The Importance of Having Fun with Your Polo

pep talks play polo polo successful polo player Aug 06, 2021

So often we get caught up with all the pressure, the desire to get better, trying to win, etc. etc...

That we forget the whole reason why we are playing.

And that is to have fun. For enjoyment. For the thrill of the game.

And so often, when we focus on enjoying the game more... we end up playing better.


Transcription - The Importance of Having Fun with Your Polo

What I wanted to do today was just to chat to you about just enjoying your polo, really having a good time with this amazing sport that we play.

Because I think sometimes we really pressurize ourselves to the point, where we're not enjoying what we doing. So, part of that enjoyment for me are these amazing creatures that we play on. The looking after them, the, all of that, the stable management and all of that, that goes with it.

And I've thought just to quickly show you around these new premises. These are the stables behind us. And as I turn round here, you will see that it's a beautiful courtyard. We've just planted the grass in the middle now. And it, it really is a spectacular setting here.

And as you look back through this window here, with this little mare, sticking her nose over my shoulder, here, out behind, through that window is an arena with a synthetic sand. There's a lovely, let me just walk outside and show you. There's a lovely pavilion going up, with a viewing deck on it. You can hear the fans going for the heat that is quite intense here.

So, as I walk out of here, you can see, see this huge pavilion, going up in the background here. And In the background, obviously car parks and all of that kind of stuff. And as I walk out of here, you will see there, as I turn around the pavilion, the lovely arena that we're putting up. It'll be with synthetic sand.

So, all of that, adding hugely to the enjoyment of the sport. Now, what do I mean by enjoyment? Because let's just be a little bit more specific about what we're saying when we're talking about enjoying the sport. Okay. And having fun doing what we're doing.

Because I see, you know I don't play that much competitive polo anymore. I do a lot of coaching. And I see so many people pressurizing themselves to achieve. That they actually forget to enjoy what they're doing on the polo field. And, you know, you miss a goal, or you miss a shot, or you make a bad play, or you make a foul. And you're so busy, wrapped up in that moment that you forget, actually, that the game is going on.

Yeah. Sorry that interrupted me there. You need to get on, the game is going on. You know, you need to get on, and really get into the next play and, be competitive with that.

Now, I think that one can care too much, to be honest. I think that in some instances you pressurize yourself to such a point that you stop enjoying it.

And for example, you, when you not enjoying it, remember also that this is a team game. Okay. So, while you're not enjoying it? You've also got a team of people playing with you and your lack of enjoyment, your lack of enthusiasm, your, lack of, joie de vivre, for want of a better word, on the field. Actually really affects the whole team.

Now, I also want to just put into your mind the fact that when you get down on yourself like that, it actually makes you play worse, not better. So, you kind of pressurized yourself to a point that you're not enjoying anything and your team is hating playing with you. That's one aspect of it. All right?

Because the other aspect, as I'm saying, that this is a team game. And I hear so many teams with people, bitching and whining at each other on the field. And they asked for a tail shot, and it didn't come. And you know, they missed a shot, and then off the field, they come off and they've lost and they sit down there and they, so morbid about the fact that they've lost.

Now, I don't mind, to be honest, if you really care about loosing. But remember this, there's only one really bad loss. And that's the loss where you don't learn anything from the loss that you've just sustained.

Because if you, you know, I play a lot of competitive golf now because I'm too old to play competitive polo. And I see these children out thereand they're good! But they'll hit a bad shot and they'll take a club and throw it, beat a club on the ground.

And I see the same thing on the polo field, okay. Missing a ball and putting your polo mallet on the ground. And my first reaction is, Mate, you aren't good enough to be really pissed at yourself that you've made a bad play.

You've got to learn from that. And I think that that's one of the reasons that, you know, I enjoyed my polo and my professional career. Because I'm very happy to go out there and work at the things that aren't working. It doesn't put me down. It makes me more determined.

Now there's a difference between not enjoying and being determined. Okay. Because I love to go out and practice. I love to look and say, okay, what am I doing badly? I'm very analytical with that.

That's where I get my enjoyment from, is actually improving each little thing. I don't have to be good at everything. Okay. Cause I'm never going to be good at everything.

But as long as I'm improving and making improvements in each little thing, okay. Then I'm really, really feel like I'm achieving.

Now, I see a whole lot of you guys joining us here and messages coming through, which is absolutely wonderful. And I hope that all of you out there are really enjoying, now that we can play again, after this COVID scare and everybody's out on the polo field, again, enjoyment.

