Polo Mallet Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use Cane or Composite mallets?
Also see: selecting your polo mallets.
This is one of the most often asked questions by our customers. As we make both cane and composite mallets, we’re unbiased as to which we should promote. Many players wouldn’t dream of using anything but canes. That’s beginning to change. As the worlds tropical rainforests continue to diminish, the selection of good canes becomes harder and harder. The quality of cane mallets is decreasing quite noticeably with many manufacturers now opting to make mallets from inferior species of cane. The days of cane mallets are numbered. The Fibercane mallet is such a vast improvement over canes in every aspect that there’s simply no point in going backwards. The general consensus of all those players who’ve actually tried the latest Fibercane is that, yes this is far better than any other mallet.
For players wanting a light weight shaft and all Arena players, we recommend the Fibercane.
What length should I use?
The main factor to consider is the height of the horses to be played. The average polo pony is 15.2hh and the most popular length by about 65% is 52”. Arm length, hitting style, and even horses gait also have a bearing on what is the most appropriate length. As a rule of thumb, if your average horse’s height is 15-15.1 hh then 51” might be the best length to stick to. Similarly, for 15.3 -16hh horses the average person finds that 53” may be more suitable. Many people will use two or more different lengths depending on the horses they’re playing.
Which head weight is best for me?
Head weights vary enormously. The lightest heads available start at about 160 grams. If you have a problem with physical strength, then use a mallet which causes less strain and will be more manoeuverable. The distance you can hit the ball comes down to timing, not strength. The very light heads are perfect for children and people of light build but are not recommended for players of average strength. With Fibercane mallets, the shaft is much lighter so it’s quite possible to use a heavier head than one would use on a cane and yet maintain a lighter overall weight. Anything between 175 and 185 grams is considered medium light.
We balance the overall weight of the mallet to the head weight so in effect, a mallet with a head weighing say, 10 grams more than another, will actually weigh some 20-30 grams more overall. The average player uses a head weight of between 185 -200 grams. With plastic balls, there is little need to use over 210 gram heads, although many mallet makers ignore this and don’t appear to weigh the heads. To maintain a similar swing weight on different lengths of mallets, the head weight should be decreased by approximately 5 grams for every inch of increased length. For example, a 51” with a 200 gram head will have a similar swing weight as a 52” with a 195 gram head and a 53” with a 190 gram head.
What type of head is best for which conditions?
We make various different patterns of mallet heads although the majority of players stick to the cigar pattern as the best all round style. The type of head used by a number one player obviously has different requirements to that of a back. Most of the time, the importance to a number one is not distance, but accuracy. Therefore a lighter cigar head may be preferable. A back on the other hand, will be expected to hit long, high hit-ins off the back line and would therefore be wise to try a slightly heavier head perhaps with a slightly flattened underside. The RNPA pattern head is rarely used as it’s really only suitable for hitting a stationary ball on perfect grounds. Most of the time in a game, the ball is moving and the cigar pattern is the most appropriate. Our new Mango wood heads have been hugely popular and are available in a complete range of weights. We fit Mango wood heads as standard to all orders unless specifically requested otherwise.
Mallets used solely in Arena polo have a completely different set of ideals. They should be stiffer, lighter and the head should be considerably larger in diameter to keep the inflatable ball from wrapping around the shaft upon impact. We make an Arena head specifically suitable for Arena polo in Cigar, RNPA, Skene patterns. Quickness to the ball is imperative in Arena polo and the Fibercane excels in this regard.
More UK arena players use the Fibercane mallet than any other brand.
Which size handle should I order?
As each cane mallet is made by hand and usually to order, we can make handles exactly to your requirements. Unless otherwise specified handles are shaped to a positive Argentine style shape with flattened sides. Small handles are only recommended for players with very small hands. Medium or large handles suit most players and this comes down to the size of your hands and personal preference. Handles that are too small are much more likely to spin in the hand with off center shots. This applies particularly to arena mallets. Larger handles also reduce strain on the wrist and increase accuracy. The new molded handles only fit the Fibercane mallets and are available in two sizes, medium and Large. They are simply the best polo mallets handles ever made.
Can I choose how much flex I want in the shaft?
We used to colour code each shaft depending on the amount flex but this led to several mallets being ordered which were never well balanced. I believe that a mallet should be reasonably stiff at the handle and allow for a small amount of flex near the tip. Unless otherwise requested mallets are individually balanced to a med/stiff flex. Lively is a little softer for players who prefer a more lively mallet. The type of shaft suitable for lightweight heads has a completely different flex and weight to one used for a heavy head. There are several players who find that a more flexible or even stiffer shaft works best for them. Of course this can be accommodated upon request.
How should I care for my mallets when not in use?
Cane mallets should be hung from either end and preferably kept dry and out of the sun. The worst thing for heads is to be continually used in wet conditions. Although we seal the timber with a two pot urethane before applying a plastic anti-wear strip to the hitting surface, ensure that this doesn’t wear through after several months play. A new strip of plastic tape or a few coats on varnish can prolong the life of a head. New grips, slings, heads etc. along with fitting instructions can be ordered online.
The new molded handles allow for the sling to be replaced whenever necessary simply by unscrewing the two steel screws in the end cap. This should be done whenever signs of wear can be seen on the slings.