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How Hard is Polo to Play? A Look at the Demands of the Sport

Last updated: May 3, 2023

By: Miles HenryFact Checked

Polo is a fast-paced and strategic game, with players often having to manage their horses as they try to chase after and hit a ball. It must be a challenging game to play with all that’s going on at once, but I’m amazed by how easy these riders make this demanding sport seem. So is polo really a hard game to play?

Polo is hard to play; it is an equestrian sport that requires horsemanship skills, strategy, and teamwork. The game is played on a large grass field with two teams of four players who ride horses while using long-handled mallets to hit a ball across the field.

Polo is a team sport that dates back thousands of years, and many individuals love the game for the complexities within the game. Some argue that it is a game that is easy to learn, while others think of the game to be a challenging one with many risk factors. So, who’s right? Let’s find out!

Picture of polo players during a match,

Polo Is Considered One of the Hardest Sports to Play.

It isn’t easy to play any sport at a high level, but some require more work than others. Polo has been noted as one of the most challenging sports to become proficient in because of how strenuous it can be, and its played while riding a horse.

Polo is difficult because you have to have total control of the horse below you, using your left hand while holding and controlling the mallet with your right hand making sure to have the right amount of force when swinging it.

What makes Polo troubling for some is that you rely on an animal for movement around the field while multitasking with both of your hands, versus other sports where you are in complete control of your body movements.

For those individuals who don’t know what the game entails, two teams compete on a field that typically is on a 300 by 160-yard grass field if played outdoors or on a 300 by 150-foot dirt arena when played indoors.

For outdoor Polo, the team consists of four mounted players and three mounted players if they’re playing indoor Polo. Both teams consist of attackers and defenders, but every player can switch positions when necessary.

They score points by driving the ball between their opposing team’s goal with a bamboo mallet, all while riding their equestrian partner and maintaining balance as they multitask with both hands during the whole game.

The winners are determined by whichever team has the highest score within the 4th to 6th chukkers, otherwise known as periods. If both sides are in a tie in the final chukker, the game will go into overtime.

While it may look effortless to play this sport, you have to work as a unit with your teammates and have a certain degree of coordination between you and your Horse.

Learning to Play Polo Takes Time.

Every individual’s level of experience will vary, so the amount of time it takes for you to learn how to play Polo depends on each individual and their riding abilities, followed by their hand-eye coordination skills.

The recommended amount of lessons is typically two hours a week and at least six classes before deciding to join a team. The great thing is that you don’t need to be an expert in riding Horses to get started. You learn how to play Polo and ride your soon-to-be equestrian partner at the same time.

You can get started by researching Polo schools near your area and signing up for their classes. You should wear jeans, a comfortable shirt, and some riding boots if you own any for the lessons. Riding helmets are mandatory for the classes, so they usually will provide one for you if you don’t own one.

In these classes, you will learn all of the fundamentals and rules of Polo, understand the essentials of hitting, and the basic rules of the game. Some schools provide all the materials needed, including the Horses, so make sure to do your research before considering which school is right for you.

Polo Is Physically Demanding.

Polo is a great sport to enhance your life and maintain an active lifestyle. Although being an excellent sport to play, it is very physically demanding for those who partake in the game. It works out a wide variety of your muscles, including some muscles that don’t get worked out in other exercises.

Polo requires extreme dedication and the ability to handle different horses during gameplay, which takes more than just physical prowess. Asides from the physical aspect of the game, Polo is also mentally stimulating as it combines tactics with physical labor, making the players focus on strategizing all of their movements.

It’s a challenging sport requiring commitment, determination, quick thinking abilities, and courage as they rely on their horses to get around the fields, catching speeds up to 30 mph. This sport requires the players to have their minds sharp for sudden turns and movements and have total focus during the game. That said, it demands both sides of the teams to be fit and healthy to succeed in their game.

Picture of polo players and their equipment,

What Age Can You Start Playing Polo?

One of the beautiful things about polo is that there is no age limit to play! You can start as soon as you can ride a horse sufficiently and all the up to eighty years of age. As long as you lead a healthy lifestyle and are active, you can learn how to play!

Polo is a sport that any individual can enjoy at any age, just as long as they commit hours of practice to learn how to gain control of their equestrian bud and their mallets. It can roughly take an individual about six years to successfully learn how to control the Horse while hitting the ball.

As for your muscles, it can take them anywhere from six to seven months to train and shape the right muscles to achieve balance. I wrote an article all about the health benefit of playing polo I encourage you to read it, it will motivate you to join the action.

The classes are divided by age groups, starting with the younger beginner groups to the adult lessons for those starting the game out later in life. And, you’re not required to be a professional in horse riding or have any experience in the actual sport to participate, so it makes it accessible for anyone interested in the sport to sign up and start their training.

These lessons will teach you how to successfully perform the four different swings while learning how to hold the mallets properly. Even if you have dabbled in the sport and feel confident in your multitasking skills, I recommend taking at least two to three lessons. A refresher is always a great idea for those with some experience.

How Much Does It Cost to Play Polo?

While the game has become a popular sport to many, playing Polo can be pretty expensive. It is known to be a rich man’s sport, although some have tried to simplify it to make it more affordable for everyone.

One of the main reasons this sport is so pricey is that since most polo enthusiasts don’t know how to ride horses, they require lessons to learn how to ride them, which are generally expensive.

Roughly, it costs around $5,000 per month for regular care for the horses, and you can expect tournaments to run from $3,500 to $150,000 each, making this sport an expensive one.

That noted, what makes this sport so expensive? You have to consider the amount that goes into purchasing elite horses; the traveling costs for tournaments, and the overall maintenance of the horses.

Medical expenses play a significant role in the price as this is always needed since there always tends to be a high rate of injuries that result in vet care and hospitalization.

In many cases, typically, four horses are purchased per player so each one can substitute their tired Horses during a game. In addition to that, part of the expenses includes regular exercises that generally require two groomers, which can cost around $2,500 each month.

These expenses may differ from individual to individual as each player will spend a certain amount of
money depending on how devoted they are to the sport.

If you’re contemplating whether or not this sport is for you, I suggest signing up for at least one lesson to determine if you spark an interest in the sport. These lessons are great to ask the experts any questions or concerns you may have and are a fantastic way to gain some knowledge and shed some light for those who are starting.

Some schools offer “grassroots” programs that provide affordable lessons, which cost around $400 to $500 per season, which is noticeably less expensive than the standard programs. Although not every membership offers this type of program, it’s best to find a school that best suits you to get the training you need.


Is Polo only for the rich?

Polo is the most expensive sport in the world, but it’s not just for rich people. It definitely isn’t cheap; polo requires a lot of equipment, such as horses, polo balls, mallets, clothing, and more. Plus, the upkeep of a horse can cost thousands of dollars per month.
But even if you’re not rich, there are ways to get in on this game.

Are polo horses expensive?

Well-trained polo horses are expensive, with prices ranging from $5,000 to as much as $200,000 depending on their training, pedigree, and skills which makes them worth so much; however, if this may seem like too big of a commitment, maybe leasing will work better for your needs!


Summing it all up, Polo is a beautiful sport to get involved in, and it’s a fun way to bond with all of your family and loved ones, no matter what age they are. Whether you’re an Equestrian lover or this sparked some curiosity in your mind to learn more about this sport, you should do your research to see if this is something you would enjoy doing.

So, whether you’re looking to play professionally or play it as a hobby, definitely take your time
to call around various schools as the costs and expenses may vary within each school.