Croquet is unusual in that it takes place in two separate arenas. It’s an old game with roots reaching back to the 1850s. It has a particular quirkiness to it that newer games lack. With the growth of clubs and leagues that cater to different demographics, the sport has made a splash on the competitive scene as well. At one point, it was even an Olympic event.
The sports industry has taken note, as well. Croquet has progressed from a simple wooden mallet and plastic balls to equipment that is beneficial to the serious competitor. They follow the rules of the United States Croquet Association (USCA) to make the game more reasonable and predictable for serious players.
Croquet conjures up images of sophistication, which in turn conjures up images of order and regulations. It lends the sport a refined aspect that adds to its attractiveness. It entails a great deal more than simply smashing balls through wickets.
Table of Contents
Where should croquet be played?
First and foremost, where can croquet be played? Because this is a lawn game, the best place to play it is on natural grass. It’s better if the grass is kept as short as possible.
The balls will be able to go faster and more smoothly as a result of this.
Aside from having short grass, the lawn should be flat and even, with no patches, hills, or uneven ground. The longer side of a croquet playing area should be 1.25 times the shorter side.
A full-size garden croquet playing field spans 14m by 17.5m, with flags at each corner to mark the boundaries. If you’re playing on a lawn with long grass or a hard surface, a smaller playing court of 10m x 12.5m or 7m x 8.75m may be preferable. It is best to use units of 7 when marking out a garden croquet playing field.
Rules for accessories and equipment
The equipment is the same regardless of whose croquet rules you follow. You’ll need a measured court with specifics on where other game elements should be placed. The goal is to provide a level playing field.
Everyone begins on the same footing. The rules eliminate any biases that may arise in particular situations or terrains. Whatever form of the sport you play, that component is critical. The following are some more important croquet rules:
For wickets or hoops, iron is the usual material of choice. Each one must be 12 inches tall and no more than 4 inches broad, according to the requirements. They’re mostly white. The first one in the game, on the other hand, is blue across the top or crown. The last one is a bright crimson color. The distinction aids players in determining the direction in which they are playing.
When looking at this piece of equipment, you’ll notice a lot of distinctions between casual and professional play. Most recreational croquet sets do not adhere to the strict regulations. The diameter, weight, and bounce height of the balls are all specified in the official rules. Croquet balls do not come in a variety of colors. Instead, there are four — or sometimes six — hues that are considered acceptable. Blue, red, black, and yellow are the colors. If you’re playing with six balls, you can also use green and orange.
The mallet head is the primary emphasis of these croquet rules. After all, it is the equipment’s business end. The fundamental goal is that nothing about its manufacture will provide it a competitive advantage over wood. Surprisingly, the laws for mallets are less specific than for other objects such as balls.
The diameter and length of these things are also specified. The hue is likewise governed by a set of rules. Stakes must be 18 inches long and 1.5 inches in diameter. The bottom 6 inches are white, with blue, red, black, and yellow bands extending all the way up to the top. The order is the same as it is in the game.
The other permissible objects will assist everyone in keeping track of the game’s progress. They are as follows:
- Starting in the lower left corner and working clockwise around the court, corner flags in blue, red, black, and yellow are placed.
- To keep track of which balls are out of play for roqueting an opponent’s ball, use a deadness board.
- Clips for each player to mark the next wicket
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Depending on the variety in which you are playing, the rules are different. 105 feet long and 84 feet wide is the usual size for both American and Golf croquet. In case you need to scale down the size, this provides you a 5:4 unit ratio. Make sure you stick to those proportions.
Whatever way it is facing, the side at the bottom is south. The far side is north, with the left side being west and the right side being east. One stake will be used, and it will be placed in the center of the court. The size of the playing field determines where the wickets are placed. You’ll make a triangle with three on each side, with the point facing the stake. On both sides, they should be the same distance apart.
Earlier in this essay, we discussed the importance of order in croquet. It’s an important component of the game since you have to go through each wicket in a specific order. That is a part of the problem. In the southwest corner of the court, players begin at the first, blue-topped wicket.
