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Recruiting new players

We've been playing ever week for about 9 months now and we just can't seem to get many new players.  We can always get the min 6 to play but the most we've ever had snow up in one night has been about 10. 

 I've been trying really hard to recuit new players from our town and I have some flyers posted in the bike shop in town.  Always talking new new people and they always reply with the "That sounds really cool, I should check it out."  but they don't show up.

I've posted a few times on Craigslist looking trying to stir up interest but still no luck.

I'm not sure what to do to attract new blood.  I've gone so far as offering to bring all the gear (except for bikes) to some neighboring cities to provide a 'demo' and teach them the basics in hopes they will take it on themselves from then on.

 I'm looking for ideas.

 

Put flyers on people's bikes.

slapdick bike polo - washington dc

play at critical mass and alleycat finish points.

 got us a few new people, but not many.  We're always struggling to get enough people out too, but we're still pretty new.

 

Yeah flyers on bikes works...go tot he campus or localcoffee shops and bars and put em on all the bikes that arent murray, next , or magna.

 I actually got some newbies to show up last fall that way but they didnt stick it out through the WI winter

no dice nyc...MKE!

Our numbers went through the roof after ESPI. Host a tournament and hype it up everywhere. The local press has been good to us. Even the smallest blurbs help spread the word.

yeah we had twice the turnout this wednesday after our tourney over the weekend, even with many regulars taking the day off.

i think 12-15 regulars with a core of 8-9 die hards is all i would really want coming out to play. otherwise there is too much sitting around waiting for games...

over the winter here in Boston it was hard getting people to come out all the time, but I've learned a couple things from that. First of all, you can't convince people to come out to play unless they want to. just not going to happen. and when someone does come out, make them play. some people are scared to get hurt or be embarrassed, but just get them on the court and pass the ball to them a couple times and pretty soon they'll be hooked.

and finally some of the best recruits we've had weren't necessarily hardcore cyclists. usually it's the dude who did a little mountain biking or bmx stuff and played high school ice hockey that makes the best poloer in my opinion.

and finally finally, through the lean times in the winter, if you have a set time you're gonna play make sure you show up on time and consistently even if you're pretty sure no one else might. people need to know that the game is being played and that they won't show up to an empty court or have to wait around for other players.

and bring some beer for those who forgot to.

have a general policy of lending out bikes to people for at least the first few times they come out.  get them hooked, and then tell them to get their own bike. i think people are worried about breaking their own bike, and playing on a 42x16 fixed or a big tank of a mountain bike with racks and fenders makes for a frustrating intro to the sport. 

madison is lucky to have a house nearby to the polo court where a lot of people park their polo bikes between games (not to mention a mechanic who has sourced and built a lot of the them, and another that does a lot of the upkeep).  That way even if someone doesn't show up, their bike might still be used by the newbies coming.  This definitely requires a lot more volunteer mechanic time, and people get pissed when their bikes get busted up, but in most cases it works out OK. 

i'd say talk to damon in australia, he's gone from nothing to everything in a short amount of time.  he goes by urbanbicyclist here in the forums, and lived with us in east van for almost a year.  "top-centre!!"  i'll try and get him to comment here.

Loner bikes/mallets help a lot with attracting new players. But they will be work to bring to the court and maintain.

We've tried craigslist ads, flyering bike shops, attending other bike events/rides, maintaining a web site, etc. A lot of people knew we existed, but what really brought 'em out was moving the court. When we started playing in a park in a neighborhood with a little better reputation, some of that long ago out-reach started paying off.

 

Chicago Bike Polo 2003-2008

St Louis Bike Polo 2008-now

Retired.

Better reputation?  For what?  Polo?  What do you mean?

i dont know, some sort of classist bullshit probably

Thanks Piet :)

The key here is that everyone's involved.  Many of us have experience in organising different things, Critical Mass, Alley Cats, Campus Activities, Wednesday Night Skates and even a Band Venue Booker. Getting a good mix of people on board gives you a good base to work with.

I'm not sure if you're getting people turning up and not coming back, or just getting people to come at all.
Where you play is a factor, is it visible? Are people talking about you?  Are there lots of cyclists in your city?

Some thoughts/tips

1. Getting people to turn up to begin with.
2. Getting people hooked.

1. Word of mouth is the key, Plant seeds, everywhere...drop tiny references to it everywhere, in your facebook status update, in your RSVP to parties (“awesome! see you there… after bike polo”)
Getting some key people on board is also important.  Find these people, the hyper-connected types, get them along, or just let them know, they like to be in the know, and they will pass the info along to _lots_ of people.
Sure flyers, chalk messages on bike paths are great ideas but aren't actually a big part of what we've done here this year.
Play small games after alley cats, the bike film festival etc...
Carry your mallet around... (everyone stares at you? free advertising!)  When you see people looking curiously, talk to them.

