Pickups with more than 12 players

Hi everyone,

In Bordeaux, we have had a few pick ups sessions with more than 12 peoples, and we are not used to it! We have only one court, 3-4 fresh newbies and only a limited amount of time. We normally just run big shuffles after big shuffles, but it seems not optimal.
We want to maximize play time for everyone, making sure everyone has a fair amount of time on the court, and maximal fun, while maintaining it inclusive for the newbies and interesting/intense for the advanced players.

What’s the magical recipe you use in your clubs? What format did you try that worked/didn’t work and why?


I heard about Montreal’s card system. Every time there is 3 pick ups:
Newb (slow you play to give them game time and advice)
Middle (fun for everyone limited physicality, challenging for newbies)
Hard (everyone plays to win, including checks and potentially scary situations)

Anyone chooses which pick ups they want to play their next game, but there’s a waiting list.
You might end up playing more pick ups if you play slower or less if you just want to go hard!

Hope that makes sense, call me if you need precisions!


When I started in Brussels, when there were 12+ players we played ‘a bench’. 2 big teams were made, and the game kept going while every now and then a player was replaced. Mostly when the game was stopped by a goal or other.

It doesn’t take into account the different levels or intensities of play, neither it was very precise in timing, but it was fun. Another thought is that you always played with the same 5 players of your team. But still I have good memories of it. Maybe it’s just nostalgia :slight_smile:

Curious to follow the other answers.

i will separate games with an intent to teach bike polo to new players / lgive them space with just a regular game where everyone play their game

12 players total

first pile

4 new players + 2 other players with enough self control and pedagogy to let the new players make most of the play. teams are 2 newbies 1 regular per team

second pile

6 regular players that can play for themselves

after resolving these two games instead of mega shuffling

1st pile

4 new player + 2 regulars ( different ones)

2nd pile 6 regulars.

this way you cater in the same night for many levels.

then do a round with 1 newbie per team or something. as long as everyone have fun and play the game


You could also try cards with the names on it for shuffle. You could do it during games are still on and it’s adjust the games manually (according to the other suggestions)

Try team nights with specials to train specific skills

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Thanks everyone for the great ideas!
I remember Elodie once told me she used that card system in Strasbourg at some point, when the level was very heterogeneous! We will try! And yes, it has the advantage that you can organize the games while games are still on!
Bench, I always find it difficult when the level is heterogeneous because it is not as easy for everyone to enter the court, and some end up playing a lot while others spent most of their time waiting.
The team nights seems amazing, I’ll definitely will try some of those on our ‘training nights’!


In Rouen there is a discussion about it actually.

The system I believe in is (not every one in Rouen find it the best, I’m just talking about me) :

  • If there are more than 9 players, big shuffle (to make sure people will play against/with different people).
  • If you can’t divide the amount of people by 3, let’s say you have 14 players : you do a big shuffle, that will organize 2 games (2 x 6 players) and the 2 people remaining will play the first game of the next big shuffle.

That way, if you don’t have any chance when shuffling, the maximum games you won’t play is 3* (it adds up as the number of players adds up) if not, you’re gonna play every two games (sometime two games in a row).
We tried others systems and the “no luck shuffle” could make you not play 4 or even 5 games.

I explain here why 3 games is the maximum : If by any lack of chance you are really unlucky (let’s say you are in the two remaining of round #1, then you play the first game of round #2 BUT you are unlucky and be in the two remaining of round #3, it means you won’t play for 3 games (2nd game of round #2 and 2 games of round #3). This is the only case yuou have to wait. We can fix this by adding you in the 2nd game of Round #2 by default if you were in the remaining players the round before.

hope that helps


We do this in New York. We call it the Super Mallet system. Basically everyone at pick up gets to play the same amount of games. We do it no matter how many people are at pick up. It often confuses visitors and new players, but it makes no error and is the most fair. We sometimes have 8 people at pick up and sometimes we have 20 people, so we need a consistent system.

How Max named it… “If you can’t divide the amount of people by 3, let’s say you have 14 players : you do a big shuffle, that will organize 2 games (2 x 6 players) and the 2 people remaining will play the first game of the next big shuffle.” In New York we call those two left-over players the Super Mallets. That means that they are in the first game of the next round and still get put in the toss for the next games of that same round. That makes up for the game they missed in the previous round, so everyone gets the same quantity of games.

We organize mallets in order. If you haven’t played a game in your round, your mallet is on the left. If you are walking out of the court because you just played your game in the current round, your mallet goes on the right. That’s where you have to watch out for newcomers and visitors to make sure they put their mallets in the right pile. After all games of a round, the mallets on the right go through a big toss to start the next round. The Super Mallets get priority in that first game and still get put in the pile for the next games of the round. Say there are 2 Super Mallets, the other mallets are thrown in for a “throw in for 4” to complete the game.

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agree that should be the basic of mega shuffle ( having a “remainders” or super mallet pile and re- shuffling the last spots.

the issue you have with basing all your club games on mega shuffle is if you have high attendance of players with different profiles/ levels.

it can be sometimes organically good game matchings but sometimes you could separate the levels in two piles too.

this take is very risky and highly subject to boohoo for the sake of inclusivity but i think most clubs actually struggle to cater good games for each levels and it creates a lack of interest of many players.

the usual answer is to split the week days by levels : beginners / advanced / team night etc

but if you have a beginner night then veterans dont show up : numbers get scarce

if you have a veteran night , beginners dont show up , numbers get scarce.

so my question is how do you make it when your player crowd are a big mix ? also lets add “newcomers” and people that want to play for the first time , and people that have no gears ( no bike / no mallet) and they are jumping on club loaners or other people’s

on top of giving everyone the same amount of games , i would like to add another thing which is give everyone interesting games which is :

-a game that is challenging for advanced players

  • a game that is comprehensive and with pedagogy for beginers

ideally if these two crowd can find their thrills in every night you have more chance to get players numbers up and mixed level games but also a side of games where the players are “choosing” who they play with , and against.

the system i proposed in my first post only come to agrement the system max and manu are using ( everyone should use it by default ) it allows to creat 1 game out of 2 or 3 in the round that make space for beginners without "using"a veterans round of play.

idk if its all a bit too complex :sweat_smile: im struggling to find a solution on this. my experience in my own club is that i m less and less interested to play for actual thrills , i only play pick ups to make up numbers for less advanced players than me and i probably never get an actual 3v3 with fast player ( if it happen, it has to be tossed organically so its rare even if we actually have the potential 6 advanced players around the court)

i enjoy the not so fast games and coaching, and seeing a new player earn his stripe months after month is a real joy for myself that keeps me coming back every day anyway, but i see a lot of advance player loosing motivation to come to the court because they dont enjoy that part so much ( i dont think they should be blame for it )

very tough situation to deal with imo and directly linked to the bigger issue that most club have : why do one polo scene have a hard time going above the mark of 30-40 players ? and its not an amount of courts issue. imo its the structure of weekly training.

sorry for the essay

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There was a mobile app written by a Łukasz from Kraków that was shuffling people automatically. The app tries to equalise the number of games for each player during the session and to maximise team diversity of entire session (as far as I remember, it was ten years ago).
Of course, it removes that mallets throw magic, etc. etc., but if every session is full of complaining, then you can show the stats in the app :slight_smile:

If someone is keen to try the app I can contact Łukasz to check if he can still publish it someway.