Fairfield Polo Club

Learn the Lingo

CHUKKER

    There are six chukkers in a polo match, each one lasting seven and a half minutes. Between each chukker, players change horses. 


DIVOT STOMPING

    An activity that involves spectators in the game.  During halftime, spectators are invited to go onto the playing field and to replace pieces of turf that have been dug-up by the horses.


FIELD

    A polo field is 300 yards long by 160 yards wide (10 acres).  The goal posts are 8 yards apart. 


GAME

    Consists of four or six chukkers, depending on the number of available horses, the level of play, or the nature of the tournament.


GOAL

    When the ball crosses the line between the goal posts.  The team's goal changes each time a goal is scored. 


HANDICAP

    Players are registered through the United States Polo Association, on a scale of minus 2 through 10.  The higher the better.


HOOK

    An extremely effective defensive play.  A player may use his or her mallet to interfere with their opponent's mallet.


KNOCK-IN

    When the attacking team hits the ball over their opponent's backline but miss the goal, the game resumes with a free hit from the defending team from their backline.


LINE-OF-BALL or RIGHT-OF-WAY

    This imaginary line follows the path the ball takes.  On each side of this line is a lane and these two lanes determine the right-of-way of the player.


MALLET

    The shaft is made of bamboo cane with a hardwood head.  The head is beveled on one end to allow a full swing flush with the ground.  The mallet is highly flexible and varies in length.


OFF-SIDE SHOT

    This shot is made from the right side of the horse.  The most common used shot in polo.


NEAR-SIDE SHOT

    This shot is made from the left side of the horse.  


NECK SHOT

    A shot where the ball is hit under the horse's neck from either side of the horse.  


PENALTY

    A free hit towards the goal from a set distance.  The severity of the foul determines what penalty will be awarded.  


POSITIONS

    Each of the 4 team members play a distinctly different position.  Players may momentarily change positions, but they try to stay in their initial spot.  Number 1 is the most forward offensive player.  Number 2 is just as aggressive, but plays deeper.  Number 3 is the pivot between offense and defense and tries to turn all plays to offense.  Number 4, or back, is the defensive player whose principle role is to protect the goal.


RIDE-OFF

    Occurs when two riders attempt to push each other off the line of the ball.  Players must be shoulder to shoulder and traveling at the same speed when doing so.  


TAIL SHOT

    Hitting the ball behind the horse's rump backwards.  


THROW-IN

    A chukker begins and many plays resume with the umpire bowling the ball between the two teams.  


UMPIRES

    Two mounted umpires on the field consult each other after each infringement and impose a penalty only if they agree.  If they do not agree, they confer with the third man or referee.  They monitor the safety for the players and horses.