What is Polocrosse?
As the name implies, it is a combination of polo and lacrosse. It is played outside, in a field, on horseback. Each rider uses a stick to which is attached a racquet head with a loose, thread net, in which the ball is carried. The ball is made of sponge rubber and is approximately 4″ across. The objective is to score goals by throwing the ball between your opponent’s goal posts.
Who can play?
The basic requisite for the successful polocrosse player is a love of horses and the ability to ride easily and comfortably. Ball and riding skills are improved by regular practice and a competitive edge becomes important in tournament play.
Polocrosse is appealing as a sport for all the family and attracts a wide range of ability levels. In the UK the Pony Club has seen the tremendous potential of the game and there are now a large number of teams across the country. Club level polocrosse is generally very sociable – for riders and non-riders too!
If you already have a horse you are halfway there. All you need in addition are a few safety items such as bandages and overreach boots, and a polocrosse stick and ball for yourself – you’re ready to play!
What about my horse?
Players are allowed only to play one horse, except in the case of injury. Primary Juniors (under 12 years) must play on ponies 13.2hh or under and Juniors (12-15 years) must play on ponies over 13.2hh. There are no other restrictions, and you can play on any horse. The better you get the more important it becomes for the horse to be agile. Top grade players generally use thoroughbreds or horses crossed with quarter horses or Australian stock horses between 14.2hh and 16hh.
How many are on a team?
A team consists of 6 players, divided into two sections of three who play alternate chukkas of a maximum of 8 minutes each. Six or eight chukkas comprise a full match. The three players in each section play the position of a No. 1 “attack”, a No. 2 “centre”, or a No. 3 “defence”.
What does the field look like?
The field is 60 yards (55m) x 160 yards (146.5m), with three separate areas. The goal scoring areas, on each end, are 30 yards long. Only the No.1 of the attacking team and the No. 3 of the defending team can play in these areas. The middle area is 100 yards long. The line separating the goal scoring and centre areas is called the penalty line. Goal posts are 8 feet apart. To score, the ball must be thrown from outside an 11-yard semi-circle in front of the goal.
How is the game played?
Players can pick up the ball from the ground, catch it in their racquet, and ride with it. They will throw it to other players until the No.1 has possession in the goal scoring area. A player cannot carry the ball over the penalty line, but must bounce it so that they do not have possession of it while actually crossing the line. However, it can be thrown to a player over the line. When carrying the ball, a player must carry it on the stick side, i.e. right-handed players must carry it on the offside of the horse. They can, however, pick-up or catch the ball on the non-stick side provided they immediately bring it back to their stick side.
How does the game start?
It commences in centre field with the players lining up, one section beside the other, with the No. 1′s in front. This is called a line out. The umpire then throws the ball, over the player’s heads. The game recommences similarly after a goal has been scored. Whenever an attempt at goal fails, the No. 3 throws the ball back into play from behind the penalty line, as directed by the umpire.
How do you get the ball from your opponent?
Hitting at an opponent’s stick, either to dislodge the ball or to prevent them from gaining possession of it, is allowed in an upward direction only. Riding off is allowed, but crossing, stopping over the ball, or elbowing constitutes fouls. Sandwiching of one player between two others also constitutes a foul. Fouls result in a free throw to the offended side.
What equipment will I need?
Requirements for the rider are a recognised safety helmet and a racquet. For the horse you will need a breastplate, overgirth (if using a GP saddle), bandages or leg wraps and overreach boots on all four legs. To get started you will little more extra equipment than this.
Where can I play?
In the UK there are a number of clubs situated all around the country. Each club is affiliated to the UK Polocrosse Association (UKPA). You can find a list of all UKPA-registered clubs here. Celyn Polocrosse Club is based on the borders of Cheshire and Flintshire, and our players come from North Wales, Cheshire, Shropshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire. Our main training venues are at Backford (near Chester) and Northop.
How often is polocrosse played?
At Celyn we get together on a regular basis for practice. Our on-foot training sessions begin in January, and then we start training on horses at the end of March. The tournament season starts in May and finishes in September. During that time there is often a tournament taking place nearly every weekend somewhere in the UK. The major event of the year is the Club National Championships at the end of August.
Is it expensive to play?
Polocrosse is relatively cheap to take part in compared to many other horse sports! Membership of the UKPA is not too expensive, with a new Senior Playing membership at £60 (£110 after the first year) and a new Under21 Playing membership at £30 (£60 after the first year). You can also purchase a ‘single event’ membership for £10 so that you can have a go at a tournament before you commit to joining fully.
Celyn membership costs £30 for an adult and £18 for a junior, but you will need UKPA membership as well if you are going to train with us regularly.
A new racquet and ball will cost around £85, however most clubs will let you use theirs until you are ready to make an investment. Most people already have appropriate headgear, leg wraps, etc.