Polo Rules: Basics for Newcomers to the Sport
The field is 300 yards long, by 160 yards in width, in the case of a boarded playing field. The boards are 12-inch high, and are placed round the field’s perimetre, thus stopping the ball from rolling out of the match.
If there is no boarding suurounding the field, its length is of 200 yards. The gola posts, positioned at each end of the field, are 8 yards wide.
Ends of the field are changed after each goal is scored.
A match consists of 8 chukkers and lasts approximately an hour, although in some cases, club matches consist of between 4 to 6 chukkers. Chukkers last 7 minutes in a full match, with a bell being run at each of the chukkers’ end. The game however continues until the ball is no longer being played, or also for another half-minute, when the bell is rung once again. The clock remains stopped after the Umpire blows his whistle to stop the playing, and until he again blows his whistle for the players to resume the match. There is an interval of 3 minutes between each of the chukkers, and an interval of 5 minutes at half-time.
There is no limit imposed in what refers to the polo ponies’ height. They can be used to play two chukkers during one match, but can never be used for two successive chukkers. A polo pony gallops about 5 kilometres during one chukker.
A player in pursuit of the ball, on its line, has the right-of-way regarding the other players. The last player to strike the ball has the right-of-way. If one of them crosses the player´s right-of-way sufficiently close so as to be considered a dangerous move, he commits a foul. A player is allowed to hook sticks with an opponent only when he is on the same side of the opponent’s pony as the ball is. A player may “ride off” a player, but must not cross the line of another player. The teams’ captains are the only players who can debate an issue with an Umpire during a match. None of the other players are allowed to debate issues such as fouls with an Umpire during the match.
All players taking part in a polo tournament are given a handicap, which varies between -2 and 10 goals. The added handicap of a team’s four players is the team’s handicap. Handicaps are also used to mark the importance of a tournament.
The following penalties may be handed out:
- 1. A goal is awarded to one of the teams when a player has deliberately and or dangerously crossed the line of another player near the goal area. The ball is thrown back into play 10 yards in front of the goal posts. In this case, ends are not changed.
- 2. Free shot from 30 yards away from the centre of the goal posts. Defending players must be behind the field’s back line and outside the goal posts and cannot ride through the middle of them when the ball is striked.
- 3. Free shot from 40 yards away, conditions being the same as in 2.
- 4. Free shot from 60 yards away. All the players from the other team must be 30 yards away from the ball.
- 5. Free shot from the centre of the playing field. All the players from the other team must be over 30 yards away from the ball when it is striked.
- 6. Free shot from where the foul occurred, with none of the players from the other team being able to be closer than 30 yards to the ball.
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