A Quechua Pt. 3
The Perfect Swing
Cacho Merlos | Raphael de Oliveira | Dr. Uwe Seebacher
USP Publishing Bomhardstrasse 6b 82031 Grünwald, Germany, Europe
IBSN: 3-937461-46-9 USP Publishing 2011. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
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It's that time again. We have used the summer to work at the world's only polo book series continues. In addition, the comprehensive A Quechua - World of Polo Portal gone under www.aquechua.com online. The various sub-pages always provide updated information on courses, for example, tournaments but also A Quechua Locations where worked for the A Quechua quality standards and teaching / training content, training and is played. In addition, with www.poloaustria.com there is a new online portal for all our Austrian poloclubs and -schools. the sub-page with polo courses is directely linked to our online shop www.myaquechua.com, where you can book your polo course and buy polo- and equestrian equipment as well as fashion, books and accessoires.
In fact, has the chance of this new band "The perfect swing" played a decisive role. Last February, the A Quechua team together with Carlos Weygang - in the last years probably one of the most renowned and experienced photographers in the Polo range in the Asociacion Argentina de Polo (AAP) in Buenos Aires - was invited to discuss generally about the concept and the development of polo exchange and new projects.
As part of these discussions we could get in contact with probably one of the most interesting and important men in polo : Cacho Merlos. Cacho was very impressed by the A Quechua books. Juan Sauro, press officer of the AAP and Carlos Weygang were immediately enthusiastic about the idea to create the next part of our book series about the technique of the perfect swing togheter with Cacho Merlos. "Cacho is one of the best coaches and technicians in the Asociacion", stated Juan Sauro, pictured second from left.
It did not take long and we had agreed with Cacho the structure for this new band. This volume is based on the perfect Polo Connection. Because the "equilibrium" is the basis for everything, as it also emphasizes Cacho again. It is the ability to interactively engage with the horse and be able to execute the perfect swing on this basis. The band again delivers comprehensive background information to understand first of all an optimal swing movement and on this basis, how to perfectly swing whilst sitting on the polo pony. We have also designed some new exercises and training methods to enable an even more focused work on the momentum of the swing. There may occur exercises you already know - that may be because the knowledge of experts and professionals working with A Quechua is very unique knowledge and parts of those tips may be spread mouth by mouth during the years. It is crucial that we again and again strive to prepare this knowledge as consistent as possible within the framework of the A Quechua Polo textbook series. This enables a sustained and nationwide development of the game, based on tips of the worlds best players.
"Polo is a highly competitive sport. Therefore, there is no interest in exchanging tips and tricks between the players. That is the causal problem, as it hinders the development of the sport! ", Cacho repeatingely pointed out.
This book shows the most common mistakes during the swing and also the handle. This third volume also describes how to identify a good stick. We also provide small exercises for the office or the living room, with which the pros work even at home, when they're not sitting on the horse. So, for the first time we get a look behind the scenes of the Lives of the world's best players and they share their secrets of winning with you.
We could once again manage to lift the secrets to make your polo life much easier. We tried to question these "hints" methodically and in an appropriate context for learning how to swing perfectly. There were many people that contributed to the emergence of this third volume and supported our work. Our thanks go to Juan Sauro of the AAP and Carlos Weygang, but also Peter 'Juan Ignacio, Sebastian and Augustin Merlos and Cachos wife Christina. We again hope that you enjoy reading, learning and understanding - on the way to an even more successful Polo!
A Quechua - Simply Polo!
Chapter 1 | Introduction
The 2010 season, ending with one of the best Palermo finals of the last years, has again changed many things in polo. Many different reasons can be found for it. However, it's always the self-cleaning powers in life (and in polo) that create change in life and lead to necessary developments and maybe even create something new.
The decisive factor is always to embrace changes and to use it for oneself. Change is the only constant in our lives and it seems as if polo could resist all kind of changes for years. This is also evident in some parts of this third A Quechua band, namely when it is remembered that there has hardly been any developed regarding the polo swing. There was almost no biomechanical analyzes and evaluations in order to consider the common impetus movement more accurately.
