Learning the Rules


1. Each of the 4 players on a team wears a jersey with the number 1, 2, 3 or 4 on his/her back. Each number corresponds to their assigned position. Polo is a team sport, with each of the 4 team members playing a specific position, yet supporting the entire team in both offense and defense.
2. The line of the ball is created once the ball is struck and does not change until it is struck again, sending the ball in a different direction. The line of the ball is used in many ways, most importantly to act as an imaginary buffer to avoid collisions when two or more players ride to the ball. The players must hit the ball to their right side (the “off side”) and may not cross the line of the ball. Doing so would cause a hazardous situation.
3. At the start of a game, the umpire bowls the ball by hand firmly between the line-up of the two teams.
4. Teams change direction in which they are playing after each goal is scored and/or after each chukker. Switching sides allows each team an opportunity to start with the ball being bowled in on their right-hand-side.
5. All players must play right-handed.
6. All players registered with the U.S. Polo Association are rated from -2 goals (novice) to 10 goals (the best). Handicaps are a scale of skill. A team’s handicap is the total sum of its players’ ratings.
7. Penalties and/or injuries may stop play, as there are no time-outs or substitutions allowed, except for tack repair.
8. A player may “ride-off” his opponent in order to spoil his shot. The angle of the collision or bump must be slight and pose no serious danger to rider or horse.
9. All players on the field are able to score goals.
10. There are degrees of dangerous and unfair play and penalty shots are awarded depending on the severity of the foul and where the foul was committed on the field.
11. A player can interfere with another’s shot by putting his mallet in the way of the striker’s swing. However, it is a foul to hook too high or reach over the player’s horse.
12. Ponies are typically switched out at the end of each chukker.