Polo is an equestrian team sport consisting of four players per team, with level of play determined by cumulative player handicap (−2 to +10 goals), with a higher handicap denoting a better player. There is minimal literature investigating Polo players’ physical attributes, hence the understanding of the physical characteristics that may contribute to an improved handicap are unknown. This study sought to identify the relationship between pertinent strength measures (left and right hand grip strength; absolute and relative isometric mid-thigh pull) and reaction time in Polo handicap in 19 New Zealand Polo players, and ascertain whether handicap could be predicted by these measures. Correlation coefficients were expressed using R values, accompanying descriptors and 90% confidence intervals (C.I.). Variance explained was expressed via the R2
statistic, and statistical significance set at p
< 0.05. Right hand grip strength, isometric mid-thigh pull values were found to significantly correlate to and explain variance within Polo player handicap (all moderate
< 0.05). Whereas left hand grip strength (R: 0.380; 90% C.I. −0.011 to 0.670) and reaction time (0.020; −0.372 to 0.406) were non-significant, moderate
correlates and predictors of handicap respectively. Practically, these findings highlight the differing roles between rein and mallet hands of Polo players and emphasise the importance of a strong and stable platform when riding and striking the ball. Lack of association with reaction time may be explained in part by higher handicapped Polo players employing a more proactive approach to the game.
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