How Should I hold the Reins When Playing a Shot

answering your polo questions polo swing technique & stickwork Jul 07, 2022

A really great question! So many people are SO focused on what they're doing with their body & everything else, that they aren't thinking about what they are doing with their reins during a shot. 

If you don't concentrate on how you hold the reins during a shot, you will end up dragging your horse over the ball and/or play the ball too close to the horse. And both of these will make the shot difficult.

How Should I hold the Reins When Playing a Shot


The first question came in from Zureiss. I'm sorry if I've pronounced your name incorrectly, but he just said 'Brilliant. Thanks so much. Also, could you tell about holding the reins when playing a shot, angle of the left arm etc'. Over to you Gav. Okay.

So, that's a really, really great question because so many people are really focusing on what they're doing with their body and everything else. And what I'm finding, with a lot of the coaching, is the players are hitting the ball too close to the horse.

And they, that's for two reasons. Really number one, that when you approach the ball, you're sitting directly up on top of the horse. It's really hard to know how wide to put the ball as you're approaching it, if you do that.

But, if you will, when you're approaching the ball, just get your head slightly to the right hand side and get into that seat that I'm advocating with your feet back, okay, slightly behind the girth.

And that you have got your feet turned away slightly, so that you are base wide and your knees are strong. If you're in that lovely position, like that, now you can get your face out as you're approaching the ball.

So, all you have to do is to turn your shoulders to make the swing. That does two things. Okay. Firstly, because your head is out, next to your horse, it's much easier to judge the distance that the ball is from your horse. Okay.

Which means then that you can judge how far away from the horse to put the ball to make a proper swing. Because remember that the actual angle of the mallet head means that you've got to hit the ball wider for that mallet head to be flat on the ground.

So, that that's a really important thing. And also if you're approaching the ball and you've already shifted your weight there, you're not making a weight shift as you make your swing, sideways I'm talking, okay.

So, you're getting out here, you're getting ready and now it's just a pivot. So, you're not dragging your horse over the ball. But now to get back to answer the question, which is a really fundamental one, with your left arm. Okay.

Is that, so often you'll find what people are doing is when they go across to set themselves, this left hand is going with their body. So, that also drags you across, okay. Drags the horse over, and puts the ball too close to you and under your stirrup.

So, if you are maintaining two things, don't put your hand on the withers as you make the swing. If you ride in the correct position, you are balanced and strong anyway. You don't need to balance on your third stirrup, which is your hand, okay.

You need to keep riding the horse. So, as you making that swing, what you want to do is just to now that elbow to travel with your shoulder, slightly. Cause that keeps your hand in the same place. You're not turning by taking your hand forward because that makes the reins loose.

If you keep riding the horse and you allow that elbow to turn with you, okay, then that maintains your little contact with the reins. And you've still got some steering with the horse that will put you into the right position, to put your horse in the right position to make the shot.

So, just if you get the right body position, and you set yourself up here, and now you allow that elbow just to turn, to maintain your left hand position, and you can still ride. So, important that you're not putting it on the withers.

A lot of high goalers, you will see, touch the withers at the top of their swing. But remember they're making a really big shoulder turn, and they've got really good horses and their legs are really strong. And it's a fraction of a second that they're going up, balance, swing.

For so many of the beginners, they get there, and they've got their hand down and the horse starts to wander around because they are not in control of it.

So, that would be my biggest, those, those things of the important things. But such a great question about your left hand, well done.