Polo Players Edition

JAN 2019

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 59 your resolution to give back). Do you need more horses or better horses? When should you start them back in work? I will try to improve Pick the brain of—or even better, take some lessons from—a better player who you respect. Watch good game tapes to see strategies, team plays and fouls called and check out Polo Skilz videos to gain knowl- edge about all sorts of skills and subjects. Take riding lessons from someone in another discipline. Have someone video- tape your swings so you can see if you have bad habits, like bending your elbow on the follow through when taking offside foreshots, not rotating your hips enough or sitting down in the saddle halfway through a stroke. Identify what you need to correct and be mindful of and practice doing it cor- rectly (even if it feels odd). When we do something, whether correctly or incor- rectly, our muscle memory kicks in and sets us up to repeat the action, so repeti- tion is needed to fix an error. I will practice all shots Sure, hit those lovely, comfortable off- side forehand shots to warm up and maybe to end with, but spend the bulk of your stick-and-balling time working on the tougher shots—hitting backshots with good angle at speed, placing balls with accuracy, maybe hitting at a speed that is a little above your comfort zone. In pushing your limits you have a bet- ter chance to improve and when those tough shots are needed in a game, you will have the confidence to hit them. Practice penalty shots so you have a set routine that works for you and you are comfortable taking them. You never know when you may be called upon to hit them. I will control the controllable Kids I have coached have heard me repeat "control the controllable" often. Polo is a game with a zillion variables when you are on the field, including your teammates, horses, playing surface, etc., so control what you can. Allow plenty of preparation time and travel time so you are ready to play on time and are not running around rushing at the last minute. Have your horses in good shape and fit enough for your level of play. And please roach your horses' manes at least weekly (sorry, it's a pet peeve of mine), your hors- es will look so much better! If the winter is your down time, go through your tack and get things repaired or replaced. You do not want to be that irritating player everyone is waiting for to begin the game, or the one whose tack frequently breaks or slips. Have your farrier come often enough so you do not routinely lose shoes while playing. Stock your trailer with things you routinely need or may need in an emergency and have things organized so anyone can find them. Use the off season to check over your rig and have repairs or maintenance done regularly to keep your trips to the field without incident. Be as prepared as you can before the game so you can focus on and enjoy the game and play your best. I will keep my perspective Polo is a game and the majority of players in the U.S. play low-goal polo, which should mean you are in it simply because you enjoy playing. Remember, it is a privilege to be on amazing horses, out on a field or in an arena, playing a game you love to play and even better, with and against friends. Stuff will go wrong and all players will both win and lose games. Be gracious in victory and defeat. Have a sense of humor. Life is short and we need to make the most of every opportunity we have. Don't ruin your enjoyment of the game by letting competitive juices drown out common sense and civility. I am looking forward to playing my polo this year. Good luck to all of you in 2019! Renowned polo coach and USPA Certified Polo Instructor/Certifier, Cindy Halle holds a 5-goal women's arena rating and a 4-goal women's out- door rating. She was named 2018 USPA Woman of the Year. (continued from page 13) No matter how well you play, there is always room for improvement. Take a lesson from a better player you respect so you can improve. A renowned polo coach and CPI certifier, Cindy Halle, center, often reminds her students to control the controllable.

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