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Indian Polo Association

Rules & Regulations (Field Rules)

  1. Definition of Foul
  2. Dead Ball
  3. Disqualified Horses
  4. Horse Equipment
  5. Equipment for Player
  6. Safety Zone
  7. Start of Play
  8. How a Goal is Scored
  9. Change of Ends
  10. Ball hit over the Backline by Attackers
  11. Ball hit over the Backline by Defenders
  12. Ball hit out
  13. Resuming the Game after an Interval
  14. Broken or Buried Ball
  15. Carrying the Ball
  16. Right of Way
  17. Dangerous Riding
  18. Rough Play
  19. Incorrect Use of Mallet
  20. Loss of Headgear and Equipment Damage
  21. Dismounted Player
  22. Accident/Injury or Disablement
  23. Restarting the Game with the Ball still in play
  24. Umpires' Discretion.


1. Any infraction of the Field Rules constitutes a foul, and the umpire can stop the game. However, the umpire is free not to call the foul if stopping the game or applying the foul or enforcing the foul results in a disadvantage to the team against which the foul was committed. Once the advantage to the fouled team has been given, the umpire cannot blow the whistle for the same foul.


2. The Umpire shall carry a whistle which he will use to stop the game. When he stops the game, the ball shall be considered dead until the game starts again, but the time would only be discounted according to General Rule No. 7 (g)

Note: If a whistle is blown for a foul at approximately the same time as a goal is scored:

i. The goal will be disallowed if the foul was by the attacking side and the foul is confirmed.

ii. The goal will be allowed if the foul was by the attacking side and the foul is over-ruled; or if the foul was by the defending side whether or not the foul is confirmed.


3. (a) Horses that are blind, showing vice or out of proper control will not be permitted to play.

(b) Players must take all reasonable steps to ensure the welfare of their ponies.

(c) Any pony showing blood, whether from the mouth, flanks or any other part, shall be removed from the game.
(d) After the fall of a pony, it shall be trotted up sound and fit to play before the player remounts.
(e) Any pony that is lame shall be removed from the game
(f) No mount shall be played for more than one team in tournaments of handicap 10 goals and over. The penalty for violations of this rule shall disqualify a team to participate in that match regardless of the players knowledge or intent. Unlike many other penalties which an umpire may elect not to exact, the penalty for violation of this rules must be enforced, if a referee, umpire or a member of the committee is notified of or otherwise becomes aware of the violation within 24 hours of the violation having taken place. IPA alone may waive this rule.


4. (a) Side blinders will not be permitted.
(b) Horseshoes with outside rims are not permitted. The rim should be on the inside of the horseshoe. Nails or hooks that stick out are not permitted, but the use of calks, whether permanent or temporary, are allowed as long as they are placed in the heels of the hind shoes. The calks will not exceed two cubic centimeters.
Note: calks are permitted so they can be replaced when they are worn out without having to re-shoe. Temporary calks should be as close as possible to the regular permanent calk. Toe grabs, screws, or frost nails may not be used.
See Explained Note: IV


5. (a) Spurs that are pointed or sharp are not permitted.
(b) No player shall wear buckles or buttons on their boots in such a way that they can damage the equipment of another player or cause injury.
(c) Whips and/or spurs may not be used unnecessarily or excessively
(d) Polo clubs and umpires must ensure that, save for exceptional circumstances, whips are not used to strike ponies on the field of play except when the ball is in play.
(e) Umpires should at least start the game with a penalty 5(b) if a player strikes a pony on the field of play after the umpires have ridden on to the field of play and before the ball is in play.
(f) A player must not strike another player or his pony with his whip.


6. Nobody other than the players and the umpires shall enter the field during the game for any reason. The player who needs a mallet should go to the backline or the sideline to get help that he needs. No one shall enter the field to help him. Nobody should enter the safety zone during the game except for the players, the umpires, the referee, the goal judges and the mallet keepers. In case of injury to a player or a horse only medical/veterinary personnel and horse holders may enter the field.


7. At the beginning of the match, the two teams shall line themselves up in the middle of the field behind the centre line, each side on their respective side of the field. The umpire will throw the ball strongly between the players from a minimum distance of five meters, and the players must stay in place without moving until after the ball has left the umpire’s hand. If a player is on the wrong side of the line up, he may not make a play until he is behind a member of his own team.


