Never Underestimate Your Opponent: Life Lessons From the Polo Field

October 25, 2013 at 9:59 pm (Excellence in Business, Freedom, Letting go, Polo, Relationships) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Yes you have heard it before but, are you sure you know their weakness and it is your strength. Is it? Maybe thinking you have sized it all up is your weak link?

I have stated before I’m no Nacho Figueras but I am constantly improving my skills through riding outside of polo, learning more about the ten zillion rules we have in the United States Polo Association (USPA) and watching  playbacks from our Go Pro to analyze what I need to work on. What I notice is that as my riding improves I am still not in a rush to join the dusty cloud of ponies with riders all vying for the ball like a pack of dogs with a tennis ball. I am content to play defense and watch it all go down at a safe distance analyzing how each player is handling their opportunities and ready for one of my team mates to back shot the ball back towards our goal or at least away from the fray!

Often even my trusty team mates are so focused on ball ball ball that they are missing the bigger picture of changing the line and getting the ball to the side even…anywhere but in the fray. It is assumed you will shoot towards your goal and when you take it to the sides and out of the middle it takes a second for it to register with the ball followers. Our motto in polo is Man/line/ball although arguably it may be more accurate to say line/man/ball. The point here is ball is not the first priority. Mind the man (staying on your opponent to point of shadowing) and you he will lead you to the ball as you try to ride him off or keep him from said ball. Line means PAY ATTENTION to the actual invisible line the ball makes as it travels across the field or arena. There are very specific rules regarding rights of way and traffic patterns Follow the line and you lower the risk of fouling your way along as well as it will lead you to the ball and in good position to take advantage of making a play on it.

Because I play defense and don’t ride full throttle after every hit some assume (wrongly) that I’m just poking along in the background. I’m not, but I am a-okay with my opponents thinking that!  I am playing smart being in a position to assume control of the ball when it gets shot back out of the crowd. I am often alone back nearer our goal because of being overlooked. Once I am on the line and ball it is unlikely I will let you have it back. I will counter hook, dribble, back shot and nearside shot to keep control all while your team mates are still half way across the field galloping ever nearer.

1383605_10202021229272274_130187807_n So next time in business or life you think you have the sure advantage as you play offense remember somebody out there is playing defense and watching your plays waiting to make their move on your play.


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