A polo handicap is a system created by Henry Lloyd Herbert, the first president of the United States Polo Association, at the founding of the USPA in 1890 so teams could be more evenly matched when using players with varying abilities.
The players are rated on a scale from minus-2 to 10. Minus-2 indicates a novice player, while a player rated at 10 goals has the highest handicap possible. It is so difficult to attain a 10-goal handicap that there are fewer than two dozen in the world, and about two-thirds of all players handicapped are rated at two goals or less. Currently, most living ten-goal players are Argentine, with few exceptions.
Handicaps of five goals and above generally belong to professional players. It is not (nor has it ever been) an estimate of the number of goals a player might score in a game, but rather of the player's worth to his or her team. It is the overall rating of a player's horsemanship, team play, knowledge of the game, strategy, and horses. At one time, polo was the only sport in the world that considered sportsmanship when rating a player.
In matches played by "handicapped" players (as opposed to open competition, where handicaps are not considered), the handicaps of all four players are totaled. If the total handicap of a team is more than that of the team against which they are playing, the difference is added to the scoreboard. For example, if the Mounties polo team has a total handicap of six goals and the Tayto team has a handicap of four goals, Tayto would begin the match with a two-goal advantage.
A player's handicap is usually assessed by a committee at the authorizing club of his country. A professional player may be assigned an equivalent rating in countries where he competes. Though standards are similar, the ratings may be expressed differently. e.g.:
Argentina: 0 to 10
USA: C (-2), B (-1), B+ (-0.5), A (0), A+ (0.5), 1.0, 1.5, 2 to 10
England: -2 to 10.
Ten-goal players, highest handicap achieved in outdoor poloEdit
- Rodolphe Louis Agassiz (1871–1933) – USA
- Mariano Aguerre (born 1969) – Argentina / USA 
- Alejandro Diaz Alberdi - Argentina
- Enrique Alberdi - Argentina
- Juan ALberdi - Argentina
- Mike Azzaro – USA
- Miguel (Miki) Novillo Astrada – Argentina
- Gerald Barnard Balding Sr. (1903–1957) - England's last 10 goal player.
- Adolfo Cambiaso (born 1975) – Argentina
- Guillermo (Sapo) Caset - Argentina
- Bartolomé Castagnola (born 1970) – Argentina 
- Carlos Gracida (1960–2014) – Mexico
- Guillermo Gracida Jr. (1956) - Mexico
- Alfredo Harriott – Argentina (born 1945)
- Juan C. Harriott Jr. (born 1936) - Argentina 
- Alberto Pedro Heguy – Argentina (born 1941)
- Bautista Heguy – Argentina / England
- Gonzalo Heguy - Argentina
- Horacio Heguy - Argentina
- Ignacio Heguy – Argentina
- Marcos Heguy – Argentina
- Tommy Hitchcock, Jr. (1900 –1944) – USA
- Foxhall Keene (1867–1941) - USA
- Lewis Lacey (1887–1966) – Argentina.
- Juan Martin Nero - Argentina.
