The size of the field, lack of video replays and watching from pitch level – largely from afar – has often given newcomers to the sport a hard task in understanding polo’s dynamics.
Over the last two decades, the sport has increased in intensity, while the horsemanship and skills shown by polo’s top players have reached new heights – except the casual viewer has little chance of witnessing it.
So the use of drones in polo is an intriguing prospect. It would not only help shape the future of the sport in bringing analysis and tactics to the forefront, but will also be a “key element” for umpires in making the game flow.
According to the sport’s leading production company, PoloLine TV, drones will be used in Argentina for the first time this season. It follows aerial mounted drones being used at the US Open in June, which was broadcast by NBC.
“Drones are a really hot topic right now all around the globe,” says PoloLine TV’s Rob Jornayvaz, “When people hear that we are using them, they are dying to see the footage.
“With the enormous size of a polo field, something is needed to bring the viewer into the game and show just how talented these players and horses are in capturing the extreme nature of the sport. The drone is the perfect tool to do this.”
Reviewing tough calls, he says, has also helped the drone to become a “great tool” for umpires. “The drone footage helps enormously in training umpires how to call fouls correctly and for review. For the sport to continue growing inside and outside the field, the drone is a key element.”
According to PoloLine, governing bodies have been “very receptive” to the technology, given that it improves calls made by umpires as well as reducing the time spent when a foul is called.
Meanwhile, Charles Muldoon, United States Polo Association’s executive director umpires, says that the technology has taken umpire training to a “whole new level” by having the best vantage point of the game.
He says: “There is no questioning the eye in the sky as you get all the elements in every play – every true line of the ball, speed, angle and distance.”
For the moment, these elements have yet to be portrayed in the UK game. “We had insurance difficulties, so unfortunately we will have to wait until next year,” Jornayvaz said.
“Next year we plan to use the drone in not only the US and Argentina, but England, Spain and Dubai as well.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com