Polo Primer

POLO 101

Polo is one of the only sports where professionals and amateurs play side by side. Each team has four players who ride on different ponies throughout the fast-paced match. Players numbered one and two have offensive positions while three and four are defense. The ponies are trained for speed, endurance and quick response time and they’re smaller than average (in the early days of polo the horses had to be fourteen hands or less) with manes shaved and tails wrapped or braided to keep them from getting tangled with players mallets or reins.

After the throw-in, the imaginary line of the ball (the path of a traveling ball) determines play. The line can’t be crossed until the ball is struck by a player’s mallet and a new line is formed. Players must use their right hands to hold the mallet and hit the ball with the side of the mallet, attempting to score by sending it through the goal post. Once a goal is scored, teams change ends on the 300-yard-long field to account for any wind advantage.

DRESS CODE

Fashion is definitely part of the equation on polo Sundays and your choice of outfit may depend on whether you’re picnicking or attending a private VIP lunch. For ladies, flowy sundresses or chic summer tops and white pants are popular on the lawn while at the Town & Country and Audi VIP parties, many opt for more formal clothes such as fitted day dresses. Wedges or flat sandals are best if you want to take part in the divot stomping. Men look sharp in linen or Bermuda shorts. Sunglasses are a must and hats are big too, both for the look and the sun protection. Children and dogs are welcome, their cuteness factor completing the scene.

Easy breezy Sundays are best spent on the sidelines with a cocktail in hand.
Easy breezy Sundays are best spent on the sidelines with a cocktail in hand.
Every day at polo is kid-friendly.
Every day at polo is kid-friendly.
Pack a picnic or hit the gourmet food trucks.
Pack a picnic or hit the gourmet food trucks.
The pooches get in on the fun too.
The pooches get in on the fun too.
Floral prints and floppy hats are never a fashion fail.
Floral prints and floppy hats are never a fashion fail.

POLO SPEAK

THE BOWL-IN OR THROW-IN
When the umpire starts (or resumes) a polo match by rolling the ball down the center of a lineup of players

CHUKKERS
In a polo match there are six periods called chukkers, each lasting seven and a half minutes. Typically, each player will ride a different pony for each chukker of the match.

DIVOT STOMPING
During play, the fast-moving polo ponies thunder down the field, tearing up small patches of grass and dirt as they turn, start and stop. At half-time, between the third and fourth chukkers, it’s a tradition for spectators to come onto the field and help to stomp the divots back in place.

HANDICAP
The U.S. Polo Association assigns a handicap to every player based on thier level of skill, horsemanship, strategy and knowledge of polo. The handicaps range from a low of -2 for a beginner and up to 10 for the most skilled player.

BUMP
When a player directs his pony into the side of another pony to break the other player’s concentration or ruin his shot

SUDDEN DEATH
If there’s a tie score, after a five-minute rest, an additional chukker will be played to determine the winner.

 

 

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