How To Prepare your Body for ‘Ride offs’
Ride offs are an essential part of defence in polo.
It’s a bit like preparing for a rugby tackle except on a horse at top speed!
To be an effective defender and ‘ball stealer’, players need to be able to hold and control their bodies in a strong position whilst leaning out of the saddle.
Ride offs are high impact collisions so require the joints and muscles to be strong and resistant. It is also essential that the body recovers quickly post games with little or no injuries.
This is why having a fit and strong body gives the player the advantage. If they have stronger muscles and well supported joints, they are less likely to injure themselves or lose the ride off.
How to prepare your body for action
The main muscle groups used during a ride off are the shoulder, back, core, glutes and legs which together hold the player up out of the saddle in a strong position.
We have chosen some polo-specific functional exercises that can be incorporated in to a training programme to target the muscle groups required.
Resistance exercises to help prepare the body for battle:
Side plank – improves core and oblique strength
Lie on your side and lift yourself up on to your elbow ensuring it is directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips up off the ground until you feel the muscles on the side of your stomach contract. NB. Come down on to your bottom knee if you find the exercise too hard.
Hold for 30 seconds
Fast feet with high knee at end – improves balance and fitness
Start with a high knee action and run sideways quickly between two cones. When you get to the end of the cones finish with one leg up and hold to test your balance.
Move between the cones for 45 seconds.
Horizontal Abduction – strengthens the shoulder muscles
Place a resistance band to a stable base just above head height. Start with a slight bend in the knees and engage your core muscles. With a fully extended arm pull the band from above your opposite shoulder down to your side and hold.
45 seconds per arm
Ski sit – strengthens the lower body muscles
Position yourself with your back to a wall and lower your body down until your knees are bent to 90 degrees. Optional: Hold a weight with two fully extended arms at chest height to strengthen the shoulders.
Hold this position for 1 minute.
Single leg work with shoulder press – Improves balance and core control
Start standing with a light weight in one hand. Raise one leg up behind you and lower your chest and arms at the same time. Keep a slight bend in the stationary leg and squeeze the glute muscles as you come back up to the standing position bringing the moving leg up into a high knee. As you do so raise the arm holding the weight into a shoulder press and hold for 2 seconds.
Continue for 45 seconds on each leg
Repeat 3x per leg
Along with these resistance exercises, an effective activity to help prepare the body for high impact collisions is boxing. Not only does boxing strengthen your upper body and core but also improves cardio fitness. If possible, add 20 minutes of boxing into your training sessions.
You may also want to add in some active pool time to your training regime which allows the body to recover through low impact movements such as swimming or pool walking/running.
To help prepare your body for the next polo season Chukka Wellness have created a 6 Week Pre - Season Exercise Programme.
For more information visit www.chukkawellness.co.uk