How to Play a Proper Nearside Shot

answering your polo questions polo swing technique & stickwork Jan 21, 2022

Do you want to know how play the nearside shot properly?

Most people are coached to turn 'backwards' to play it....

In this polo lesson I explain the complications this causes with your shot & the best way to play it. Plus you'll find some more great advice on ball hitting.

How to Play a Proper Nearside Shot


Nigel asked how to play a proper nearside shot. Wow. Okay. We're diving into deep water here. So, a couple of things, firstly, that we will be breaking this near side down into stages on the academy very shortly.

But the biggest thing with that nearside, and what I see so many people coaching, is that they've been coached to turn backwards, to play that shot. Now, on the off-side. It's easy to get that shoulder back and get that whole swing coming through.

On the off side, you cannot get that, this right shoulder, back much further than that. Okay. You can get yourself over the ball and you can get that shoulder halfway back. So, to try and take it further back means that you are putting such stress on your lower back.

And also you actually end up, because you so far back that, your wrist starts to do funny things at the back. You turn it in and you start to push. So, my feeling is if you cradle the mallet open this way that the mallet head is flat, just bounce the mallet head, mallet and your hand. And as it comes up, take the hand back just past your shoulder and now use your wrist very strongly through the bottom of that shot.

So, it's actually a far more wristy shot, than a body turn and hit shot. Like the offside would be. So, the offside, you using the wrist and you activating the wrist at the bottom of the swing, to get that nice clean hit, but here you're doing it with a flick of the wrist there.

You're not trying to turn your body back and pull. Now, if you're going to use this flick here, the most important thing for me is that you actually kick into that left heel strong, okay. That you push it out just a little bit and get really anchored, especially if you're a beginner player, because that near-side makes you feel like you're going to eject out of the front.

So, if you kick that heel slightly forward and lock, now you can get your top off over the ball and do that flick. And it's very easy cause you away from the horse and you've got the arc of the swing working very, very easily for you. So, it's for me a much more wristy shot.

And just remember you carrying that mallet back with your palm facing upwards, it's coming back and the wrist stays the same shape on the way through, so that you flip at the bottom. You're not turning that wrist over and pulling with all the weak tendons. You're engaging the strong tendons here.

So, drop your wrist, hold the mallet and flip. And you'll find that you get a really good contact at the bottom to make that ball go straight.

You've got to hit it with a slight cut though. Leave the mallet face open as you hit it as if you were trying to cut it and you'll find the ball goes straight.

And if you practice it enough, you will see the difference between actually getting an angle and getting it straight. Yeah, very nice Gav, that's for me, I find, that's the biggest era and mistake that a lot of players make is closing, is rolling, is closing that,

that wrist in and actually having it with the putting the mallet head horizontal, and then it ends up being a push on the ball. And very same thing with the offside backhand. Biggest area I see there again, other than obviously the seats is, you know, opening that wrist up, and then it becomes now an arm shots and not an actual clear shot.

It's a very interesting point there Rob, because the offside backhand, if you get set correctly for it, around your face, and it's a flip of the wrist of the bottom. You're almost mirror imaging here and doing the same here.

So, the backhand and the forehand on the near side, backhand offside, near side forehand, mirror each other, where the forehand on the offside mirrors the backhand on this side, because you can get the shoulder back here where you can't get it back here.

So, here you're taking the mallet above your head, and now you can put with the shoulders. So, the two swings, it works across like almost identical swings. And the same with the grip in regards to those two swings, the grip is the same for the offside forehand as it is for the near side backhand. 

100% And the offside backhand as for the near side forehand. Yeah, Because you're using the back of the mallet to the front.

So, when you're using the front, it's a forehand grip when you're using the back of the mallet head. It's that backhand grip on both sides. Exactly. Yeah. Perfect. That is a great little question actually, ended up being very nice answer.

Obviously it's, it's quite a complicated thing. And why Gav was just saying, we're going to go through the stages. It's the same with the offside forehand is this there's a lot to it. You know, it's quite, it's a question that's quite difficult to just answer in a Q&A setting like this. Although Gav, I think you did a flipping fantastic job of that.

But yeah, we really have lessons in the academy on the near side, forehand, just breaking it down. But we had such success with the offside forehand stages lessons that we did in the academy. That's we, we also going to do that for the nearside forehand, for the nearside backhand, well for all the shots essentially.

So, yeah, looking forward to filming that and, and getting it out. I think just one thing to clarify here, Rob, that  all our viewers need to really understand. I'm not suggesting you flip your mallet in front here. You're still going to take your hand back, round your shoulder. It's just that you're not going to, and turn that shoulder back and pull with the body. You're going to take the hand back past.

Let me try and pass the shoulder. Yep. Okay. So, it comes from here past the shoulder and then flip. It's not a case of flip it in front here. You won't get anything there, you've still got to get that rotation and that arc of the mallet working. So, you've still got to take that hand back. I'm not saying don't take the hand back.

I'm saying, don't turn the body back in time, take the hand back that way. You're taking this back with far less, you know, upper body turn there. That's all. Yeah.

And that's that over rotation of the upper body as well as is, does it not also have the similar negative effect of, over rotation on the forehand. When you're getting your head to be pointing sideways and not facing forward at the ball. Often you find that over rotation, and you find the mallet ends up behind the player, because they over rotating here, and it ends up behind them, so it ends up as an out-to-in swing.

And the other thing to pay attention to is if you've been competitive on this near side, when you over-rotate like this, it's impossible not to slow your horse, because your reins are coming backwards with your body. You cannot do this and cross your arms.

So, you naturally slow your horse. Where, when you're going to the ball here, you still riding the horse and urging it forward and now playing the backhand.

So, you get that horse to exhilarate and you still win the next play, where, when you over-rotate, you lose the next play almost every time. That's very interesting. You are super stuff Gav, super advice.

Again, I love these sessions because I always come out with something as well. So, good stuff. All right. So, Nigel, I hope that answered your question. I hope, I hope that has been useful to everyone else as well for the nearside.

Ready to Become a Better Polo Player?

If you want to improve as a player... from your swing, to your on-field tactics, to improving your horses and riding, all the way to your fitness and psychology...

Then get started in the Academy today, for FREE...

YES PLEASE! Show Me How...