Rating: 8+

Croquet is a lawn game the entire family can enjoy. The game requires an official croquet set, which includes eight balls, eight mallets, nine arches, and two stakes. You also can play a half set, consisting of four balls, four mallets, nine arches, and two stakes.

A croquet mallet, ball, and arch

While the game can be adapted to any size lawn, the official dimensions are as follows: length, 72 feet; width, 36 feet; corner pieces, 8 feet long; inside measurements, with a line denoting boundary of the field, 30 inches from the inside of the border. Place the stakes 72 feet apart; the first arch 7 feet in front of the starting stake; the second, 7 feet from the first; the third, 14 feet to the right of, and one foot in advance of the second; the fourth, in line with the first and second, and 22 feet in advance of the second; the remaining five at the same relative distance. In the end, there will be five arches in line between the stakes, and four wing arches.

You can play croquet with up to eight people, four on each side. Six or four, however, make a better game, and if there are only two players, each can use two croquet balls. Regardless of the number of participants, each takes a mallet and ball of the same color.

Playing the Game

The game begins with the leader of one side placing his ball about a mallet's length in front of the starting stake, and striking it with the head of his mallet, driving it through the first arch. If he succeeds, he then tries to drive it through the next arch, and so on. As soon as he misses going through an arch his turn is over. If at his first turn he does not send his ball through the first arch, he gives his place to the next player. The leader of the other side then plays, and then the others in the order of the colors on the starting stake.

Hitting the croquet ball

The aim of each player is to drive the ball from the starting stake throughout the seven arches to the turning stake, which must be struck. This is called pegging or staking. The player then drives the ball back to the starting stake.

When a player strikes his own ball so as to hit another, however lightly, he is said to roquet it. Having hit a ball, he can take the croquet, meaning that he places his own ball against the roqueted ball so that it touches it; he then strikes his ball, driving one or both balls in any direction he wishes. The player can do this before proceeding further in the game, or not, at his option.

As soon as the ball has gone through the first arch, the player may use the ball to croquet (meaning to strike one's own ball when in contact with a roqueted ball) any ball that has also passed through the same arch. A player may use this opportunity to help out a fellow teammate, or derail an opponent. It is done as follows: When a ball has hit another at a distance, the player lays his own ball against the other ball so that it touches it. At this point two different methods of playing come in. One is called tight croquet, and the other loose croquet. In the former the player places his foot on his own ball, and strikes the ball with the mallet. The effect of this will be to drive the other ball in any direction the player may choose, which will be governed by whether the ball belongs to a player on his own side or not.

If the player adopts the loose croquet method, he does not place his foot on the ball, but merely places the two balls in contact and drives them both together by striking his ball. The result of this is that they fly off at different angles.

When a player has returned to the starting stake, he may either strike the peg and retire, or not strike it and be a rover with the privilege of traveling over the ground to assist players on his own side or damage the prospects of the opponents. Therefore, the player who reaches the turning stake first has great advantage. As soon as he begins his return journey he is able to croquet the other players, considerably impeding their progress. The side whose balls are first driven around, and then peg the starting stake, wins the game.Do not play a selfish game; that is, do not be in too great a hurry to make your own arches. You may often help your side more by going back and roqueting than by running your own ball through half a dozen arches. Remember, if you are playing on a team you cannot win the game by your own ball alone.

Rules of the Game

1. The players on each side are to play alternately according to the colors on the starting stake.

2. On the first play, each player may place his ball at a distance from the starting stake not exceeding the mallet handle.

3. The first stroke must be to pass the ball through the first arch.

4. The ball is struck with one of the faces of the mallet head, never with its side.

5. The ball must never be pushed. A ball is considered to be well struck when the sound of the stroke is heard. A ball is pushed when the face of the mallet is allowed to rest against it, and the ball is propelled without the mallet being drawn back.

6. If a ball is struck with other than the face of the mallet, if it is pushed, or if in striking at his own ball a player hits another, it is a found stroke, and the player loses his turn; any balls disturbed shall be replaced or remain, at the option of the opposite side.

7. If, in making a stroke, a ball is driven beyond the limits of the croquet ground, it may be taken up and placed at the point where it crossed the boundary line.

8. When a ball is accidentally driven from its resting place, it is to be returned to the spot from which it was started.

