Silver Gilt Coaching -
Course notes accompanying the Silver Gilt Coaching Course
Advanced Play - a Review of Law
- Remember that the entitlement to a lift or contact is an option and, therefore,
- A player cannot avoid conceding a contact by peeling partner ball through
1-back in the same turn as he scores 1-back and 4-back with his own ball.
- A player who pegs out any ball during the game is not entitled to any
further lift or contact under Law 36,
but does not lose the entitlement to any lift under Law
13. (Some players wrongly assume that wiring lifts are also forfeited).
- Where on the third or fourth turn if a contact has been conceded under
Law 36, remember that the contact releases you from the obligation to play
your second ball from a baulk-line.
- Remember that unlike in handicap play, where a player may not peg out
one of his balls before the other has become a rover, either ball may be
pegged out (provided that it is a rover) at any time, and that can happen
The opening is a fight to get the innings with the first chance of a break.
A common mistake is for players to ignore the tice and join up a yard apart
on the east boundary, oblivious to the fact that the opponent will have an
easy opportunity, if he hits his own tice.
Have it clear in your own mind how to deal with the common openings. If you
are presented with an opening you have not seen before, think carefully before
you play the next ball. If you have not come across the opening before the
chances are that it is unsound and your opponent is using it simply to panic
you into an ill considered response.
Picking Up Breaks
- Precision Croquet. With precision croquet the emphasis is on
playing relatively easy shots with a great deal of control. On the hoop approach
the player should aim to get as close as possible to the hoop before running
it. This should be followed by a controlled hoop leaving a good rush to a
useful place, either to the next hoop or another ball.
If the rush is to another ball, usually on a yard-line, a little croquet
stroke will bring the rushed ball out from the boundary and leave a rush
on the yard-line ball to the next hoop. With sequences of hoops, rushes and
croquet strokes the balls will be brought out into the lawn into positions
where it will be possible to play a croquet stroke which actually sends out
a pioneer. The break will then be established.
- Aggressive Croquet. In aggressive croquet the object of getting
as close as possible to a hoop is temporarily abandoned in favour of getting
out a pioneer to the next hoop but one. Then, if the next hoop is made, the
break is quickly established. This type of play will often involve playing
a hoop approach from a corner.
- The break must be managed in such a way as to reduce the risk of breaking
down as much as possible, and this is even more important when the conditions
- The essence of good break management lies in good control of all the strokes,
particularly hoop running, and in thinking ahead to make the next stroke
as easy as possible. For example, good control at a hoop can leave a rush
towards the pivot, thus reducing the distance from which the pioneer is sent
out, as well as enabling the croquet stroke to be played with a drive or
stop shot instead of a half-roll. With this croquet stroke an attempt can
be made to get a rush on the pivot towards the next hoop, in order to reduce
the distance between the pivot and the pioneer.
- The pivot need not 'hug' the peg but can move around with the break. A
position half way between the hoop and peg can be used to advantage, if the
player is not certain to get a rush after running he hoop. Once control of
the break has been gained, a position roughly half way between the next two
hoops is useful. If it is impossible to get the intended ball as a good pioneer
at the next hoop but one, or if the attempt has been unsuccessful, the pivot
and pioneer can be interchanged.
- Early pioneers become more appropriate in advanced play than in handicap
play. In this respect, the early pioneer to 2-back is customary with expert
players, as is the early pioneer to hoop 6 provided that control of the break
has been achieved. However, players should not slavishly follow what they
may regard as expert play. It is almost a prerequisite that the pioneer at
the next hoop should be in the right position before considering an early
- As a general rule every shot should be played to make the next shot as
easy as possible. This is the basis of precision croquet and its application
to break play will considerably reduce the risk of breaking down.
- The Wafer Cannon. The gap between the striker's ball and the
ball to be roqueted is 'wafer-thin', hence the name of the cannon. The line
of swing is usually, but not necessarily, through the centres of these balls.
To a good approximation, the roqueted ball is rushed along this line. Note,
however, that it is not exact, and some care has to be taken if the intention
is to rush the roqueted ball along a yard-line; the rushed ball will usually
go off the boundary. Invariably, the croqueted ball will move several yards
in a hard stroke, so that this cannon is not advisable where there is a danger
of sending the croqueted ball off the lawn.
