Ignacio Fernandez Llorente on Improving Polo Umpiring

Ignacio Fernandez Llorente, polo player and umpire agreed to meet up with the polo blog to talk about his latest project; a concept where a recording camera is attached to the umpire’s helmet helping players, training umpires and polo fans to view the action from a very different perspective.

Polo Blog (PB): For how long have you been connected to polo?

Ignacio Fernandez Llorente (IFL): Pretty much since I was born. My whole family used to play polo and I played my first tournament when I was only 13 years old, and then it went on from there.

PB: With whom did you play polo and at what level?

IFL: While my older brothers were playing with my uncles, I started out playing with my younger siblings at first. Out of 11 siblings, 7 of us took up polo, and we were all playing from a very young age. I eventually reached a 5 goal-handicap, which is not bad at all considering that I never actually devoted myself 100%. I’ve always worked or studied at the same time as playing polo.

PB: What did you study?

IFL: I have a bachelor degree in business administration (BBA). I’m also a certified public account and I have a MBA in economy.

PB: When did you begin to umpire?

IFL: In 2010, I did the umpire’s AAP’s course again, having initially done it back in 1992 when it was still very unusual to have umpires who were also professionals. At that time, I was playing, studying and I had a polo school all at the same time, so there wasn’t too my space to expand my passion and being a polo umpire, which is something I have always wanted to do.

PB: And in all those years how has umpiring improved?

IFL: I think it’s improved a lot, and the current referees are increasingly better prepared for the matches.

PB: Tell us what was your idea to help improving umpiring?

IFL: In trying to improve umpiring, it occurred to me, to record the teams playing. I decided to fix a camera to the front of my helmet, so I could record the game while I was umpiring the game. At first the video did not come out very well because there was a lot of movement but I learned how to fix it in a way that absorbed the movement, and made the recording nice and neat to look at afterwards.

It gives the players and umpires and everybody involved in the match, the chance to see and analyse all their moves and from there learn from the mistakes, strategies etc.
Many players like watching those videos because it gives them the opportunity to spot what exactly went wrong, what would have been the right move and so on.

I have now uploaded more than 40 videos to Youtube, and I think that players are taking great advantage of my videos. If I were a player I would love to be able to see myself in the video, check other players’ moves, where I could improve, or what I ought to change in order to improve my team performance. The majority of the polo players have never seen themselves play – it’s very rare to find a player who has had the chance to watch his own game. The video also serves as proof for cases of indiscipline, or dangerous or unfair player actions.

The purpose of the videos are purely to watch and study the polo, I don’t present the results, who won or lost on the day, handicaps or who scored the goals. In the videos you’ll hear everything that happens on the field, and you’ll be able to see the shots from really interesting angles, which is a great help when wanting to improve your game.

PB: So, Ignacio, how are you planning to continue improving umpiring in the future?

IFL: It is necessary to keep on filming and improving the quality of the videos. I am preparing videos with specific fouls and moves, I also have a new design to raise balls which is different from standard Bochero design, which I’m planning to continue improving.

PB: And where can people watch your polo videos if they want to improve their skills?

IFL: You can find and watch all the videos on my Youtube channel called “inPOLOin” – anyone who is interested is more than welcome to subscribe.

To watch all of Ignacio’s polo videos or to subscribe to the channel go to http://www.youtube.com/user/inpoloin

Below you’ll find a few of the latest videos from Sotogrande and Hamburg. They are truly mesmerising.