Why Is Polo Played Right Hand Only?

The Game Of Polo Is Right Handed

Approximately 10-12% of the world’s population are left handed. While many left-handed innovations have helped this group in society over the years, there are some activities which simply must be performed with the right hand, no matter one’s hand of dominance. The sport of polo is one of these pursuits.

Left Handed Polo Playing

Playing Polo Right HandedLeft-handed polo playing was initially banned back in the mid-1930s, due to safety reasons. With players often riding head-on towards each other in pursuit of the ball, if a right-handed player were to approach a left-handed player, at the dizzying speeds often reached within the sport, a dangerous head-on collision would be a real risk. Thus the use of the left hand to play the sport was banned, for the safety of both the rider and the horse. Using the right hand only allowed polo to follow the principles of driving a car on a two-way road, with everyone keeping to the same side, and the risk of collisions vastly reduced.

These restrictions were relaxed following World War Two; for almost three decades left-handed play was permitted, due to the scarcity of polo players of any handedness. For polo to survive the sport needed all the players it could get, so left-handed riders were permitted, once more, to play with their dominant arm.

Right Handed Polo Is Safer

However, in 1974 the United States Polo Association (USPA), the official governing body of the sport of polo in the United States, reinstated the ban. At this time the number of polo players had risen, allowing Prince William Left handed polo playerthe sport to concentrate on the safety of those involved once more, reverting to the right-hand only system. In their rulebook today the USPA state: ‘All players shall play with the mallet with their right hand, with the exception of left-handers registered with the USPA prior to January 1, 1974.’

The Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), the governing body for polo in the UK, Ireland and many other countries throughout the world, also include this regulation in their rulebook. They state: ‘The right hand only is to be used to hold the stick to hit the ball or hook another player’s stick.’

Being Left Handed Wont Stop You Being A Good Polo Player

Although this ban does not exclude left-handed players altogether. While playing with the ‘wrong’ hand, as it were, for many left-handed people must be challenging, t

here are a number of those who write with their left but are still able to play polo, rather successfully, using their right. Prince William is perhaps the most royal left-handed polo player, apparently determined to achieve in the game so as not to be outdone by his younger, right-handed, brother. And Brazil-born left-handed professional player Rafael Villela Rosa was on the Guards Polo Club’s winning team at the Guards International Sao Paulo Polo Trophy in 2014.

Watching Polo at Dallas Burston Polo Club

So it might be a little more challenging for a left-hander to excel at polo, but it certainly isn’t impossible!

Whether you are a lefty or not, you can come along to Dallas Burston and experience the game of polo as either a spectator, or better still, have a lesson!  We look forward to welcoming you soon!

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