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Rules & Regs ---> IPA Polo Rules ---> General Rules

Indian Polo Association

Rules & Regulations (General Rules)

  1. Height of Horses
  2. Size of the Ground
  3. Size of the Ball
  4. Player Requirement(including substitution)
  5. Umpires and other Officials Protests
  6. Time Keeper and Scorer
  7. How a Game is won
  8. Polo Headgear
  9. Confusing Colours
  10. Round Robins

1. The game can be played on horses of any height.


2. (a) The dimensions of the playing field are as follows :-

Length - Maximum 275 meters; minimum 230 meters.

Width - Maximum 180 meters if unboarded, and 146 meters if boarded.

In addition, the field shall also have a strip of land approximately 10 meters wide along each of the side line and approximately 30 meters wide behind each back-line. These strips of free land along with the playing field will together constitute the safety zone and incidents that occur in the safety zone shall be treated as though occuring on the playing field.

(b) The width of the goals is 7.30 meters.

(c) The goal posts will be cylindrical in shape, at least 3 meters high and will be sufficiently light and fragile so that they may break on collision.

d) The Side boards will not exceed 0.27 meters in height.

3. The size of the ball will be 78 to 90 millimeters in diameter, and its weight may vary between the limits of 120 and 135 gms for plastic balls and 150 gms for bamboo balls.


4. (a) Number of players will be four per team in all games.

(b) No left-handed players are permitted.

(c) No player with dues outstanding to I.P.A can play.

(d) No player other than a playing member or a temporary playing member of IPA (in case of visiting foreign players) may play in any tournament conducted under the aegis of IPA.

(e) No individual shall participate as a player or official in any game, if under the influence of drugs, alcohol or any other substance, which may pair the ability to function. A player participating in any game under these rules consents, as a condition of participation, to blood, urine or other tests deemed appropriate by the host organisation.


a. Substitution in any situation can be done only with the approval of the Tournament Committee

b. In handicap tournaments under no circumstance will a team be permitted a substitution which will bring the team’s handicap either, below or above the laid down limits of that tournament

c. Under no circumstance can a team which is yet to start it’s first match of that tournament begin with a “losing player substitute”

d. No player can act as substitute for more than one team in the same tournament.

e. It shall be the responsibility of the team seeking a substitute to mount him.

f. A “losing player substitute” can not automatically play the next round match in the same tournament, unless the tournament Committee is satisfied that no “eligible substitute” (see definition below) is available

g. Teams are not permitted to change players once the draw has been made.

h. A team will not be allowed more than two losing players as substitutes.

i. In matches with an international flavour, the captain of the opposite side agrees

j. The handicap of players/substitutes will be computed as under: -

a. Substitution before the game. The handicap of the substitute will be used in computing the total handicap of the team.

b. Substitution during a game. The handicap of the player having higher handicap shall be used in computing the team’s total handicap irrespective of the period of substitution.

4. A. 2. Need For Substitution:

Non availability of a player already entered for that team or inability of a player to continue during a match on a account of injury.

4. A. 3. Time of substitution

a. Before the start of a team’s first game in that tournament.

b. Before the start of the same team’s next game in that tournament.

c. During play on account of injury. For any other reason to be determined by the umpires.

4. A. 4. Definition of a substitute

a. “Eligible substitute” i.e., a player who has not played in that tournament up to the moment of substitution and meets the handicap requirements pertaining to that substitution.

b. “Losing Player Substitute” A player who has already played and lost in that tournament shall be allowed as a substitute only in exceptional cases provided: -

i. The Tournament Committee is satisfied about the bonafide need for a substitute

ii. A suitable player is not available as substitute. A player would be considered suitable if his handicap is not more than one goal less than the player being substituted.

iii. The handicap of the “losing player substitute” will not be higher than the player being substituted.

4. A. 5. Implementation of the Substitution Role

a. Before a team’s first game of the tournament. Any eligible substitute, subject to handicap limitations of the limitations of the tournament for the team. Under no circumstance can a losing player be permitted to substitute.

b. Before the start of a team’s next game in that tournament

i. “Eligible Substitute” No restriction as long as team remains qualified

ii. “Losing player substitute”. If no eligible player is available, a losing player may be taken provided the handicap of the losing player is not higher than that of the player being substituted.

c. Substitution after start of a game

i. Any “eligible substitute” By his substitution the team remains qualified i.e., (lower and upper handicap limit of that tournament). The handicap of the higher player will count.

ii. Losing Player Substitute. Only if an eligible substitute is not available, a losing player may be taken, provided the losing player’s handicap is not higher than that of the player being substituted, though it can be a maximum of 1 goal below. The substitute to play off the higher handicap.


