Polo players are becoming more aware of the need for overall fitness and physical strength required in their training off the field. More and more players are turning to polo specific exercise training and nutrition in order to reach their peak polo athletic performance.
To be the best you have to look after your body; how you feed it, exercise it and recover it all contribute to marginal gains in order to be the best.
Top polo player Adolfo Cambiaso credits his health and wellness as key elements to his success “ I have to look after myself. I go to the gym every day; I have physio every day”.
It’s not only top polo players that reap rewards from incorporating overall wellness into their training schedule. The likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Frankie Dettori and Tiger Woods have all been at the top of their game through staying disciplined with their nutrition, strength and recovery.
As it is evidential that these professional sportsmen have continuously stayed at the top of their game crediting health and fitness as main factors has meant the desire for a disciplined fitness regime has become increasingly popular in medium and low goal players.
In polo the main focus should be on the biomechanics of polo specific movement patterns. Training the dominant muscle groups used in ride offs, swings and overall play off the field will of course transfer into play on the field. Combining this with a good recovery routine and nutrition will be sure to contribute to a higher handicap.
It all starts with mobility and improving the range of motion in your movements.
It is pointless to strengthen your body with incorrect body biomechanics. This is what causes long-term aches and pains and can lead to a premature exit of the sport.
Start by analysing your movements to identify any biomechanical issues and muscle weaknesses. Then focus on correcting these through mobilisation and stretching before re-engaging the muscles in the newly corrected position.
I recommend starting every training session with a dynamic mobility warm up to open up joints and loosen off any tight muscles.
VISIT OUR FLEXIBILITY AREA IN THE HUB FOR ACCESS TO MOBILITY ROUTINES AND STRETCHES
Once the muscles are well warmed up and fully mobilised, it is useful to activate the muscle groups through low impact exercises. If certain muscles aren’t fired up, the rest of the body tends to over-compensate leading to less stability and control in the body and potential injury longterm. Start with the dominant muscle groups used in polo such as the core, shoulders and posterior chain muscles.
Oblique Twists – why? This slow and controlled core exercise wakes up all angles of the abdominals. Core control is obviously a big element when the rider is in the saddle such as when they are standing up out of the saddle, when they twist to prepare for a swing and during ride offs.
Single Leg Aeroplane – why? The posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, backs, calf muscles) is a very dominant muscle group in riding. The single leg movement is a simple but effective exercise to activate these muscles. It is a great compound movement that also requires the core and balance elements in order to perform the exercise correctly and safely. By getting those glutes and leg muscles firing, the rider gains more control in the standing position in the saddle.
Squats – why? The squat is a great compound movement that works the lower body, core and upper body stability. This can be adapted into an explosive movement (jump squats) to help fire the lower body muscles required for standing up out of the saddle. It’s a good exercise to incorporate into a warm up as it raises the heart rate and improves blood flow to the muscles. The squat is a complex exercise which the majority of people will perform incorrectly. I recommend taking the time to practice the perfect squat (for your own individual biomechanics) before adding weight.
Banded Rows - why? Rows can be quite a boring exercise to perform regularly so if you have access to a steel practice horse then try a few rows in the seated and standing position by tying your resistance band to the steel horses head or legs. This turns the movement into a useful compound exercise which not only activates the back and shoulders but the core and lower body too.
Meet India, founder of Chukka Wellness; a company dedicated to helping polo players become fitter and stronger athletes through the use of their main 3 elements…