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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
A Synopsis of the Game

Croquet is a tactical struggle with each player trying to manoeuvre both their own and opponent's balls to make points for their side, whilst restricting their opponent's chances of doing the same by careful positioning of the balls at the end of the turn.

Association Croquet is played with four balls; black and blue versus red and yellow, on a court containing 6 hoops and a centre peg (see diagram below, dimensions in yards). The game can be played as singles or doubles, each player in doubles playing with a particular ball throughout the game.

Each ball must run the set course, as shown in the diagram, going through each hoop twice in a specified order and direction and then hitting the peg. The side which first completes this course with both balls wins the game. Thus the winning side has 26 points to score - 12 hoop points and the peg point with each ball.

A ball scores a hoop point when it passes right through each hoop in its correct order (runs a hoop) in one or more strokes. The point is scored whether the ball is struck directly with the mallet or with another ball.

Clips coloured to match the balls are placed on the hoops or peg to indicate the next point for each ball. The clips are placed on the crown of the hoop for the first six hoops and on the side for the second circuit.

diagram of layout of hoops and lawn dimensions

The sides take alternate turns. In the first four turns the balls are played from one of the starting lines (baulk lines) one yard in from either end of the court. There is no strict order of playing the balls. Once the four balls are on the court a side chooses which of its two balls it shall play in each turn.

A turn consists initially of one stroke only, but extra strokes can be earned in two ways:

  1. If the player's ball runs its next hoop, they are entitled to another stroke;
  2. If the player's ball hits another ball (makes a roquet), they pick up and place their own ball in contact with the other ball where it comes to rest and then strike their own ball so that the other ball moves (takes croquet). After this the player is entitled to one further (continuation) stroke.

Every turn the player may roquet and then take croquet from each of the other three balls once, however each time their ball runs its next hoop they may roquet the other balls once more. Thus, by a combination of taking croquet and running hoops, many hoops can be run in a turn (making a break).

A turn ends when a player has made all the strokes to which he is entitled, or if a ball is sent off the court in a croquet stroke, or if he makes a fault as defined in the Laws. A turn does not necessarily end if a ball is sent off the court in any stroke other than the croquet stroke.

After each shot any ball which has been sent off court is placed a yard inside the boundary (on the yard-line) nearest to where it went off. Any ball lying between the boundary and the yard-line, except the player's own ball, is also replaced on the yard-line. At the end of a turn the striker's ball is brought on to the yard-line if it lies within the yard-line or had left the court.

When a ball has scored its last hoop point (become a rover) it can score the peg point either by the player hitting it on to the peg or by being hit on to the peg by another rover ball. The ball is thus pegged out and removed from court.

Several of the rules are commonly misinterpreted; please note the following are TRUE.

  1. You do not start play a mallet's length away from the first hoop.
  2. You can roquet balls before they have been through the first hoop.
  3. The balls need not be played in colour order.
  4. You cannot place your foot on a ball during the croquet stroke.
  5. You may only use the faces of the mallet to hit the ball.
  6. You go through the final hoop in the direction away from the peg.
  7. Only balls which have been through all twelve hoops (rover balls) may be pegged out.
  8. A rover ball may not be pegged out by a ball which is not a rover.
  9. In the croquet stroke, the ball which has been roqueted must move or shake.
  10. You may not touch any part of the mallet head during a stroke.
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Updated 3.i.11
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