A member of a team substituted before the start of a game may join his team not later than the start of the second chukker. However, if the handicap of the substitute lining up at the start of the first chukker is lower than that of the original member, the goal advantage will be reversed in favour of the opposing team. If the substitute's handicap is higher, the original member to play off the higher handicap. A player substituted during the game may retake his place at any time. A team whose bonafides for a substitute having been established is unable to find a substitute who qualifies, may be permitted to play with one player short.

4. A. 6. Penalty for violation of the Substitution Rules

Disqualification of the team. Exception to the above rules may be permitted by the Tournament Committee in the case of exhibition games. In the case of an international tournament substitution as well as other rules will be as agreed between the competing countries’ teams.

In all official tournaments, if – after 15 minutes – a team fails to show up, it shall lose its match; and if neither one of the teams show up during that time period both the teams will eliminated from the tournament, if it is a tournament by elimination. The organising authorities of the tournament or the Umpires who are acting for them, can waive the penalty just mentioned for a team, or both teams, in case the cause for lateness is justified.

5. (a) Matches will be officiated by two mounted Umpires. There will be a Referee assigned who will remain outside of the field. When the two Umpires do not agree, the decision of the Referee shall be final.

(b) In all matches, Goal Judges shall be appointed, each of whom will inform the Umpires regarding goals or other incidents that occur near their goals; however, the final decision will be made by the Umpires.

(c) The authority cited above will be named by the organizing committee of the tournament or match and cannot be rejected.

(d) The host club will appoint a Tournament committee, which will consist of three or more members of the Club’s Polo Committee. The quorum for a Committee decision shall be two; the host club should ensure that at least two Committee Members are present at each Tournament match. If more members happen to be present, all members will be consulted. The Umpire/Referee will have the freedom of appeal to the Committee on any point on which he feels he cannot adjudicate.

(e) No player can dispute an infraction called by an Umpire or Umpires.

(f) The umpires’ authority begins when the umpires take to the field and ends when they leave the field and it shall include recommending top the IPA, suspension of a player whose conduct is not in the best interest of the sport. The Umpire shall have the power to impose a fine (the amount not to exceed Rs. 500/-) payable to he IPA on any team or member of a team failing to appear within a reasonable time of the scheduled starting time of the game or for any misconduct on the field such as a disrespectful attitude towards the Umpire or other players, or for a violation of the Rules during the progress of a game, and shall report the same in writing to the appropriate IPA officials for enforcement. All issues that are disputed can be submitted by the captains of the teams in writing within 6 hours of the end of the match to the organising committee of the tournament or match and its decision will be final.

(g) Protests about the decisions of/or manner in which, the Committee and/or officials conduct an event will be considered by the IPA from any aggrieved member of a team, its coach, or its sponsor, if such a protest has been lodged with the IPA in writing within 6 hours of the conclusion of the event in question and copies may be mailed at the same time to the Committee, the officials and the Zonal steward. The latter shall forthwith make an investigation of the alleged charges and report his findings to the IPA. After consideration of the protest the IPA shall make a disposition of the case and notify all concerned parties of its decision.

(h) Normally the referee adjudicates only when the umpires disagree on a issue and chose to consult him. However, in exceptional cases, if the referee observes that the umpires are overlooking a mandatory rule due to an oversight, he may call the umpires and advise them on the same.

6. All games and matches will have a designated official timekeeper and a scorekeeper.


7. (a) Each period/chukker of the game will comprise of seven minutes. Without subtracting any time played over that . The maximum duration of a match will be six chukkers/periods. The intervals between each period/chukker will be three minutes. The interval at half time shall be five minutes.

(b) In matches of maximum length (six chukkers) played with handicaps, the team with the greater handicap will give to the team with lower handicap the total number of goals that make up the difference between the handicaps of the two teams. Goals scored under penalties and by handicap shall count as goals scored. The number of goals awarded by handicap is determined by finding the difference between the total of the handicaps assigned by the IPA to the players of one team and the total of the handicaps assigned by the IPA to the players of the other team and multiplying one sixth of that difference, times the number of chukkers (excluding overtime chukkers) in the game in question. All fractions shall be counted as half a goal. Whether or not a game shall be played on a handicap basis shall be determined by the committee. All errors regarding handicaps or the concession of goals should be brought up and discussed before the beginning of the match, since no claims will be admitted later, except for observation made to the referee of the match regarding any doubts to be resolved once the match is over.

(c) with the exception of the intervals cited above, the game should be continuous and no time shall be deducted or allowed for the change of horses during a period, except as it is called for in Field Rule No. 22.

