players in SF have one open hole with a beveled edge. The last 2 or 3 heads I've purchased came with the bevel as a feature. I love the polo with these people. I think the ID/OD rule is laughable. How does one officially measure ID of a beveled edge? Are we really quibbling over a few millimeters?

Regulate the play, not the mallet. Scooping and lofting are legal. Who cares about ball jointing anyway? Bj all over the court with your eyes closed if you want. I would draw the line at carrying (ice cream cone) myself.

Nick Kruse wrote:

It is a point on the spectrum. So quit with your psychoanalyzing bullshit.

I didn't mean to sound like an asshole and I now play without holes/curved walls as well but I did notice how this debate (euro cheater) was always accompanied by a certain arrogance from the US side (maybe there was arrogance on the other side of the atlantic too, I wasn't there to testify). My ironic tone was a response to it. Anyhow...I still would like to know what is so bad in beveled walls.

Of course in hockey there are regulations on the size of the blade/amount of curve, but the fact remains that a little curve helps a lot, especially for casual players. It makes a big difference in keeping the ball around without ball jointing (which I don't practice personally but I know some that make great use of it). Just like going from 2'' to 2.25'' inner diameter opens a huge door to easy floorball/lacrosse type passes.

For consistency, and if it wasn't making the 'ball glued to the board' a big problem, I would actually think that a fully capped straight wall mallet head would be what you'd wish for then.

i am with BoozeKruse on the first point about the mallet heads and waiting to see if shaft shots are going to matter in the end. . Since the new rule i have seen 2 shaft shots count at 2 tournies. They were awesome . Nice one Pistolero for 1 and mmmmmm dont recall who shot the other one.

"So this is how it ends"MACHINE

I saw two at ladies army. Quinn from the Valkyries shot one. I made another, but it was about 50/50 reflexive action and skill.

shotgun your bike!

I'd like to respond, but before i do, I should declare myself a manufacturer of heads, as there is obvious bias there.

1) I believe the sport is too young for too much standardisation. You want to promote innovation from manufacturers at this stage. Look at the things various people have come up with, just in the last few years. 3pmh perfecting the mass market "euro cheater" (before it got banned). Milk bringing out the one piece single capped head. Modified and NS with the contoured heads. Unless you allow that sort of thing, and only ban things once they've shown to give an unfair advantage (side joint with cheaters, for example), you won't promote innovation.

2) What is your actual issue with those larger OD heads. Do you think the bigger surface area gives that much more advantage? I prefer smaller diameters heads, because I believe you have a better chance of hitting the sweet spot without hitting the ground. That's why Magic only has 60mm heads (2.36 inches), currently. I don't think 2.5" diameter has any unfair advantage.

3) Then let's look at ID. 57mm was chosen, as it's a diameter that makes it impossible to enclose the ball in any hole (side or end). That stops a potentially unfair scenario (cupping the ball, or hiding a side joint). That's a sensible rule. But what do you gain from making that ID smaller?

4) You say that using the current crop isn't a defence. And in some sense I agree with you. That on it's own shouldn't be a reason.

But say the definitions of a legal head were changed, would you expect players to throw away perfectly good heads that they've paid for, and manufacturers to throw out lots of stocks they've invested lots of money in (No-one I know of is making huge amounts of money out of making heads, it's for the love of the game).

That could also put a stop to innovation, as manufacturers won't want to take risks, in case the rules are changed again. Your suggestion might not affect Magic, but it would affect others out there

I think the current ruleset is fine, if someone wants to turn up with a 3" or 4" OD head, I have no problem with that, I don't think they would get any advantage from it.

Matt,

I don't believe larger diameter heads don't simplify the game. If anything, they make the game more complicated.

-A larger hitting surface is more forgiving and encourages players to attempt interesting one-timer passing/shooting plays.

-A larger open-side makes scooping more accessible to players, which opens up previously unavailable passing and ball handling opportunities.

If you mean these heads make aspects of the game easier then I agree, but I've yet to hear a good argument as to why this is a bad thing. The learning curve for this game is inherently pretty damn steep. I don't think these mallets change the game too much at an ultra-competitive level, but they might make the game less frustrating for new players and make mid-level polo cleaner/more exciting. I think this is important if polo is to gain traction with new players and non-polo-playing spectators which is essential to the growth of our sport.

Boom. X4873897

Nick I disagree with you here. You're just substituting words like "more forgiving" and "more accessible" for "easier". You're a player that enjoys throwing the ball with the open end. The larger heads make this easier and encourage people to do it. Why do we need the ball thrown in the air anyway? All this does is produce more high sticking and chaos. Sure the learning curve is steep, but why should we dumb it down?

