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Open AccessArticle

The Spatiotemporal Characteristics of 0–24-Goal Polo

by Russ Best 1,2,* and Regan Standing 1
1
Centre for Sport Science and Human Performance, Wintec, Hamilton 3288, New Zealand
2
School of Health and Social Care, Teesside University, Middlesbrough TS1 3BX, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(7), 446; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070446
Received: 27 June 2019 / Revised: 10 July 2019 / Accepted: 15 July 2019 / Published: 16 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Horse as an Athlete: Sports Medicine, Rehabilitation and Wellness)
Polo is an equestrian sport that requires two teams of four players to score goals at opposing ends of a 150 m × 275 m pitch. Each player is rated on a handicap system (−2 to +10) that quantifies their abilities and permits their inclusion in different levels of Polo play; the cumulative handicap of the four players sets the level of play. Using GPS technology, we investigated how levels of Polo differ regarding distance covered, speeds achieved and high-intensity activities performed. As cumulative Polo handicap increased, so too did the distances and average speeds attained, decelerations performed and impacts encountered during each period of play. These findings suggest that as each player improves and increases their handicap, they will need to ensure the ponies they play have sufficient aerobic, anaerobic and speed capacities to perform effectively at that level. This information provides valuable insights to Polo players, grooms and equine vets, as to how they can best prepare their ponies for game-day and how they may be able to maintain pony longevity in the sport.
Global positioning systems (GPS) have recently been shown to reliably quantify the spatiotemporal characteristics of Polo, with the physiological demands of Polo play at low- and high-goal levels also investigated. This study aims to describe the spatiotemporal demands of Polo across 0–24 goal levels. A player-worn GPS unit was used to quantify distance, speed and high-intensity activities performed. Data were divided into chukkas and five equine-based speed zones, grouped per cumulative player handicap and assessed using standardized mean differences. Average distance and speed per chukka increased in accordance with cumulative player handicap, with the magnitude of differences being trivial–large and trivial–very large, respectively. Differences between time spent in high-intensity speed zones (zones 4 and 5) show a linear increase in magnitude, when comparing 0 goal Polo to all other levels of play (Small–Very Large; 6–24 goals, respectively). High-intensity activities predominantly shared this trend, displaying trivial–large differences between levels. These findings highlight increased cardiovascular, anaerobic and speed based physiological demands on Polo ponies as playing level increases. Strategies such as high-intensity interval training, maximal speed work and aerobic conditioning may be warranted to facilitate this development and improve pony welfare and performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: Polo; GPS; Pony welfare; Horse; Training; Equine; Equestrian Polo; GPS; Pony welfare; Horse; Training; Equine; Equestrian
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Best, R.; Standing, R. The Spatiotemporal Characteristics of 0–24-Goal Polo. Animals 2019, 9, 446.

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