And we we've had some time where, as the academy, we've had a chance to sit and watch some videos. And a lot of the guys have got a lot out of that, again, enjoying what they're doing. Okay.

And I look also at that enjoyment, and I see people riding and not enjoying the horse they're riding. So, they get frustrated. They get angry. They taking the anger out on the horse.

There's another whole aspect of really enjoying the game. So, what can you do better? Because in my opinion, you need to ride a whole lot of different horses. And a lot of them might not actually suit your style of play. But are you out there trying to learn how to play that horse better?

It might not be a top horse, but what can you do that's going to win you plays. Okay. Because I keep saying that, if it's your horse in a training environment, do what it does badly all the time. Don't practice what it does well.

Cause that's something I see all of you doing. Stick and balling and hitting these lovely shots. You never stick and ball at a target. You don't hit the ball to a purpose.

You're not looking at angle, direction, distance, all of that kind of stuff. And you're out there feeling wonderful. So, this is your enjoyment, okay. I'm now out there and I'm really playing well, because I'm stick and balling that way.

Now I get on the field and oh my goodness, what happens? I can't perform because I don't practice like I'm, out on the field.

So, now my enjoyment goes, because I'm really not playing very well. So, again, if you want to enjoy the sport, go out and practice in a structured way that you can really, really participate and get better at what you're doing. Okay. Because that will make a huge difference to your enjoyment. And also, obviously, winning is a super part of this.

But you know what? I honestly, I remember that to a game that we, it went down to the wire, into the sixth chukka in a south African championships, when I was a kid playing with my dad. And we lost it in the last minute, that game still stands out in my mind. You know, as one of the nicest games, I think I've ever participated in. The polo was fantastic.

The camaraderie on the field was amazing. And talking of that, you know, I don't know. I watch a lot of sports videos and things like that. I watch a lot of tennis and I see Roger Federer on. And they're intense when they're playing.

But man, when something happens and you see that the two people playing each other with a big smile on their face, doesn't it give you a great feeling inside that you can complete at the top level, but still keep your, your wits about you and keep that sportsmanship about you. And still treat the opposition in a really sportsmanlike way.

Because those are the things for me that are missing a lot of the sport that we have now, that is so high pressure and, and really, really.... okay. Right.

Derek, who is watching, and he's saying, bring them on camera. I'm not sure who I've got to bring on camera. Are we talking about the horses here? Because they're, they all are, all around behind me. So, Derek, I hope that's who you're talking about, but yeah, guys, you know that that's the whole essence of this game.

It's become so cutthroat. So, win-at-all costs because you're paying a professional to play. And again, I'm now the professional playing in your team and you're putting an unbelievable amount of pressure on me to win. Okay. Because you've paid me. So, that takes away my enjoyment out of playing. And because I'm playing like that, I'm telling you to leave the ball all the time.

Okay. Let me do the plays because I know that I'm going to do better than you are as the amateur in the team. Where's the enjoyment in that.

Why don't you go out there with your pro and say, 'mate, do your best, we're out here to have a really good time, enjoy our polo and win or lose, we're happy. We know you're doing the right thing'.

If you've got a pro that's not trying hard, you need to change the pro. You don't need to get out there and pressurize a really good pro that is doing their best for you. And maybe he has a bad day as well. Okay. This is all possible.

This is sport. You look at the top of any game and you see the golfers, the top golfers in the world, deep in the rough. You see polo players, 10 goalers missing a 30 yard penalty.

This is sport, nothing is ever going to be a simple thing with sport. And it's there to really cut us down to size and bring us back to reality, in my opinion, because if you can take your sport and you can enjoy it like this, and really just have a good time competing.

Keep your sportsmanship, have a good time with your team. I think you'll find that you will actually do a lot, lot better than you are when you are over, kind of, over practicing. You too serious about things. You've lost the whole point of what you're doing.

Most of you are there that are playing this amazing game are not earning money out of it. Okay. And do you need to make sure that these few hours that you have on a horse, either practicing or playing, are bringing you the biggest joy in your life?

Because unless you're doing that, you know, you get out of the office, you're out there taking your frustration out on your teammates, or on your horse, on yourself. There's no joy in that.

You've got to really get yourself to where you're saying, okay. I really, really am going to change my attitude. I'm going to go out there and have the best time of my life. And really enjoy the sport that is costing me a lot of money to play, but also costing me emotionally, a lot to play as well.

And just enjoy guys, get out there and have a really good time playing, practice in a structured way, that you are improving, but let that improvement bring you the joy as well. And improvement in one thing, for example, that will bring you joy.

