Cycle-ball: a look behind the scenes
In 2011 Austrian Patrick Schnetzer became the youngest Cycle-ball World Champion in the history of the sport. Now, at 21 years of age, he has three World Championship titles to his name.
With his current partner, Markus Bröll, he won all the major national and international titles in 2014, including the UCI Cycle-ball World Cup and the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships. The pair from the Austrian club Höchst fully intends to keep those titles in 2015.
So just how do you get into a sport that involves an astonishing mix of skills ranging from ball handling to bike handling, from goal shooting, to balance… without overlooking the physical stamina required. (On a competition day, the teams of two play some five matches of 14 minutes each).
Not so difficult if you’re to believe the young World Champion, who has been playing since the age of seven: “A family friend played cycle-ball and I had a go. I liked it from the start. It was my first sport. You can start playing without any background in gymnastics, cycling or football,” he insists.
Skills and stamina training
That said, the athletes must cover a wide range of aspects in training: The ten hours that Schnetzer dedicates to training each week include around six hours on the bike (agility, passing and shooting exercises) plus another three to four hours of physical and fitness training.
World Champions in 2012 and three times World Cup winners, the Swiss duo of Roman Schneider and Dominik Planzer (RS Altdorf) have been playing together since 2008.
Like Schnetzer, Schneider took up the sport at seven years old: “The cycle-ball training hall was next to my parents’ house. I was always watching, and so I got interested.” Although he agrees that it doesn’t require any particular background skills, Schneider concedes that:
“A certain talent for movement is an advantage.”
Cycle-ball is an amateur sport, and the majority of athletes hold down a full-time job. However Roman Schneider, silver medallist at last year’s World Championships, does not hesitate to dedicate his out-of-work hours to training in his bid to claim back the rainbow jersey this year.
Aiming for the top
“Once you’ve been at the top, you obviously want to go there again.”
He would also like to see his chosen sport reach more regions in the world.
Sentiments echoed by Patrick Schnetzer: “Cycle-ball is one of the greatest sports people have ever seen. Everybody who sees this sport for the first time is very impressed and fascinated by the action, the skills of the players and its uniqueness.
For the World Champion, there is a need for more media presence, more sponsors and, why not, presence at the Olympic Games.
“All these opportunities could help our sport get more popular in more countries.”