For years it has been a (funny) bone of contention; a motion that has divided the polocrosse nation. Now it seems that there is a movement to finally get the IPC to make a ruling one way or another. At the IPC council meeting in June a great number of rule changes will be discussed (about 200 I believe but I’m sure the Chief Umpire will correct me if I am wrong) and most of them are minor things such as changing the word ‘carnival’ to ‘tournament’ in the official rule books.
There are also a few bigger issues and one of them is banning the overarm throw. The Australians hate it, the Africans love it and the Europeans are split over it. The argument for banning it hinges on it being judged to be unfair to number threes. Indeed, it is disheartening to work the area brilliantly, only to have the player pull back and lob it over your head. However, (as anyone who has watched Simon Shearing will tell you) you can lob a ball quite effectively underarm as well and then there are the brilliant overarms (often thrown by Zims or South Africans) at a flat out gallop as they disappear over the back line which somehow go between the posts; no one can argue that those throws aren’t skillful or are in anyway boring. Indeed, some of the best goals I have seen scored have come from overarm throws.
It is true that a player with a brilliant over arm shot does not necessarily have to be a brilliant horse man or be on a brilliant horse to score; they can simply burn across the goal mouth, turn in their saddle and throw a rocket over arm straight down the goal judge’s throat. It has been said that this isn’t right, that polocrosse is about an man and horse working together in order to score goals. However, if you ban the overarm you are faced with the prospect of far slower games (particularly at lower levels) while number ones work their areas for far longer trying to get a nice safe underarm throw.
Of course with time people will develop and change their games in order to cope with the lack of an overarm and will develop their out-the-side underarm throws but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is good thing. Overarm shots are exciting and as the polocrosse community in the UK strives to grow and attract more players and spectators, banning the overarm may be a very dangerous thing to do as it might slow the game down and make it less high scoring, which in turn may make it a lot less marketable to potential sponsors and supporters.
*(I am not sure whether it is simply the right to throw a goal overarm that will be banned or the right to throw any overarm passes as well. I’m sure someone will clarify it for me and then I will let you all know.)