There is hardly any other sport with such a technical standstill as in Polo. In golf for example, modern shaft systems were created years ago, that could be used to develop new shaft systems for the polo. However, that is not about stylistic aspects. A bamboo shaft looks more noble than a shaft made of carbon fibre. Rather, this topic involves both mechanical and physical aspects that would facilitate the entry into the sport of polo and sustainably eliminate common complaints of many beginners and advanced players. It is, for example, possible to manufacture shock-absorbing shafts or manufacture shafts or cigars with significantly lower weight with the help of modern shaft-systems, which in turn has a positive effect on learning the perfect swing.
This would mean complaints about pain in the wrists or forearms would easily dissapear. The most common causes of these symptoms that occur mainly at male "Euro-Polistas", are an incorrect hand position and especially gaining too much weight on the stick. In addition, the stems do not absorb vibrations, which can lead to massive problems. The tennis or golf elbow will soon get a counterpart in the form of Poloarms when more and more people get attrected to get on the field, that's what A Quechua means translated, learning to play polo.
A lower weight is an important element in order to avoid the classic symptoms such as Polo hand, Polo elbow or Poloarm. We will respond to this complaint forms, which are related to the swing, more detailled in the course of this book. We also offer well-proven exercises for these complaints and refer to effective training devices and tipps from the best polo players.
Against this background we always face the same subject: the tradition of the sport. Is this tradition really so crucial to prevent possible changes persistently? Or would it not be better for everyone - for each player, the entire industry and also all professionals and grooms - if more and more people would practice this sport? Automatically there would be more financial resources in the entire market. Also the polo club membership would rise rapidly, meaning the clubs would have more members and income and could operate profitably.
A greater demand always leads to a wider range, meaning there would be sufficient clientele for more polo schools. Professionals would benefit directly from more beginners and would not be dependent on a few customers and "patrons".
Many Europeans are 'patronized' by polo pro's that are aiming to secure their 'pro jobs' by telling them fairytales. This, however, harms the sport and the polo-market business. However, it mostly lacks of foresight for recognizing this trend. The longer the European polo world exposes this hustle, the slower the "downfall" will take place. And if you want to have this Withered "downfall" of the hand, so you have to refer only to the ubiquitous whining about the lack, sufficient offspring in the sport of polo. However, it has to be said that with associations like the USPA or the Polo Instructors & Players Association, the youth development has already risen again and they are bringing more and more kids and teens to the sport, for exmaple by making the sport more accessible for more and more people and setting high trainings and quality standards for polo clubs and -schools.
This problem goes even further, because now also extern people recognize that "always the same players" of the flagship clubs play at the annual tournaments making it "more and more boring every year". Even the unpracticed eye will question why there only participate four (!) instead of - in recent years - six teams anymore at the tournaments.
The problem of polo is the "closed shop" thinking, that is getting stronger and stronger. "We want to remain among us", has recently told us one of the few Polistas from Austria openly and honestly. In the same breath then comes the wailing that there are too few players. And that is not a phenomenon of the Alpine republic but a general fact in the sport - except in countries where polo is operated and authentic combining in its original form, because there can be found a breeding ground for young talents in a natural way.
Actually, the sport would develop brilliantly, because from an economic perspective, there is currently a vacuum dominating. Golf is a mature market and from the perspective of economics is just the levy phase heralded. 80% of all clubs making losses and almost everywhere the more or less experienced players can play on "green fee" - that he or she only pays for the day membership. A circumstance which would have been unthinkable years ago. This development can be seen very easy by the retiring sport sponsors.
Parallelly, tennis experiences a certain renaissance. Tennis Clubs and Tennis courses are experiencing a boom, because just now prevails a vacuum in the market for a new trend sport. Therefore, you will return to the white sport and this means that available money is not invested in the sport of polo. This would be funds that the pros as well as the clubs - are all just missing. For those who do not yet believe it or know: Polo is the next craze - it's just a matter of time. When you listen to the really big names in polo that are active in this so fascinating sport for years, this incessant development is confirmed.