- Pablo Mac Donough (born 1982) – Argentina / Spain / USA
- Agustin Merlos – Argentina / Spain / USA
- Sebastian Merlos – Argentina
- Lucas Monteverde (born 1976) – Argentina
- Juan Martin Nero – Argentina / Spain
- Alfonso Pieres - Argentina
- Nicolas (Nico) Pieres - Argentina
- Facundo (Facu) Pieres (born 1986) – Argentina / USA
- Gonzalo Pieres Jr. (born 1982) – Argentina / France
- Gonzalo Pieres Sr. - Argentina
- Pablo (Polito) Pieres (born 1987) – Argentina 
- Aidan Roark (1905–1984) – Ireland 
- John Sinclair-Hill (born 1934) - Australia
- Bob Skene (1914–1997) - Australia
- David Stirling (born 1981) – Uruguay 
- Louis Ezekiel Stoddard (1881–1951) – USA 
- John Arthur Edward Traill (1882–1958) – Argentina / Ireland 
- Ernesto Trotz - Argentina
- Hilario Ulloa (born 1985) – Argentina
- Tommy Wayman (born 1946) – USA
Nine-goal players, with a maximum 9-goal handicap achieved in outdoor poloEdit
- Rodrigo De Andrade - Brazil
- Eduardo Novillo Astrada – Argentina
- Ignacio Novillo Astrada – Argentina
- Javier Novillo Astrada – Argentina
- Joginder Singh Baidwan (1904–1940) - India
- Francisco Bensadon - Argentina
- Juan Britos - Argentina
- Alfredo Capella Barabucci - Argentina
- Bartolome (Barto) Castagnola - Argentina
- Camilo (Jeta) Castagnola - Argentina
- Diego Cavanagh - Argentina
- Santiago Chavanne – Argentina
- Lucas Criado – Argentina
- Francisco DeNarvaez – Argentina
- Alejandro Diaz-Alberdi (born 1963) – Argentina
- Gabriel Donoso (1960–2006) – Chile
- Ignatius (Nachi) Du Plessis - South Africa
- Francisco Elizalde - Argentina
- Elbridge T. Gerry Sr. (1908-1999) - United States
- Alberto Heguy – Argentina
- Eduardo Heguy – Argentina
- Howard Hipwood - England
- Julian Hipwood - England
- Matias MacDonough – Argentina
- Juan Alberto Merlos (1945) – Argentina
- Juan I. Merlos – Argentina
- Man Singh II (1912-1970) – India
- Facundo Sola - Argentina
- Guillermo Terrera - Argentina
- Santiago (Santi) Toccalino - Argentina
- Eric Leader Pedley (1896-1986) - United States
- Laffaye, Horace A. (2009). The Evolution of Polo. McFarland & C. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-7864-3814-3.
- "Polo 101". US Polo Association. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-04-14.
- "The Polo Handicap". POLO+10 The Polo Magazine. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
- Laffaye, Horace A. (10 January 2014). Polo in the United States. ISBN 9780786480074. Retrieved 2012-11-19.
... Rodolphe Louis Agassiz reached the 10-goal summit.
- Polo Players Handicap, Federation of International Polo. Retrieved February 27, 2012 Archived December 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- Laffaye, Horace A. (2004). The polo encyclopedia. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 159. ISBN 0-7864-1724-2.
- Profiles in Polo: The Players Who Changed the Game Edited by Horace A. Laffaye
- Laffaye, Horace A. (2004). The polo encyclopedia. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 164. ISBN 0-7864-1724-2.
- Mander, Benedict (13 June 2014). "Pablo Pieres: 'It's hard work, but living a dream'". Financial Times. Retrieved 27 April 2017.
- World Polo Tour Ranking, retrieved 27 April 2017
- Leonard Mosley (1985). Zanuck: The rise and fall of Hollywood's last tycoon. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780070434653.
His name was Aidan Roark and he was a charming Englishman and a ten-goal player of polo. Aside from his skill with a mount and a polo mallet, Roark really didn't have a brain in his head. Zanuck installed him in an office at Fox and ...
- "HALL OF FAME" (PDF). nswpolo.com.au. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
- Laffaye, Horace A. (2004). The polo encyclopedia. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 169. ISBN 0-7864-1724-2.
-  Retrieved October 29, 2014
- "Died". Time. March 22, 1948. Archived from the original on February 1, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
Louis Ezekiel Stoddard, 70, socialite polo star of three decades ago; of a heart ailment; in Los Angeles. He played on two international challenge teams (1913, 1921), became a ten-goal man in 1922.
- Laffaye, Horace A. (2007). "Johnny Traill: An Irishman from the Pampas". Profiles in Polo:The Players Who Changed the Game. McFarland & Company. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-7864-3131-1.
- "Ulloa to Reach the Sport's Top Handicap". Archived from the original on 31 October 2017. Retrieved 21 April 2017.