Practice & Etiquette
Rules of Courtesy
Always arrive an hour, or at the very least 30 minutes, before your game or practice.
Chukkers should be called in advance, preferably the night before, so that the manager has time to balance the teams and prepare for an even practice.
Always bring a red, white and blue shirt for practice. This is standard procedure across the nation. Whites are not always required but always acceptable as opposed to jeans.
When parking your rig, be courteous and make sure you are a safe distance from the trailer next to you. Never tie horses where they could pull back and damage your neighbor’s vehicle or get in a kicking fight with their horses. Leave your trailer area free of trash and tail tape.
Immediately after unloading your horses, check the chukker sheet/board to ensure which chukkers you are in and which color you should wear. Write chukkers down to avoid confusion.
Before the chukker begins, you must always clear your ball off the playing field.
By USPA rules, you are allotted 4 minutes between chukkers. Times may vary from club to club. Tardiness effects all players, if you are having a major problem, let someone going out onto the field know so they can alert the umpire.
After the final horn has sounded ending the chukker, NEVER hit the playing ball. This not only endangers those who are walking off the field ahead of you unsuspecting but the ball marks the spot where play shall begin in the next period.
ALWAYS offer to shake hands after your game with your teammates and opponents, no matter who won or lost or how badly you may have played. If you are a guest and want to ensure that you are invited back to play, make sure that you make special effort to thank the owner of the field and ask if they need help stomping divots.
Know the difference between a practice and a game. During a practice players may not be prepared for competitive bumping or hard hooking. Take note how others are playing. It is appropriate to give back what you receive. If a player announces that they are playing a green horse, it is courteous not to make aggressive plays on that player.
Never school a horse on the playing field. This means sharp sliding stops and turf tearing maneuvers. If you have an extra horse that needs to be “stick-n-balled” don't assume that is ok to do so on the playing field, in some clubs this is a supreme faux pas.
If you bring a guest to ride or practice make sure that you have the approval from the owner or manager before they mount up and make sure they have signed the proper waivers.
If there has been even the slightest rain, make sure that you call to make sure that polo is still on or that the fields are open. One never rides on a wet field except in England!
Remember, if you follow these rules of courtesy, you will be respected and invited to play often.
• Keep the game safe for players and spectators
• Make sure 100% calls with consistency throughout the game and/or tournament
• Be decisive when making a call
• Maintain control of the game and the players
• Have a perfect understanding of the rules, penalties and interpretations
• Be calm and professional at all times on the field
• Be precise in verbal communication with team captains
Umpire Positioning Will Be as Follows:
• Each umpire will cover half the field, split lengthwise, goal to goal
• One umpire responsible for center field throw-ins, and the other umpire will see that players have correct time to ride to the line-up
• Each umpire will handle throw-ins on his own side of the field from 10 years inside the boundaries
• Each umpire will follow the play when it is on his side of the field and the other umpire will ride slightly ahead and on his own side of the field
• On knock-ins, the umpire following will be directly behind the hitter, and the other umpire is 30-60 yards out and on his side of the field
• On penalties 4 and 6, one umpire will be behind the hitter, and the other umpire is behind a goal post
• On penalty 5, one umpire will be behind the hitter, and the other umpire will be 30 yards down the field
• On penalties 2 and 3, both umpires will be behind a goal post and in line with the ball
Umpiring is Not...
• Riding around in the center of the field and looking 100 yards down field to see plays
• A chance to stick-n-ball
• The time to school a green horse
• Coaching the “home team”
• A way for “paybacks”
• Engaging in an explanation or conversation with any player
Rejuvenate Your Club
National Club Development (A joint venture between the USPA and PTF)
The National Club Development program is part of the USPA’s dedication to the growth of polo. The Polo Training Foundation has embraced this program and has staff dedicated to helping clubs strengthen and grow their organization. Before we grow the sport of polo nationally, we must first strengthen our existing clubs. There are many clubs across the US that are slowly dying. Many clubs were at their peak during the 80’s and early 90’s. Many of those clubs have not paid attention to their waning number of new players. Most clubs have moved farther from city centers, which make it harder for new people to discover polo. Additionally, people are generations removed from the horse and buggy, so it takes extra effort to bring new players into the sport and feel comfortable on a horse. Time restraints on this generation seem to be more demanding and the family unit now has diverse interests, it is not a patriarchal driven society any longer.
How do you revitalize your club?
— Encourage the development of a polo school
— Donate a horse to be used for lessons
— Bring potential players to a polo match
— Take time to talk to the new players and encourage them
— Commit to a coaching league and add beginner chukkers to practices
— LET THE BEGINNERS HIT THE BALL!!
— Offer a reduced dues rate for beginner chukkers and games, remember these are your future club members
— Invest in the future, begin a youth program
— Remember, before a person becomes dedicated to our sport, you must work at helping the time consuming sport of polo to fit into the busy schedule of a person who is juggling a job, possibly a family and other interests that they already participate in. Make phone calls and send emails to remind them or polo school or events. Help them find a horse that is suitable for a beginner player or rider.
For well established Clubs:
— Add a league of a suitable level to your season schedule.
— Re-evaluate your umpiring. Do you have two umpires on the field at all times? Host a USPA/PTF umpire clinic. Nominate players who should participate in the Florida Umpire Training Program during the winter and if necessary, come up with a way to help fund that trip. Remember, the stronger the umpiring, the stronger the club.
— Start a Women’s Auxiliary Polo League (WAPL) to help boost membership and game attendance and fund-raising
— Kick up the social aspect, have a themed party once a month or have a group of players sponsor a BBQ
— Change the tournament committee, or even reinvigorate the governing body with some new directors. Fresh ideas can revitalize older clubs. Give the “new blood” responsibilities and encourage them to participate. They may have a different perspective that could be helpful
— Follow through on new ideas. Don't let the excitement die. Form a committee to ensure that new plans do not die on the drawing table. Make people accountable. Delegate
— Realize that polo is a difficult sport to grow and that not all personalities are going to see eye-to-eye, but it is imperative that it will take all types of personalities to make one club survive.
— Overlook pst differences. Let a neutral person make decisions. An unbiased party can create the best solution for all parties involved.
The future of your polo club depends on your participation in its growth. Each member has something to contribute.