Warming up for Polo.
Sport science has come on so much in the last two years, let alone the last decade, so it’s time to get your polo warm up preparations up to date.
Before we start with exercises and dictating to you what you should do, let’s look at why you shouldn’t dismiss warm ups.
A warm up is defined as “preparing for physical exertion by exercising or practising gently beforehand.” The idea is to increase the blood flow to an area of your body that you are going to use to limit injury to muscles, tendons and ligaments and prepare the body for a specific exercise.
There are usually four stages to a good warm up.
- The pulse raiser
- Increasing range of motion (ROM) which is accomplished by dynamic stretching. This means stretching with movement, and not a static-hold stretch (you would do that in a cool down)
- Specific motion (practising the motions of the activity)
- Mental preparation
Let’s look at them in more detail: Start with a 5 plus minute jog, including side steps and backwards running. Bunny hops and star jumps are also good. This is the pulse raiser.
After that work on your range of motion: arm rotations, hand to opposite toe (hip rotations), leg to arm back swings (cobras), wrist and ankle warm ups (pulses) and hip hinges.
Next practice your specific motion, for example swinging an imaginary mallet to hit a forehand, then a nearside, then a back hand, then reaching out for a hook.
Finally mental preparation: the previous exercise (specific motion) also helps your mental preparation, but you are now going to finish by visualising what you are going to do just in your head. For example, close your eyes and imagine lining your pony up to approach the ball at a steady canter, set your arm ready for the swing and take your time, swinging down in the perfect arch to strike the ball on the sweet spot and watch your mallet as it follows through. Also imagine your backhand and nearside shots.
Aim for a 10 plus minute warm up to prime your body and mind for the activity you are about to undertake. Make a warm up part of your pre-polo preparation, just as important as making sure all your kit is loaded in your car before you set off to a game!