Polo Players Edition

NOV 2011

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/44977

Contents of this Issue


Page 46 of 67

practice is used by highly competent athletes to refine skill and technique. To have a useful practice, define your goal for the day. Be specific and limit what you will do in a session. A couple of objectives to accomplish for a session is allowable, however more will become unmanageable and distracting to you. This requires discipline, and generally you will fail at this unless you write the goal down, review it, and carry it with you during the session. Why is it so challenging to follow a couple of simple goals for an hour or two? First, it is easy to think you are not doing enough during the session and after 15 minutes of one type of shot, you become bored and think, hey, I'll try these as well. Furthermore, attention can only be focused on something for a short time before wandering. The attention lapse will lead to random riding and hitting, and after 30 minutes, you will realize you forgot all about the practice plan. For most players it is more fun to play chukkers than to expend the mental discipline to focus on specific practice goals. This is why it is essential to write down the plan and review it during the session. One way to stay focused is to divide the practice into periods, about 15 to 20 minutes with a 5 to 7 minute break to review and refocus for the next period. All these factors are vital to effective practice because of the role of the central nervous system in learning. It operates to known principles that must be met to maximize improvement. Regardless of what you have previously heard, there is no such thing as muscle memory. The muscles are useless, remember nothing and have no potential without stimulation from the nervous system. When you train, you are training the nervous system to more fully and precisely innervate the muscle cell. This is a growth process and is why there is another useful principle for you to know; the effort you put into practice now is not immediately available to you. There is an assimilation period The phenomenon is also involved in the process of peaking for an event. Peaking is accomplished through a structured series of light, medium and heavy training cycles spaced with appropriate periods of recovery or rest. To discuss the process fully will take a dedicated article. How much you practice depends on individual goals and skill level. I use many drills to strengthen posture, balance, muscles and vision that can be done in the home. For many neurological reasons, doing these drills will likely result in faster improvement than if you just play an equivalent time. Some top players may not practice much and only play tournaments. They may be good, but every human being can improve. Achieving top physical skill is a process that is never mastered conclusively. Every person can benefit from regular focused attention to specific aspects of the game. For maximum skill improvement the average player should spend 70 percent of his polo time in practice on specific hitting and riding drills and 30 percent playing. These principles of proper practice may seem complicated, but there is no way around it. Becoming a skill performer requires intelligence and effort. You can greatly simplify your improvement process by working with a professional who can develop and assist you in implementing a personalized plan, insuring you are on the right path to success. Following such a plan will save you much time and effort, and you will be far more likely to achieve your goals. A professional will also provide the support and reinforcement you need to persist through the obstacles and —continued from page 11 it from me, each horse has a unique personality that you can get to know and love. Providing the best in care for your horse is a personal commitment, not only to your horse, but to your own personal safety and welfare. Good, healthy horses who are well maintained by yourself or others will provide many years of dependable service. Do not leave the care and welfare of your horses completely to others. Get to know your farrier and veterinarian and ask questions about your horses. Taking an interest in the details of your horses' lives will be repaid in so many meaningful experiences on and off the polo field. Remember, it is better to keep fewer horses well, than a large number of horses not so well. Most people playing low-goal club polo can play two to four horses depending on how fast and hard you play the game. Never play a horse when it is lame or not feeling well. Aside from the horse's discomfort, or the possibility of further injury, if the horse is not up to its best potential, then it will not be able to adequately perform for you. If your horse has a behavior change, plateaus associated with learning and improvement. You will discover that having a plan makes learning, improving and playing more fun. Ultimately, a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction will come from knowing you are striving to do your best. After all, isn't that the purpose of the whole thing? before the skill improvement is noticeable and the length of this period depends on the quality of the practice. Mark Brownlee teaches the secrets of mastering mind and body for great performance in sport and business worldwide. He can be reached at: mbsportpsych@yahoo.com. there is a good chance that something is bothering it and you may need to get professional help. A good place to start is getting your veterinarian to exam it. If you can not or do not want to take care of your horses and instead decide to hire a groom, please make sure that the groom comes with a resume and references. You may have the nicest, best trained horses in the world, but an under-performing, careless or violent groom can quickly sour a horse to polo or to life. Those consequences can mean the difference between safety and danger for you when you mount up to ride or play, let alone taking away the enjoyment and satisfaction of riding a happy and healthy horse. As I see it, owning a horse is the only way to play polo and the only way to live. However, buying the horse is only the beginning of that unique way of life, which can be both rewarding and fulfilling in terms of getting a positive return on what you invest into the relationship. Enjoy your horses, and I'll see you on the polo field. POLO PLAYERS EDITION 45

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