Just my two cents. I'm not pushing for any regulations but I can't agree with people saying that larger diameter mallet are good for the game.

dustin wrote:

Why do we need the ball thrown in the air anyway? All this does is produce more high sticking and chaos.

It produces high sticking and chaos, but that is not all it does. It also provides possibilities for new interesting plays which would not be possible without lofting.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

Secondary Alex wrote:
dustin wrote:

Why do we need the ball thrown in the air anyway? All this does is produce more high sticking and chaos.

It produces high sticking and chaos, but that is not all it does. It also provides possibilities for new interesting plays which would not be possible without lofting.

airborne passes are easily done with a classic 2" diameter head. it's been a part of the game for many years already, we're just seeing it more frequently now because it's easier to do with larger diameter heads.

I wasn't meaning to imply that 2.25" ID heads are responsible for the creation of airborne plays. I was specifically addressing your statement that airborne passes - regardless of the mallet being used - are an unnecessary part of the game. I think airborne plays have a place in polo because the strategies they create are interesting enough to be worth the extra reffing needed to stop high sticking.

I don't think any regulation of mallet ID will change how wrist-passes are used, except making them slightly less accessible to newer players still finding their mallet-handling technique.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014

with the janky ass, rough pavement ass, debris ridden ass courts we play on currently at tournaments I went to a 2.5 just to avoid errant hoppers having nothing to do with skill. I don't scoop or bj (on the court) so the extra girth is merely to combat our extant court situation...

Hear, Hear Matt Lane. I remember when I first saw those giant McMaster Mallets first wielded by Milwaukee. I thought they were cheaterish, but with no rule in place they were legal. Years later after they became so popular I tried one out and immediately could see why ppl like em. Now, I think any mallet greater than 2.5 OD would surely be too big. Not just cuz the strike side is too large, but cuz the scoop size can allow for a ball to get stuck in it. At some point ppl should rely on skill, not ID size to up their game. The current regs are fine by me. I dunno who started it but last year some ppl were rockin 2.75 OD mallets, I was like get real!

Nick: "I'm not trying to have the hardest sport, I'm only trying to have the raddest one."

This x100. Bike Polo doesn't have a problem of being too easy.

I think the question on what makes for a bad rule has best been described to me as: "Is the rule to enforce safety and promote fairness/balance, or is the rule designed to reward a *certain* style of play?"

Standardizing mallets seems to be the latter, and IMHO no justified need for a standard mallet rule exists.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

i use three mallets regularly right not. magic, mod, and milk ninja. all three play slightly different, and i like the idea of having equipment that quits the style of play for that game/ my preferred position. while i found the mod head to be extremely easy to scoop with, i find myself not using it for wrist shots that much at all. it really just helps me control the ball like crazy. i do the most wrsit shots when playing with tha magic head, which isn't particularly wide, as discussed. even when my quiver included the 2500 i still found myself using the ninja and the magic to scoop with more, and the 2500 and the mod to hold it down and really control the ball. but i do think i do maore behind the back scoop passes with teh wider mouths, but really, why take away that.
and for the record, shaft shots are lame.

I appreciate all the responses so far.

I think Nick Kruse best summed this all up when he described an opinion on this as simply falling on a point within a spectrum of dimensions and/or surface - surface being another discussion. Which point is chosen on that spectrum can shift the direction of this game. Deciding that all mallets should be capped would point the game toward a strictly ground game, while increasing the inner diameter of open ended mallets could point the game to an equal ground/air ratio.

My reason for starting this thread comes first from my seeing some of these new mallet heads and experiencing this gut feeling of wrongness, in regard to their ID and OD. I then read NAH's ruleset and found that both the ID and OD were legal by its standards (OD not being regulated at all). Where did this 2.25" ID come from? It isn't a natural occurring dimension in our DIY mallet history, it's like a test tube dimension (an offshoot discussion could tackle whether this dimension then forces us to purchase a mallet head in order to keep up with the dimensional advantage). I have no interest in rewarding or penalizing a certain style of play, nor do I want to remove the stick handling options that come with an open ended mallet head with a 2"+ inner diameter - again, a 2" ID can do all that a 2.25" ID can. I simply want to point to the game changing potential of ID and OD. The larger these dimensions get the more the scale tips to favor offensive play and possibly more individual play, where we have a game that looks more like a NBA all star game than a game 7 in the stanley cup finals. Maybe the NBA all star game is a direction we want to go.

