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How to Play Croquet for Beginners

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You have probably seen people play croquet. On the surface, it looks like a simple game of hitting a ball with a mallet through a series of hoops. However, there is much more to the game. If you want to learn more about the game, here is an overview for beginners. Seasoned croquet players sometimes add variations to the rules to make it more interesting or challenging. For simplicity’s sake, the instructions below are for six hoops and two to four players on a smaller playing field. As a side note, if you are interested check out our best spikeball set article to learn about a fast-paced game that is becoming more and more popular.

Croquet sticks and ballsCroquet Equipment

Croquet sets can vary in the number of pieces. Basically, the set will include color-coded mallets and balls, hoops, and pegs. You will also need a measuring tape, flags, and string to mark your playing field. If you’re looking for a durable croquet set, see our list of the best heavy duty croquet sets to see if one fits your needs.

Game Set-Up

Croquet is usually played on a lawn or an area with short grass. Short natural grass is ideal because it allows the croquet balls to roll more smoothly. Some people play on longer grass, but because the ball cannot travel as far easily, the playing field is smaller.

The play area should be approximately 46 feet by 57.4 feet. You can mark this playing field by planting flags at each corner. You can mark the perimeter by stretching strings around these flags.

Mark the center of this field with a peg. From here, measure a smaller rectangle that is about 23 feet by 34.5 feet. Place a hoop at each corner of this inner rectangle. Make sure the peg is dead center of this inner rectangle.

For the other two hoops, measure about 11.5 feet from either end of the peg, along the longer side of the playing field, and place the hoops there. They are on the opposite ends of each other, and the peg is still in the center of everything.

Mark one hoop at a corner as #1. #2 is the hoop on the end of the longer side. Mark #3 and #4 at the other corner hoops. #5 is the center hoop closest to #1. #6 is the last one. Now, the course is set up.

mallet and balls in game of croquet on green lawn in summer dayBasic Rules

The object of the game is to be the first player to finish the course by hitting your ball through each hoop in sequence. During the game, part of the strategy is hindering your opponent from finishing the course before you do.

Each player chooses a mallet and ball of the same color. A coin toss can determine which player goes first.

The first player positions his ball at hoop #1. Using his mallet, he strikes his ball through the first hoop. If the ball passes through, he earns an extra shot. He can also attempt to strike it through hoop #2 at the same time to score two extra shots. The maximum bonus shots he can earn is two. If his ball does not clear a hoop, his turn ends and the turn goes to the next player.

The players take turns striking their balls through the course in this manner.

Related: Spikeball Strategy: Tips for Perfecting Your Game

Using Your Opponent’s Ball To Get Extra Shots

The maximum number of extra shots you can earn during a single turn is always two. However, if your ball is not in an ideal position to pass through a hoop, there are other ways to score extra shots during your turn.

You get two extra shots if your ball strikes an opponent’s ball. After the two balls stop moving, you move your ball right next to your opponent’s ball. The opponent’s ball is not moved. Then, you strike your ball against your opponent’s ball to move it. The strategy here is to strike your ball in a way so it ends up in a position where you can strike your ball in your second shot through a hoop. The opponent’s ball must be struck away in order for you to use your second shot.

As you play, you can evaluate the playing field and see how you can play off of your opponents’ balls to your advantage. You can bounce their balls to a position that is not advantageous to them. Just be careful because your opponents will try to do the same to you.

Winning the Game

The first player to strike his ball through the last hoop and hits the center peg wins the game.

There are many variations to the game. Whether you are a serious player or a casual player, croquet is a fun pastime for an afternoon under the sun.