Polo Players Edition

JUL 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 an emphasis on placement. Your position- ing with respect to your opponent is the key. This is where it becomes very much a riding skill issue, especially in that you can often be trying to mark someone with more experience. W hen trying to win a ride-off, you want your leg a little ahead of your opponent's. So, when you come in to defend, you are usually a little bit ahead of your opponent with your horse. It is this positioning that allows an opponent with the proper ball handling skills to easily cut across behind you with the ball and get to her preferred side of you. As a defender, decide if your preference is to remain on her stick side or win the ride-off. If you want to stay on her stick side, make sure to stay alongside but allow her to be a half stride ahead of you, so you are blocking her from cutting around behind you. The danger of this strategy is that if she has more speed in her pony, she can accelerate and you will lose the play. If the ride-off is more important, stay a half stride ahead of her, but then it will be easier for her to cross behind you. If s he crosses behind you, get back to her, to execute a ride-off on her nearside. You will no longer be on her stick side, but you still have an opportunity for a ride- off. Going around behind her to get back on her offside is not a very effective strat- egy, as she will likely take off when she sees you doing so. There may be some play situations when encouraging the other player to run or hit away is a good strategy even if you are not able to make a play. These situa- tions may include the condition of the field, the opponent's ability to hit on the run or the positioning of your teammates. C a u t i o n I have mentioned cutting behind another player several times. Always be aware of the players behind you when you pull up and cross behind an opponent. You could cause a dangerous situation if there are players run- n ing close behind who don't have enough time to stop for you. Secondly, be careful not to cut too close across the hindquarters of the horse in front of you as the front legs of your horse could get tangled with the back legs of your opponent's horse, causing one or both to fall. Both of these situations are fouls and potentially very dangerous. Tom Goodspeed is a renowned polo instructor, coach and horse trainer. He achieved a 5-goal handicap outdoors and 9 in the arena. He can be reached at polotom@usapolo.com. THIS INDEPENDENCE DAY LIVE PROUDLY USPOLO.ORG #LIVEAUTHENTICALLY

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