The opinion that regulating mallets would stunt the innovation within the sport is one that I respectfully disagree with. My observation of hardcourt bike polo, and I am only one person with one point of view, is that there has been more geeking out on equipment innovation than finding new innovative ways to actually play the game, a team game. The team game, positional play, is also something a newbie can excel in far before mallet tricks regardless of the mallet, and with more positive results. This sport is unique in that the technology at hand to advance equipment is far ahead of the game itself. My concern is that these new mallet heads will change the direction of the sport in an unnatural way, before it's found its true direction. I appreciate those who are manufacturing products for this game and I think there are many innovative directions they can take their products that will make them desirable. Making certain products ineligible at NAH tournaments by altering a rule, therefore garbage depending on your place in the sport, is not a good reason to not alter the rule if it means the sport would benefit.

There is precedent in the sports world of regulating equipment in an effort to better the competitive nature of the game - see the recent rules on men's ncaa lacrosse heads. I seem to be closer to the far right, we'll say, on the spectrum of ID and OD regulation. There are players in this thread whose history and game I very much respect but who don't share my opinion on regulation. It's good to hear, it gave me pause and some things to reconsider. I still believe that 2" max ID and 2 3/8" max OD would benefit this game.

the dark end (aka Bobb Todd, Marzipan, B.R. Fuck Face)

This is one of the most respectful responses I have ever seen on this forum.

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The only reason anyone does anything.
For the lulz.

^what he said

"The opinion that regulating mallets would stunt the innovation within the sport is one that I respectfully disagree with."

This position is hard to defend. Diversity leads to evolution and innovation.

"My observation of hardcourt bike polo, and I am only one person with one point of view, is that there has been more geeking out on equipment innovation than finding new innovative ways to actually play the game, a team game. The team game, positional play, is also something a newbie can excel in far before mallet tricks regardless of the mallet, and with more positive results."

The things you want have value no matter what mallet is being used, and development in these areas is not hindered by diversity in mallet profile. It's a long logical leap to assume the relationship here.

"This sport is unique in that the technology at hand to advance equipment is far ahead of the game itself."

What is the metric for something like this? How do you compare the two?

"My concern is that these new mallet heads will change the direction of the sport in an unnatural way, before it's found its true direction."

What is "unnatural?" These mallets and techniques did develop in the realm of the game itself, and we determine the direction of the game. We are directing it. Calling something "natural" or "true" is just stating a preference on where you'd like to to be directed, which is fine, but we shouldn't call other preferences "unnatural" based on some notion that bike polo already has some specific destination.

"I appreciate those who are manufacturing products for this game and I think there are many innovative directions they can take their products that will make them desirable. Making certain products ineligible at NAH tournaments by altering a rule, therefore garbage depending on your place in the sport, is not a good reason to not alter the rule if it means the sport would benefit."

Where's the benefit? Is bike polo lacking top competition? Is there a clear path from first time playing to pro (when we don't have any such distinction)? If you believe that technology is ahead of the where we are as a sport, I suggest advocating organizational development, not tech suppression.

Ask yourself this: "Do newbs just score too many goals on the pros on their first time?" If so, maybe we need to make the game more rigid and difficult, but I doubt the answer is yes.

Combination of choice: Smash + Bang

This is a great discussion. I had a few points to add:

I think the current regulation is good. It's simple and specifically physically limits certain types of play (trapping the ball).

Rules governing specific moves in this case (i.e. no ball jointing in the offensive zone) are more effective than limiting the dimension specs of equipment. Why? Two reasons. It still leaves room for innovation and experimentation, especially for DIYers. Second, a lot of the moves that you might want to stop can also be done with a smaller mallet, it's just a bit more difficult. In the end you have to regulate the move anyways if it provides an unfair advantage. We currently have a standard that works and there doesn't seem to be a real driver for change.

Regarding the lack of regulation on outer diameter - it is unneccesary. Even at a constant wall thickness the mass of the head increases quadratically with the OD. Without making extremely thin walls, making a very large OD mallet that isn't very heavy is limiting with current materials. Even if it was done, having a large OD mallet is arguably not that beneficial (see JohnH).

To the point that equipment technology is far ahead of the game itself, I say they are inseparable. Polo players are using the tools at their disposal to try and improve the game for everyone. I don't think anyone would argue that making mallets that are lighter and more durable has hindered the development of the game. This certainly isn't Formula 1 where technology is proprietary and inaccessible to most players and the most well funded win (and I don't think it ever will be). We're talking about plastic and aluminum and learning how to shape it and connect it in the best way for the purpose at hand.

As a designer of mallets, I would love to think that great equipment makes people great at polo, but it's just not that easy. Teamwork, coordination, reflexes, and strength (and a ski pole with gas pipe) are going to win over individual, uncoordinated play with the latest and greatest gear pretty much every time.

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www.arenabikepolo.com

ChrisA wrote:

As a designer of mallets, I would love to think that great equipment makes people great at polo, but it's just not that easy.

Wait, you're telling me your mallet/head won't make me dribble like Pierre?

I demand a refund.

Legalize Hand Throws - 2014