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Performance characteristics of a winning polo team


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Polo is played globally, and is contested by two teams of four players on horseback. Despite popularity, there is little academic literature assessing Polo players, and what constitutes successful Polo performance. One reason for this may be Polo’s unique player rating system, the handicap, which quantifies individuals and teams’ level of play. We sought to characterise the play of a tournament winning high-goal polo team (KPF) using percent and raw differences between teams using a customised matrix, which was designed with input from international polo players. Secondly, we assessed the association between player handicap and success rates of key performance metrics. KPF won five of seven games played, with forehand middle (FHM) being the least variable shot (-4 to 5% success rate), whereas long backhand shots were the most variable (-50 to 45% success rate). Fewer turnovers were conceded than the opposition in all games won, and in four out of the five winning games, more penalties were awarded to KPF than their opponents. At an individual level, FHM was significantly correlated to player handicap (0.562, Large: p<0.05). Player handicap was also moderately correlated with backhand middle (0.33), backhand long (0.361), and ride off (0.362) success rates. Turnovers and penalties awarded confer clear attacking and goal-scoring opportunities. FHM, backhand shots and ability to contest for the ball (ride off) are key performance metrics, positively associated with player handicap, and higher handicap players demonstrate greater success rates and or less variability than those with lower handicaps. However, variability within players of the same handicap is evident, suggesting subjectivity of the handicapping system.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Polo, quantitative analysis, team sport, equestrian, correlation
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance
Depositing User: Russell Best
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2019 00:28
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 08:14

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