The problems pointed out before are homemade, as the number of members actually speak a different language. More people join the clubs every year and - when events are organized properly - even to tournaments and polo events. It is also, compared to other sports, easy to attract new sponsors and partners for the sport. However, a minimum level of professionalism must make it's entry as it is indeed shown on Timmendorfer beach and other events every year. The sport needs big events, but the sport also needs events and tournaments for beginners and advanced players.
These tournaments and at each training session must not follow the interests of the tournament organizer or the professionals in terms of short-term profit maximization, but it has to follow the aims of sustainability and seriousness.
"Once I had agreed a polo lesson with an Argentinean pro. Identified was 14 clock at the stable. When I got there, I was told, the Pro was just left and we did not know when he would come back! That was my polo career. Why should I give my money to such people ...! "
This story was told by a young man who might finance an entire team as a patron and his wife also was so keen that he would discover the sport as his new passion. The latent prevailing unprofessionalism in this sport has also scared away this potential Polista and he is just one of many. Again and again one hears such stories, unfortunately.
So it can be said that there is a need, but the sport is wrecked by the actors themselves. Therefore, the emancipation of "Gringos" - as the Europeans are affectionately called by Argentines - has to be completed. What happens at the moment in the sport of polo, can be a simple example from the ski sports illustrate: Imagine, every ski vacationers from, for example, England, the Netherlands or also Germany has to 'rent' a Swiss skier for skiing down the slopes. Alternatively, one may only participate at the ski course final race when you pay a skiing pro that has to go beside you. This all sounds absurd, but currently prevail in such states Polo.
That's why the A Quechua cups were launched. Played without polo pros and with a special tournament mode which allows persons to participate though they may even not own a polo pony. This idea seems in tune with the time you come to, because all the media immediately intervened on this issue - and the tournaments were unlike most other tournaments rather having to deal with the challenge to many requests.
PIPA Beach Polo Championships at Italy, organized by A Quechua
PIPA Snow Polo World Cup at Seefeld, organized by A Quechua
Change is the only constant in our lives. Anyone who tried to oppose this change, will be the loser, because Polo is the new craze. However, it will be a new generation that will develop and dominate the sport with new standards, quality criteria and in particular an emancipated self-image of professionalism in the future.
A Quechua would like to support this change and help ensure that polo attracts more and more people. To have a perfect swing is a perfect addition to the perfect polo connection and a crucial factor for more fun playing polo. Apart from the clear and didactic stringent preparation of necessary teaching and training content, it is the concern of A Quechua to encourage the development of this fascinating sport. This third volume is dedicated to a perfect swing. However, this band is a continuation of the series, because "Those who can not ride, will never have a perfect swing", as Cacho always states.
We wish you lots of fun reading and good luck in the game!
Chapter 2 | From Practice with Cacho Merlos
A talk with Cacho Merlos
To introduce Cacho Merlos is like carrying coals to Newcastle. His greatest handicap was 9. He himself won the most important tournament in the world with Francisco and Gaston Daurignac and Daniel Gonzalez two times (1973 and 1982): the Argentinian Open in Palermo, Buenos Aires. Together with his team "Santana", he was the first ever to win the Triple Crown (Tortuga, Hurlingham and Palermo) in 1973. Cacho Merlos has played with the great names of the sport but also with the Royals: for example in the Queens Cup - "Copa del Rei" - 1971 and 1973 against King Carlos of England. And the success story continues, as his three sons - all randomly born in leap years - have a handicap of 9 or 10 depending on the country, making them one of the best players in the world.
