A player throws the ball, while being defended during a tennis polo match
|Highest governing body||Tennis Polo Association|
|First played||United States, 2004|
|Team members||2 teams of 10|
Tennis polo (or toccer) is a field sport where two teams of ten players (nine field players and one goalkeeper) use a tennis ball to score goals by throwing the ball into a goal defended by a keeper who holds a racquet. Tennis polo shares elements of sports such as field handball, the Gaelic sport of hurling and football. The game may also be played where all field players have racquets including the goalkeeper.
The sport is also referred toccer and is interchangbly referred to by players as "tennis polo" or "toccer" at different times. There are players in 18 countries including Canada, Mexico, United States, Italy and France.
Adapted to be a fast-paced sport with little stoppage of play, players advance the ball by throwing or kicking within the field of play.
Tennis polo goalkeepers use racquets similar to those used in tennis. Only goalkeepers are allowed racquets, but any player can serve as goalkeeper, but no player acting as goalkeeper can leave the 11-yard box with a racquet.
Field of play
The sport is played on a grass field between 80 to 100 yards long and 50 to 65 yards wide. The goal area is a semicircular line with an 11-yard radius and the penalty mark at 13 yards from the goal. An experimental rule has a second semicircular line on the field with a 17 yard radius. Generally, a field for gridiron football or soccer can be used.
Length of a match
Match length is variable, but sanctioned matches are divided into two halves of 20 minutes. If matches are tied, an extra half is played and if the score remains tied in a tournament match, the game is decided by throws from the penalty mark (13 yards from the goal) but players are allowed to run anywhere between the midfield line and penalty mark before throwing the ball and have 5 seconds in which to take their shot.
The ball can be advanced by throwing it or kicking it. When a player has the ball in their possession, they can run with it for up to three steps (or five seconds) before being required to 1) pass it or 2) attempt a shot on goal.
Offensive players cannot attempt shots on goal from within the penalty area (referred to as the "layer") and any goals scored from within the layer are invalid. Defensive players may defend from within the latyer, as well as the racket keeper.
Teams make unlimited substitutions and substitutes enter play without stoppage of play (as in ice hockey).
When the ball is turned over because it goes out of bounds, the clock is not stopped. Instead, the ball is retrieved (or in most cases, a new ball given to the opposing player) and the game resumes. If the ball is intentionally thrown out of bounds, it's referred to as wasting and the penalized team is assessed a penalty depending on the severity, which may include extended time at the discretion of the referee.
Player positions are evolving, but each team is generally composed of a racquet keeper (1), defenders (2), midfielders (4) and strikers (3).
Scoring occurs when the ball is hit (or kicked) into the goal. Each goal is worth one point.
In some experimental matches, goals scored outside of the 17-yard arc are worth two points and those scored in front of the 13-yard arc are worth 1 point.
Offensive players are not allowed to be in front of the ball in order for 2-point goals to count.
In 2004, Ron Bronson, then the Tennis Director at Camp Awosting in Bantam, Connecticut created the sport was developed as a diversion for his tennis players during a rainy summer; when the outdoor courts were largely rendered unusable. The game was one of a series of elaborate tennis hybrid games he created for his students, that were able to be played irrespective of the weather outside, usually indoors or on grass fields. The most popular of these games became known as toccer. Ron Bronson received the idea for toccer from a co-counselor at the camp, Colin Sandford. At the insistence of his campers and with their help, they devised the first written rules of the sport later that summer.
- Oklahoma Historical Society, September 29, 2013
- William Pickett, Oklahoma Historical Society (http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/p/pi003.html)
- Official Rules of Tennis Polo, Association of Tennis Players, (c) 2006-2008