Fitness for Polo.
Why should fitness be taken more seriously in polo?
Polo is just like any other physical and high contact sport and therefore necessitates at least some levels of fitness and training. Just like in any sport the higher your fitness levels, the better equipped your body is to handle the stresses and strains that are being put upon it when you play. Higher fitness levels in the sport will mean fewer avoidable injuries, safer play as well as an improvement in the sport itself due to better trained and more physically capable players. In all equestrian sports we as riders are only one half of a pair of athletes working together. The horse is trained and fully fit, why would we sub-optimize our performance by not being in peak physical condition ourselves.
Training for polo is unlike training for any other sport but it is not any harder. There are many really simple exercises that can be added in to any current training program or performed in isolation, that will really help players to see a noticeable difference in their polo, as well as in their physical condition. Polo, just like rugby, sprinting or steeplechasing, for instance, requires specialist, bespoke training. As an equestrian sport, in polo there are specific muscle groups under constant strain that are utilised in very few other sports. So, it’s not hard to train for polo, but it is important to take advice from people who know and understand the biomechanical needs of polo players and can show you how to improve your performance through correct training methods.
Training to improve stamina, balance, core strength and flexibility make up the basis of fitness training for polo but there is also specific training that can be done to help improve your technique and fix any swing flaws. The majority of peoples’ technical or game play problems stem from small physical errors that can be corrected quickly and easily through certain drills and exercises. The other fundamentals include warm up and cool down techniques specific to polo that will help players to avoid injury and recover faster after matches.
One of the most obvious qualities that I see in high goal players that I train is that their advanced physical fitness levels mean that they are better mentally prepared for every challenge. They are not spending the last chukka of every match focused on how tired they are or on trying to overcome a cramp. Their bodies are fully prepared for each challenge and therefore their minds are free to be 100 per cent on the game. They can go out and play the last chukka as if it were the first and this is why they are always at the top of their game.
Fitness for Polo article, The Telegraph.