Me talk pretty one day.
If there is one single thing that makes a polo player better, it’s the ability to work the “off” side well. Being a left-handed fellow, I can often scoot past right-handers pretty readily because of this fact alone.
How-freaking-ev-er – when a player is able to control, move, shoot, and defend the ball on the opposite side at least 50% as well as they can on their dominant side, they are a force to be reckoned with.
I first really became aware of this with Pierre Delamare from DC. Well, not actually, I became aware of it because Horse has a huge fanboy crush on Pierre’s ability to control the non-dominant side, and I couldn’t help but notice his whinnying and stall kicking.
Horse was right to take note, however, as Pierre is remarkably efficient at controlling the ball all around his bike, and that’s probably one of the contributing factors to his success.
And the reason is truly simple: navigating the ball and the play in at least 180 degrees of your position opens you up to all manner of passing and shooting. It simply makes you a more valuable resource, as instead of needing to be on a particular side of the court or in a singular position, you’re able to field passes and recover the ball wherever you are.
Want to start working on this? I have a few suggestions (how surprising, amiright?):
Try shooting the ball on your brakehand side: You’ll miss. You’ll miss a lot. But every once and a while you’ll get that shot off perfectly and feel like a rock star. After a while you’ll be able to do it consistently, and that’s when players will begin to fear you (even more, you tough guy).
Practice “catching” the ball on the brakehand side: get one of your polo BFFs to send you passes on the wrong side. Work on controlling them on that bad side until you can move them to your mallet side. Or, even better, try to see how long you can keep the ball on your brakehand side while still moving up court.
Pass the ball to yourself from left to right: super basic, but super useful for building up the confidence and the foundational skill you need for getting better at complete mallet control on both sides.
So give it a whirl – get better and get cooler. Like, dog in sunglasses with a backwards hat on cool.