Selecting Polo Mallets
What to consider when buying your polo mallets
Although few players prefer a whippy mallet and some extra stiff, I firmly believe that a mallet should be stiff at least in the top half to three quarters of the shaft, with a little bit of flex at the tip. A good mallet should feel like an extension of the arm and not feel too heavy to flex from the wrist. With the predominant use of plastic balls, I believe that few mallets or players require heads weighing more than 205 grams. The overall weight is just as important, composite mallets therefore, can easily use heavier head weights than cane mallets whilst maintaining similar overall weights. Recent discussions with several 10 goal players in UK revealed a distinct trend towards lighter mallets with overall weights of no more than 530 grams.
Many of the requirements for a polo mallet depend upon variables such as the strength and size of the player, size of the horses, hitting style, even different playing positions and ground conditions require different types of mallets. For this reason it’s important to consider the various options and have mallets custom made to your exact requirements.
Cane vs. Composites
The world’s supplies of “good” quality canes available for polo mallet manufacture are rapidly dwindling. The quality of cane polo mallets has noticeably deteriorated over the past few years. Many mallet makers now use an inferior species of cane which don’t have the density of manau cane and therefore they tend to break much more readily. I’ve personally selected enough good quality manau canes from Asia for our own use this year, but future supplies are increasingly uncertain.
Although I understand the reluctance to change over to composite shafts for those who have become accustomed to the inconsistencies of canes, I firmly believe that our latest composite mallets have huge benefits over others. They’re incredibly powerful and generally last longer than other types of mallets. Despite rough treatment they retain their shape and they never “wring”. Perhaps the greatest attraction is the consistency which is not possible with canes. They have an increased sweet spot, minimal vibration and a revolutionary molded handle for comfort, grip and long life. Not surprising that our sales continue to increase year after year. Like tennis racquets, fishing rods and golf clubs, polo mallets can be much better when made with composite materials.
Over the past few years a radical new concept using a short length of cane fitted to the lower section of a Fibercane shaft. They have the advantages of a lightweight and consistent shaft but feel like cane and can be repaired like cane mallets.
The actual joint is surprisingly simple and yet strong. A 10 mm hole is drilled 4″ into the end of a 16/17 mm diameter cane and the shortened composite shaft is then glue in with epoxy adhesive. A couple of wraps around the cane with filament tape ensures a strong joint. This is a great concept to use when repairing broken Fibercane shafts.
Arena and snow polo is all about quickness to the ball, control and accuracy. Mallets tend to be lighter and stiffer, with slightly larger handles. Custom made slightly stiffer Fibercane shafts are ideal. Also to strike a larger inflatable ball it helps to have a larger diameter lightweight arena head. See heads.
Length and weights
The most popular length is 52” followed by and 53”. Head weights range from 160 grams up to 205 grams and over. For beginners of medium build I recommend neither extreme, perhaps 185-195 grams balanced on a medium stiff shaft. If you have less than average wrist strength which after all, a large number of players do, there’s no point in going in the field with a mallet that’s too heavy. This is where the advantages of modern technology really come into play. A Fibercane mallet with a light head is by far the lightest option and gives hundreds of players around the world much greater ability than was possible before. If the mallet is too light, shots will become forced rather than timed. Choose a head weight which is not too tiring to use but which can help create the classical pendulum swing. Remember, it’s in the timing, let the mallet do the work!
If using different lengths, I recommend reducing the head weight by at least 5 grams for each extra inch in length to maintain a similar swing weight. For example a 52” with a 195 gram head has a similar swing weight and feel to a 53” with a 190 gram head and a 51” with a 200 gram head.
If the handle’s too small, it’s likely to spin in your hand. A larger handle gives greater control and less strain on the arm. About 60% of players find that the medium size is OK and 30% go for large.
If you don’t know what length mallet is right for you, the best thing to do is get on the horse you’ll be using and sit as if striking the ball with your arm straight down. Use a long stick to measure from the ground to the top of your palm. The measurement in inches will be a pretty good indication as to the most ideal length.
If you’re still unsure and need help deciding what is the right mallet for you please email me with a plenty of information. I.e. Your ability, wrist strength on a scale of 1-10, handicap level, type of polo played, etc.
We can usually deliver mallets made exactly to your specifications anywhere in the world within a week.