Positioning on the Field as a Beginner

answering your polo questions tactics & anticipation Jan 07, 2022

Beginners tend to struggle with what to do on the field with positioning and tactics. What to do next during a play? where to place yourself? What are the important points to remember during play? And how to get out of 'your little bubble' you tend to create for yourself as a beginner.

Here Gav gives us some awesome tips to work on, so that we can get the ball more often & be more effective on the field...even if you are a seasoned player they are excellent reminders, so take a look!

Positioning on the Field as a Beginner


Anupe has asked, 'My biggest difficulty at the moment is position on the field and tactics as a beginner. The usual advice to the beginners is just to play number one, and mark the beginner on the other team. We end up wondering around not really knowing what's going on.' Over to you.

Again, I think that if you go back to major Hugh Dawnie's book 'Polo Vision', he made a comment that is absolute gold. He talks about get out of your horse.

And he's talking about when you're riding, look up, look around, get to feel what your horse is doing. Okay? And it's, it's just such golden advice that because so many beginners are so focused on their horse, that they have no idea what's happening around them.

The next step up to that is, you make this ride-off, and now you're so busy watching that player that you riding-off, that again, you caught in this little bubble and you have no idea what is happening around you because you not looking.

So, you have to, as we talked about the ride-off already, if you've got your knee up and your horse, the other players horses is here just slightly ahead of you and his body's behind you, and you've got your back to him, because that ride-off, when we talking about how to make the ride-offs, you want to be using your outside leg to make the ride-off, don't lean at the man with your shoulder, because you push your horse away from that ride-off.

But if you do that, you not peripherally aware of that player that you're riding off. And the whole thing about polo, about every ball sport you play, is you have to anticipate.

So, don't go to plays, as I keep saying, don't go to plays that have already happened. Okay. Don't go to where the ball is, go to where it's going to go to.

So, you've made a ride-off you see your team claim the ball now, turn and get rid of the man. You go for your pass. Now he's got to try and find you, okay, and get into a place that they can give you the ball. And I don't know the kind of polo you guys are playing in.

For us, when we playing in that beginner's polo. And we trying to bring people on, we talking to them all the time, and the better players on the other team are really helping the beginners to get to go to the right place. And they'll give them a chance to make a play or two and then get competitive.

But, it's, you know, the big thing is that as a beginner, you think of that I've made this play, and you think your job's done. The next ones just starting. You've got a get going. We had a guy playing in his first sort of, his cousin got hurt, crashing a goalpost the day before. And one of our academy children, who's one of the older kids there, but playing nicely, got put into proper chukkas.

And he was totally lost on the field until I got on to umpire. And I started to help him to go to where you should be. Cause he's was making this play and then stop and wonder what to do.

And when I started saying to him, man, the balls going from the back line to the left-hand board, run across to the halfway line, now turn and go. Now, that lesson in the academy of running an inverted-C to the ball so that you're not running at an angle into the ball, that's being passed up. So, you don't foul.

You've got the ball running away from you. It's easier to get onto it, easier to hit it. So, it's how you get to the places to get the passes. And you've got to be running the angles. Okay?

Ahead of the pack, to get to where it's easy to pass you the ball. Now straighten up. And, the guys, when they pass that ball long, you're running straight onto it and you'll get much more ball that way.

So, it, again just comes down to these tactical rules that you've got to think about. But the biggest thing in polo is, your job has never finished. Okay? You miss a ball. And the first thing I want you to do is to look behind you to see who's coming.

If your players coming, keep going, if you're attacking. If you're attacking and you miss the ball and that's one of them, now look for a man. Where's that man that was chasing you, beat them.

Now you end up at the back of the play, all right? And you end up at number four and all those videos, there're two, of how to actually be effective when you end up playing that number four position. Cause you'll in up there a lot as a beginner playing it number one, because play passes you.

And so you start to feel how to get to be a part of the game. But just don't be number one, locked into that little bubble, locked into your horse, and anticipate, if you see your team with the ball, get to where they can go. If you see the other team, get it.

Find a man, that's your biggest job. Man-Line-Ball. Remember you've got to have the man under control and suddenly you find you've got a lot more time, but the minute your team regain it, you again.

So, the problem is that I think again, as a beginner, as in life, you want to make a decision and stick to the decision. Polo is chaos theory in action, I promise you. Because this second I've beaten my man, because the opposition's got the ball, they miss it. My player gets it. I've left him to run for a pass. He misses it. They get it back. I'm looking for a player again to mark. It's kind of all around. Where's the line. Can I get into it? All of that kind of stuff.

Once I've beaten the man. It's chaos theory in action, and you always have another job to do, so don't sit on your laurels and kind of think, okay, well I've made the run and I missed the ball.

Now what must I do? Look behind figure out what's happening. Go to where the ball's going to go to, or what plays going to happen. Does opposition have the ball, mark a man. 

Does your player have the ball? Get to where you can go for a pass. So, you need to be always thinking about the next play that's coming and anticipate. Because so often I see so many of you beginners running down the field.

You see your high goal player with the ball. He hits the backhand and you're still placing the ball. And the other team just go past you and collect that backhand that was hit to you.

So, again, you haven't got the ball and you think you're not being passed he ball. No, you're not anticipating. Come on guys. Turn before the balls hit go fetch that pass has been hit to you.

And suddenly you'll realize, that actually the guys are passing you the ball. It's you that's not getting to anticipating early enough to get the ball that is being passed to you and not getting into places on the field that it's possible to pass you the ball.


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