Everything you need to know about Polocrosse

Please watch this video for more information on Polocrosse and its history

Polocrosse…The Game

As the name itself implies, Polocrosse is a combination of polo, lacrosse and netball. It is played on horseback, each rider using a cane stick, made up of a polo stick shaft to which is attached a squash racquet type head with a loose twisted-thread net, in which the ball is carried. The stick may be of any length, usually from 1.0m to 1.2m overall. The ball is made of thick- skinned sponge rubber, 100mm-103mm in diameter, and weighs 140-155 grams.

Each player is permitted only one horse in each match or tournament, except in the case of injury when a substitute horse can be played. There is no restriction on the height of horses.

Polocrosse…The Team

A team consists of six players, divided into two sections of three who play alternate chukkas of a maximum of eight minutes each, either six or eight chukkas usually comprising a full match. The three players in each section consist of a No. I or “Attack”, a No. 2 or “Centre”, and No. 3 or “Defence”. The total aggregate of goals scored by the two sections in each team constitutes the final score.

Polocrosse…The Field

The playing field is 146.4m long and 55m wide.  The game starts by players lining up in the centre of the field (as shown) waiting for the umpire to throw the ball in.  To score a goal, players must then pick the ball up using a long handled racquet, get it to their goal scoring area and pass it to their number 1 who must throw the ball through the goal posts from outside of the key.  When taking the ball from one area to another it must be passed to another player or bounced over the line. There are of course many other rules but that’s the basics of the game.

Any horse can be used other than a stallion, however generally Australian Stock Horses and thoroughbreds around 15 hands are used. At the top end of the sport, the game requires highly agile horses capable of stopping from high speeds, turning around and accelerating away quickly.  As players are allowed to push opponents, horses do need to be calm around other horses.

Polocrosse…How is it Played?

The No. I is the only player who can score a goal for the team and the No. 1 can only do so whilst in the “Goal-scoring area”. The No. 2 is usually the pivot of the team, can only play in the centre area and the No. 3 is the only player who can defend a goal.

The game is commenced in centre field, the players lining up side by side, one behind the other with the No. 1 or Attack in front, and the ball is thrown in by the umpire, over-arm, above the players’ heads. The game recommences similarly after a goal has been scored. Whenever an attempt at goal fails, the No. 3 or Defence throws the ball back into play from just behind the penalty line, at a point directly in front of the spot where the ball crossed the back line. The umpire should indicate the spot from which the throw is to be taken.

Players pick up the ball from the ground, or catch it, in the net of the racquet, and ride with it or throw it from player to player until the No. I or Attack is in possession of it in the goal scoring area so as to be able to throw a goal. A player cannot carry the ball over the penalty line, but must bounce it on the ground, so that that player does not have possession of it while actually crossing the penalty line. However, a player may throw the ball to another player across the line on the full.

A player carrying the ball in the racquet must carry it on the racquet side, i.e., right-handed players carry it on the off-side of the horse. A player cannot carry it across the horse, but the player can pick up or catch the ball on the non-racquet side provided the player brings the racquet back to the racquet side immediately.

Hitting at an opponent’s racquet, either to dislodge the ball or prevent the opponent gaining possession of it, is allowed in an upward direction only. Hitting down constitutes a foul.

“Riding-off’ is allowed, but crossing, stopping over the ball, or elbowing constitute fouls. The wedging or sandwiching of one player between two players “riding-off” simultaneously constitutes a foul and is dangerous play. The penalty for such fouls is a free throw to the offended side, or if the penalty needs to be more severe a free goal may be awarded.

Children

Competitions are available for almost all ages.  Any player under 16 years may play in the junior competition however some younger players usually under twelve play in the sub-junior competition that is run for under 12s.  This “competition” is social in nature and focuses on participation with all participants usually receiving a small prize.  The youngest known sub-junior was 2 years old.

Horse welfare

We could write lots about horse welfare and the value of a good horse but ultimately it comes down to this; if you cannot treat your horse with respect find another sport!

Costs (dollars and time)

Many polocrosse players will tell you polocrosse is more than sport and that it is a way of life. What ever your perspective, to play polocrosse it’s important you understand what you are up for.  We suggest people interested in playing, contact their nearest club and take advantage of our trial player membership package to keep costs to a minimum.  Additionally, clubs often have spare equipment they can loan interested people so they can try the game before jumping right in.  Like other horse activities you can, to some degree, spend as much or as little as you want.

Each player must be registered and insured under the sports national governing Body, the Polocrosse Association of Australia.   Once registered players can nominate what tournaments (we call them carnivals) they play at.  There is an ambulance levy for each tournament usually around $10 per rider.