Polo Players Edition

DEC 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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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 ADAM SNOW SHAKE YOUR SHADOW H ave you ever been a few minutes into a game (or practice) and realize the same opponent is around you constantly? It might not show up with a big bump, but someone on the other team is definitely keying in on you. On closer observation, it is apparent the player is not even looking for the ball, just watching your rein-hand and trying to keep you out of the play. Ugh, some- one is man-marking me wherever I go. This could be a long day! It is hard not to get deflated when you find yourself the recipient of a man-to- man shadow assignment. We all have an easier time executing plays when afford- ed time and space. But challenges are good, and with adversity also comes opportunity. The trick, rather than to fight against it, is to figure out a way to go with the flow and turn this tactic towards both your person- al, and team's, advantage. Here are some strategies (both do's and don'ts) that have proven effective for me when it comes to shaking that shadower: Find an opponent Go to someone else on the opposing team. I am accustomed to being the tar- get, not the hitter, for most of my team's knock-ins, so this strategy didn't always come naturally but it is effective. By going to one of the opposing team's bet- ter players on the field (particularly on your team's knock-ins and free hits), you are simultaneously taking your compan- ion with you and, at least for a few sec- onds, can occupy fully half of the oppos- ing team. Allowing your teammates to play three vs. two, even for a brief period, is usually enough for them to complete a pass and give your team the advantage. If you are like me, you will still want to receive the ball. But be patient, let this advantage play itself out, and be ready to receive your teammates' second or third pass off the back-line, instead of their first. Because the opponents can't afford to have one of you occupying two of their players, they typically adapt by pulling the man-marker off of you--and now you can go back to your normal game strate- gy without having that opponent trying to share your saddle. Get the ball Getting the ball is another strategy that can work. Any defender has an easi- er time keeping me out of the play before I receive the ball. Once I am in posses- sion—of course assuming that I am well mounted—-it is a different dynamic! First, the defender now has to worry about not fouling, while still playing strong D. Since I am coming with the right-of-way, my shadower now has to give me a little space. If the opponent gets too tight, I may be able to pass him with the ball. If his angle or timing is not just right, he may foul. In both cases, he is giving up a scoring opportunity. Sure, that all sounds fine, but what if you're not able to get open in order to receive the ball in the first place? Come behind for it, maybe on your team's set plays. Talk with your teammates, be creative and find a way to get on the ball. Don't let a persistent opponent keep you out of the game If someone is marking you consistently, resist the urge to outrun the opponent. It is usually not worth it. Look and anticipate. Turn faster, don't run faster. DAVID LOMINSKA/POLOGRAPHICS.COM

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