I think my position as self-proclaimed Unicycling- (in general) and UniHoki (in particular) Publicity Slut is a matter of public record.
So much so that a colleague phones me from the studio next door to congratulate me on getting Unicycle Hockey onto the Supercycling.co.za website.
Imagine my surprise.
You can read the bit in question here.
It ended up under their Cycling Tips section.
The writer’s obviously done some web research but managed to miss the South African connection. Probably didn’t get the Press-Release.
I’ve sent them a message thanking them for the exposure, giving them some more detail about UniHoki in South Africa and asking them to include some contact detail on the site.
If you can spare a minute to drop them a mail and thank them for this exposure, I’ll really appreciate it.
You can mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
this is what i sent to them…
shameless self promotion
Many thanks for your coverage of unicycle hockey, nice to see it getting some
good exposure in main stream cycling magazines. Just to let you know we also
play hockey over here in England, we use a soft plastic indoor street hockey ball
as it travels a bit better than a dead tennis ball, and also you don’t have to cope
with it bouncing quite as much. I think we are one of the only groups to play outdoors
in europe too. Us Brits are made of hard stuff, and we can only complain about the
weather (which we love to do) if we are stupid enough to play uni hockey, come rain,
shine, snow or fog.
The balls question is a long runner. At SWUM we use the dead tennis ball as I believe do Lunis nowadays. We found that our riders were at a disadvantage in international competition not being used to the bouncey ball if they always played with a street hockey ball.
We’re looking at moving away from that wooden ball mainly because they’re becoming chipped and we don’t know where to get more. (The guy we got them from is back in Finland.)
We really enjoy playing with them and they add a certain element of speed to the game that we haven’t experienced with the tennis ball.
I’ll try to get some video up sometime soon.
I think there might be value in trying (I realise this is probably most unlikely but might be worth a shot) to standardise the ball used in as many places as possible.
I suggest this for a variety of reasons, UniHoki’s inclusion in the Olympics being one of them. And with that in mind, it might make more sense to standardise to a ball that can be bought ‘off the shelf’ and not something as vague as ‘a dead tennis ball’.
Andy, I’ve been showing your video around our players and the consensus is that we can whip you guys. Except for the guy in the yellow, he looks pretty good. A bit like our Devin.
(Kidding, I enjoy the smack-talking almost as much as I enjoy the playing.)
I did want to ask you about the measurements of that area you play on. What is that place?
I don’t like playing with a ‘dead tennis ball’ because it’s far less predictable, what is dead becomes a matter of opinion. So when you’ve got used to your idea of what a ‘dead tennis ball’ is then go somewhere else their opinion may be different. I vote for a standardised ball off the shelf, even if it’s not my preference ball.
Not sure who you’re talking about as half the players are wearing yellow bibs and the other half look yellow under that lighting although Andy was wearing a yellow T-shirt and being editor may have took some artistic license to show his good bits
The pitch is multi purpose, it’s marked out for two tennis courts, five a side football and other stuff, not sure about measurements.
I take it the Street Hockey Ball would be your preference?
I’m also fairly sure that nobody really wants to go to a normal or indoor hockey ball.
The injury risk is just too high.
True. Yellow Bib, Trials Uni. Features quite strongly in the opening scenes especially.
It seems to be quite a bit wider than it is long. That might just be camera angle, but everyone remarked on it. Is it almost square or is it a ‘proper’ rectangle?
A couple of us are talking about getting ourselves to the European Juggling Convo in Ireland next year August.
If you lot aren’t running scared by then, we should see if we can hook something up.
Apart from that, the Rand is 1/10th of Pound at the moment. a South African UniHoki holiday seems like an affordable option, no?
Like Gary said, the area we play on is a 5 a-side football / tennis court area. It’s got two tennis courts side on in it and a little bit more space either end.
There is a standard ball, it’s a tennis ball. I don’t know if there’s any standard as to whether it’s made a bit dead or not. It’s a standard because it’s what the places where they have proper competitions and leagues and stuff use. Like Germany, where there’s probably more players (and better players) than all the rest of the world put together.
I think the hard thing with a tennis ball is that when you first move to it from a street hockey ball, it seems impossible to hit it hard and to bounce way too much. When you play against the Germans, Swiss, or other people who are experienced in playing with a tennis ball, it makes much more sense and you realise that you just need to use a different technique to play with it. I think it requires more skill, because you have to play air shots much more.
