Croquet is a competitive team sport that is also enjoyed via informal games held in backyards across the world. Croquet is a popular past-time in which players hit wooden or plastic balls through wire hoops stuck into a grass court. Those grass courts can be lawns where friends and family play the game for recreational purposes in backyards or parks, or formal grass lawns where players vie during competitive tournaments.
Croquet is played on a flat lawn that is mowed short. Artificial surfaces are rarely used for the sport. Croquet is played by people of both genders and all ages. Unlike many sports, men and women compete together and are ranked together. While there are some exceptions, the croquet “season” generally runs between spring and fall.
Playing croquet offers effective yet gentle exercise. The United States Croquet Association estimates that players walk more than two miles during an average match.
Croquet is enjoyed around the globe, but it is particularly popular in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
The gentility and picturesque aspects of croquet have captured the imaginations of artists who have portrayed the sport in literature and paintings.
Beginners can learn to play at croquet clubs or they can take classes often offered by park districts. There are croquet clubs worldwide. Croquet provides camaraderie among aficionados all over the world. Players vacationing in a foreign land will get a warm welcome if they choose to visit the local croquet club.
Most croquet clubs are affiliated with a national croquet association. Those national associations are affiliated with the World Croquet Federation. The WCF promotes the sport internationally and oversees world championships. Players who are serious about the sport will likely want to join a croquet club. Club membership offers many benefits including a ready pool of like-minded individuals for both formal competitions and informal games. Club memberships also grant access to croquet facilities and well-tended lawns for competition.
Here are some helpful tips that croquet players can use to build skills and refine their game.
• Be sure to learn the correct form for a particular stroke or shot before practicing. Otherwise there is a danger of ingraining bad croquet habits that could be difficult to overcome. A coach can be helpful in providing guidance on correct posture, grip and other aspects.
• Keep practice sessions short. Expert croquet players believe that two or three half-hour practices each week are preferable to one lengthy, tiring session.
• Swing the mallet from your shoulders in a pendulum motion. Don’t swing the mallet from your wrists.
• Practice unfamiliar moves. Don’t concentrate exclusively on moves you already know how to perform.
• Find a comfortable, natural grip on the mallet. The mallet should not rotate when you tighten the grip. Adopt a posture with good balance. Don’t lean forward too far. Be careful to position your feet so that the mallet can be drawn back completely without striking your ankle or foot.
• Focus on practicing one particular shot during each session. That allows you to concentrate more fully on refining that technique.
• Keep your head down during a swing. Don’t lift your head until after the ball is hit. Raising your head too soon causes your shoulders to move and thus spoils the shot.
• Build confidence by first practicing moves that you already know how to do. Then broaden your practice sessions by refining unfamiliar shots and skills.
• Set simple goals for each practice session. This also helps boost your confidence.
• Take time to practice moves that are rarely used in croquet games. Knowing how to perfectly execute these lesser-used moves could make a big difference during a game.
• Enlist the services of a personal croquet coach. If that’s impossible, partner with a helpful friend or a fellow croquet player. The two of you can observe each other’s techniques and offer feedback.
Beginners wishing to buy croquet equipment should decide at what level they want to play the game. The equipment used in a friendly, backyard game during a summer picnic is not the same gear that will be used in a competitive event or tournament. The price and quality of croquet equipment varies widely depending on the desired level of play.
Croquet equipment can be divided into three general categories: lightweight and inexpensive toy sets, adult-size sets and tournament-quality gear. The lightweight and inexpensive toy sets are scaled for children. Adult-size sets are in the middle ground between toy equipment and tournament-quality gear. Tournament-quality croquet equipment is the kind of high-quality gear used by players at croquet clubs worldwide.
Jaques of London, a well-known provider of croquet equipment, sells croquet sets ranging from $80 to $5,775.
The equipment needed to play croquet includes metal wickets or hoops, mallets, balls, pegs or stakes, flags, wicket clips and string and boundary settings.
The standard croquet mallet generally has a square head that’s 9 to 11 inches long. Standard mallets weigh three pounds with a shaft that is 36 inches long. Mallets should have a lightweight shaft with a heavy head.
The primary colors for croquet balls are blue, red, black and yellow. The term first colors are used for these balls. The secondary colors for balls, also referred to as second colors, are green, brown, pink and white.
Balls for competitive play must weigh 1 pound, although that can fluctuate up or down by a quarter-ounce. Croquet balls for informal play can weigh less than a pound.
Croquet pegs or stakes should stand 18 inches above ground with a uniform diameter of 1.5 inches above the soil.
