answering your polo questions tactics & anticipation Mar 10, 2022

So... you're feeling a bit battered in a chukka, especially after a ride-off? What can you do about it?

Here I chat about a few tips that can help you from being "bullied" in a ride-off. And to make sure that you don't do this to other players and their horses. 



All right Gav, onto the next question. So, this is from David Finley saying 'as a slightly older player, I struggle with injury a lot and still a relative beginner. Is this some more organic way to play that doesn't leave the body so broken. I find I'm so keen to be physical in every ride off and sprinting for the ball only to have to stop and pivot quickly that my inexperience puts me in spots I am struggling to recover from.'

Yeah, over to Gav. Okay. So, if I go back to when we were playing, Juancarlitos Harriet was the Cambiasso that day. And he was literally, like Cambiasso is, five goals better than the next 10 goal player. His amazing comment was 'Escort your player out of play'.

And if you really anticipate well enough and you do what we've been telling you in the ride-offs, okay. Where you've got the other players, horses head slightly in front of you, his body behind yours, and you've got your knee on his horses shoulder. There's no physicality in that.

You don't have to come in and bash your horse. Because I find so often what's happening is, guys come in to make these huge ride-offs, and remember you are destroying your horse as much as you're destroying the horse that you're riding off.

So, you know, if you just anticipate and get into good positions for your ride-offs. And the next point is that once you've made that ride-off, one of my big problems is when I'm watching low goal polo, and especially when I'm playing in it and coaching, I find I beat a player, okay, and when I've got them beaten, they're still trying to win that ride-off.

And what happens is their horses' bit is crashing you all over the place. I now just take my mallet and I keep it there, and I will give their horse a bop on the cheek to get it's head away from me. I will not be bullied like that.

And so often these guys that are trying so hard to win a negative play. And I keep saying, if you beaten, you've got to think about how to get out of a negative situation and into a positive one.

But they stay in this ride-off, and they push, and push to a point that they slide back behind the, behind your horse. And it's the most dangerous thing in the world for them, because they're going to cross their horses feet as they do that.

And it's in the rules that you actually may not do that, it's really dangerous. So number one, protect yourself from that head coming in. There's no reason you have to put up with it. It's un-gentleman like, it's not sporting and in the rules, it's you know, it talks about unsportsmanlike behavior.

So, just keep their, the horse's head away, and pretty soon, I mean, if they whinge and whine, just say, look you're bashing with your horse, I've beaten you in the ride-off.

Now, the other thing is that if you are beaten okay, don't go on doing that and trying to make that ride-off from a negative situation.

In the academy, we talked about how to turn a negative into positive. And there are a whole lot of different ways one can do it. If you're beaten in the ride-off, just remember that if your horse is the one that has won the ride-off, it is actually resting.

While you're pushing it, because your horse is pushing it along, your horse is dying because it's pushing itself and the horse ahead of it. And you you're killing your horses energy. So, you make even a worse horse than yours, a better horse cause you actually imparting energy to it.

So, get out of that ride-off. And so, just some ideas as to how you can change that negative into positive. If you're beaten in the ride-off, disengage by a meter, and now start to speed up.

And if let's say you're on the right-hand side and you just start to drift to the right and you're speeding up, that player has to come with you, or you will get your knee up because you're not now pushing from behind, and you come back and make your ride-off.

But if you are disengaging and dragging the man along. The ball remember is now on his left hand side. So, he's beaten you and he's coming along. He's having to watch you and the ball. There's gonna come a time where he has to go back to play the ball. If he doesn't, you've dragged him out of play anyway, that's turn the negative into positive.

So, often you drag them so far off that when they go back, they're going to foul going back, that's negative into positive. And the next thing that you can do is watch their horse, because when they turn to go back to the ball to play a near side backhand or an offside backhand, as their horses momentum shifts away from you, that's when you make your ride-off.

Because now their momentum is away from you and you add your momentum to that. And your horse is twice as good in that ride-off. And so often you will take that man over the ball. If you're good enough, sometimes you end up with it on your off-side or your near side when you've made the ride-off, and you can play it.

But you time the ride-off, don't keep on in that negative situation. So, those for me, are the answers to that, I hope that answers the question. Yeah, I think that answered it pretty well Gav.