We cannot begin to comment on the swing and strike without first going over certain concepts regarding the use of the legs in polo.
When we talk about the legs, we refer to three important aspects in the sport. On one hand, the legs are used as polo aids in order to indicate and direct the horse, as was previously discussed. On the other hand, the legs gain support from the platform (stirrups) so as to perform the swing, and respective shot, accordingly.
Lastly, correct leg positioning can help the player maintain a firm position; this way the torso will be able to find the right balance and remain in a controlled position. Without the balance and control of the torso, the arms and hands would be hard to manage and their use would be inconsistent and ineffective. Through the correct use of legs players will be successful in correctly positioning the horse during different plays and thus successful in striking the ball.
Gripping with the superior part of the leg (from the groin to the knee) is something that has to be consciously executed in order to develop security and mobility as well as a comfortable position on the horse.
The grip, therefore, provides security on the saddle; it makes the players position firmer. It should not be too strong, lest it lead to muscle fatigue. Leg grip is a pressure that we should take as part of the learning process, so as to rely on it in case of emergency. An emergency would consist of every unexpected movement the horse makes that can cause unbalance or a fall. In the future we will also look at lateral movements, known as horse curves, which tend to displace the player due to centrifugal force and force us to realize an opposing force (centripetal) to maintain balance.
Experienced players instinctively know when to increase or decrease grip; this generates an automatic reaction that consists in squeezing adductor muscles and knees in an emergency.
When we ride we should think about how we are using our grip; the real question is do we really know how to do it?
The perfect combination between a good balance and a firm grim is what will lead to independence from the seat and allow the player to move their boy from the hips upwards, mirroring the movements of the horse and unfurling the necessary strikes throughout the game.
Another important aspect related to the stability of the seat is the function of the foot as a balancing aid. We refer to the foot because we use it to push down on the stirrups. For example, if the torso moves forward as it does in the half seat position when increasing the speed of the horse, then the foot should move backwards softly in relation to the inclination of the torso.
There should be, therefore, a perfect muscular coordination between the adductor muscles, knees, the use of the stirrups and the support of the hand on the base of the horse’s neck (tripod).
If the foot does not instantly move with the torso, the player’s balance will be affected and excess strength will have to be used. One of the biggest secrets to improving your polo strike, as we shall see in upcoming articles, has to do with the instability and bad preparation of the platform before the swing.