8. A goal is scored from play when the ball passes between the goal posts or the imaginary vertical lines produced by the inner surfaces of the goal posts and across and clear of the goal line. A ball on the line is still in play. In case the ball is broken, the larger broken part that passes between the goalposts counts for the score.


9. (a) After each goal, ends will be changed, except, when a goal is scored by the application of Penalty No. 1. Teams will change ends after half time if no goal has been scored. The game will resume at the same respective point on the field before the sides were changed. After scoring a goal, the game will start again in the middle of the field, as established in Field Rule No. 7.Players will be allowed reasonable time to reach the middle of the field at a slow canter to take their positions.
(b) If the umpires inadvertently allow a wrong alignment of the teams, it is their responsibility to correct the error at the end of the period/ chukker, if no goal has been scored.


10. (a) If the ball goes over the backline, hit by a player from the attacking team, the defending team will put the ball back into play from the point where the ball crossed the backline, but at least three and one-half meters from the goalposts or the boards. No member from the attacking team can be closer than 27.45 meters or 30 yards, from the backline until the ball is hit or hit at while the defense can place themselves wherever they please.
(b) A reasonable amount of time will be allowed for the attacking team to find their places on the field, and the ball will be put back into play without undue delay after the umpire has ordered “play”.


11. If the ball is hit over the backline by a player from the defending team, whether directly or after having bounced off his own horse, the boards or the goalposts, Penalty No. 6 will be applied. If before going out, the ball has touched any other player or horse, it will be put back into play according to Field Rule No. 10.


12. (a) For the ball to be considered out of bound, it must completely cross the sidelines or the boards.
(b) If the ball goes out of bounds over the sidelines or the boards, it must be thrown in by the umpire from a point just inside the side boards or 5 M inside the sideline where it went out in an imaginary parallel line to the two lines of the goal and between the two teams lined up on each side of this imaginary line. No player shall be positioned less than five meters from the umpire. The players must remain without moving until after the ball has left the hand of the umpire. A reasonable amount of time will be given for the players to line up.


13. When the game resumes after an interval the ball will be put back into play at the place it would have been if the game had been continued without a time out. This is in accordance with Field Rule No. 9, 10, 12 or 23. If the ball had touched the boards without leaving the field at the end of the prior period, it would be put back into play according to Field Rule No. 12 as if it had passed over the boards. The umpire need not wait for players who are late.


14. If the ball is damaged or buried, the umpire will stop the game and throw in a new ball as described in Field Rule No. 23.
NOTE: If possible, the game should be stopped when the ball is in a neutral position and new ball thrown in.


15. A player shall not carry the ball or hit it with anything except his mallet. He may stop it with any part of his body. If a ball is caught by either a player or his horse in such a way that it cannot be returned to the field immediately, the umpire shall blow his whistle and start the game again at the place where the ball started to be carried.


16. No player shall cross an opposing player who is travelling on the line of the ball, (understanding that the "line of the ball" means the line which the ball has travelled, and its extension), except at a distance where there is no risk of collision or danger to either player involved. If the line of the ball changes unexpectedly, (for example: glancing off a mount), the player who had the Right of Way must be given an opportunity to continue for a safe distance.
a. Two players, having followed the line of the ball, while attempting to ride one another off, have the Right of Way over any single player coming from any direction.
b. The player who follows the line of the ball on off-side of his horse, has the Right of Way over a player attempting to hit or meet the ball on his near-side.
c. A player on the off-side who meets the ball on the exact line of the ball, has the Right of Way over an opposing player following the line of the ball at an angle to the ball, except when he meets two players as in sub-paragraph (a).
d. No player shall cross the line of the ball in front of a player who has possession of the ball except at a distance where there is no possibility of collision or danger to either one of the players. If a player properly enters the line of the ball, another player cannot run into him from behind, but must take the ball on his near-side.
e. When two or more players are following the ball in the general direction the ball is travelling, the player that has the Right of Way is the one who travels at a lesser angle to the line of the ball. In case more than one player has the same angle, the player that has the line of the ball on his off-side has the Right of Way. The same rule applies in the case of players that come to meet the ball.
f. Any player who follows the line of the ball at an angle to its course has the Right of Way over any other player who meets the ball at the same angle.
g. No player shall be considered to have a right to the ball because he was the last one to hit it, if after hitting it, he deviates from the exact direction that the ball has travelled.
h. The right to the ball belongs to the player who hits from his off-side. If a player places himself on the near-side to hit the ball, and in this manner endangers any other player, he loses his right to the ball and must give way to a player who has placed himself in a position where he doesn't represent a danger to either player. (For example: The first player had been hitting the ball from the off-side. If two players are coming from opposite direction to hit the ball, they should hit from the off-side of their horses).
i. If one of several players is following on the line of the ball, and for any reason, the ball suddenly changes direction, creating a new line, the player who has been following the original line has the Right of Way, if he continues on the original line for a short period of time.
j. A player is considered to have entered along the established path that the ball has already travelled as opposed to the projected path that the ball has yet to travel, once the ball is ahead of his stirrup. This is true even if he entered the projected path first and the ball subsequently passes his stirrups. However, he may not slow down to allow the ball to pass his stirrup and pose no risk of collision or danger to other player/s.
k. If the line of the ball is on the near side of both players and they are not riding level, the player nearer the line of the ball must play it on his off-side and allow his opponent a near-side play.
l. A player in possession of the ball on the Right of way with an opponent in a position to attempt a defensive play must not walk or stop. Should the player walk or stop, the umpire must blow the whistle and throw the ball in towards the nearer sideboards or sidelines.


