Polo Players Edition

OCT 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.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1029347

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 67

12 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N I N S T R U C T O R S F O R U M BY ADRIANO "NANO" PEREZ CHOOSING A MALLET ften times players will watch a high-goal professional player who hits the ball really well and try to buy similar mallets for themselves. But the secret is not merely in the mallets. How well someone hits is more about timing than anything else. When ordering custom mallets, it is too personal an issue to copy what someone else does, no matter how successful they are. Choose a mallet based on your size, strength and the type of polo you are playing. Mallets come in a variety of weights and lengths, anywhere from 470 grams on the lighter side to 540 grams on the heavier side and from 48 to 55 inches in length. A medium-weight mallet is generally about 500 grams with the cane about 300 grams and the head the other 200 grams. The cane is made of ratan manau. It is solid rather than hollow and is a type of palm. Some canes are denser than others. A dense cane will be stiffer and heavier, while a cane that is less dense will be lighter and whippier. The lighter the mal- let, the more likely it is to break. Heads are made from the dense wood of the tipa tree, found only in northern Argentina and Brazil. The heads come in several shapes, including oval or cigar- shaped, which is wider but not as high as a typical mallet head and is better for lofting the ball; higher but not as wide, which cov- ers a larger area of the ball on contact; reg- ular shaped but oversized; oversized with the bottom shaved flat, allowing contact in a lower area on the ball and a heel cut into the head so the mallet is flush with the ground when the player reaches out to the side to strike the ball; and the Skeen head, which is cigar shaped with a flat bottom and a heel on the front and back. Because mallets are natural materials, no two mallets are the same. Often, I'll make a mallet for someone and they love it. They tell me, "Make me a dozen more just like it!" I look at 5,000 to 6,000 canes. I'll find one that is just fantastic, but I'll look through dozens more before I find another one that is something like it. I try to find canes that are similar in thickness from top to bottom, similar weight, density and whippiness. Canes have knots on them and some canes have more than others. There is a myth that the more knots on a cane the better. Canes with more knots are usually very young canes. Often the young canes are thick by the handle and much thinner by the head, leaving them unbalanced. To balance them, a heavier head is neces- sary. The unbalanced cane is much easier to break. But what is worse, because the canes are being cut too early, eventually the jungle where they grow will be destroyed. I see more and more of these canes with a very thick handle coming in for repairs. It is a shame because the mal- lets don't last and neither will the jungle. While most amateur players can easily walk into a shop and buy a medium- weight mallet off the shelf, top profession- al players all use custom-made mallets. Still, these mallets vary widely from player to player. Players with a lot of strength and a lot of power behind their swings need a heavy, stiff mallet. If they used a whippy, thinner cane, it would break, for sure. Those that play with more finesse and an easier swing need something more flexible with more whip. If a professional uses different-size mallets for different horses, he still looks for mallets of about the same weight regardless of the length. This means the longer the mallet, the lighter the materi- als would have to be. Again, the lighter they are the more likely they are to break. A longer mallet of the same weight as a shorter mallet will also have a different feel. It will likely be whippier. For this reason, some players use the same length mallet no matter what horse they are play- ing. Instead, they adjust their position when swinging on a smaller or bigger horse just as they adjust their timing when going faster or slower. [Former 10- goaler] Adam Snow uses the same size mallet for all his horses. Still, players may change the type of mallet they use depending on the type and level of polo they are playing. In high- goal polo, where the game is fast, a stiffer mallet is better for making a very power- ful shot, lofting the ball as far downfield as possible. In the arena, where the field is much The mallets you choose are based on your size, strength and polo Nano Perez customizes mallets to players' size, strength and type of polo they play.

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