Polo is played in 4-6 time periods, named chukkers. Each chukker lasts 7 1/2 minutes. There is a 4 minute period between each chukker to change horses, often with a 10 minute half-time break. Each team consists of 4 players.
Each player brings their own “string” of horses to the field. Horses are largely thoroughbred and have undergone years of professional training.
Each player is rated with a handicap between -2 and 10. A rating committee determines a players rating based on their playing abilities, horsemanship, team play, horses and knowledge of the game. The handicap of the team is determined through a sum of all players ratings. This team handicap is used with the score to adjust for discrepancies.
A goal is scored when the ball cross the line between the two posts at the end of the field. After each goal, the teams will switch ends to ensure even playing conditions for both teams.
On the field at any given time, there are 4 players per team and 2 umpires. The players are numbered from 1 to 4. Player 1 is offence, Player 2 is the mover who backs Player 1 and seeks to move the ball up the field, Player 3 is generally seen as the quarterback of the team focusing mostly on game strategy and Player 4 is defence.
COMMON POLO TERMS
Hook: a defensive technique where a player uses his or her mallet to interfere with an opponents swing.
Ride-off: defensive move where two horses and players make contact and “bump” shoulders. The objective of this is to take the opposing player off the line of the ball or to prevent them from hitting the ball.
Line of the ball: this is an imaginary line that the ball creates each time it is hit. This creates two separate lanes which determine the right-of-way of the players. Interference with this line constitutes a foul.
Throw-in: when the ball is bowled in between the two teams by the umpire to signify the beginning of the game.