The individual holding the blue ball is the first to begin. You should also have the black one if you’re playing one-on-one. Your opponent will have the red and yellow ones, allowing you to switch between them.
To score a point, you must strike your ball entirely through the wicket. Unless you earn extra shots, you only have one shot per turn. Your turn finishes if you miss the ball. Similarly, if it falls out of bounds, it must be placed 9 inches away from where it went out of play.
You can’t use your mallet to hit your opponent’s balls. It’s also not allowed to slide or use another part of the mallet.
The following is the order in which the next wickets are placed on the court:
- #2: Northwest corner
- #3: Northeast corner
- #4: Southeast corner
- #5: Southcentral wicket
- #6: Northcentral wicket
That’s the first run through the hoops. Then, you must go back. The order is:
- #1 Back: Northwest corner
- #2 Back: Southwest corner
- #Back: Southeast corner
- #4 Back: Northeast corner
- #5 Back: Northcentral wicket
- #6 Back: Northcentral wicket
- Stake Point
This is when skill—as well as luck—comes into play. You earn another turn if you go through a wicket, which is known as a continuation shot. There is another way to obtain one, which increases the match’s competitiveness.
If you make a roquet by hitting another opponent’s ball, pat yourself on the back. You get a croquet shot for that. You can then take your ball and place it next to your opponent’s, according to USCA guidelines. Then you may hit them both with a single swing. Neither of them should cross the line.
However, you’ll get your continuation shot after that. You also can’t strike the same opponent’s ball until you’ve completed your next hoop. It signifies you’re dead on that ball in croquet slang. The deadness board keeps track of this.
However, there are a few restrictions. Your first wicket must have been taken by both you and your opponent. Otherwise, it isn’t counted and there isn’t an extra shot. It’s also either a roquet or a score, not both. Your ball can go out of bounds, but your opponent cannot. That is, after all, why there is a clearly defined court.
Rover ball rules
The ultimate point, as we indicated earlier in the sequence, is when you hit the stake. If you’re playing one-on-one, don’t be afraid to go for it and win. If you’re on a team, you might want to reconsider. The rover ball joins the game at this point.
You’re done once you’ve struck the stake, and your ball will exit the court. It becomes the rover ball if you delay the stroke. This is where you can cause chaos for the opposing team. You can keep making roquets to give your teammate extra opportunities to shoot hoops.
Keep two things in mind. If your ball hits the stake, your opponents will be able to pull it out of play. The second point to note is that you can only roquet on the others once. You’ve already scored after going through all of the wickets.
Basic croquet rules
Gard croquet is commonly played with six hoops, however as previously stated, different versions of the game are conceivable. These versions increase the game’s complexity while also imposing harsher rules. Furthermore, a 6-hoop setup enables for a shorter game that does not drag on for hours.
The following are the basic principles that apply when playing croquet in a relaxed social setting.
Rule #1: Croquet is played with four balls of different colors: blue, red, black, and yellow.
These balls must be played in this order, and the colors are painted on the central peg to remind you of this. Blue and black are always on the same team, and red and yellow are on the same team as well. One player uses blue and black balls while the other uses yellow and red balls when playing singles. Each player has their own ball when playing doubles, although blue partners have black and red partners have yellow.
Rule #2: The winning team is determined by a coin flip. The striker is the player whose turn it is to play. The winner of the coin toss always plays the blue ball first. Each player must take a turn. No one is permitted to ‘pass.’ Unless extra shots have been earned, you can only make one strike per turn.
Rule #3: You can win extra shots by: dribbling a basketball through a hoop (passing a ball through the hoop). You’ll get an extra shot as a result of this. Making a roquet or striking any of the other three balls. You’ll get two extra shots as a result of this.
Rule #4: Bonus shots are never added to your total. As a result, you’ll only ever get one or two bonus shots, never three. You get two more shots if your ball strikes another ball and then goes through the hoop, but no hoop points are awarded. You get hoop points and an extra shot if your ball gets through the hoop and then impacts another ball in the same shot. The roquet goes unnoticed.
