Polo Players Edition

Intercollegeiate Interscholastic 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.

Issue link: https://polo.epubxp.com/i/1072212

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Page 54 of 75

53 I/I MAGAZINE - 2019 VIEW FROM THE CROW'S NEST Dan Healy - USPA Certified Umpire A s a Professional Umpire and a long time player and instructor, these are some of my perspectives. When I first began getting involved umpiring in the I/I program, I noticed just how talented the established school players were. I was also noticing the beginning school kids coming in. There will always be a disparity between a school with a knowledgeable coach and 24 + polo horses versus the school with few horses and a part time coach. However, these kids in a startup school program are still learning, improving, and having as much fun as anyone playing the game. Every student player can look back at a previous season and see improvement. I am very impressed by the attitude of I/I players which makes working and umpiring with the young players a true pleasure. They are respectful, courteous, and willing to learn. All of us involved in the I/I are fortunate to be able to help. Sportsmanship is paramount but let's not forget the competiveness of the game of polo. Yes of course, there will always be emotion while playing this wonderful game, but any anger soon ends at the final horn (or soon after). In most or all games at its conclusion, the players come to thank us and to shake hands with the umpires. Thank you all for that coaches and parents. Great jobs! For me, the reward comes after seeing first year players' struggling with riding, hitting, and knowing where to be on the field. There is not a whole lot of awareness about the game. The 2nd year the improvement is quit noticeable. As we know it takes riding ability to perform well and then the hitting and teamwork will follow. When these players ride, hit, read the next play, and become team players - this is pure joy to me. By the 3rd year many of our young players can outplay many experienced club players. For many, it's the coming of age of an adult polo player. Holy cow, we are getting replaced by the youth. But that is what the I/I is really about. Coaches, keep turning out more good polo players. During tournament matches, the players are so conscientious as to not foul and that sure makes our umpire jobs much easier and enjoyable. I will say with the newer players the most common mistake is to go past the ball whether missed, hooked, or blocked and they turn back over the line of the ball without looking back to read the next play. Quit it! When I coach this, I tell students to touch your rein hand to your horses' neck and take a quick look back to read the play. This way you're not slowing or turning the horse before the play is read. The next play may be to roll back or stay up. "Read the play!" As with all levels, "keep the right of ways open." You block and interfere, foul. As umpires we call it! Players, coaches, and parents at these tournaments, please use us and ask questions. We as Professional Umpires are willing and want to help. Always remember, the #1 Rule in polo is to have fun. During tournaments, coaches should keep a few things in mind. Once the players identify the 1st half strings and 2nd half strings, please check your tack and adjust your stirrups before the horses enter the arena. Players should be ready for every chukker on time and not fumbling about. Be prepared for every chukker and have time to communicate with teammates. Tell your players to have a plan. On the final approach to the ball, they should know where they want to hit it to. Will it be to a team mate or yourself? Shoot around opponents and any horses. How many times do we see back shots hit directly into horses resulting into a negative play. Before games and chukkers have a game plan strategy but on the field communicate. ie hit, back it, follow, hook, ball left or right, no ball, wall, and make sure communication is always stated in short commands. "I am very impressed by the attitude of I/I players which makes working and umpiring with the young players a true pleasure."

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