“Chukka” derives from the Indian word for round. There can be between four and eight chukkas in a polo match each lasting 7 minutes, plus up to 30 seconds and overtime. If during overtime, the ball hits the sideboards or goes out of bounds, or of the umpire blows his whistle, the chukka is over. There is a three-minute break between each chukka, with a five-minute break at half-time.
A player returns to start each chukka on a fresh pony, although he may rest one for a chukka or two, and then play it again.
A polo stick is also known as a mallet. The shaft is made from bamboo shoot and the head from a hardwood such as maple. The stick may vary in length from 49 to 53 inches, depending on the height of the pony.
There are four players on the team. The forwards are numbered 1 and 2, and are mainly concerned with scoring. No 3 is a mid-fielder, who assist the scorers, aids in defence, and is often the most experienced member of the team. Number 4 is the back and responsible for defence.
A player may spoil another’s shot by putting his stick in the way of the striking player’s attempt at hitting the ball.
A goal is scored any time the ball crosses the line between the goal posts. In order to equalise wind, sun, and any other weather or ground conditions, the teams change ends after every goal scored.
A ride-off occurs when two players make contact and attempt to push each other off the line of play, in order to prevent another player getting access to the ball.
A ritual as old as the game itself. At half-time spectators are encouraged to stretch their legs by walking the pitch and “treading-in” divots thrown up by the 32 galloping hooves. Not only does it help the players by restoring the playing surface, but aficionados of the game will confirm it does wonders for the circulation and social chit-chat.
Players are handicapped to ensure an even balance between the teams. As opposed the golf, where the lower the handicap, the better the player, polo players are rated individually from -2 for novices to a maximum of +10 for the best players in the world. The total handicap he four players is the Team Handicap. In an open handicapped match, there is no consideration for Team Handicap differentials. In handicapped games, the side with the deficit is given the difference as goals, and this is shown on the scoreboard at the beginning of the game. The deficit is often shown as a _ goal. Calculation: (Goal differential between the two teams) / 6 x (# of chukkas to be played)
Polo ponies are not actually ponies but horses. The term comes about because of the height restriction is in the 1880s, Apollo ponies are not be over 13.3 hands (55 inches). The players looked very silly with their legs riding along the ground, so the Americans decided to ignore this role and rode horses which were much faster than ponies. After the Americans soundly beat the English, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA), the governing body of the sport, followed suit. To this day however polo horses are still known as ponies.