Choosing the right polo mallet is a careful process with many factors to think about when searching for that perfect piece. Consider the strength of your arms and wrist when deciding on materials for your mallet, and come in different weights. A mallet’s components– the head, shaft, grip, etc.– are all customizable. A polo mallet is better made especially for a particular player since the rider, horse, and playing field can vary wildly in size and limitations.
Polo mallets come in different levels of flexibility: extra stiff, medium stiff, medium, and whippy. A good compromise for beginners is a mallet with an extra or medium stiff shaft and a head with moderate flexibility.
Macau-cane, a type of rattan often mistaken for bamboo, makes a solid, vibration-dampening shaft and is the traditional material for mallets. Shafts of composite materials do exist but have often been considered less desirable due to their feel and inability to comfortably cushion the player’s hand from the sensation of the head striking the ball. Today, there are companies manufacturing composite mallets that react more like the traditional Macau ones. These new mallets also feature much more comfortable rubber grips than before.
The weight of the head has a lot to do with swing and recovery and needs to be taken into consideration when choosing one. Heads usually weigh between 5.6 oz (160 g) to 8.5 oz (240 g), but some professionals prefer a head of around 18.69 oz (530 g).
Many players choose to pick a length based on the height of the polo pony, but some prefer to adjust their grip and use the same mallet no matter what the distance from the ground is.
Determining what starting length is right for you is simple. Mount the horse to be used in the game and position your arm straight downwards as if you were about to strike a polo ball. Using a measuring tape or a long enough pole, measure from the top of the palm (near the wrist) down to the playing surface. This is the length you will need for the mallet. Later, after playing a few games, any general limitations of the mallet, its materials, or its length will become apparent and can be kept in mind when choosing another mallet.