17. No player shall ride dangerously. For example:
a. Bumping at an angle that endangers a player or his horse or bumping a player behind the saddle.
b. Zigzagging in front of another player in such a manner as to force that player to pull up or risk a fall.
c. Riding horse over the legs of another horse risking a fall, etc.
d. Riding an opponent across or into the Right of Way of another player or players at an unsafe distance.
e. Riding towards an opponent in such a manner as to intimidate him or oblige him to change course or miss his stroke even though in reality no foul or cross was committed.
f. Two players from the same team cannot bump an opponent at the same time.
NOTE: While exercising their discretion in determining what is rough riding, umpires will consider the following:
i. Relative speeds of the two mounts. It is very dangerous to bump an opponent if you are not moving at approximately the same speed as he is moving, whether it be slower or faster.
ii. Relative size of the two mounts.
iii. Relative positions of the mounts.
iv. State of exhaustion of the mounts involved.
v. Lack of readiness of an opponent for the bump. Whenever a horse is knocked off balance, whether he falls or not, a dangerous bump has occurred, and the mere fact that some of the dangerous factors listed above were absent does not mean that a foul should not be called.
b. The rules give the umpire the opportunity to call a foul on either the player striking the ball or the opponent riding into the play. If in the opinion of the umpire the player striking the ball started his stroke while clear of an opponents mount, but did in fact hit into the legs of an opponent's mount as a result of the opponent riding into the stroke, then no foul is called on the player hitting the ball. Furthermore, if in the opinion of the umpire, the opponent dangerously rode into the stroke of the player on the ball, the umpire may call a foul on the opponent. By the same standard, if the player on the ball dangerously strikes into the mount of an opponent who was with him when he began his stroke, the striker may be called for a foul.
Two situations where the umpire would usually call a foul on the opponent for riding into the player’s on-going swing are:-
i. Where the opponent endangers his own mount by causing it to be struck by the players mallet and,
ii. Where the opponent endangers a player who is leaning way out making a shot (usually but not necessarily a back shot) by riding up fast from behind at the last minute between the ball and the mount of the player making the shot, causing the player making the shot to be hit from behind by the head of the opponent’s mount. Ordinarily, no foul would be called against the opponent who attempts to legitimately ride off another player on the same side as and at the same time as the player is merely dribbling the ball or for merely spoiling a player’s shot by safely riding him off on that side. Also ordinarily no foul would be called against a player who attempts an under the neck shot at a ball which is under his mount’s neck even though his follow through might extend across the path of the mount of an opponent who had been attempting to ride him off off on the other side when he began his stroke. If, however, his mallet actually strikes the opponent or the opponent’s mount, a foul would usually be called, or, if the ball was in the path of the opponent’s mount, it would be a foul to try to hit it.


18. (a) No payer can seize with his hand or strike or push with his head , hi hand, arm or elbow another player but a player can push with is arm from above the elbow, as long as the elbow is kept close to his side.
(b) No player may physically abuse another player or the player’s own or another player’s pony.
(c) A player deliberately striking another player or another player’s pony with hand, whip or stick shall be ejected from the remainder of the game worth no substitution in accordance with penalty 10 and the incident shall be reported by the umpire to the appropriate disciplinary committee.


