Nov 20, 2017 8:26 PM

Image of polo instructors and managers forum group

The annual Instructors & Managers Forum (IMF) presented by USPA Polo Development, LLC took place in Houston, Texas, this past week with over 40 participants. This invitational event is designed to bring leaders and professionals in the sport together to learn from each other and network with representatives from polo clubs across the country. The 2017 IMF program featured a full schedule with dynamic speakers, interactive teaching, hands-on learning and small break-out sessions.

Participants arrived to Houston on Sunday, November 12, in time to watch San Saba win the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship™ in overtime at the Houston Polo Club. A meet and greet dinner followed, allowing participants to get to know each other before diving into the material early Monday morning.

Image of Club Excellence Award, Smith, Beal, Wenning, Wheaton, Bowman, Powers

Executive Director of the National Council of Youth Sports, Sally Johnson, spoke to the crowd regarding the importance of youth participation in the success of a sport. Johnson is an advocate for children playing a wide range of sports and encouraged participants to continue to expend effort on youth players at individual polo clubs. The first day also included a detailed look at Houston Polo Club’s “Step-Up” Program and an introduction to the Player Performance Analysis recently launched by Polo Development, LLC. Participants had the opportunity to show their skills as an instructor during Interactive Teaching. CPI Certifiers Cindy Halle, Mark Prinsloo and Erik Wright offered real-time feedback as each person gave a short 15-minute lesson to another participant.

On the second day of IMF, participants spent time practicing the riding pattern, pre-game warm up and swing analysis as part of the Player Performance Analysis. Integrating easy-to-use technology into polo school programs and clubs across the country is a significant step forward for the sport.

Image of Doug Barnes and Dr. Massey-Colburn (Team USPA) at Interactive Teaching.
Doug Barnes and Dr. Massey-Colburn (Team USPA) at Interactive Teaching.

Breakout sessions led by Erik Wright, David Brooks, Elizabeth Hedley, Karen White and Emmalyn Wheaton received positive reviews from all in attendance. Several other topics including Equine Welfare, Corporate Sponsorships, and Teaching and Coaching, rounded out the successful conference. Following the event, a participant shared this with USPA PD, LLC Board Chair, Charles Smith, “I feel so honored to have been asked to attend this forum. I was very impressed with the subject matter throughout the three days. I will be talking to my polo board about several key ideas that will help our club grow.” Sharing and presenting ideas that can be used immediately to improve polo clubs across the country is one of the main goals of the Instructors and Managers Forum.

Image of bags for IMF day 1

Emmalyn Wheaton and her husband Paul received the 2017 Club Excellence award presented by USPA Polo Development, LLC. Coupled with hard work and determination, the Wheatons used strategies learned at their first IMF to revitalize the Detroit Polo Club. They have since returned as panelists and guest speakers to share the story of their club.

In addition to the variety of speakers and programs, participants had the opportunity to meet newly appointed USPA CEO, Bob Puetz. USPA PD, LLC Chair, Charles Smith and Director of Polo Development, Kris Bowman, were also in attendance.

USPA Polo Development, LLC would like to thank Tonkawa, Houston Polo Club and all the presenters for helping make this event a success each year.