Cacho Merlos got 66 on the 11th of July 2010 and celebrated his birthday with his wife Christina and the whole family in the English Maidenhead near Windsor - where his sons Juan Ignacio - Nickname Peter - (41), Sebastian (37) and Augustin (33) would play the European season. They all train at the "Les Lions" club in the west of London, where they find perfect training conditions. They spend the months of May to July in Europe - with trips to the USA. If one had to describe the three, Peter would be described as the thinker, Sebastian as the quiet and Augustine as the entertainer. With Sebastian, here in the picture with his son and father Cacho, we have produced some photo-prints for this book and he has told us a lot about his horses and his way of working, which we have also considered in the different chapters of the book.
Today, his father Cacho is working very actively for the AAP, and runs an academy near Buenos Aires. Today, the company "Merlos" has about 45 employees. The Merlos family has more than 1,000 horses worldwide, which are located in Argentine, West Palm Beach and Maidenhead in England. The company's homebase is located about four hours south-east of Buenos Aires on the farm "La Mariana".
Cacho has to be called the "Godfather" of the polo technique and he has an extraordinary and, above all, fascinating gift, to bring things straight to the point. When you talk about the subject of polo with Cacho, you realize what the saying "a life the polo" really is about. Then domestic dimensions get a completely different value. Cacho lovingly calls the world's best players "guys" and can analyze each individual crystal clear and point out his strengths. It is not always easy for ordinary mortals to understand the precision with which Cacho describes and explains things in the area of polo sports.
On the other hand, Cacho likes to keep things simple and he always tries not to unnecessarily complicate things. We were honoured to celebrate his birthday with him what enabled us to get to know him well. This book got written from July to December at England, Brazil and Argentine. Spending much time together we could witness how a professional team works. It is that South American transience combined with absolute professionalism, which gives the polosport this special charisma and makes it so fascinating.
Cacho clebrates this professionalism down to the smallest detail. It is precisely this knowledge that had to flow into this present A Quechua book in order to once more be able to collect and present valuable tips, tricks and training concepts. In this way, it is possible to learn it step by step from the best because, according to Cacho, this is the decisive point, as he himself emphasizes again and again:
Cacho: If you do not know the basis of a perfect polo connection in polo sports, you can train for years and will not improve. The basis for me is the "equilibrium" - the balance. Only if I am one with the pony, the cooperation between the pony and me can work. But if this base is missing, I do not need to work on my swing.
Again and again, I hear from the world's best polo coaches that Polistas book a course with them for a week. They teach them everything about tactics and strategy for days, but they never get them on the horse. For me, this is unimaginable. This means that after a 7 days polo course the trainee knows tactically where he should be on the pitch, but because of the lack of riding knowledge they will never get there at the right time in the game. This frustrates people and will never create fun in the game. Polo must be fun but you have to be aware that the sport is fast and challenging. Especially if you have not grown up with horses and riding, it is all the more important to find the "equilibrium" to improve your polo skills.
A Quechua: You were born into the Polosport?
Cacho: Yes, you can say that without a doubt. My father was Spanish - from Murcia. He came to Argentina with his parents when he was 2 years old, in 1909. He had 5 brothers but all of them chose other paths. So my father grew up outside Buenos Aires and learned agriculture. A few years later, my father went to Buneos Aires to work with polo ponies. At that time polo was only played in Hurlingham, so my father was quickly known there too. The first contacts to Europe evolved because in Hurlingham played many Englishmen, who founded the Hurlingham Club - the oldest Poloclub in Argentina.
After the Second World War, my father Fernando began to sell horses to England. The horses were then brought to Europe by ferry. My father and his partners, Wyndham Lacey and Eduardo Rojas Lanusse, completed the grueling crossing on the side of the ponies directly on the ship. Those were the days...
I grew up with my five siblings and with horses. I played many tournaments with Fernando junior and Jose Luis "Russo". Fernando juniors highest handicap was 10 in Brazil and Jose Louis "Russo" had handicap 6 in England. The three of us were Team Merlos. With Russo I won the Gold Cup (Copa de Oro) in France 1960. My maximum handicap was 9.
