Learning Polo at The Berkshire
I embarked on my polo-playing journey only a few months ago. I began with general practice riding lessons in Bahrain at the end of March, then I had 3 polo lessons in Florida at the Grand Champions Polo Club, then back to Bahrain for a month doing GP riding and now I just returned from London, where my friend, pro polo player and teacher, Royston Prisk gave me two polo lessons at The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club. So my polo-playing journey so far (although short) has already been quite diverse and who knows what (and where) the future holds for my polo playing adventure.
It is great learning from different pros as every polo player has his or her own style of playing and of teaching. I had my first polo lessons back in April at The Grand Champions with Juan Bollini, he was very attentive and hands on, constantly correcting and guiding me, which was great as I was such a novice and needed all the help and guidance I could get on all levels, both in riding and polo technique.
Roy is much more relaxed in his teaching methods. He would tell me what to do and then leave me to try it out a few times while watching from afar. Then we would regroup and he would tell me his observations and which things I needed to change and how to do it better and little tips and tricks. This was a great approach for these lessons as I was feeling slightly more confident and I felt like I “kinda” knew what I was doing. Also it seemed like I did everything a bit better when Roy wasn’t looking, he could just hear the very distinctive sound of the mallet hitting the ball properly and would shout from far away “Well done Diana!” Making me proud and determined to keep going, especially my back hand was quite on point, apparently I am a natural at that.
When my mallet hit the ground before the ball, or the top of the ball, or missed the ball entirely and I would grunt in disappointment and frustration, Roy was still very encouraging and made me just carry on, practice a turn and try again on the way back. He also told me to control the grunts and shouts of disappointment and not let everyone know that I missed the ball. Point taken, most of the time people can’t really see what is going on out there on the field, so there is no reason to let them know that I missed the ball if they hadn’t noticed.
And then after a bit of practice I managed to hit the ball during canter, which so far is my greatest achievement in my polo-playing experience and brought a huge smile to my face (and a lot of bragging the following days). The quality of that video isn’t very good, so you will just have to take my word for it 😉
For my first lesson with Roy I convinced my friend Clara to join in on the lesson and give polo a go. She was a showjumping star back in her teenage days, so I was excited to see what she thought about polo. Of course, like anyone else who gives polo a try, she absolutely loved it and is already hooked and looking forward to the next time she can swing a mallet.
I am always looking forward to my next polo lesson and it breaks my heart that a month will go by until I am in a polo playing country again and can do another lesson, but at least I can work on my riding skills until then. One of the amazing things about polo to me is that even though I know it will take a long time before I can play properly I also know that I will get there. Every time I get on a horse I feel the difference and improvements. Every time I swing a mallet I feel how my muscles are getting stronger, my body is getting to know the technique and every movement is becoming slightly more natural to me. So yes it will take 10.000 swings, but eventually I will do it in auto-mode and it will feel natural and great, and when the mallet does hit the ball in the sweet spot, oh my, that is just one of the best sounds ever!
I love to hear about other people’s polo-playing experiences, let me know about yours in the comments field below! And if you are curious about how to get started with polo and want a great teacher send me an e-mail and I will get you in touch with Roy (in the UK) or Juan (in the US).