Instead of the wafer cannon it is possible to play to get a 'dolly' rush
by playing the croqueted ball into the yard-line area without disturbing
the third ball. The croqueted ball should, of course, be replaced on the
yard-line before taking the rush.
- The Promotion Cannon. This is most useful when the fourth ball
may still be roqueted and is nearby. It is then possible to promote the third
ball to the next hoop as a pioneer, whilst remaining in position to roquet
the fourth ball. The four-ball cannon is a special case of the promotion
cannon, where the fourth ball is actually roqueted in the same stroke.
- The Open Cannon. Strictly speaking, the open cannon is not a
true cannon (it is sometimes called a pseudo-cannon), as it does not arise
from a three-ball group. However, the third ball is sufficiently close so
that it may confidently be roqueted in the croquet stroke. The position sometimes
occurs at the first corner, when a return shot at the tice finishes on the
south boundary a short distance from the corner spot. The tice is then rushed
into first corner. The cannon is easier than it looks, but it requires a
good feel for the croquet stroke to get a good rush of the third ball to
Principles of Leaves
- In this section we are concerned only with 'lift' leaves which ensue after
the first nine hoops have been negotiated successfully. The leave should
be planned as early as possible during the break and certainly not left to
be sorted out after 3-back.
- Bearing in mind that the lift may be taken from either baulk, the player
should be thinking about the following points when planning a leave:
- Lengthening the opponent's shot,
- The chance to pick up a break, should the opponent not hit in,
- The chance for the opponent to pick up a break, if he does hit,
- 'Forcing' the opponent to lift a particular ball;
The Old Standard Leave (OSL)
The New Standard Leave (NSL)
The Diagonal Spread
The Old Standard Leave (OSL)
Black/blue has available a shot of some 13/14 yards at Red or Yellow (the
so-called 'short' lift shot), or can shoot with Black at Blue. If any shot
is missed then Red (for hoop 1) has a good chance to pick up a break. Equally,
if Black/blue hits the short lift shot, their chances are good. There is no
element of forcing.
Black/blue has no shot less than 17 yards. If black shoots from third comer
at Red/yellow, Red has a good chance of the break. If Blue shoots at Red/Yellow
from third corner, there is still a good chance of picking up a three- ball
The Diagonal Spread
Once again Black/blue has no shot less than 17 yards. If the shot misses,
Red has a good chance of a three-ball break, whichever ball has been lifted
and whichever shot has been taken.
Pick-Up of the Break from the Missed Lift
- This is one of the rare occasions when the disposition of the balls will
be fixed at the start of the turn, and it occurs often enough to demand practice.
There is little point in making a particular leave if the player can not
make the pick-up.
- The OSL after the 'short' lift shot
The opponent's ball is croqueted towards hoop 4, leaving a rush on partner
ball to either the ball by the peg or the ball near hoop 2, depending on
which has been lifted. Partner ball is croqueted to hoop 2, leaving a rush
on the opponent ball to hoop 1.
- The NSL
Partner ball is roqueted gently and the take-off is played to the ball in
the fourth corner. This ball is then roqueted and croqueted to hoop 2,
leaving a rush on the ball at hoop 4 to hoop 1. The key shot is the croquet
stroke from corner IV to hoop 2, leaving a rush on the ball by hoop 4.
It is worth concentrating on this one particular shot if the NSL is a favoured
- The Diagonal Spread
Partner ball is rushed to whichever opponent ball has not been lifted and
then stopped to hoop 2, leaving a rush on the opponent ball to hoop 1.
- Remember that the break should not be sacrificed for the sake of the peels.
- Peeling requires good control of rushing, hoop approaches and hoop running.
Practice these skills and once you acquire them, single and double peels
will follow naturally.
- Remember to make an allowance for pull where a peel is attempted in a
The Straight Rover Peel
- Use the peelee as pioneer at 3-back or 4-back. Plan ahead for this.
- Try to approach penult with the peelee in front of rover and the pivot
between the peg and rover.
- After penult send the original penult pioneer close to the south boundary
with your ball going to the pivot.
