Polo is a very fast game that requires excellent athletic preparation. The rules are not too difficult but the game requires great experience and an excellent ability to ride a horse.
Polo playing requires: four to eight horses per player are essential, four athletes per team, two mounted referees (with final decisions) and two banderilleros (flag-wavers who validate goals) behind the doors.
Polo playground is a grassy rectangle. 180 to 275 meters long and 150 to 180 meters wide.
At the center of the two short sides are the doors that measure 7.32 meters each. The polo match is divided into four halves, called chukker, each of seven and a half minutes.
The ball can be hit by using the stik both from the right and from the left of your horse and in all directions.
The purpose is to pass the ball to your teammate, and direct it towards the goal, not protected by a goalkeeper, in order to score the goal.
At the beginning of the game and after each goal, the ball is taken back to the center of the pitch where the players of the two teams line up on two parallel lines, waiting for the referee to throw the ball between the feet of the horses.
In the game of Polo, the winner team is the one that scores the highest number of goals. A peculiarity is that each player has a variable handicap from -2 to 10 goals depending on his skill.
The sum of the handicaps of all the players constitutes the handicap of the team.
In some games the two teams may have two different scores (total hp). The team with the lowest handicap and therefore the weakest will be awarded goals of advantage established according to an international table.
The aim of the numerous rulesof Polo game is avoiding accidents both to players and horses. All the rules must be scrupulously respected.
The most important rule concerns the “line cut”, where by “line” we mean the trajectory of the ball: no player, not even a teammate, can “cut the way” to the player in possession of the ball.
To steal the ball from the opponent, the player can “mark” him or her, on the opposite side where he is hitting the ball, by pushing him out of line.
Obviously it is strictly forbidden to hit the opponent, or his horse, with a stick or whip.
Also very important is the need to observe the rule that requires the horse to be replaced by every chukker, in order to avoid fatigue of the animal.
When a foul has been committed, the referees have the unquestionable right of choice, in common agreement, on the assignment of the penalty to be inflicted on the team that committed the foul.
In case of difficulty of agreement between the two referees, the banderilleros will have the right of choice.
The most important rules in Polo are certainly those related to safeguarding the safety of men and their horses. No player can cross the line of another in possession of the ball and, the last man to hit the ball, has the ” right of way “.
It is goal, whenever the ball crosses the line between the posts, regardless of whether a horse or a hammer can pass through it, in turn.
In addition, in order to equalize the wind and turf conditions, the teams will have the obligation to change sides after each goal scored.
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about the terminology of the Polo game?
Polo horses, traditionally called ponies, are obviously necessary animals for the success of this sport.
They range from 14.2 to 16 hands in height at the withers (one hand is equal to 10.16 cm). As far as weight is concerned, it could varies between 400and 500kg. The Polo pony is selected with great care, looking for specific qualities, such as fast sprints, endurance, agility and maneuverability. The horse must also know how to remain reactive even under pressure, avoiding that its control can become a difficult task for the jockey.
A well-trained horse is important as it represents60/75% of the player’s skill and the assets of his team, resulting in the success of the game. The training of the steed usually begins around the age of three and lasts from about six months to two years.
Most horses reach full physical maturity in about 5 years, having a peak of athleticismand trainingaround 6/7 years.
As per the rules of the game, each player must have a “string of horses”, usually made up of 4 to 8 specimens per head and at each change, they must be left to rest for at least one chukker, in order to avoid getting too tired.
The horse must also obviously be protected during the game, in order to avoid injuries which, within the game itself, could also cause the steed to become irritated. For this purpose, therefore, the pony will always be equipped with protective bandages or wraps on all four legs, and its tail will be cleverly intertwined so as to avoid enveloping it with the mallet or other animals in the field.
The game of polo requires adequate equipment, both for the jockey and for the horse, to ensure both of them have proper protection resulting from direct confrontation on the playing field. Each player is equipped with:
- protective helmet
- SoftShield by Vas
- riding boots
- a shirt with the colours of his team.
- knee pads
- cuffs, spurs, whip and mallet
Protective Helmet (hood with chin strap)
It was introduced by the Safety Commission of the Uspa as a mandatory element for all polo players, with a face mask and goggles to protect themselves from any type of impact resulting from the match.
The injury prevention is one of the pillars of the VAS Polo & Equestrian Club philosophy, especially now that the Academy project has been launched for young talents who wish to try their this ancient equestrian discipline. The product is made entirely in Italy by our partner Think Over s.r.l., an innovative Hi-Tech company. The result of years of studies and research has led SoftShield to be the most appreciated protective garment in the best technical boutiques in the sector and used and validated by numerous sportsmen.
The special released protective system incorporated in SoftShield exploits the fractal technology and adhesion of the protection to the body, extreme flexibility and freedom of movement.
Players usually have quite different preferences, as far as riding boots are concerned. Flexibility, style, features, weight are some of the elements that the player considers when choosing the most suitable boot. The boots help, on the one hand, to protect the player’s leg from the ball and from the shocks caused by the approaching horses. On the other hand, they are also useful for providing a gripping surface on the sides of one’s steed.
A colorful shir of tshirt
Bearing the player’s position number, obviously in the colour of the team he belongs to.
One or two gloves
Designed to fit your hand like a second layer of skin, they offer a secure and firm grip during performance. The palm is made of peculiar leather, able to preserve the natural temperature of the hand, even in humid conditions, or by retaining heat, contrasting, for example, the harsh temperatures of a game on the snow.
The knee pads
To protect against shocks. They are sometimes mandatory.
Strictly rounded to protect the horse from injury (they are optional)
Entirely in leather, to have an easier grip. The internal structure is in fiberglass and nylon which gives it durability and resistance.
It has a rubber grip and a strap, called a sling, to wrap around the thumb. The stik is made of bamboo, although some of them today are made from composite materials. Polo stiks vary in size, from 49 to 54 inches in length. The length of the mallet depends on the height of the horse. The flexibility of the stik is very important, as it affects the control of the instrument. A more flexible stik allows a better shot even at a distance, but certainly less control in close side. The head of the mallet is generally cigar-shaped, made of wood about 9 1/4 inches in length. The hammer head weighs from 160 grams to 240 grams, depending on the player’s preference and the type of wood used. The hammer helps hitting on longer sides.
Probably the name of the game descends from it (“pulu” ’in Tibetan). It is usually made of plastic or wood. It must be made strictly respecting the proportions established by the competent federations: from 3 to 3.5 inches (about 8.3 cm) in diameter and from 3.5 to 4.5 ounces (about 113.4 g) in weight.
For the horse
The choice of saddle is also very important for the game, generally in English style with the addition of a blanket. The stirrups have wider and thicker stirrups, in order to allow greater safety to the player.