The days of wars being won by noblemen trampling over serfs on their mighty steeds are gone. However, horseback battle lives on in the sport of polo. Luke Tomlinson, captain of the England team, who are sponsored by Audi (Audi.co.uk), gets us in the swing of things.
“Unlike a croquet mallet, with a polo stick you hit the ball with the flat side of the head. This head is tilted slightly to allow for the stick not being at 90 degrees to the ground. All polo players use their right hand. To ensure you use the correct grip, place the stick in front of you, like a golf club. Put your thumb through the sling and wrap it round the back of your hand, then take a V-grip, a bit like a tennis grip, with your fingers spread apart.”
“Adopt a ‘half-seat’ position on the horse, ever so slightly off the seat. The ideal position for the ball is about 25cm from the horse’s front leg.”
“There are four shots in polo: a forehand and backhand on the off-side — the right — and near-side — the left. For the off-side forehand, twist so that your left shoulder is pointing forwards and swing the stick with a straight, relaxed arm, like a pendulum. The off-side backhand is simply a reverse of this.”
“The near-side forehand involves more effort. Twist to your left and bring your right arm up by your left shoulder. Then swing through with a bit more wrist, like you would a tennis backhand. The near-side backhand is a little easier as you start with your right hand by the horse’s left ear.”