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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POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 13 NANO'S POLO MALLETS CUSTOM MADE MALLETS Professional and Prompt Mallet Repair Service Tipa Wood Heads Wide Selection of Canes We supply cane, grip heads for repair We have light mallets for women NEW MALLETS IN STOCK OPEN YEAR-AROUND We honor Visa/Mastercard/AMX 3500 Fairlane Farms Road Suite # Wellington, FL 33414 www.polomallets.com info@polomallets.com (800)903-NANO (6266) Tel: (561) 793-4911 Fax: (561) 793-4714 Don't run away If you get desperate to free yourself of a man-marker, sometimes your instinct—like the knight in "Monty Python and The Holy Grail"—is to run away! It is the worst thing to do. You are using up your horse and committing yourself. Even if you are able to outrace your opponent, the chances of getting open, receiving the perfect pass and hit- ting that bouncing ball (because you are extended, and usually going away from your teammates) are slim. Trying to outrun a well-positioned marker is usually not worth it. In this case, less is more. Find a way to work less, use your head more, and be ready to anticipate the transition quicker than your shadower. If you are aware of the play on the ball, and your shadower has eyes only for you, you should be able to gain some advantage on every single tran- sition play. Look and anticipate. Turn faster, don't run faster. Play rope-a-dope Muhammed Ali coined this phrase for his technique of covering up and letting his opponents exhaust themselves by punching him (harmlessly) off the ropes. For polo, I think of it as lulling my defender to sleep. Have you been in the situation when, after hitting a pass down- field, you realize your marker (some- where up in front of you) is diligently try- ing to block you from getting back into the play. Rather than trying to charge by him in a straight line—that would be playing straight into his hands—try playing rope-a- dope. Lope along behind him for a spell, like you're just going for a canter in the park. You can see the ball on the other side of the player who is waiting to mark you. He has to have his head on swivel, switching back and forth and only seeing ball or you in one frame of vision, but never both at the same time. Your job is to sell him on the idea that your happy to hang-out behind him. You are not even trying to go anywhere! And, when that offensive opportunity is about to present itself, choose the moment—just when your defender's head swivels away from you and back to the ball—to dart by his blind- side and get involved in the play. You obviously can't pull this off repeatedly or your marker will get savvy to it, but the decoy can work effectively at least a cou- ple times during a match. And sometimes that's enough to make the difference. Pick them off If nothing else works, and the other team is gaining an advantage by shadow- ing you, send one of your teammates to the player going to you and use that pick to get free. I treat this as a last resort, because it is like playing double defense, and often the other team responds in-kind. At least for me, everyone picking everyone just doesn't feel like the essence of the sport. And, if your man-marker can still get a piece of you, he is now occupying half of your team. Have it in your arsenal, but I'd rather have two of them than run the risk of their having two of you. When you find yourself being man- marked, treat it as a good challenge. It is an obstacle you can overcome, a hiccup to be figured-out. And it's also a compli- ment to your abilities that your oppo- nents feel it is worth it to send someone to try to keep you out of the action. I hope you find something above that fits for your game, but this list is certain- ly not exhaustive. Innovate and develop your own strategies for shaking that shad- ow. If you find a new one that works, please let me know! A former 10-goal player, Adam Snow is currently rated 4 goals. He has played all around the world and counts notable wins in the U.S., Australia, England and Argentina. He won the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2006 and was elected to the Polo Hall of Fame in 2014. He and wife, Dr. Shelly Onder- donk, coauthored a book, "Polo Life: Horses, Sport, 10 and Zen" in 2016. They are based in Aiken, South Carolina.

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