The line out and how you and your team can master one of polo’s set plays

January 15, 2013 | By | Add a Comment

A few of my good friends from around the world have asked me for advice on how to be more positive and productive in the line out. So here are my new year thoughts on playing at the front of the line out and becoming awesome at it.

Get yourself into a position where you can help your team-mates.

Get yourself into a position where you can help your team-mates.

The main key to success is having a polo pony who is brave, responsive, athletic and has what I like to term capacity.

As the rider you need to have the following combination of skills at the ready:

  1. Blocking
  2. Pirouetting (rider and horse together) so that you may move once the ball has come in and grapple for it
  3. A certain amount of power and purpose so that you can break dominantly from the front of the line out and head into a position that is of your choosing

 

1. Blocking

The favoured buzz word for medium goal professionals and a very negative word for aspiring players to get involved with.

The better way to perceive this objective is to see yourself as having complete control of your opposite man and only allowing him to go in the direction you choose and only when you choose, thus allowing your three other team mates the chance to deal with only their own opposite and you to make a controlled play on the ball if the chance arises.

 

2. Pirouetting

You must give your pony clear aids.

You must give your pony clear aids.

This is about you and your relationship with your horse and what you can achieve from precise aids for the pony and clear commands.

I also want to touch on full field vision and blink, so here goes.

Full field vision relies primarily on your vision (I know … basic) BUT when you are in a line out have you noticed how uncontrolled and frantic it can get, or sometimes how it can turn to slow motion with you having no control but seeing what needs to happen?

The key to having control is to get the head moving rapidly and pick where the ball is going to end up (which is indeed your blink on the situation) and then act, commit and move your horse to the position where you can be of most use to your team.

Getting your head and eyes moving so you can make those rapid, well-informed decisions can also be practised and improved when walking /running or riding. Just turn your head and look at what is in your line of sight around and behind you while continuing straight and quickly count cars/telegraph poles (or something more fun) and turn your head and eyes back have a think about how that all happened and then with more purpose turn back and see how you did.

You will be surprised at how quickly you get better at it.

When you decide where you want to head to with your horse you need to be very clear with your aids so that you do not dull your horses’ response. A great polo pony always moves away from the pressure of your legs and neck rein and goes forward when you ask them to. So pay particular attention to what you are asking and of course at what degree of speed. All those hours of schooling in the arena will definitely pay off  when you spin your pony, bump your opposite number and run away at speed with the ball at your mallet.

Another key is to ALWAYS pick up the line the ball has travelled in and honour that line.

 

For your team I believe Move into a forward position where a pass to you is made easy by your angle of placement. Then you happily run to goal and score. I believe if you play this way and commit to it AND your team mates hit you the ball as quickly and precisely as they can you will be going a long way towards making your team the winning one.

FMove into a forward position where a pass to you is made easy by your angle of placement. Then happily run to goal and score! I believe if you play this way and commit to it AND your team mates hit you the ball quickly and precisely, you will be going a long way towards making your team a winner.

3. Power and Purpose

For me this is the best way to play the number one position whether it be in the line out or in general play.

For your team I believe you should  bump or push your opposing player in the direction your team is attacking and then move straight to a position where your team-mates can pass you the ball. Of course this is going to be a forward position where a pass to you is made easy by your angle of placement. Then you happily run to goal and score. Too easy you say? I believe if you play this way and commit to it AND your team mates hit you the ball as quickly and precisely as they can you will be going a long way towards making your team the winning one.

Because, as us old wise polo players know, the team that wins the set plays (line outs/throw ins/ knock ins) and converts its penalties always wins …  and who said boring old theories were dull … not the team that takes home the trophy, that’s for sure.

Well, let me know your thoughts and good luck in the game.

Oops … that’s right – LUCK is when opportunity meets preparation.

Happy New Year and may all your polo wishes come true!

 

 

 

About the Author ()

I have played professional polo all over the world, and represented New Zealand at international level. I sometimes cannot believe that this great game has taken me so many places, and allowed me to play with - and against - so many fantastic people.

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