Going to Plays That Have Already Happened

tactics & anticipation Jan 29, 2024

This lesson is about learning to anticipate better, so you are not to go to plays that have already happened or to plays that you cannot change the outcome of.

 How do you do this? Let me give you some tips.

Going to Plays That Have Happened


This is a series on how to anticipate better. The most important ways of doing this is to be looking at what is happening to plays ahead so that you are always going to plays that are going to happen, rather than getting caught in the trap of going to plays that have either happened or to plays where you cannot change the outcome, so as there's no point in involving yourself in them.

Let's take a look at some examples. In this example, let's focus on the player in yellow, who is trying his best to do a huge amount of marking, but because he is always going to plays that have happened, is always just too late to make a difference in that play.

And as a consequence is late on the following plays as well. So, he is always trying to play catch up here. You can see him trying to catch the player in green, which is exactly what he should be doing. However, when that player misses the ball and his teammate makes the elementary mistake of just backing the ball to the opposition.

This is where our player  involves himself in a series of plays, he is late on and should never go to. You can see that the ball has been backed to two three green players. The player in the yellow, on the right now tries to challenge the player in green intercepting the backhand, but it has to abort his challenge because he's suddenly confronted with his own player meeting him, head on.

Which leaves the green free and unchallenged to press home his attack. When the green attacker misses the ball, again on a bouncy field, you will see that our player has again chased forward after him, even though he will never be able to catch him.

And again, leaves the second green attacker unmarked behind him. So that, when the next backhand is hit, he is again late to turn, and receive a pass, and green will be the next to play the ball.

So, you can see in this series how just doing one job well and anticipating what is going to happen, will stop you feeling like a ping pong ball, racing around the field, being just too late to every play you attempt to make, and adding no value to any of the plays.

In this example, you can see a player in green ends up with the ball and is able to turn it because he is unchallenged and two yellow defenders rushing back to a play they are late on, allowing the green to get past both of them.

Instead of one yellow player, going to the trailing green player and marking him. While the second yellow turns and intercepts the green with the ball. In this example, two good plays. The first blue makes a challenge that he can get to. While the second blue turns before the backhand is hit, which no one else has done. And so, will be in a position to make the next play.

This play illustrates how going to a play you are late on can put you in real danger. Here, you can see the player in blue cannot get to this play in time to adjust as angle and challenge the red, who has established himself in the new right of way, and narrowly misses a collision.

What he should have done was to get close, adjust his angle, give red this first shot and dominate the next play. This next clip is an example of horrible polo. This red hits a good ball up field. And even though he has a teammate in front, chases past that player to get to a ball, that he will be too late to get to.

And every trailing player, except the last red, not anticipating the next play and rushing past a ball that has already been backed. In this example, the first red is doing a great job clearing the attacker away, and allowing her teammate time to get to the ball and turn it quite legally as he never encroaches on the right of way.

This player has also stayed in a play. He has beaten in and by continuing to ride off, he is just taken past the ball and can make no difference to the play. He would have been far better to have checked out of the ride-off, as soon as he knew he was beaten and try to get around behind the player in red marking him to the ball.

He might not have succeeded, but by disengaging from the ride-off, he makes this red player's job marking him much more difficult, and also has the advantage of making him competitive in the next play.

And blue rushing into claim a foul, which will never be blown. Instead of conceding that play and dominating the next one. In polo, there are so often situations where you feel sure that you have the right of way and the player in front is going to foul you if he goes to the ball. It is a really good thing to contest that right of way.

But if you don't get the foul, go to the next play. In this instance, get behind the red and give yourself all the options. If he hits a neckshot, you have the inside of the field covered and can protect your goal. If he hits the backhand, you can turn onto that new line.

Don't ride past the play because the outcome was not what you wanted. In this play, the blue player initially puts good pressure on the opposition, but the minute he sees that he is in a ride-off that he can't win. He should disengage and turn for his teammates backhand.

You can see that the blue player following him is also guilty of not anticipating and also rides past that backhand. Really good anticipation from the player in red who, when he sees that he's beaten in the ride-off disengages slightly, enabling his horse to accelerate past the blue. And he gives the blue, the shot he can't prevent, but beats him on the next play.

In this play. It is obvious that the second blue player is not anticipating the next play, but is going to one that he will be late to. And to compound the era, has got to close behind his teammate so that if his teammate does miss or deflect the ball, he will not have time to adjust to that deflection and make an effective play.

You will also see that because of his too close and traveling too quickly. He is also unable to turn for his teammates pass and just ride past that play. This was because he originally went to a play that he was already late on.

Just to leave you with a thought about placing yourself to receive a tail-shot backhand pass. It is a really good thing, when you see a teammate riding for a backhand, to ride quickly narrowing the gap between you and placing yourself to his right-hand side and not directly behind him.

As then, when he is about 15 meters from the ball, you can check and swing onto the new line without stopping and turning, which is much slower.

Take a look at this done to perfection here. You can see the pink number three, going for a tail backhand. And his teammate, who is ideally placed, being able to swing quickly and claim the new right of way, and cause the blue contesting the play to foul as he tries to make the ride-off.