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Dr Ian Plummer

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Marking Balls in Association Croquet

When you mark a ball, you must:

  • be able to replace the ball with appropriate accuracy
  • be able to replace the ball promptly
  • keep the markers clear of any shots or feet
  • avoid putting markers where they may distract the striker

It is a sensible approach to use as few markers as necessary; more markers take more time, and may confuse the situation rather than clarify it. An extra marker may be of use if one of the markers is likely to be displaced by a foot or mallet.

The appropriate accuracy for marking and replacing a ball depends on the particular situation. There is usually one or more parameters of the position that are critical, and others that are less important. The key idea is that the difficulty of the shot is not changed when the ball is replaced.

Here it is very important to retain the angle at which the ball approaches the hoop. Any change in this will alter the difficulty of the shot. The best marker is therefore along the line which represents this angle:

Marking the side of the ball

The red marker defines the angle of the shot clearly. Any slight movement along this marker line will not affect the difficulty of the shot, but any movement away from this line will make the shot easier or more difficult. We should put a couple of markers across the centre to identify the ball is along this line, but they do not need to be as precise. We might also put the key marker behind the hoop to keep it out of the way of the shot and player’s feet.

Marking through centre of ball

I am in favour of putting markers close to the ball, provided they are out of the way of a player’s feet. I have never come across a croquet player who claims to be distracted by markers several inches from the ball.

The other critical parameter is the line from the hoop leg which obstructs a clear shot. A sensible marker would identify the line from the edge of the hoop leg to the centre of the ball, as this determines whether the mallet face can direct the ball towards the target ball.

Marker showing critical line (to see if ball can be struck by sliding mallet along hoop leg):

Author: Neil Hardie
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Updated 22.viii.17
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