The USPA would like to share the following information regarding the upcoming changes to the USPA Helmet Requirements (Outdoor Rule 4 and Arena Rule 3). Beginning June 1, 2020 players participating in USPA Events and Club Events, which include any USPA National, Circuit or Sanctioned tournament or league, any Intercollegiate/Interscholastic or National Youth Tournament Series event, as well as any club-level game, league or tournament, will be required to wear helmets that pass the NOCSAE ND050 Polo Helmet Standard. Over the past several years, the USPA Safety Committee has done extensive research on polo helmet safety and has consulted with experts in the departments of bio engineering, sports safety, and liability. In the fall of 2017, the Safety Committee recommended that the Board adopt a rule requiring players to wear a helmet that meets the NOCSAE Polo Helmet Standard to help to reduce the possibility of brain injury. The Board recently approved the changes to the USPA Rules to take effect June 1, 2020, provided that more than one helmet that meets the NOCSAE (National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment) approved polo helmet standard is available to the membership. The Board will continue to monitor the availability of helmets that meet the NOCSAE standard. Please review the following information and feel free to reach out to USPA Membership and Handicap Director Lindsay Dolan at email@example.com or Safety Committee Chairman Dr. Thor Norregaard at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions.
NOCSAE is an independent and nonprofit standards development body that has certification standards for football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, soccer and many other sports. They are also the only organization that has a certification standard that is specific to the sport of polo. In addition, participants in the SEI certification program must hold a valid license agreement with NOCSAE.
In order to receive SEI (Safety Equipment Institute) Certification for ND050 Polo Helmets, manufacturers must pass physical testing of their product, have an on-site audit of their manufacturing facility, have an approved recall procedure, and must maintain $2 million product liability insurance.
The Virginia Tech Helmet lab conducted a review of standards for evaluating helmet performance. In doing so, they compared the following standards:
- NOCSAE ND050
- PAS 015:2001 with BSI Kitemark
- VG1 01.040-2014 with BSI Kitemark
- (BS) EN 1384:2017 with CE mark
- AS/NZS 3838: 2006
- ASTM F1163
- Snell E2001
Following their review, the Virginia Tech Helmet lab recommended the NOCSAE ND050 standard above all of the others. To review the findings, please see the following link: https://www.uspolo.org/assets/pdf/Virginia-Tech-Polo-Standards.pdf
- Currently, the Casablanca NEU helmet is the only helmet that passes both the NOCSAE Polo Standard and the standard required by the Hurlingham Polo Association. As additional helmets that pass the NOCSAE Polo Standard become available, they will be added to the list of approved helmets.
- The new polo helmet mandate (2020 USPA Outdoor Rule 4 and USPA Arena Rule 3) does not take effect until June 1, 2020. However, helmet manufacturers need to have time to produce enough helmets for all USPA members. If all USPA members wait until May to order their NOCSAE helmets, the manufacturers will not have adequate time to produce them.
- Armis and Instinct do not currently produce any helmets that pass the NOCSAE ND050 standard. The USPA conducted preliminary testing in 2017, and at that time there were no helmets that passed the NOCSAE ND050 Standard. In order to obtain this certification, manufacturers will need to develop new helmets or revise current helmet designs to meet the standard.
- The USPA Rules Committee is working to finalize the wording for the NOCASE Helmet Rule. Note, however, that these helmets will only be required for players and umpires. The helmets will not be required for grooms or handlers pursuant to USPA Outdoor Rule 4 and USPA Arena Rule 3.
- Manufacturers may offer discounts to USPA Members, youth players, and for bulk orders. Please contact the manufacturers directly for additional information.
- The USPA is not directly affiliated with any helmet manufacturer and manufacturers have the ability to set their own pricing and may offer discounts.
- Generic riding helmets, which may pass other standards such as the ASTM F1163 Equestrian standard, undergo a different testing protocol and must be replaced after a single impact. Notably, the NOCSAE ND050 testing is designed specifically for the sport of Polo and accounts for multiple impacts which occur from the rider falling, being struck with a mallet or ball or coming in contact with another player. It is also important to note that MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) technology is not required for the NOCSAE ND050 standard.
- Eye protection, such as a facemask must be deemed as an “authorized accessory” by the helmet manufacturer. If the facemask is an “authorized accessory” then it does not void the certification. However, if the end user applies a facemask that is not the helmet manufacturer’s “authorized accessory,” then the NOCSAE/SEI Certification would be void.