I had to pay tribute to the fact that Juan Carlos Harriot, one of the most gifted polo players of all time, had had the handicap 10, and the Associacion of course, here comparing all players with Harriot. If Harriot himself played the 10, then we could not have the 10 with handicap 9.
A Quechua: When did the "professional career" start?
Cacho: I started playing my first tournaments at the age of 16. I had to ride anyway because there was no way around. Not that I considered it a constraint, but horses were part of the daily life in our family. My father's dedication to the ponies fascinated me. He spent hours with the horses and studied them. The horses were his passion and this passion grew with every self-bred horse.
It was his destiny, and he was also responsible for giving me this fascination and passion. When I think back to the time when I was around the age of 20, the sport changed very much in its essence in a positive way but also the possibilities got better. I have been playing for 50 years - half a century - and I am still fascinated when I see a great game of my boys on the pitch. The ponies have also developed and changed. Today, we are playing on "high-performance machines" with an enormous pronounced ability to anticipate. If, for example, I only think of the favorite horse Canossa by Sebastian, this pony is simply brilliant in its essence. Canossa comes from a family, which is already used to polo in the fourth generation. This is why it is inevitably that the genetic material is simply perfect for the highest polo level.
In the hand of Sebastian, this horse is simply indescribable in lightness, aesthetics, but also brilliance, as it plays in the game and acts anticipatively. This is exactly the Polo Connection, which is the decisive basis for a perfect swing and thus a perfect, tactical game.
A Quechua: Which role has the swing or is there even something like a perfect swing?
Cacho: If you look at the top players more closely today, you quickly notice that there is almost no difference between these players and their swings. If one can recognize differences, these are mostly due to a situation of the ball deviating from the standard situation or possibly from the play situation.
Therefore, the question arises, why not all players have the perfect swing. In my opinion - especially in the area of the advanced players in the handicap range -1 to +2 or +3 - in most cases it is a lack of "equilibrium" - the balance and the coordination. You only have to look at photos of tournaments, where you can see very quickly what is the reason.
In my trainings I use a lot of pictures, with which I try to sensitize the people. We work out and discuss technical faults, which in turn will not allow the swing to be performed perfectly because the stick must then be used to maintain the balance.
A Quechua: ... is there the perfect swing?
Cacho: Yes, there is. And that is the curiosity, because the perfect swing is a harmonious, natural and quiet movement. There is strength in serenity. However, the challenge is to learn and internalize this complex-appearing simplicity. In contrast to golf, we work with a moving element - the ball that is in play. This is exactly the crux, because the necessary balance is added to the moving "goal", whereby the entire swinging process has to be aligned. This coordinating competence is the problem for many players in the sense of the optimal timing of a quiet swing.
Especially with faster plays, the swing movement is also performed more quickly in the middle handicap range. This is a mistake that lies in the nature of the matter. This is easier in golf because you are stable and concentrated. In such a situation, it is much easier to calmly and consciously swing. However, if you are racing at a rapid pace, then it gets more difficult to swing calmly and harmoniously. But that is the secret of a perfect swing - to swing calmly even at high speed.
This means for players who do not sit on the horse every day or have grown up with horses, to make themselves aware of this discrepancy and to actively deal with it mentally. During the game when you are sitting on the horse, it is all about automatisms and everything runs automatically and intuitively. This is what we will be talking about in the field of mental training. That are simple but effective exercises.
It is also important to look at games again and again to learn from the top players. The human talent to imitate things is underestimated. Often it also helps to watch short video clips or a timelapse of pictures of oneself to analyze what was good and what went wrong. What I can not see, I can not understand. But if I can see and look at my turns, then I can optimize the workflows - physically but also mentally.
I can then actively correct wrong movements mentally, before I can slowly internalize them physically with shadow swings without a ball, and finally, I can start to implement those exercises with horse and ball. My tip: to use videos and pictures of the top players as a learning aid and
Publisher: BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
Publication Date: 10-20-2017
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