Here’s A Brief Guide


Tailgating or Stadium Seats?

They’re just a matter of preference. You’ll have a different viewing angle if you’re up higher, but you’re closer to the action if you sit fieldside. You are about to enjoy the game, no matter what.

The Polo Field:

It’s the size of nine football fields. The center is gently sloped upward for better drainage of the fields.


There are two teams competing for the win. Each team consists of four players.


Each player has a rating (handicap) that can range from –2 to 10. Teams are matched up to have similarly skilled players, by adding up the handicaps of their team, for example 6-Goal, 12-Goal, 22-Goal etc.


Polo ponies are typically shorter and much more versatile horses. They are especially trained to make tight turns or sprint and stop on a  short distance.


You will find two mounted Umpires in each game. In addition, there is a Third Man who makes the last decision, and often an IRO (Instant Replay Official) is also present.


What game periods are called. Matches last for six chukkers. Some can have fewer, especially for beginner teams. An extra chukker may be required for games that are tied. Duration is usually 7:30 minutes per chukker.


The ball has to go through the two goal posts at either end. After each goal, the teams switch sides to even out sunlight or wind conditions.


Explaining the Basic Rules


Source: various Polo websites and USPA official rules


Line of the Ball

Plays are based on the line of the ball. It’s an imaginary line as it travels over the field. This creates a Right of Way for the last player who hit the ball. Its disregard is the reason for most of the fouls.

You may see players trying to hook or ride off opponents to gain control of the ball.

The game begins when players line up and the umpire rolls the ball between the teams. The game stops when you hear the whistle for a foul, or when a player or horse gets injured.

When the umpire calls a penalty, the team which was fouled will strike a penalty shot (see next page).


Right of Way

The Right of Way is between any two or more players close to the ball, and it is recognized beyond and towards the direction in which those players are riding.

It is not the same as the Line of the Ball, because it doesn’t matter who hit the ball last.

This rule is designed to keep players safe and without running into each other. Players may only enter or cross the Right of Way if it is safe and there is enough of a distance.


Improper Use of Mallet

The mallet of an opponent can’t be hooked unless they’re about to hit the ball or strike/hook one’s own mallet.

The entire mallet head must be below the opponent’s shoulder for safety reasons.

Dangerous riding is not allowed.


Penalties (Outdoor)

When the whistle stops the play, most of the time it’s because of a foul. In that case, penalty shots are awarded to the offended team.

Penalty 1

Player commits a foul in vicinity of the goal. The opposite team is automatically awarded a goal. A penalty hit is made from the center of the field, plus a change in direction.

Penalty 2

Penalty shot from the center of the 30-yard line, or from the spot where the foul occurred.

Penalty 3

Penalty shot from the center of the 40-yard line.

Penalty 4

Free shot at the ball from the center of the 60-yard line.

Penalty 5

5a: ball shot from where the ball was when the foul happened. Four yards away from boards or sidelines.

5b: penalty shot from the center of the field.

Penalty 6 (or Safety)

When a player hits the ball over their own end line. A penalty will be shot 60 yards from the end line opposite where the ball crossed the end line, but no more than 40 yards from the center of the 60-yard line.



Follow by Email
Scroll to Top