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Dr Ian Plummer

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Aiming in Croquet Strokes - Not Half the Angle!

A problem which puzzles beginners is at what angle should they hit a croquet stroke to get the balls to go where they want them to? There are two components to getting a croquet stroke right.

  1. The line of aim along which the mallet is swung must be correct AND
  2. The type of stroke must be correct; hence if you want the back ball to go a short distance relative to the croquetted ball you play it as a stop shot or if it should travel a long distance then you play it as a roll.

Normally beginners are given a good piece of advice:

a). "Place the striker's ball in contact with the croquetted ball so that the line linking the centres of the balls points in the direction which the croquetted ball should travel". RIGHT!

Next they are given duff advice:

b) "Strike on a line that halves the angle between the balls' destinations". WRONG!

There is only one case where this is correct. This is illustrated in the following diagram:

ONLY case of half the angle

The balls are travelling identical distances. 'A-a' is the aiming line along which the mallet is swung. Since the balls travel the same distance this stroke would be played as a roll stroke, i.e. the mallet would be gripped low down, angled over the back ball and the stroke played with plenty of follow-through. This is the only time when you can 'halve the angle"!

Consider the following diagram, blue travels a much shorter distance than yellow but along the same line as red in the previous diagram:

aiming for the stop shot

Here 'B-b' is the line to aim along and the stroke is played as a stop shot since the back ball travels a short distance, i.e. you hold the mallet at the top, stand back from the balls and play a stab shot with no follow-through.

What is the Trick?

Simple, follow step a) above to line up the croquetted ball, then visualise the mid point on a line linking the desired final positions of each ball and swing the mallet towards that. That is: point 'a' for the roll and point 'b' for the stop shot. Play the stroke in the appropriate way to get the right ratio of distances travelled and voilá.

You can practise by placing markers at your expected ball final positions and an aiming mark mid way between them.

difference in aiming marks

[For the purists, if the ratio between the distances travelled by the balls is large, then you need to aim slightly towards the track of the ball travelling the shorter distance. See Take-Offs: Where to Aim? and Mid-Point Aiming in the technical Section.]


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Updated 28.i.16
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