Fast-paced, exhilarating and hugely sociable, polocrosse is essentially a mash-up of lacrosse and polo. It may not have the high profile of its two namesakes, but if you’re looking for a sport with horses, racquet skills and teamwork — plus lashings of excitement — this could be the game for you.
The ground rules
“Polocrosse is a fantastic game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages,” explains A-grade player and Pony Club polocrosse coach Emily Gilfillan.
“Originally dating back to the 1930s, it is now becoming a popular sport for those looking to try something a bit different.”
As in polo, polocrosse is played on a grass pitch and each game is divided into several chukkas.
But unlike polo, players can ride only one horse each at a tournament.
“There are three players from each team on the pitch at once, and the pitch is split into three areas,” explains Jake Hall, secretary of the UK Polocrosse Association (UKPA).
“Two goal-scoring areas, which only the attacking number one and defending number three can go into, and a midfield, which every player can go into.
The ball is picked up with a polocrosse racquet, carried and passed to the number one, who then has to find a way past the number three to score. The aim of the game is to score as many goals as possible by throwing the ball between the posts.”
The easiest way to have a crack at polocrosse is through your local Pony Club branch. England team manager and Pony Club ambassador Chris Milburn says that this is how most young players begin their careers.
“Many people start by taking part in training events and regional competitions, with the ultimate aim of competing at the Pony Club Championships,” he says. “The Pony Club works with its member branches and centres to provide taster sessions and training days, and will arrange for UKCC coaches with equipment to visit those who wish to try the sport.”
If you left the Pony Club behind years ago, then don’t panic — you can still get involved.
“Just check the UKPA website for your nearest club, get in touch, and you’ll be welcomed along to a training session where you can have a go,” says Kerry Bean, a member of the UK Polocrosse World Cup Squad for 2015.
Who can play?
The polocrosse community is renowned for welcoming players of all ages and abilities, and player Jemma Alderson — who has quickly risen through the grades despite being profoundly deaf — says that anybody can take part.
“The most important quality is that you are a team player,” she says. “The skills of polocrosse can be developed through training and with the support of the rest of your team. You do need to have good balance, though, as there is a lot of twisting and turning to get to the ball!”
Most newcomers to the game begin by playing on their current pony. It helps to have an athletic type with good lateral movement as you move up the grades — but at the lowest levels, anything goes.
Racquets, balls and other specialist equipment will usually be provided initially by your local club or the Pony Club, making polocrosse an easy and inexpensive sport to try.
Find out more:
Ref: Horse & Hound; 25 December 2014