Based on feedback the USPA has received from Members and Member Clubs, the USPA Officers requested and the USPA Executive Committee approved the below variance from USPA Outdoor Rule 4.a and USPA Arena Rule 3.a(2), respectively – i.e., the NOCSAE helmet mandate rules which currently become fully effective, Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Variance from USPA Outdoor Rule 4.a and USPA Arena Rule 3.a(2)

USPA Members who do not possess a helmet that is certified to meet the NOCSAE ND050 Standard Performance Specification for Newly Manufactured Polo Helmets (a “NOCSAE Compliant Helmet”) as of May 1, 2021, may nevertheless participate in a USPA Event or Club Event using a protective helmet that is not a NOCSAE Compliant Helmet, provided that (1) they provide definitive proof that they have ordered a NOCSAE Compliant Helmet prior to May 1, 2021, which has not yet been delivered, or (2) they demonstrate that they do in fact possess a NOCSAE Compliant Helmet that has been damaged and they (a) either provide definitive proof that they have ordered another NOCSAE Compliant Helmet after their original NOCSAE Compliant Helmet was damaged which has not yet been delivered, or (b) agree to provide such proof before their next game if their NOCSAE Compliant helmet has been damaged during a game that they intend to complete using a protective helmet that is not a NOCSAE Compliant Helmet; and (3) that each such affected USPA Member first executes in writing (c) a waiver of liability to be drafted by USPA counsel in favor of the USPA and its Member Clubs for any claims that might arise from the use of a helmet that is not a NOCSAE Compliant Helmet, and (d) an acknowledgment that the variance will expire as to them when the NOCSAE Compliant Helmet they have ordered is delivered.


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 May 1, 2021 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 May 1, 2021, 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 ldolan@uspolo.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, and 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 and the Charles Owen Sovereign are the only helmets that pass 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 May 1, 2021. 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.
  • 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.

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