Today was one of those rare days when I didn’t do anything related to Polo. Therefore, I didn’t learn anything about polo today.
So instead, I decided to jot down a few notes about what I am working on in stick and ball these days.
1. Keeping my arm straight
2. Getting up out of the saddle and really turning my hips
3. Riding the horse
Keeping my arm straight – I have a tendency, on all my shots, to kind of bend my elbow at the bottom of my swing. In my lessons with Will Tankard, Will has pointed this out to me and I realized that it really takes away from the power of my swing. Every time I really connect with the ball, either forehand or backhand, offside or nearside, it is when I have a straight elbow, at the bottom of my swing.
I think it is Adam Snow that I heard describe it, on the forehand anyway, as almost like you’re trying to swing through three balls on the ground and throw your mallet at the end of the swing. That gives you the power of the straight arm throughout the swing. I have heard others say imagine you are swinging through a loaf of bread. Same idea. You can’t get through all three balls with power unless you keep your arm straight.
Getting out of the tack and turning my hips – this one really speaks for itself. I don’t do it nearly enough.Take a look at the photo above. This is PoloSkilz contributor, Julio Arellano, America’s highest-rated player, hitting a nearside forehand.
I know the photo isn’t that crisp. Sorry about that. But I chose it because … look at his shoulders and head relative to the horse and the ball. That is getting out of the tack and parallel to the plane of the swing!
(P.S. You may be thinking he is hitting a nearside backhand, but he isn’t. If you see the whole sequence, you would see his mallet has already gotten ahead of the ball he just hit off the ground.. Also, look at his straight elbow.)
What really drove this home to me is that when I turn to hit a ball, on the nearside, along the fence or arena wall, for whatever reason, I do really crank around in the saddle and almost always hit a good shot. I never hit it that well when I am away from the fence.
So, I realized it is about the fact that I get my hips and shoulders parallel, when I have a fence I’m working against. Somehow, it creates a visual reference I guess. I need to learn to do that on all my shots.
Riding the horse – of course, I am riding my horse. But what this means is really riding with a great deal of intention and communicating clearly to the horse exactly what I want relative to the ball. Sometimes, I get lazy and just hit from where ever I end up. If it’s the right distance from the ball, great. I need to focus on riding and hitting all at the same time.
The fall season is just around the corner in Aiken. So that’s what I will be working on this week in stick and ball. How about you? What do you work on when you stick and ball?
As always, feel free to leave it in the comments. If you are an experienced player and can offer some ideas or suggestions for the rest of us, we would all love to hear it.