|(By Col. Maharaj Prem Singh)
It is perhaps no exaggeration to say that some of the great kings and very successful Generals picked up their key men from this great game Polo. Thousands play Polo, but who are the ones who successfully climb the ladder of success and reach the top? If carefully observed, the characteristics of the really good Polo player come out in broad relief; these may be briefly summarised :-
1. Physical Fitness:
This is no game for the physically weak or soft people. This is one of the reasons why very few of the very rich play Polo, because they are not hard or tough enough, because of the luxurious lives they normally lead.
2. Anticipation and Quick Reflexes:
A player of high calibre will always think of three moves ahead and that is why he is always in a position, without having to waste the energy of his horse uselessly by galloping here and there. Unless a person is gifted with quick reflexes, he cannot go very high in this game.
3. Skill in Riding:
It is essential for a good Polo player to have a very high class horsemanship and also Horse Mastership, in order to produce the best results for the horses. Perfect co-ordination with one's mount is very necessary.
4. Quick Thinking:
Polo being one of the fastest games, situations change very quickly. The solutions have to be thought of, on the spur of the moment. In other words, a very quick appreciation of the situation is a crucial factor for success.
5. Team spirit:
Polo is essentially a team game. Some people are great individually, but do not quite fit in a team and the results are poor.
6. The Best Display Under Pressure:
Some players look great when they are leading by a good margin, but when really challenged, they crack up easily. In contrast, the really good ones will shine and bring out their best under pressure. Some horses too are so gifted.
This no doubt plays a major role. Some players lose their nerve quickly and produce poor results. Those who do not lose their balance against heavy odds, achieve the best results.
8. Demeanour after Defeat:
The manner in which a player reacts after losing a game is an index of his calibre. When a game is lost, very often people lose their temper, get frustrated, blame their team-mates and swear at them with the result that the whole team collapses. The ones who go up in the game and life in general are the ones who learn lessons from their defeats and rectify their defects so as to face the future with confidence, without loss of morale. It is usual that after victory in a game, the players are friendly and affectionate towards each other, but after defeat, they are not even on talking terms! Such teams and players do not go very far.
9. Conduct After Victory:
It is quite interesting to watch how the good players conduct themselves after victory. They do not get intoxicated when others praise them. They do not lose their balance of mind, but try to repeat the same performance and if possible to produce better results next time.
10. Organising Capacity:
As in any other field, this plays a considerable part in contributing to victory.
11. Due Regard for Opponent's Strength:
A good player would never under estimate the opponents, but at the same time, he will never have a defeatist attitude even against the heaviest of odds. He will enter the ground with the fullest determination and will to put up the best fight.