HOW TO PLAY POLO

The rules of beach polo are slightly different to that of grass polo, with adaptations largely due to the smaller size of the pitch

The Teams

Beach polo is played between two teams, each made up of three players numbered 1 to 3. Player 1 is in attack, player 2 is in midfield and player 3 is the defense. There is only one umpire and no player is allowed to approach him/her during play.

The Ground

The pitch is a fenced area 100×50 yards wide with goal posts six yards apart. Beach polo pitches are about a tenth of the size of a grass pitch.

Duration of Play

A match is played over four chukkas, the first three being six and a half minutes long. The last chukka is played for six minutes dead, unless there is a draw when a knockout chukka is played. The clock does not stop when the ball goes out of play, only when a foul has been committed. In beach polo, teams change ends at the start of each chukka, unlike grass polo where ends are changed after each goal scored.

Handicaps

Each player is handicapped from -2 for novices up to 10 goals for the top professional players, rated annually by their local polo associations. There are only a dozen players in the world with a 10 goal handicap. In the UK the top handicapped player is 8 goals.

The aggregate handicap of the three team players makes their team handicap. If competing teams do not have an equal aggregate handicap, one is given a head start on goals.

In 2013 team Joules and team First Great Western had a handicap of 15 goals to 16 goals respectively and was the highest ranked beach polo match of the year.

Ponies

Ponies can play a maximum of two chukkas with a rest of at least one in between.

Fouls

A player following the ball on its exact line has the right of way over all other players. Any player who crosses close enough to be dangerous, commits a foul. Penalties vary according to the degree of danger and closeness of the cross.

No player may hook an opponent’s stick unless he is on the same side of the opponent’s pony and the ball.

Dangerous play or rough handling is not allowed – a player may ride an opponent off, but must not charge in at an angle.

Penalties

The following penalties may be given:

  •  A goal is given if the cross is dangerous or deliberate in the vicinity of the goal. The ball is then thrown in 10 yards in front of the goal without ends being changed.
  • Free hit from 15 yards opposite the centre of the goal – defenders to be behind the back line and outside the goal posts but must not ride through when the ball is hit.
  • Free hit from 25 yards, same conditions as above.
  • Free hit from 25 yards. Defenders to be 15 yards from ball.
  • Free hit from the centre of the ground, none of the defending side to be nearer than 15 yards when the ball is hit.
  • Free hit from where foul took place, no defender to be nearer than 15 yards.
Player profiles

Player profiles

Who’s played and what they get up to when they’re not at Watergate Bay.

Event guide

Event guide

Your guide to all the action over polo weekend.

Pony profiles

Pony profiles

Some of the star ponies who took part in GWR Polo on the Beach 2015.