Perhaps you have heard of polo but you never really knew what the game was about. The object of the game is to score more points than the other team. Polo is a sport that is played on horses known as polo ponies and played on a field that measures a max of 300 yards by 360 yards.
Each team has four players on horses armed with wooden mallets. Players can only use their right hand when swinging mallets. You want to use this mallet to hit the ball into the 8 yard wide but limited height goal.
The idea is to ride and hit the ball whilst on horseback. You can pass the ball to a teammate if required. When a team scores a goal, the teams change hands and try to score into the other goal. It seems simple enough but there’s an important rule: line of the ball. The player who hits the ball has the right of way. Other players cannot cross the line of the ball in front of the ball. Therefore, they must approach other players on either side of the ball. Failure to do this results in a foul.
The defending player can take the ball away from you in a few ways, the first being a ride off. A ride off occurs when a player rides alongside the ball carrier and eases their opponents away from the line of the ball. A player can hit the ball before a ball before the ball carrier, thus giving himself the right of way. The game is played as periods that are seven minutes long. At the end of a period, play continues for 30 seconds or until a stoppage of play, whichever happens first.
The players on each team have their own unique role. The #1 is the primary offensive weapon. They try to score goals and they defend the opposing number 4. The number 3 is the tactical leader hitting the ball towards #1 and 2. Number 4 is the last line of defense and responsible for covering opposing #1.
If a team commits an infraction, a penalty hit can be awarded. Hits are taken from the thirty, forty and sixty yard line and may be defended or undefined, depending on the penalty. Also known as ball hit out, if the ball leaves the area of play, an umpire will bowl the ball back in an underarm fashion.
During the halftime, spectators are invited onto the field to help replace the mounds of earth that are dug up by the horses. This is called “divot stomping.” It’s a great way for players to walk around and socialize.
While the game of polo may not be the most popular in the United States, it is definitely gaining traction! Stay tuned for my next blog focused on famous polo events!