(d) All periods/chukkers, except for the last one, will end after the established time has elapsed, as soon as the ball goes out of the game, hits the side board; is whistled dead, or thirty seconds have elapsed since the bell has rung or the bugle sounded, at which time a second bell will be rung or bugle blown and the period/chukker will end.

(e) A bell shall be rung or bugle blown to let the Umpires know that the time for the period/chukker has ended. After that, when the ball goes out of the field or touches the sidelines, the Umpire shall blow the whistle to end the period/chukker. The game shall continue until the Umpire blows the whistle to end the period /chukker. The game shall continue until the Umpire blows the whistle, except as noted for the last period/chukker in Rule 7(h). If desired, one can use a gun, horn, or any other signal instead of a bell.

(f) If there is an infraction called after the bell has rung or bugle blown, the Umpire’s whistle will end the period/chukker, and the penalty will be carried out in the next period/chukker, in which case the penalty shall be taken immediately, and the period/chukker will continue under the conditions laid down in 7(d) except that the clock will allow balance period or five seconds which ever is more


g. The game can be stopped in two ways:-

i. FIRST: When The Time Shall Not Count. That is when the clock can be stopped. To indicate this, the Umpire will give one hard whistle to the time keeper. This is used to indicate fouls, for Penalty No.7 and for cases such as Field Rule No. 11, 14, 20 and 22.

ii. SECOND: When The Clock Is Not Stopped, Even Though The Game Is Stopped. This occurs when the ball goes out of the field, crosses over the goal-line or over the boards, the sidelines or the backlines except if it is sent over the backlines by a defender. As a general rule, the game will stop automatically, although the clock continues; that is to say the ball will be hit or thrown back into the field after it crosses the backline or the sideline.


h. The final period/chukker will end with the first sound of the final bell/note of the bugle, regardless of where the ball is in the game, except in the case of a tie. In the case of a tie, the final period/chukker will be extended under the conditions of 7(d). If there is still a tie, in that case, after a five minute interval, the game will start again where the ball was whistled dead. For the first extra chukker the goals shall not be widened. If the game goes to a second extra chukker, the goals shall be widened to 16 yards (14.6 meters). The first team to score in the extra chukker(s) wins the game.

i. In the case of a penalty taking place in the last twenty seconds of the match, if the score is tied (or can be tied) the timekeeper, before sounding the final bell or getting the bugle blown will give a total of twenty seconds to the game which will be counted from the moment the ball is hit or hit at. If a goal is scored after the ball is put into play, the final bell should ring or bugle blown and the normal period/chukker would be ended. The match should end as always with the first sound of the final bell or first note of the bugle.

j. Once a match has begun, it should be played until the end, except when stopped by the umpires for some unavoidable cause that prohibits finishing the game the same day, such as bad light or inclement weather. In such a case, the game will be rescheduled at the first favourable opportunity; to be decided by the organising committee of the tournament and the game shall be resumed at the same point as it was when it was interrupted i.e. the same score, the same period/chukker of game, the position of the ball and the time lapsed before the game was interrupted will be deducted from the continued chukker.


8. The team that makes most goals will win the game. Goals may be awarded by handicap, penalty or Rule 7(b) or may be scored from play.

9. No one shall be permitted to play without a polo helmet equipped with a chin strap or a pagri so secured that it does not fall off.


10. If, in the opinion of the organizing committee, the colours of two competing teams are so similar that they can create confusion, the team lower in the draw of the tournament will play with another colour (in case both are visiting/home teams). In case one of the teams is of the home club, then the home team will change its colours.


11. (a) A Round Robin shall consist of three games of two or more chukkers amongst three teams. Each game to end after the first bugle/bell of the last chukker.
(b) Each team shall play two games, playing each team for one game.

(c) Which two teams play in the first game shall be decided by lot before its start. The second game shall be between the loser of the first game and the team that idled in the first game. Should, however, the first game result in a tie, the team to compete against the team that idled in the first game shall be decided by a lot. The third game shall be between the team that idled in the first game and the team that idled in the second game.

(d) The winner of the event shall be the team with the best won-lost record. A tie between two teams in any one game shall be counted as a draw for each. If two or three teams have an equal won-lost record, the winner shall be that with the largest number of net goals (i.e. the sum of its winning margins minus the sum of its losing margins). In the event there still exists a tie between two or three teams, then the team scoring the maximum number of goals shall be the winner. If a tie still results then the team having the minimum goals scored against it will be the winner. If a deadlock still exists the winner will be decided by the toss of a coin.

Rules & Regs

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