Rule #5: Only use the face of the mallet head to strike a ball; no other portion of the mallet shall be used. Any other portion of the mallet touching the ball is a fault, which means the turn stops and you don’t get any points.
Rule #6: Once the hoops and pegs are in place, they cannot be moved to make play easier.
Rule #7: Striking a ball outside the court’s bounds has no consequences. You simply return the ball to a certain distance from the boundary. The agreed-upon distance could be the length of a mallet shaft or less. The player’s turn continues if they have another shot.
Rule #8: Players only advance to the next hoop when at least one player has completed the previous one. Running a hoop may take more than one spin. If your ball is hit by an opponent’s ball and passes through a hoop, you gain credit for the run and can move on to the next hoop.
The first person or team to run all seven hoops wins the game.
Rule #9: A hoop can only be used to score points if the ball completely passes the hoop and no part of it is visible on the other side. In order for a score to be recorded, the ball must enter the hoop from the correct side.
Setting up a croquet game
Step 1: Begin defining the 14m x 17.5m playing area’s boundaries.
Use flags to mark each corner.
Step 2: Place the peg in the exact middle of the playing area that has been marked off.
Step 3: Draw a 7m x 10.5m rectangle with the peg in the center and four hoops on each corner of this smaller rectangle. All of these pegs should be equally spaced from the peg.
Step 4: Place two hoops each 3.5m from either end of the peg along the longer centerline of the playing area. Each of the six hoops should be aligned with the shorter side of the playing area.
As indicated below, the blue-top hoop goes in position 1 and the red-top hoop in position 6.
Each time a ball is passed through the hoop, the player receives one point. In addition, when a ball hits the peg at the end of the six hoops, one point is granted. So, if you’re playing with two balls and you run them all through the six hoops, you’ll get 12 points.
When you add two points for striking the peg, you have a total of 14 points at the end of the game. A ball that has scored all six hoop points as well as a peg point is removed from play by removing it from the playing area.
A poison ball, also known as a rover in croquet, is a ball that has passed through all the hoops but has yet to strike the peg. In croquet, hitting the peg is always the last move for any ball. Points are awarded after this is accomplished, and the ball is tagged out.
If a poison ball hits an opponent’s ball, the opponent’s ball is taken out of play and no points are scored. If an opponent’s ball instead strikes the poison ball, the poison ball is removed from play and no points are awarded once more.
If the poison ball passes through any hoop in any direction, it will be taken out of play. If the poison ball hits another ball, the player does not receive any bonus shots.
Players battle to determine who can become poison first when playing poison croquet. The player will next use their poisoned ball to eliminate an opponent’s balls from the game. Any ball that is hit by a poison ball is taken out of the game.
In this variation of poison croquet, the game is won by the last person standing. Because more than one player can have a poison ball, the game can be won by anyone depending on their roquet success. Poison croquet is a popular croquet variation among amateur players due to its simple rules. It also has the advantage of being able to be played on practically any surface, including rocky ground. It is not necessary to have a well-kept lawn.
When you hit a croquet ball, what happens?
A roquet occurs when your striker ball collides with another ball in the same shot. A striker gains two extra shots when they make a roquet: a croquet shot and a continuation shot. That is the order in which the croquet and continuation shots should be taken.
The striker’s ball is placed in touch with the ball you hit when making a croquet shot. The striker’s ball is the only one you can move. The other ball remains in its original position. After making contact with both balls, you hit the striker’s ball, displacing both balls.
A roqueted ball has been struck by a striker ball, but the croquet shot has yet to be taken. This roqueted ball is now known as a croqueted ball after a player has taken the croquet shot.
The croqueted ball must move or shake when the player takes the shot for it to count. If the roqueted ball fails to do so, the turn is declared a failure, and the game is over. The player is unable to complete the shot. In this case, the opponent has the option of repositioning the balls as they were prior to the croquet shot or leaving them where they are.
After the striker ball has come to rest after being dislodged in the croquet shot, you hit it again in a continuation shot. An ordinary stroke is a continuation shot.