- Send the pivot about 3 feet to the side of and just past rover with your
ball going to the peelee
- Peel with a firm grip. A drive is best if you have room. If you must peel
with a stop shot, take care not to let the mallet twist.
- It is a good idea to have a ball near the south boundary, to guard against
a jump or half-jump over the peelee, should the peel crawl through or stick.
The Penult Peel
- Arrange to have the peelee as pioneer at hoop 6. This may be achieved
by putting it there as an early pioneer after making hoop 3 or as part of
a normal 4-ball break after making hoop 4.
- When making hoop 5 arrange to have the pivot ball between the peg and
- After 5 sent the croqueted ball to 1-back finishing near the pivot.
- Send the pivot about 2 feet to the West of hoop 6. This will be the escape
- Roquet the ball to be peeled in front of hoop 6 and slightly to the side.
Croquet it directly behind the hoop into a peeling position.
- After running hoop 6 roquet the ball to be peeled and peel it in the croquet
stroke with a stop shot getting a rush on the escape ball to the North boundary
from where it is croqueted to 2-back.
Tactics in the Advanced Game
- The objective is to set up a break as soon as possible. Weigh up the options
and choose between going for the immediate break, which risks losing the
innings if unsuccessful, and making a leave, which gives the opponent the
chance to hit in.
- When going for the immediate break, decide on the precision or aggressive
approach and plan accordingly.
- Try to make a leave which yields a break from a missed shot. This could
be an aggressive' leave, which will encourage the opponent to shoot but should
result in a break if the shot is missed.
- Where possible move opponents balls away from the boundaries.
- Take into account the lawn conditions. If conditions are difficult and
time is a consideration, consider giving opponent contact.
- The thoughts of the out-player should concentrate on how best to get back
the innings. The choice is usually between shooting at every available opportunity
or playing a defensive, waiting game, hoping that the opponent will make
a mistake. Which way will suit a player best will depend upon his prowess
as a shot and the strength of the opposition. The player must gauge whether
he can shoot safely, i.e. the missed shot will not be punished, or whether
he 'must' shoot because, whatever he does, the opponent will make a pick-up.
- Although the out-player is usually advised to think about what he will
give away with a missed shot, he should not always be discouraged by these
thoughts. There are positions where it is right to shoot even though a miss
could make matters easy for the opponent. For example, a shortish shot or
one which could win the game should not be refused for fear of the consequences.
A better opportunity might not present i
Conceding Contact - Three-Ball Endings
- It is not easy to decide when to peg out an opponent's ball. Remember
that it is not a decisive advantage to peg out an opponent ball, however
big the lead.
- If the single-ball player does not give away a three-ball break with a
missed shot, then generally the two-ball player must proceed on a succession
of two-ball breaks, laying up in a guarded or wired position at the end of
each turn. Where time is approaching and the 2-ball player is behind, then
he must adopt more aggressive tactics.
- The 2-ball player should not join up in the middle of the lawn, or where
the opponent has a short shot. This would normally apply where a lift shot
- The single-ball player must become very aggressive in his attempts to
pick up a break. He must shoot at anything that does not give away the three-ball
- When the two-ball player has not joined up, the single ball player can
shoot with relative impunity at the peg ball. Even if he misses, he will
get both another turn later and an open shot because the two-ball player
will be obliged to play with his peg ball. Alternatively the single ball
player can take position.
- If you cannot shoot, look for threatening positions; thin wire or on a
boundary equidistant from opponent's separated balls.
- If it is to provide value, practice should be enjoyable and structured.
Routines should concentrate on perceived weaknesses.
- Divide your practice session into stages, each of which has a purpose
and is aimed at improving technique or correct weaknesses.
- Loosen up a little before starting to practice seriously. Start with the
more repetitive aspects; if they are left to the end, they are more likely
to be omitted. Above all, a considerable amount of time must be spent in
developing and refining the basic skills to achieve control.
- There are certain strokes and lines of play that occur time after time
in A-play and it is essential to master them. Examples include the sequence
of strokes needed to make a pickup after a missed lift. Cannons occur less
frequently but when they do occur in a game you will appreciate the time
spent in practising them.
- Set yourself targets and at the end of a session review your progress.
If you feel that the session was not successful, analyse the reasons for
this and address them the next time.
The Croquet Association Coaching Committee
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