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call: +44 (0)1285 653225 | email: info@cirencesterpolo.co.uk | | |

Our very own blaggers' guide! Everything you need to know to make the most out of your polo viewing experience. 

 
1. How long does the game last?
• A full game is six chukkas or can be less at a lower level. Each chukka is seven minutes.
• At the end of seven minutes a bell is rung but play continues until the ball goes out of play (goes over or hits the boards), a foul is committed, a goal is scored or the second bell is rung after 30 seconds.
• The next chukka begins with a "throw-in" from either where play finished or from an appropriate penalty. If the ball was hit out, it is thrown in from the boards by the umpire.
• Teams change ends each time a goal is scored or by half-time if no goals have been scored.
• In the event of a tie, the game continues with extra chukkas.
2. How big is a polo field?
• 300 x 160 yards – often boarded to keep the ball in (equivalent to seven-and-a-half football fields).
• Collapsible goal posts are positioned eight yards apart.
• White line at centre and at 30-, 40- and 60-yard lines.
3. Explain the handicap system.
Similar to golf, each player is rated using a handicap system. Players are handicapped from minus 2 to 10 goals. The best players in the world are rated 10 goals. A team handicap is the total sum of its players. For example, an 8-goal team may have one 4-goal player, two 2-goal players and a 0-goal player. The word "goal" is used interchangeably with the word "handicap". When someone says "he is a 4-goal player" that means his handicap is 4 goals. The handicap of a player depicts his or her skill level and is not associated with how many goals they score in a game.
4. What do the positions of players 1-4 mean?
No. 1 Forward, attacking player and responsible for goal scoring (similar to a wing in hockey or forward in football).

No. 2 Another offensive player expected to turn quickly and support No. 1. Covers a lot of ground in a match and also opposing No.3, therefore should be well-mounted.

No. 3 One of the strongest players on the team. Controls speed and direction of the game and must be able to hit long distances with accuracy. Also aids in defence (similar to centre-half in football).

No. 4 or “Back”. Defends his team’s goal and should have powerful backhanders to reverse the direction of the ball to his forwards.
5. Explain the game terminology?
Throw-in – Play begins as teams line up opposite each other and the umpire throws the ball down the middle.

Nearside shots – shot taken on the left-hand side of the pony.

T-boning – Cutting into the line of the ball at a 90-degree angle. Very dangerous and severely penalised.

Hooking – Player about to hit the ball can have their stick blocked or “hooked” by an opposing player. It must never cross the pony’s legs, be above shoulder level or from the left when the opponent is attempting a shot from the right.

The Ride-off – Players compete for the line of a ball by trying to push each other off the line.
6. How often do you change ponies?
Ponies are changed regularly to combat fatigue. A pony may not play more than two chukkas in one game and they cannot be consecutive chukkas. They may be brought on for brief periods within a chukka as part of match tactics.
 
 
7. What types of ponies are used and what makes a good polo pony?
Thoroughbred horses and Argentine Criollas are popular mounts for polo. The characteristics of these, which make them ideal for the game, are that they have stamina, speed, athleticism to turn on a sixpence and a tough disposition.
8. Why are there no left-hand players?
Left-handers were banned in the 1930s for safety reasons. To understand why, imagine this: you’re driving down the road when all of a sudden, coming straight at you, is a crazy person driving on your side of the road.
9. What do I need to wear to play polo?
• White breeches or jeans must been worn for matches.
• Boots – usually brown and made of leather.
• Kneepads – protects knees in ride-offs.
• Helmet.
• Goggles – changeable lenses depending on weather conditions.
• Mouthguard – recommended by both the dentist and your partner.
• Stick – usually made of bamboo with a wooden head. Hit the ball with the long side as opposed to the end – it’s not croquet!
10. Who invented polo?
Believed to have been played by Persian noblemen as early as 500BC. Legend has it that polo was played with the chopped off heads of captured enemies. The Indian army introduced a less draconian version to British cavalry officers in the nineteenth century who brought it to the West, refining the game into an amateur sport for the British aristocracy.