After a well-earned break during the off season, it is around now that riders will start to ease their horses back into work; taking them on set, changing their feed and maybe even booking in with the farrier and vet for a quick check up.
Calculations will be made and a lot of controlled work will be done to ensure the horses are at peak fitness just as the season starts.
As a polo player would you say you prepare your body and fitness regime in the same way as the high season approaches?
Preparing one’s self for the strenuous sport that is polo should be high on a rider’s priority list. After a much-needed rest from playing polo, the body may have lost condition which means it’s time to wake those ‘polo muscles’ up again.
“Preparation stops you from being caught off guard and lets you physically and mentally prep for the challenges ahead.” – Richard Wilcox, Strength Coach.
To kickstart your pre-season preparations it would be useful to incorporate some form of resistance training and cardio along with mobility work into one’s gym routine. British polo player Emma Boers says, “during the off-season if I am not playing, I focus on doing more gym work and building up my strength, fitness and muscles so that I go into the season as strong and fit as possible.”
An effective training programme would consist of an effective mobility routine. This helps to wake up the muscles and improve range of movement through the joints in order to reduce the risk of injury. A good mobility routine should target each area of the body and consist of lunges with thoracic twists, hip openers, arm swings and back stretches.
To further pre-season preparations riders would benefit from adding in a few functional exercises that simulate the movements of polo; something like a ‘Squat with Ab Twist’, ‘Kneeling on a Swiss Ball’ or even standing on one leg and practicing your swings with a foot mallet. Agustin Arellano (a 3 goaler) told us that he “trains the hardest during the off-season period in order to become stronger before big tournaments begin. I focus on strength and balance and always finish with some yoga moves”.
Nutrition is also an important element to becoming fitter & stronger. Rider’s require consistently high energy levels during tournament days but this doesn’t mean fuelling the body with Redbull and chocolate all day. Aim to supply it with nutrient dense foods needed for muscle repair and a strong immune system. UK based polo player Rebecca Walters ran through what she typically eats “a protein source such as chicken, salad and some carbs like a sweet potato. I eat my main meals in the evening and will otherwise snack lightly through the day on nuts, seeds and other good fat sources.”
Here we can see that Rebecca consumes a mixture of healthy carbohydrates, fats and protein in her diet which is just what is needed for optimum energy levels.
Another top tip is to stay hydrated throughout the day, try starting your day with a litre of filtered water.
To conclude with pre-season preparations try adding in some stretches to the daily routine to help reduce the risk of muscle tightness and improve suppleness. Performing a 10 min cool down routine consisting of static stretches for the inner thighs, glutes, shoulders, neck and back can really help the body to recover quicker.
6 Week Pre-Season Exercise Programme
To help polo players kickstart their pre-season training, Chukka Wellness has done all of the hard work and created a ‘follow along’ 6 Week Exercise Programme.
* Nutritional guidance to help you prepare for the busy season
* Stretching and mobilising routines to reduce muscle soreness
* Strengthening workouts to improve overall muscle tone
* Polo-specific workouts designed using the movement patterns of polo
* A mixture of cardio sessions to improve fitness and overall health
* Stay supple and injury free with easy to follow stretching routines
* Improve stamina and endurance whatever your fitness level may be
* Improve power and effectiveness of your swing
* Increase strength and control in your ride offs
* Quicker recovery rates post play
* Sustain higher energy levels during chukkas
* Quicker reaction times and decision making when on the field
To order your copy of the 6 Week Pre-Season Exercise Programme head to
*Click on Online Programmes
Pre Season Training in Sotogrande
If riders are looking to enjoy some spring sun and enjoy as much polo and fitness as they like…
Chukka Wellness has joined forces with Jamie Le Hardy to offer players bespoke polo pre season getaways in Sotogrande. Whether riders want to come alone or with their team mates, we can create a unique fitness holiday in sunny Soto which includes services such as a private chef, polo lessons with England player Jamie Le Hardy and polo-specific exercise sessions with India.
More information can be found at www.chukkawellness.co.uk