Beach Polo is a team sport and close variant of arena polo. A game of beach polo consists of two three-player teams as opposed to the usual four-player teams in field polo. A game consists of four seven minute periods of play, called chukkers. The game is played in an enclosed sand arena with sideboards of approximately four feet in height, designed to keep the ball in play. Depending on playing areas available, some of the playing arenas have enclosed ends while others allow for 20 yards of run out room for the horses, past the end line, and utilize standing goal posts.
Two umpires are suggested for tournament play which may be stationed outside the arena to officiate the game. Penalties are called and resulting free hits are awarded to the fouled party.
Traditional polo ponies are used with players changing horses following each chukker.
Unlike the hard plastic ball used in field polo, beach polo employs a leather or rubber inflated ball no less than 12.5 inches in circumference. Other equipment employed is the same as that used in field or arena polo.
Dubai's Rashid Al Habtoor and Sam Katiela have been credited with the creation of the game in 2004, followed by the Miami Beach Polo World Cup in the United States in 2005. Additional tournaments and matches have arisen in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, England, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Uruguay and Wales.
With tournament competition ranging from an entry level in Germany to Miami Beach's high-goal play, new fans of the game have been treated to performances by such international polo greats as Argentine 10-goaler Gonzalo Pieres, Mexico's Carlos Gracida (9), USA 9-goaler Mike Azzaro and Australian 8-goaler Ruki Baillieu.
In 2008, the International Beach Polo Association was created, by current Chairman Alex Webbe, in an effort to increase the number of participating countries, to assist in promoting these events and to make rules and handicaps for this unique brand of polo more uniform.
In 2009 the Miami Beach Polo Club inaugurated the first South Beach Women's Polo Cup, a competition that fielded eight teams of women from six different countries. The overwhelming success of the women's tournament promises to be a harbinger of future such tournaments and continuing growth and popularity of the beach polo movement.
Following the 2010 AMG Miami Beach Polo World Cup, Matias Magrini (Argentina) became the first 10-goal player in the history of beach polo play.