Sarah Wiseman is from the UK and holds a Ladies Handicap of 7 Goals (2 Goals in Mixed Polo). Sarah started playing when she was 12 years old in the Pony Club and has not stopped since. Polo is her full-time job, playing professionally in the UK in mixed polo and on the International Women’s circuit. She also created ‘Aspect Polo’, a summer and arena polo facility in the UK. ‘Aspect Polo’ offers full polo club facilities for the UK and International players with tournaments, lessons and rental of ponies at the stunning Knepp Castle in the summer months, and at the superb All England Polo Club, Hickstead over the winter.
Sarah’s has achieved tremendous success in Ladies polo around the world and represented England on many occasions. In 2014, she won the Malaysian Ladies Championships, The US Women’s Open, The Pink Polo at Thai Polo Club. This year she has won The International Ladies Tournament at Knepp Castle UK, The Berkshire Ladies Tournament, The Malaysian Open Ladies Championships and is about to head off to the US, Argentina, Barbados and Thailand to play.
We more than often focus on the offensive play when we are learning. Everyone wants to be able to score the goals for their team, but defence is just as important, and every polo team needs a good number 4 to keep the team structure together.
Backhand is an essential shot in your arsenal, even if you’re not playing number 4. A backhand can change the direction and speed of the game within seconds and make for some superb team polo.
A lot of people struggle to get power out of their backhands but in reality, it is not the distance that matters, it’s all about the angle. By putting angle and direction on your backhand shot, you can change the line of the ball and make a defensive play into an attacking play with ease, giving you the upper hand over your opposition. There are two angles to play your backhand shot:
There are two angles to play your backhand shot:
Tactically a tail shot is often the better of the backhands to play. The angle of this shot makes it very hard for an attacking player to pick up the line of the ball behind you, as they will have to cross the right of way in order to get to the next play.
An open backhand can often be intercepted by the attacking team so it is very important that you are always hitting this shot to your team mates, otherwise, your defensive efforts maybe short lived.
So how do you create these angles? Well, it’s all about ball placement and the plain of your swing.Remember don’t force your swing or change your grip. You want to create a nice big arch out in front of you, like you are casting a fishing rod. Relax your grip and as you swing through, the head of the mallet will automatically flatten out as you swing through the ball, don’t try and help it by twisting your hand at any point of the swing.
Tail shot. Aptly named as the ball is directed under your ponies tail.
- Plain of the swing: Starting your swing in the line you want it to finish on. The starting point for this swing must be out to the side, not directly in front.
- Positioning of the ball: Play the ball late and close to the horse. If the ball is hit too early or too far away you will not be able to get the desired angle.
Open shot. the ball away from your horse.
- Plain of the swing: It is fairly difficult to start this swing in the line where you want it to finish as your horses head is in the way. So we cast the stick out straight in front of us for this one. The key to achieving the angle is where we position the ball and by finishing the swing by pushing the mallet head away from us.
- The positioning of the ball: Out wide and early is the key to this shot. By hitting the ball early, the face of the mallet head is still at an angle when we hit the ball so it slices the side of the ball and helps generate the open angle we are looking for.
How to get more power?
Once you have mastered the dynamics and positioning of the swing, you can get more power out of the shot by getting as much hight out of the swing as possible. Getting the head of the stick to start high and create a nice big arch in front of you. As you swing through push your upper body down through the swing, keeping your chest with a low profile to the ball.
DON’T FORGET, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ANGLE!