19. (a) No player may hook an opponent’s stick, unless he is on the same side of the opponent’s pony as the ball, or in a direct line behind, and his stick is neither over or under the body or across the legs of an opponent’s pony, nor may any player hook or strike at an opponent’s stick unless all of the opponent’s stick is, below the opponent’s shoulder level. The stick may not be hooked or struck unless the opponent is in the act of striking the ball.
Note: The act of striking the ball is defined as the final downward motion of the stick head towards the ball. A preparatory or upward swing of the stick is not included in the act of striking the ball.
(b) No player may reach immediately over and across or under and across any part of an opponent’s pony to strike at the ball, nor may he hit into or amongst the legs of an opponent’s pony.
(c) No player may intentionally strike another player or his pony or another player’s pony with his polo stick.
(d) No player may use his stick dangerously, or hold it in such a way as to interfere with another player or his pony such as : -
i. Taking the full swing at the ball from the throw-in or in a melee in such a way as to endanger other players or ponies.
ii. Striking at the ball in the air in such a way as to endanger other players or ponies.
iii. Taking a full swing under a pony’s neck in such a way as to endanger another player or pony riding alongside.
iv. Striking an opponent’s stick in such a way as he may cause injury to that player or his pony.
v. Striking the ball after the whistle.
vi. “Windmilling” or “helicoptering”.


20. (a) If a player loses his headgear the umpire shall stop the game as soon as an opportunity occurs that favours neither team
(b) In the event of broken tack or equipment:-
i. The game shall be stopped immediately if the breakage presents a risk to player or pony such as:-
a. Broken girth.
b. Broken martingale
c. Broken rein, if single
d. Broken or loose bit.
e. Loose bandages or boots.
ii. The game should not be stopped immediately, but as soon as an opportunity occurs that favours neither team for breakage of a non-dangerous nature such as:-
a. Lost or broken stirrup leather or iron.
b. Lost or broken curb chain.
c. Lost bandages or boots.
iii. When time is given for lost or broken equipment, the player may return on another pony.


21. No dismounted player can hit the ball or intervene in the game.


22. (a) If a horse falls, or a horse or player is injured, or in the case of damage to the equipment of a horse, which in the opinion of the umpire can be of significant danger to the player or other players, the umpire can stop the game. What constitutes a fall is left up to the judgment of the umpire.
(b) If a player falls off a horse, the umpire need not stop the game unless he feels the player is injured or is endangered.
(c) When a game has been stopped according to (a) above, the umpire will resume the game in the manner described in Field Rule 23. immediately when the player is ready to go back into the game. The umpire need not wait for any other player who is not ready to start.
(d) If a player is injured, he will be given 15 minutes to recuperate. If the injured player cannot play after 15 minutes, the umpire will start the game with a substitute in his place. However, if the injured player eventually recovers, he can go back into the game to replace the substitute with the permission of the umpire when the ball is dead.
(e) If a player be disabled by a foul so that he is unable to continue, Penalty 10(a) may be exacted, or the side which has been fouled shall have the option of playing a substitute. Penalty 1, 2 or 3 shall be exacted in any case.


23. If for any reason, the game has to be stopped and the ball has not gone out of bounds, it will be started again in the following manner; The umpire shall stand at the point where the ball was when he blew his whistle and face the closest lateral line but at least 20 meters from the boards or sideline. The two teams will take their positions on opposite sides of the imaginary line parallel to the goal. No player shall be closer than five yards to the umpire. The umpire will throw the ball strongly between the teams towards the closest sideline. The players must remain stationary until the ball has left the umpire's hand.


24. If during a match, there is an incident or an issue that is not covered by these rules, such an issue shall be decided by the umpire or umpires. If the umpires cannot reach a decision, the decision will be left to the referee. There are varying degrees of dangerous play, or play which does not conform to the rules which gives the advantage to the team that attempts to abuse the rules. The umpires in their judgment must control these situations. When more than one foul is committed, the penalty to be applied is left to the discretion of the umpires and will be submitted to the referee only in cases where the umpires are not in agreement as to the severity of the penalty.

Rules & Regs

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