Polo Swing Tip: Don't Flatten Your Mallet in the Downswing

polo swing technique & stickwork Feb 20, 2021

This Polo Swing Tip might seem strange - but when I say don't flatten your mallet in the downswing, it's for very good reason!

Why? Well, do you find that you slice your shots? If you do - it's very likely because you are flattening your wrist as you swing down.

This lesson will show how that effects your shot and how to fix it.

Also just remember, that to get your swing right, you need to have the correct grip - So make sure you've watched that lesson as well.

Any questions or comments, please leave down below.

Polo Swing Tip: Don't Flatten Your Mallet in the Downswing


Let's take a look at a lesson I did with Crystal who has been flattening her wrist and the down swing and consequently getting off plane. This means she will have to open her wrist and cut the ball to make it go forward at impact to compensate.

So, now your swing plane is going to come down, vertical down, here. And there's the ball just outside your stirrup, and in, and make contact there. Okay. Your old problem. Okay. Was that as you were coming down, you did that with your hand because of the bad grip, go back to your old grip.

Because of the bad grip you're wanting to try and put your hand behind. Because here you've got a muscle trying to control the mallet. Okay. And when you push, the mallet won't go.

So, your natural reaction is to turn your hand this way, to push with your hand. And we've talked about that being in my fingers, in this crease of my fingers, with my fingers spread so that when I'm holding here, you can see gaps here. The minute they go across. Now you go back to that hammer grip. Which in effect, when you come down, it doesn't allow the mallet to be directly under your arm.

So, my hand is actually working very strongly with the mallet through here. And it's all bone that is actually doing the pushing of the mallet, not a muscle. If you go back to this group, you will see that the muscle here is on top.

And, when you go from the top of the swing here and you try and swing. The mallet won't go because it's a muscle pushing, not a knuckle. Let's have a look at that swing on a horse.

Here you will see that the swing plane is good, but there's the wrist flattening. The Palm is now pointing down and the mallet head is parallel to the ground, instead of vertical. The palm here should be facing outwards to the right, and that would bring the mallet behind her hand.

You can see as a consequence of this, that, that swing is going to go from the outside to the inside. And there's the horse turning away in the swing to protect itself. Here's that swing at a canter, from the front.

You can see the takeaway is perfect. And at this point, everything is on plane. You can see the mallet head is in a vertical plane. And if she kept her palm facing out, as it is here, and made the swing parallel to the horse, everything would work out absolutely perfectly from this point.

You will see however that what she does in the downswing is immediately flatten her wrist. And there's the mallet head now parallel to the ground instead of still vertical. And that has the effect of throwing the mallet out to the right, away from the swing plane.

Now in effect, she's trying to hit a neck shot and we'll have to compensate by cutting the ball at impact to make it go straight. Because if she swings straight from here, it's going to go left.

And there you can see her at impact, opening her wrist and cutting the ball because, subconsciously, she knows if she carries on with the swing in that plane, the ball is going to go left. So, she is compensating for that. The result will always be a horrible, weak little shot, squirting off to the right, off the mallet face, because the mallet face is not square at contact with the ball.

Notice here, that when one doesn't compensate and the mallet head arrives flat to the ball. The ball is going to go left because the swing is across the horse and it's now no longer going to go in the original intended direction. Notice also how the horse has turned away to avoid being hit with a mallet as it swings, from outside to inside, back towards the face.

And there, you can see the ball going left exactly down the arc that the mallet was swinging on. Okay. So, what am I actually looking for?

Let's take a look at these two swings and see what they have in common on the right-hand side is my swing, on the left is Malcolm Borwick. Let's have a look at these two swings in slow motion a couple of times, and then go back, and dissect them, and have a look at the difference between these two swings, and what we've be looking at with Crystal's swing.

Firstly, notice the swing plane. The mallet is always coming straight down and straight through in a pendulum action there. It's never going back, and to the outside, and across the horse. The mallet is vertical, coming down vertical, through straight, to a starting position.

So, let's just look on the left pane. You will see that if we tracked the actual swing frame by frame, that it does in a beautiful arc ends up where it started. So, there's the mallet down to impact. And coming back almost to a starting position. You will see that the swing is a beautiful Catherine Wheel, starting and ending in the same place and staying on plane.

The other thing I want you to notice is, as he swings down, the mallet head is not completely vertical, but it's not flattened. And he hasn't flattened his wrist. And the consequence of this, is that the mallet is going to swing down parallel to the horse and not going out to the right and back across.

Let's take a look from the front. And there you will see that my mallet is also vertical behind me, coming straight down. You can't actually see it, but there's the mallet head now starting to flatten. Nice flat impact position there. And again, a Catherine Wheel through, from a starting position to an end position, almost in the same place. And the mallet swinging, as you can see, close to the horse here.

What's happening with Crystal is that at this point, her mallet is now out in this direction because of her flatten wrist. And that means that the mallet is going to be swinging across the horse, back towards it's face, and the ball is going to go in that direction.

So, the most important thing for me, is to practice keeping the mallet head vertical, and swing through. And a very nice little drill is with a foot-mallet, to start with the half-swing, in other words from there, and practice getting your wrist locked to the ball there, you can see my whole arm now is a complete pendulum, and nice and straight from shoulder, mallet, to ball.

And then from there, there's no more wrist after impact like this, it's nice and long. And now your hand is pronated so that the mallet is vertical into the follow-through.

From there do you see, if you were practicing as a beginner, that's a great place to start from. Okay. Because now you're just going to drop that mallet to the ball. So, you would from here lock, here lock and that's the hit.