All right, let it do that. Don't pressurize yourself to where you feel you've got to be good at everything. You're not going to be, alright, and you're going to have off days.

So, just accept them, learn from the mistakes. And analyze them afterwards and work out with the team maybe, or with yourself that, what did we do that we could have done better?

And minimize those get to where you are saying, okay, we've got to fix two things, right? Our man-marking was awful. We were running to the ball all the time. Nobody hit a backhand. We're all turning the ball and doing this whole crazy stuff of, everybody that gets the ball, keeps it, turns it until they lose it and playing in this awful polo. Where nobody ever passes a ball to a teammate.

Those are the things that you can get out there and change and do better. And actually really start enjoying being out there because you feel like part of a team. You've turned for a pass, somebody hits it to you. Wow, that's wonderful. You miss the ball. Hey, did somebody else get in there to help you? Were they behind you? It doesn't matter.

The point is, are you doing the right things? Are you really, really trying to just improve in all the little aspects of this game that you can improve in. And I'm sure that that will bring you a lot more pressure, sorry, pleasure, than putting pressure on yourself to perform at this level that you can't perform at.

So, don't lose sight of the enjoyment guys. Really get out there. And we're having the greatest fun Rob and I. Teaching you guys and bringing you new thoughts. And even at this stage of my polo career, that is bringing me the most immense pleasure, being able to help other people, to get them going in the right direction and use all.

Because trust me, I've done all the things wrong that I'm telling you not to do right now. And it took me a, it took me a long time to actually get, as they say, you can't put a young head on old shoulders, but I'm a far, far better competitor now in a much calmer frame of mind. And I promise you, that it took me a lot of years to figure that out.

So, if you are younger playing, or if you're an older player, that's just started, don't let that worry you. Don't feel less than what you are. Okay. We know you started at 55 or started riding at 45 or 50.

And so who cares! The point is, are you having fun? Why did you do this in the first place? Yeah, you've got to get out there and really, really look at this thing and say, why am I doing it? All right. And there's only one reason, really. You doing it to bring your pleasure, otherwise you wouldn't do it.

So, just sit down for a while and really analyze your thoughts, and analyze how you thinking about your polo. How are you thinking about your teammates? Are you out there really encouraging?

And you know, somebody misses a shot, bad luck mate, don't worry about that. There's your man on the left. I'm going here, not this, oh man, you missed another backhand. There's no fun in any of that kind of polo.

So, please guys really look at this and take it to heart. Because, you will enjoy the sport you're playing. And it really is just the best sport in the world. And from our point of view, we love helping you. And we love seeing the strides you making in your polo.

So many of you telling us that the videos you're watching and all of that kind of stuff are really helping you. And that's bringing us the hugest amount of enjoyment.

I'm loving seeing Rob getting better because of all our interaction. That's bringing me a huge amount of pleasure. So, again, like I say, practice carefully practice with thought in mind, distance, direction, okay.

Don't just go out there and practice what you good at. With your horses in a schooling environment, get out there and really do what they do badly in the schooling environment.

And when you're playing in a competitive environment, get out there and do what they do well, because that'll give you that competitive edge. And start to think about it like that.

Okay. Cause I'm sure that, that will take the pressure away from you, and get you playing in a really happy, relaxed frame of mind.

And I promise you that if you see all the really good teams, the successful teams, the camaraderie between them, the teasing, the banter, all of that just goes to make the sport amazing and it can be, or it can't be.

So, just really think about it and make sure that you look after your pro as well as you looking after yourself, because he's out there, doing the very best he can as well. So, make it fun for him and make it possible for him to actually enjoy what he's doing.

Because in that way, he'll help you feel more connected to you. And not just out there as somebody just to win a game, okay. There's no pleasure in just going out there and win-at-all-costs, you know, and you'd come off and sometimes you've come off and you've said the most awful things to your teammates and you kind of, or you you've beaten up on a horse or you've done something like that.

And you feel like such a wally. You really do. And it takes you a long time to get yourself respect back, and think, what the hell did I do that? But unless you actually stop and think about it, and think about it in this way. You're going to go back and do it again. That's the problem. Okay.

So, just take it to heart and sit down and think about it. And if you need to, if you, one of these guys that is too intense, you need to take this to heart and really get out there and play for the joy. So, I hope this chat has helped and looking forward to seeing you on the Facebook page and in the academy, have a good day.

For more videos and lessons like this, sign up to our Online Academy...

YES PLEASE! Show Me How...