The origins of Polo, its exotic ancestry and storied past have contributed to a heritage rich in colourful expressions.
Understanding that language adds yet another dimension to a fascinating sport.
• Chukka: This is the term used to describe the basic period of play. In polo, each chukka is seven and a half minutes long and there are six chukkas in each match.
• Foul: This constitutes an infraction of the rules as laid down by the Polo Association. Most fouls govern safe riding and the concept of the line of the ball.
• Goal: A point is added to the score each time the ball travels between the goal posts, whether hit in by attacker, defender or pony. The team’s direction of play changes after each goal is scored.
• Handicap: The comparative rating of polo players awarded by the Polo Association. Handicaps are expressed in goals but do not describe the number of goals the player is expected to score, but rather the player’s value to the team.
• Hook: One of the two defensive manoeuvres allowed in the rules. In this case the mallet is used to block or interfere with another player’s swing at the ball.
• Knock-in: Should a team hit the ball across the opponent’s backline during an attack, the defending team resumes the game with a free hit from the backline where the ball went over. It is equivalent to a goal kick in soccer.
• Line of the ball: The imaginary line created by the ball as it travels across the field. The line of the ball may not be crossed or infringed except in exceptional circumstances. This is a pivotal concept on which many fouls or infractions are based and is usually what the umpires are discussing after they have blown the whistle.
• Mallet: The shaft is usually made from bamboo cane and the head from a hard wood, although plastic composite shafts are increasingly common. The wide face of the mallet head is used to strike the ball and not the ends, as in croquet. Polo mallets range in length according, principally, to the height of the pony played, and extend from 48 to 54 inches.