Polo Players Edition

SEP 2018

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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14 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N tired so when we went into overtime, I jumped back on her. I was hoping the overtime was going to be short, but I had my other two horses ready just in case. "We started the overtime from the throw in because I scored the last goal like five seconds before the last bell. Peter Brant crushed me in the throw-in, so Hilario [Ulloa] got the ball and ran with it. I recovered, was able to catch him and hit a backshot. Marc [Ganzi] picked up the ball, hit it a couple of times and Nic [Roldan] put it in the goal. It was a good short overtime and my horse ran well," he said. "I remember it like it was yesterday." That calm focus is helpful as he transitions from different levels of play throughout the year. In the winter he competes at the 20-goal level in South Florida, then switches to 14-goal polo during the summer in Wyoming. After that he competes in the Argentine Triple Crown at the 40-goal level. He says he finds something good about every level he plays. "Here in Wyoming, it is a bit more relaxed. The way polo is set, we play with two amateurs and two professionals so the focus is on helping and using the amateurs as much as I can. I try to hit the ball the first time then make really good passes to my teammates. It is good preparation for Argentina, where I have to do that—hit the ball the first time and pass it the best way possible. So, even though I am playing some of Gillian [Johnston's] younger horses, we end up playing really good games. "Last year I came from [Wyoming] and went directly to play in Argentina, playing one practice game and the next day playing the Tortugas Open. I had a great game. When I am [in Wyoming] I try to practice and keep my mind thinking on what is coming, and the polo were are playing allows me to do that. "It helps you to start thinking before you get to the ball, to know where to hit it and that is what the Open is about. It's anticipation, knowing what you are doing and what you are going to do before you get to the ball. "When I play the 20 goals, I come from playing the Open in Argentina so I come with extra speed, extra preparation and that helps me to be quicker. Palm Beach is so competitive that we work a lot on preparing the team, the game plans, the strategies against different teams and making my players do their best so we can get the best out of everyone on the team and be as competitive as we can." To prepare for games, Astrada and his teammates have meetings, watch videos of their games, videos of their opponents and then make a plan. He says that really helps to improve how the team plays. "Last year, for example, I played with Stevie [Orthwein], Will [Johnston] and Carlucho [Arellano] and we did really well in the 20-goal but we worked just as hard outside the field to put the team together," he explained. "At the end of the season, we lost the semi-final of the last 20 goal by one goal to Coke, who won the tournament. "We ended up doing really well as a team and that is what we are looking forward to for this year. We know we are a four-man team, so we are looking forward to working together and playing the best polo possible." To play well as a team, its players need to work together. Pregame preparation helps the players know what is expected of them. Astrada explained, "If you have a team that works well, the teammates do a good job when they don't have the ball. They work [for each other], pass the ball and make the right moves for the teammate that has the ball, making sure he has space to release the ball or to make a play," he said. "Position is very important but it comes from the teammates working well together. That can be taking the man, opening spaces for the guy who has the ball or anticipating and running for the pass. That is the way I like to Whether playing in 14- or 40-goal polo, Astrada likes to hit the ball the first time, passing to a teammate. CHICHI UBINA

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