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.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1055534

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Page 16 of 67

POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N 15 professional is chef, sumo wrestler and opera singer). Recruit Recruiting is probably the most important part of coaching. You have to attract the talent if you want to win. Not only will these kids put points on the board in the games but they will help teach the developing players and make your job much easier. The younger players will copy them, so choose wisely and cultivate a good relationship with your recruits. They can be of great help. Never ego battle with your stars—pump them full of sunshine and guide their success. It also helps to have some kind of inside track with the school. Try to develop a good relationship with the dean of admissions. Don't do it alone, it's a political game and you need some backing. Find a prominent donor to the university or a member of the nearby polo club who has some political clout (state governors are good with state schools, really good) but use who you can to make the introduction. Work that relationship just short of being obnoxious, it's worth it. Get the dean on a horse if you can, send him tickets to the games, whatever you can do, do it. Pay attention to the high-school polo programs and who is playing well. Talk to them and their parents. Sell them on what you can offer. That's why you need to be organized and respected and have an inside track with admissions so you have something to offer. People talk and they will talk about you whether it be positive or negative. Make sure it's positive. Coach Now it's time to coach. Keep this part super simple. Don't get fancy, the kids aren't there yet. Teach the basics and teach them very well. Get your kids to become masters of the basics, including tailshots and turning for them; hooking, riding off and the right of way. That's all they need to win games but they need to do it well, every time and on different horses in different arenas. Teach basic horsemanship, very basic and that will be useful. If you get fancy, you're wasting their time. I read somewhere that to be great at anything, learn the fundamentals and get good at them, really good at them and the rest will follow. Once your players are getting good at the basic shots and basic plays, now it's time for you to watch them and place them in the right spot to naturally bring out their best. If you have an explosive runner, put her in front. If you have a player that's good at tailshots, yup, you guessed it, put him in back and so forth. It's not rocket science but you would be surprised how proper placement can improve a team. Just a little thought can go a long way. One piece of advice I took from my father: pick a penalty shooter and make him practice taking penalty shots on different horses (many penalty shots, like hundreds and hundreds) and one day he will win the game for your team, I promise. It's shocking that even some of today's high-goal players don't bother practicing penalty shots It is really shocking but many don't. Make sure your players understand where to line up for penalty shots in a game and know why. As an umpire, I get asked by players where they should be and the coach is watching. Nice job coach, I'm so not impressed! Make it fun. At the end of the day, remember why we play polo. We play because it's fun, and college kids are no different. They want to have fun as well. You are not paying them and they don't have to come out and play. Often, the games are at times when their friends are having beers and going to parties. They could easily choose to be with their friends instead. Have some fun with the kids and don't take yourself too seriously—it could make all the difference. Dana Fortugno is a USPA Umpire. He is a former 5-goal player as well as a former trial lawyer. Dana Fortugno, center, coached UVA for five seasons. In that time, he learned a lot from other college polo programs and their coaches, and his teams won several national championships.

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