We play a Summer Fields variation of Garden Croquet – the official rules for which can be downloaded as a pdf here. The reasons for playing the ‘garden’ variety of the game rather than the competition version are chiefly…
- to reduce complexity
- to make games quicker
- to reduce confusion over rules
- to allow for our three, smaller-than-regulation, croquet lawns
Despite only playing Garden Croquet, the tactics and skills of the game are an excellent preparation for playing at a higher level later in life. This variation of the game allows for adaptations to increase its complexity with increasing experience.
All four balls are used for a game whether you are playing singles or doubles. The blue and black make up one team and the red and yellow the other. The object of the game is to get both of your balls through each hoop in sequence and then ‘peg out’. Each hoop you run earns you a point, and the peg another point, so in effect the game is ‘first to 14 points’.
If you do not have enough time to play a complete game, set a time limit and the winner is the team that has the most points when the time is up. If you are playing doubles you can either…
- Pick a ball colour and only play your own colour or
- Play alternate shots with your partner
You need to decide on this at the beginning and then stick to it throughout the game. If you are playing alternate shots you need to communicate with your partner so that you both know what the plan is. If you are playing a particular colour, there may be a delay between your turns, but you can still discuss tactics to remain involved in the game at all times.
Flip a coin to decide which team is starting. Start on the boundary, in line with the first hoop (blue top). Play the ball onto the court and play any continuation shots that you earn. All four balls must be played onto the court in the first four turns of the game.
From this point on you can play either of the balls at any turn – whichever one you think gives you the tactical advantage – but this (the striker ball) is the only ball that you can strike with the mallet during that turn. You can earn one continuation shot by running a hoop (hitting the ball through the correct hoop in the correct direction). You earn two continuation shots if you hit the striker ball so that it hits one of the other three balls (this is called a roquet shot). You can do this to each of the other balls once in every turn but after running a hoop you can again roquet any of the other three balls.
The first of these extra shots (the croquet shot) must be taken in contact with the ball that has been hit. To do that you pick up your ball and place it (touching) anywhere around the ball that has been hit. When you play the shot you hit only the striker ball but both balls must move (a wobble counts as a move). This allows you to position the striker ball to produce the desired outcome for your shot. The second continuation shot is then played from where your striker ball finishes.
If a ball leaves the playing area, it should be brought one mallet’s length onto the court from the position where it left the court. All the balls should be on the court at the start of each turn unless a ball has been pegged out. There is no penalty for hitting another player’s, or your own, ball out of the court. A ball is deemed to have passed through a hoop when no part of it is sticking out behind the hoop. You can either hit a ball through a hoop directly; as the result of a croquet shot; or by cannoning a ball through a hoop. If you hit an opponent’s ball through their intended hoop they gain a point but no continuation shot.
When a ball has run all six hoops in the correct sequence and direction it can be pegged out by playing it onto the central peg. It must be immediately picked up and removed from the court.
You cannot remove the hoops or centre peg at any point of the game and you cannot touch any ball with your feet during play. If you do, you forfeit your turn. There are other offenses that earn the same penalty so I will update this page as the term progresses and rules arise that need clarification.
Below is a video showing how a succession of roquet and croquet shots can be used to build up a break. A good player can run all six hoops in a single turn.