Hitting a croquet ball
Three things can happen when you hit a croquet ball. You might hoop a ball, roquet a ball, or transfer your ball into a more advantageous position. Whatever you want to accomplish with a shot, the optimal stance is to stand with the mallet between your thighs and swing it smoothly and beautifully. If you want to hit the croquet ball successfully, you must pay attention to a few criteria.
Stalking is required for proper body alignment. When you stalk the striker ball, you walk up to it along the line you want to hit it. This will allow you to properly position your feet as well as line your body with the stroke’s direction.
Your hips and shoulders should be perpendicular to the swing’s direction. The rule is that the ball will always travel in the same direction as your body. Cast over the ball with a few pendulum-like practice swings to make sure you have the proper alignment. Just make sure you don’t hit the ball with your hand.
Swing the mallet from the shoulder rather than the wrists. This will give you a long pendulum, allowing you to maximize the energy of the stroke. To avoid the mallet twisting and going off-line, make sure you have a firm grasp on it.
Maintain a calm demeanor with your head down, shoulders steady, and eyes fixed on the ball.
Lift your head only after the ball has been struck, keeping your eyes firmly fixated on the ball. When you lift your head during a swing, your shoulders move, interfering with the shot’s alignment.
Keep your eyes fixated on the point you aim to hit instead of just glancing at the ball. This will improve your odds of striking that spot with the mallet’s face in the center. When you hear your ball go through the hoop, you know you’re playing croquet the right way. When you see that, don’t do it.
When playing croquet, having a good follow-through, just like when playing golf, will guarantee that the mallet stays in the correct line alignment. The mallet should move parallel to the ground for about a foot or so as it follows the ball.
The grip should be natural and comfortable. The three most popular categories are:
With the knuckles pointing forward, the upper hand grips the shaft near the top. With the thumb down, the lower hand supports the back of the shaft. The distance between the hands is a personal preference, however, it is often preferable to have them close together.
With the knuckles in front and the thumbs on top, both hands grab the top of the shaft. The hands are almost always clasped together tightly. This grip allows for a powerful backswing.
The palms of both the upper and lower hands grip the shaft, either behind or to the side. In comparison to the other designs, the grip is usually lower down the shaft.
Here’s a quick video showing you the 3 different grips
Variations in rules
Since most recreational sets have nine hoops, this variant makes sense. To accommodate the extra wickets, the court has been altered in size. Instead of the conventional size, it is 100 feet long and 50 feet wide.
The position of the wickets varies as well. You’ll place a wicket in the middle of the court, which will serve as one point for the two stacked diamond shapes that run the length of the field. At the center of the south and north ends, there are two posts, each with a hoop in front of them.
The sequence begins in front of the south stake, at the blue-topped wicket. Then, proceeding counterclockwise around the east side, follow the outline of the diamonds. The north stake is the pivotal one, and you’ll hit it for one point. Then it’s back down the west side to the starting place.
The same rules apply to nine-wicket croquet as they do to making a roquet and scoring extra points. We should also mention that the wickets’ arrangement can make scoring two hoops at the stakes rather easy. However, according to USCA rules, you only get one continuation shot, not two.
You can utilize all six balls in this variation because most sets will have six balls. You’ll play the balls in the same order as before, starting with green and ending with orange. The former goes to the blue-black squad, whereas the latter goes to the red-yellow team.
If you want to spice things up, turn the rover ball into a poison ball. The person who has the poison ball has the ability to roquet other players. Any struck balls, on the other hand, are removed from the game. Opponents can also take the poison ball away if they hit it or if it passes through a hoop.
American Six-Wicket Croquet
In the United States, this type of croquet is very popular. It is similar to Association croquet in most ways, but there are a few key variances.
There is no baulk line or yard line, and the court layout and play direction are the same as in Association croquet. If a ball gets out of bounds, it is replaced nine inches from where it went out of bounds on the opposite side of the boundary.
Rather than starting from either baulk line, each ball takes the initial shot from the starting area, which is a mallet’s length in front of wicket No 1.
Players cannot play with either of their balls; they must play them in the order of the colors depicted on the stake. A ball that has not scored the No. 1 wicket has only one shot per turn and is considered “dead” by all other balls. A ball that has scored the No. 1 wicket may not block the shot or impede the swing of any other ball.