Hoops or wickets should stand 12 inches above the ground. The hoops should be sturdily embedded into the lawn so that they remain straight when knocked by balls during a game.
Croquet flags are typically linen on a stake. They are usually blue, red, and black and yellow, the same as the primary colors for croquet balls.
Wicket clips are the same colors as the croquet balls. Wicket clips mark the next wicket to be made by the specified color of ball.
Here are some common terms used in the world of croquet:
Address – The stance assumed before a stroke is made.
All-Around Break – Utilizing a single turn to get a ball around all of the wickets
Angle Of Divergence – The angle where balls part on a croquet.
Aunt Emma – A derogatory term for a boring player who puts more effort into preventing the competitor’s progress than advancing himself or herself.
Backward Ball – The ball that hasn’t made as many hoops as the partner ball.
Bisque – An added turn in handicapped play.
Blob – Inadvertently failing a hoop or wicket by leaving the ball stuck between the uprights.
Cannon- A stroke where taking croquet moves several balls rather than just the traditional two balls.
Carrot – The portion of the hoop or wicket that is under the ground.
Clip – A marker colored to match the balls and used for identifying the next wicket for each ball.
Critical Distance – The distance where most players typically make half of their roquet attempts. The critical distance is about 7 yards for average players, but it can jump to more than 13 yards for accomplished croquet players.
Croqueted Ball – The front ball. The croqueted ball is the ball that is moved but not hit during a croquet stroke.
Cross Wire – To arrange two balls with a wicket between them. Crown – The top of a wicket where the clips are attached during forward play.
Crunch – To beat an opponent rapidly and decisively.
Cut Rush – This is when the targeted ball is deliberately hit off center to drive it right or left.
Dambuster – This refers to a jump shot over a long distance which necessitates two or more bounces of the ball. A dambuster is also known as a double bounce shot.
Deem- This is when the striker declines to take a stroke to which he or she is entitled.
Dolly Rush – A straight rush with the two balls positioned less than one foot apart. An easy rush.
Fault – This is an error made when hitting the ball.
Forestall – This refers to preventing a player from making a fault.
Furniture – A reference to the croquet lawn equipment, such as pegs, stakes and wickets. The term is often used when a ball accidentally strikes this lawn equipment.
Hoop – A metal or wire arch that croquet balls travel through. They are also called wickets.
Hoop Bound – This is when a player is hampered in making a stroke due to being too near a hoop or wicket.
Leave – This is how the balls are arranged by the striker at the conclusion of his or her turn.
Object Ball – The targeted ball in a roquet.
Oppo – A shortened term for opponent.
Park – This refers to placing a ball in a very difficult or inconvenient location, such as against a hoop or wicket.
Peel – Spurring the object ball or the croqueted ball to travel its wickets in order.
Peelee – A peeled ball.
Peg – A wooden stake in the middle of the croquet court and used for completing the game.
Peg Out – This refers to removing a rover ball from the game by making it strike the peg.
Playing Side – The side of a hoop or wicket where the ball enters.
Roll shot – This occurs when both balls in croquet stroke travel about the same length.
Roquet – A shot where the striker’s ball impacts another ball and from which it takes croquet.
Rover Ball – A ball which ran the rover hoop in order.
Rover hoop – This refers to the last hoop. It’s the wicket in the center with a red crown.
Rush – A roquet in which the striker’s ball impacts another ball to drive that ball a certain distance. During games, a rush moves the action to a better playing position.
Spooning – This refers to handling the ball.
Stalk – Approaching a ball along the line in which the player wants to hit it during a stroke. This allows the player to set his or her feet correctly and align the body with the direction of the intended stroke.
Stop shot – This is when the croqueted ball travels a long distance and the striker’s ball moves just a short distance.
Striker – The player who is currently taking his or her turn.
Striker Ball – The ball which the striker is playing.
Take Off – This happens when the roqueted ball hardly moves at all yet the strikers’ ball moves a long distance.
Tice – A shot which sets the player’s ball as bait by putting it in a position which entices the opponent to shoot at it.
Croquet in its many varieties is a genteel sport which offers the benefits of fun, good exercise and camaraderie. Those advantages are reaped whether the players are enjoying an informal game in someone’s backyard during a summer picnic or battling in a formal tournament under the auspices of a croquet association.
Croquet’s popularity worldwide is undoubtedly boosted by the fact that it can be played by players of all ages and both genders. Strategic thinking is just one of the skills necessary to become a successful croquet player.