It might be nice to play with another ball as standard, but there’s not much point discussing it here, because the vast majority of really good hockey players don’t post on here.
I think once you’ve got the hang of stopping and hitting the ball in the air, the unpredictability of the tennis ball is way less noticeable. It’s only because we’re used to playing with a street hockey ball that we notice it so much, because you hardly ever need to stop air shots with a hockey ball. The dead ball is defined by ‘a “dead” tennis ball that reaches 30 to 50 percent of its original height after bouncing onto concrete’, which is a bit vague.
There’s always going to be differences between different people’s games of hockey, playing on our grippy surface leads to a very different feel to slick indoor surfaces, and playing on our wide court means it’s much harder to do diagonal shots into goal, playing outdoors when it’s very cold changes how the street hockey ball reacts a fair bit too.
I think an interesting way to practice for playing with a dead tennis ball would be to play with bouncy new tennis balls. If you can handle that, you’re just going to be way better at playing and passing above the other teams sticks, which seemed to be one of the things that gave the German team at BUC a big advantage. It might slow the game down for a few weeks trying it, but once we got over that I think we’d be much better players.
Much as I 'd like to obviously massage Andys inflated ego thats not him thats James, Andy (long hair also on a trials) has probably better dribbling skills but lacks the tactical nouse to a) head towards the opponents goal and b) is prone to Kamikazee dribbling runs across the face of his own goal which inevitably lead to an own goal or a gilt edged chance for the opposition - we’ve been trying to ween him off that habit but its a long and arduous route.
As for running scared - theres a two hour session next Tuesday to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Emunicyclists consider yourselves cordially invited - we’ll move the international challenge match up to the top of bill;) . Seriously though it would be good to play you as the two main group of contributing hockey players on the forum - are you intending to go to Unicon next year? we could perhaps sort out something there
I would very much like to go to Unicon next year and have been discussing some interesting possibilities with some interesting people.
The situation is that our group evolved from a juggling club and for all my Uni-Uber-Alle-Loudmouthedness (no, really), a majority of the players would consider themselves jugglers first when you put a gun to their heads (your point about tactical nouse ref the opposing goal refers) and force them to choose.
This means that they are more likely to want to go to the EJC than Unicon and since it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to go over twice in quick succession (unless some of what that Amway chappie was saying comes to pass really quickly), I’ll probably prefer to go over with the group as that will be our best chance of getting something resembling a ‘team’ over to Europe. If you guys don’t make it to the EJC, we might still be able to organise something on our way to, or back from Ireland?
Something else I found interesting about your video was the fact that a majority of your players hold the stick in both hands.
When we had that ice-hockey coach come give us some pointers, he pointed out that our one-handed dabs at the ball may be effective now, but isn’t the best way of handling the stick and tried to get us to get into the ‘broom-grip’.
He was as successful with this as he was with getting us to learn to ride sideways. Now that i’ve actually seen it in action on a uni, I’ll be keen to have another stab at it on Sunday. Play starts at 16h00. Consider yourselves cordially invited also.
Your players also seem to spend a lot more time on the ball without being hassled by defenders.
I have some video of our last game but that was taken on my Nokia mobile phone and I can’t seem to convert it to a format that will upload to the gallery.
Yeah - I’ve always played pretty much two handed as I found that I’m not really strong enough with just one to win many tackles or hit the ball hard - once a couple of people use two hands then pretty much everyone goes for that approach otherwise they seem to loose out in the tackles - A couple of our players do seem to play one handed more than others but that tends to be the exception more than the norm. As for the Unicon/EJC dilemma - offer to book the tickets and just accidently sign them all up for Switzerland they’ll never notice
I managed to get some video of one of our games up in a gallery.
A couple of caveats.
It’s 4.5meg and reasonably, if not entirely crappy.
It was shot with a Nokia 6680 phone.
It’s about 10 minutes long so the quality is ‘scratchy’ at best.
And it was a game we had to play 4-3 as we had two ‘inexperienced’ people involved. You’ll see Donna do a couple of freemounts and Nigel do a couple of UPDs. That left myself and Devin in black (kinda) playing Alan, Shaun and Ivor in white. We were always going to get our butts kicked.
We’re shaping up for a good session on Sunday. So far it’s looking promising for a three team tournament. I’ll see if I can organise a better camera and get some decent footage.
I’ll also try n take some time to wave a movie editor at it to try n make us look better.