A ball that has not yet scored the wicket cannot impede the shot of one that has. The blocking ball is raised and replaced after the shot if either of these situations occurs.
A ball that hasn’t scored the No. 1 wicket may hit any other ball that hasn’t scored the wicket, but there is no roquet and the turn ends unless the striker’s ball scores the wicket.
A ball that scores the No. 1 wicket is given a continuation shot, while all other balls are considered “dead.”
American Garden Croquet
In the United States and Canada, this is a popular family game. The field is about 100 x 50 feet, but lesser proportions are appropriate, and the size and shape of the garden often dictates the limits rather than tradition! There are nine wickets and two stakes in this game.
The “finishing stake” is six feet in from the South boundary’s midpoint. Two wickets are set north of this stake, one 6 feet away from the center and the other 6 feet away from the center. Two wickets, each six feet in from either side, are located sixteen feet northward.
The middle wicket, which is positioned in the precise center of the lawn, is 16 feet away. The other four wickets are positioned in a mirror copy of the southern half of the lawn, with the “turning stake” put six feet from the northern border to finish the arrangement.
The game begins with a player placing the ball a mallet’s length ahead of the finishing stake, with the first shot generally being a stroke through the first two wickets. The game is divided into two halves: initially, a ball goes north through seven wickets before striking the “turning stake.”
The ball then travels south through seven wickets before reaching the finishing stake. The two Southerly wickets, the South-West wicket, the Centre wicket, the North-West wicket, and finally the two wickets in front of the turning stake are in order in the first half.
The ball passes through the two Northerly wickets, the North East wicket, the center wicket, the South East wicket, and the two Southerly wickets on its way back.
The regulations are similar to those of the American game, with the exception that there is no “living or dead” rule. In most ways, the returning stake acts as a wicket, allowing the three other balls to be roqueted again once the returning stake is hit.
A player has two extra shots after making a roquet, the first of which can be either a croquet or a regular shot at the player’s discretion. Two continuation strokes are allowed when a ball travels through two wickets or a wicket and then hits the returning stake in one stroke.
Additional strokes, on the other hand, are not cumulative, so if a ball roquets another directly from a croquet or after passing through a wicket, the croquet and the continuation stroke from the roquet are the only options.
The final distinction is that in croquet, a player is permitted to place their foot on their own ball, allowing it to remain in place while the croqueted ball is launched flying into the bushes!
Perhaps this version of the game exists because the mallet resembles a club. You’ll enjoy this version if you enjoy golf’s gameplay. With one exception, the court and wicket arrangement is like that of American Croquet.
At the center of the court, there are two penalty areas on the east and west sides. Another rule, offside balls, brings these semi-circular zones into play. The game starts in the southeast corner, somewhere within 3 feet.
The sequence is identical to that used in American Croquet. However, instead of every player receiving a point for hooping, only the first player to do so receives a point. It resembles the Ryder Cup match play in some ways.
You do not gain the point if you strike an opponent’s ball through the wicket. If two people walk through it, the one who comes closest to the score wins the point. The game is won by the first player to reach seven points.
Let us now discuss the Halfway Rule. Let’s say you make a stroke and get a point. An offside ball is one that is less than half the distance to the next wicket in the sequence. That does not count one’s hit by the opposing team or the ones you just played.
If you have the offside ball, your opponent has the option of putting you in whichever penalty area they want. They can also tell you which way to turn on your next turn to depart the region.
When you think about it, it makes sense. After all, interference occurs when your opponent’s ball gets on the path of your next stroke. If this game appears competitive at first glance, you are correct. The existence of a Golf Croquet World Championship is unsurprising.
Croquet regulations are simple, even if they appear to be so at first. If you’re traveling in any direction, shooting hoops isn’t nearly as difficult. To succeed, the wicket sequence necessitates talent and strategy. When these cards are on the table, the game’s typically languid pace becomes more action-packed and exciting. If there’s one thing you can count on, it’ll be more varieties of this backyard game.