An Introduction for Beginners
© 1998 Francis J. Wolfe
78 Little York Road
Warwick, NY 10990
Basics of the Game
Now the fastest growing equestrian sport in the United States, polocrosse has been played in countries around the globe for over fifty years. The sport is a combination of polo and lacrosse and uses the strength of each to provide fun for spectators and competitors of all ages. It is played on horseback, each player having a racquet, which is used to carry the ball which picked off the ground from horseback, carried, bounced and passed across the field. The object is to score the most goals.
The players in each three man section have specific positions and duties. The number of the player indicates their position: #1 Attack, #2 Center, #3 Goalie. The number 1 is the only player who can score goals but must be in the goal scoring area ('the box') to do so. The number 2 can only play in the center of the field and must be equally talented both offensively and defensively. The number 3 is the only player on his section who is allowed in the box to defend. A team is made up of two sections which alternate chukkas (time periods) so that the players and their horses have time to rest. Players must use the same horse for the duration of a tournament.
The field is 160 yards long by 60 yards wide, the goals posts are eight feet apart at either end of the field. The 'box' or goal scoring area is marked by the 'penalty line' which runs the width of the field thirty yards from either end. Whenever the number 1 enters the box or the number 3 leaves the box (i.e.., cross the penalty line) they can not be in possession of the ball. They must either bounce the ball and pick it up once they've crossed the line or pass it across the line to another player. In the box, there is an eleven yard semi-circle around the goal posts. The number 1 must be within the box but more than eleven yards away to score a goal. An easy shot, unless you are galloping down the field with the number 3 breathing down your neck.
At the beginning of the chukka (time period) and after every goal the players lineup side by side, by position so that the umpire can throw the ball into play. The team that does a better job of coming out of the line-up with the ball has a great advantage. The ball can be caught, picked off the ground and carried in the net of the racquet only. Once in possession of the ball, a right-handed player must carry their stick in the right side of their horse (and left-handed player on the left side). The only way to get the ball away from an opponent is to hit their racquet with your own by swinging it upward. Hitting another player's racquet by swinging down is a foul.
Most of the rules in polocrosse are common sense and safety oriented. There are very stringent rules of the road which specify who has right of way when several players are going after a loose ball. The exciting areas of play to watch are the line-up, whenever someone crosses over the penalty line into or out of the box and of course the maneuvering of a player with the ball. The horses must be well balanced and quick to be successful with the fast play of the higher levels.
Polocrosse is the melting pot of the horse world. The American Polocrosse Association can count among its members: English riders (from dressage, hunter/jumper, fox hunting, pony clubbers, and polo players), Western riders (barrel racers, endurance riders) and a few folks with backyard horses waiting for the right thing, polocrosse, to come along. Many people discover that polocrosse is a perfect family sport since it is possible for riders of all ages to find a level of competition that is right for them.
In order to play you should join the APA. This allows you to play in APA recognized tournaments (which all tournaments are). With your dues you will get a copy of the rule book and the quarterly newsletter of the APA. Membership must be renewed every year. If you like the sport then help support its growth by joining. Annual dues are inexpensive when compared to most organizations.