2. Getting people hooked.  It's all been said here already in various posts.  Do all of it.  Pass the ball to newbies, lend them mallets, lend them your bike, erase any overt us and them between regulars and newbies.
East Van are _really_ great all this stuff, super friendly, welcoming and generous.
Whenever you see someone new, introduce yourself to them.  When you bring someone new, introduce them to everyone.
When you see a cyclist stop to watch you play, go over, even leave the game for a little bit.  Invite them over to sit with you to hang out.  They may not even play, but they will tell their friends, and the word will spread.
Get players sorted out with their own mallets and balls, try to avoid having to rely on a central stash.  People will fall in love with their own mallet, and be able to practice or play whenever they want.
Bring some beer/food/goodies/camping chairs/music, make it a comfy space to be.  We've got a few people who turn up just to watch.
If you invite people to polo make sure you're there, on time, with enough mallets/cones/beers whatever.
People need to know people will be there.  There was a post last year on a fixed gear forum saying they'd turned up to polo and nobody was there... That was a bad post on a big forum for us.

3. Taking it to the next level. (we're not doing this yet)
Team nights
Bike Shop sponsorship
Tee Shirts + Stickers
Tournaments
Travelling to neighbouring cities
East Van’s sexy new banner and beer coozies

4.  Taking it to the next next level
Piet and his Jägermeister jet.

Persistence is key, make this your number one project, turn up on time all the time, talk to lots of people a little bit (not a few people alot)

We've got the average back up to over 20 each week in the coldest weeks of the year.  Many of the things I do are habits I picked up in Vancouver.

Social networks revolve around key people, we played after an alleycats in a street we would never play in normally, bad slope, bad light, bad edges, cars, _but_ it was _right_ outside the pub in everyone's face, a few people had a go, and a few have stuck around.  There's a few key messengers now who play regularly.

Other random notes 

I later discovered that one messenger had seen a Seattle messengers calendar and all the girls were photographed with their mallets.
We havn't had a tournament yet but It's on the way and I'm super keen.
Tell people in bike shops what you're up to, print some photos and drop them off at the shops.
Offer to be a subject for photography students.
We (Alex/me) send text messages to all the regulars a day before, sometimes with a weather update, a bit of news, maybe an invite to a cafe for brunch beforehand, Relocation info (we use event carparks... sometimes there's events on Sundays.)
Surprisingly, leaflets aren’t a big part of it for us this year.  But sure, a leaflet on a bike in the street about bikes, is 100% relevant and likely to be read.

Sure polo isn't for everyone, and maybe someone's not going to commit to coming and playing, just because I've spoken to them. But by planting lots of different seeds in different social circles some will sprout.
Rest assured people have seen you playing and people are wondering what it's about.
One thing that surprises me is the number of people who have never even turned up but are already thinking of building their own polo bike?!?

Lastly

What will work for you in your city is different to what works here in Melbourne or over in Vancouver.  eg, text messages or e-mail, what neighbourhood you play in, what the tempo is in your bike community, what other events are likely to distract people from polo.  How much hassling is enough/too much?
good luck and let us know how you go!

Damon
 
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urbanbicyclist.org

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bikepolo.com.au
urbanbicyclist.org

are you refering to this calendar courtesy of mylora http://www.point83.com/calendar/  only amanda and heather pose "polo" style but yer point is well taken dingo. kg, ya gotta sell yerself especially in a place like turlock. shit man, bring polo to the country fair, any place where the locals congregate. old and young can appreciate this game.

 

top center for ever!

Okay catfish, I'm going to move my mouth like this...

Haven't actually seen the calendar, just heard about it.

But there's a lesson. chinese whispers will turn one photo into a whole calendar!

[edit, just checked it out...  How times have evolved. now when people list the bikes they own, polo bike is becoming a regular feature. hobbies:bike polo   love it]

yay, beer coozies en route, I'll have to find some PBR down here now ;)

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bikepolo.com.au
urbanbicyclist.org

damn in Richmond we have too many people playing, you gotta scramble to get a game in sometimes 

hey all.shane from toronto.found this site this week and just reading up about the recruiting players.this is only my 2nd year( minus the winters)playing and in those 2 seasons,we've had a hard time getting people out to play.navid, dennis,myself and a handful of part time players are about all we can find.plus this summer has been a right-off,its rained every tuesday and most sundays, the days we play so that doesn't help matters.i guess all we can do is to stick with-it for now and hope we can find a way to get the word out!NSPI 2008 was my first tourney,and i had the best time!big up to the Mallets Of Mayhem Polo Club.thanks to all!! cheers

-416polo-

you just had the largest polo tourney the world has ever seen in your own back yard. a great opportunity to convert some of those locals and get press...

Okay catfish, I'm going to move my mouth like this...

guess we have alot of work to do!

-416polo-

we're kinda in a similar boat with fewer regulars showing up. we played a pickup game in front of the art gallery while folks were waiting to start critical mass and got some exposure. hopefully it translates into more players...

Okay catfish, I'm going to move my mouth like this...