Polo 101 – Tips and Terms
With all the polo coming up this December in Plett, now’s a good time to brush up on your knowledge of the game… here are some tips and terms to help you…
A Match – A match consists of 4 to 6 chukkas, each lasting seven minutes plus up to 30 seconds of overtime. A horn is blown at the end of the 7thminute to signal to the players that the 30 seconds remain in the chukka. During the 30 seconds, play continues until a team scores, the ball goes out of play or a player commits a foul. During the breaks the players are able to change ponies.
The Field – Play takes place on a field of about 275m long and 150m wide. In theory, that is about the same size as six rugby fields. The goal posts, which collapse on severe impact, are set 7.3m apart.
Teams – There are 4 players on a team with each player assigned a different role according to their position. No.1 is essentially the goal scorer. No. 2 is also a forward, but plays harder especially in defence. No.3 is the pivotal player, and often the captain of the team; they try to turn every play into a offence play. No.4 is the most defensive player on the field.
Handicaps – All players are rated from -2 to 10 goals, the higher the number the better the player. The word “goal” does not relate to the number of goals scored by that player, but rather to their overall playing ability. The team’s handicap is the sum of its players’ handicaps.
Scoring – Any time the ball crosses the lines, between the posts at any height, it is considered a goal. After each goal is scored the teams change end, this is to make up for any conditions that could give one team an advantage over the other. The game is continuous and can only be stopped if a foul is called, or if a injury occurs to either a pony or player, or if a player’s tack is broken.
Line of the ball – The most important rule in polo – it is essentially an imaginary line along which the ball travels once it has been struck. This line can be thought of like the line in a road, and that no one can cross the right of way.