9. A player can rest the head of his mallet on the ground at a distance from the ball and strike it by sharply advancing the mallet from its resting place.

10. Instead of aiming at his arch or at another ball, a player may strike his ball toward any part of the ground he pleases.

11. The balls are to pass through the course in the regular order of the arches. If a ball passes through an arch other than the arch next in its turn, or from the wrong side, it doesn't count.

12. If a ball is struck through its right arch by another ball, or is roqueted through, it is considered to have gone through its arch.

13. Any player missing the first arch takes his ball up, and when his turn comes, plays from the starting place as at the beginning of the game.

14. A ball is considered to have passed through an arch when it passes within and beyond it to any extent, or when, if the handle of the mallet is laid across the two sides of the arch whence the ball came, the ball does not touch the handle.

15. Hitting the turning stake is equivalent in its privileges to the passing of an arch.

16. When the ball of a player hits the starting stake after he has been through all the arches, whether by his own play or by being roqueted or croqueted, he is out of the game.

17. A ball is a rover after going through all the arches, without hitting the starting stake.

18. A rover has liberty to croquet consecutively all the balls during anyone of his turns, but cannot croquet the same ball twice in a single turn.

19. If a person plays out of turn, and the error is discovered before the turn is completed, the ball must be placed where it stood before, as well as any balls it may have moved. If, however, the turn is completed, the player loses his next turn.

20. When a player roquets two or more balls by one stroke of the mallet, he is said to ricochet, and may croquet one or all, at his option.

21. As soon as a player has gone through the first arch, he is at liberty to croquet any ball that has also gone through the arch.

22. A player cannot croquet a ball that he has not roqueted.

23. A booby (a ball that has failed to pass through the first arch) cannot croquet another ball, or be croqueted.

24. A player is forced to move the croqueted ball at least six inches, and cannot croquet the same ball a second time until he has passed through an arch.

25. If a player ricochets, and wishes to croquet, he must do so in the order in which the balls were roqueted, but the striker has only one additional stroke when he has croqueted.

26. If a player hits another ball that is a rover and drives it against the winning stake, he is allowed another turn, but cannot croquet the ball, as it is dead the moment it touches the stake.

27. If in tight croqueting the ball slips from the foot and goes through the arch, or strikes the stake, the stroke does not count.

28. If, in an attempt to croquet a ball, the player's ball flinches (slips from beneath the player's foot), the ball on which the croquet was to be executed is free, and can be struck in its turn by its owner.

29. A player, after striking a ball, is not necessarily compelled to croquet it, but is allowed to play in any direction he pleases. He must, however, play from the place where his ball is, and not move it to another position in order to touch the ball he struck.

30. If a player croquets a ball illegally, he loses his next turn.

31. If a ball, when croqueted through its arch in a wrong direction, rolls back through the arch, it does not have to pass through the same arch in the same direction again.

32. Should the course of a ball be interrupted by any person, the player can allow it to remain at the point where interrupted, or it can be moved to where he supposes it would have reached.

33. If a player plays with a wrong ball, he has to replace the ball and lose his turn. This is not enforced unless the error is discovered before the player's second turn.

34. If a ball is moved by a player when it should not have been touched, it must be restored to its former position.

35. The first side to have all its players pass through the arches and strike both stakes wins the game.

36. All the games shall be opened by scoring from an imaginary line through the middle wicket, and playing two balls each (not partner balls) together toward the home stake. The player whose ball rests nearest the stake shall have the choice of play, using that ball.

37. A player, in each turn of play, is at liberty to roquet any ball on the ground once only before making a point.

38. A player makes a point in the game when his ball passes through an arch or hits a stake in proper play.

39. If a player makes a point, and immediately afterward roquets a ball, he must take the point and use the ball.

40. If a ball roquets another and immediately afterward makes a point, it must take the ball and reject the point.

41. A player continues to play as long as he makes a point in the game, or roquets another ball to which he is in play. A ball making 2 or more points at the same stroke has no additional privileges.

42. Should a player find his ball in contact with another, he may hit his own as he likes, approaching it as though the balls were separated by an inch or more.

43. A rover has the right of the roquet and consequent croquet on every ball once during each turn of play, and is subject to roquet and croquet by any ball in play.

44. Rovers must be continued in the game until partners become rovers and go out successively. A rover that has been driven against the stake cannot be removed to make way for the next rover.

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