Learn to play polo.
As a beginner you have been taught how to ride a horse using one hand and have been practicing hitting the ball with your mallet. You are now able to ride at a steady canter and string together some shots. You probably started with one-on-one lessons with your instructor but as you improve you don’t require quite so much attention and can move on to group lessons. It is now time to start learning how to play the game.
The HPA blue book (and HPA website) contains a complete set of the rules for polo and you should read this thoroughly because your instructor will now introduce an instructional chukka into the end of your group lesson. This first taste of the competitive game of polo is in a controlled environment. Normally the instructional will be a two-on-two chukka with your instructor stop and starting the game to give directions and explain the rules. Your instructor will call out where you should position yourself to receive a pass and what plays to make during the chukka. You are in a team now so you learn to support your team mate and work together when you need to defend. Your instructor will teach you two defensive plays: how to ride off and how to hook.
As you start playing more instructional chukkas the rules that you read will make more sense. Your instructor will be explaining them to you so you soon start to understand the importance of knowing who has the right of way and following the line of the ball. The instructor will ‘whistle’ fouls and stop the play to explain to you who committed the foul and why it was a foul. Your instructor will advise when you are ready to advance on to a full instructional chukka lesson. At this point you should be thinking about getting yourself kitted out with some polo equipment if you haven’t already. The basics you need are the knee pads, boots and helmet. Gloves can help your grip and avoid you getting blisters, and we also advise you get either eye protection or fit a face guard to your helmet. Your instructor can help you with sizes and suppliers etc. Your instructor might also suggest you get your own polo mallet. You don’t need white jeans until you start club chukkas, but if you want to look the part put these on the shopping list too!
If you want to find out more about starting lessons with the academy and our introduction and intermediate courses that include instructional chukkas go to the ‘lessons/coaching’ page. Ryan will also be happy to talk to you and book you in, so please email him.