What comes to mind when you think about the game of croquet? The Queen? Tea and Crumpets? Learn how to play croquet today!
While the origin of this popular game is said to be passed from the French to the English, croquet is a game that is widely enjoyed all over the world by amateurs and professionals alike.
So, what exactly is croquet? How do you play croquet?
In its simplest form, croquet is hitting a ball with a wooden mallet through a series of hoops. Croquet is played all over the world by people of all ages. You don’t have to be an expert to play and the pace lends itself to even the youngest players or those who normally are not active.
The best part about the game? It is designed to be played on a lawn! There are many ways to enjoy croquet and as well as many different variations on the rules. If you are going to take the leap and start playing, familiarizing yourself with the common terms is a great place to begin!
Basic Croquet Lingo
Wicket- Also called “hoops”, these are the metal openings that are stuck into the ground at varied distances that you aim to hit your ball through
Stake-Sets the boundaries of the game marking the corners
Striker-The player who is currently up
Roquet– (rhymes with “okay”)-When a player hits any of the other balls earning an extra shot
Peg- Placed in the center of the court, the colored lines indicate the order of gameplay
Mallet-the long handled wooden hammer with a large head used to hit the ball
Break-When a lucky player scores more than one point
The croquet game most likely to be played in the backyard due to the straightforward rules and ease of play for younger family members, this version of croquet is won by the first ball to make it through each hoop.
Nine Wicket Croquet is a longer game than Golf Croquet, using as the name implies, nine wickets (hoops) instead of six. This version is not usually played in the UK but rather reserved for backyard play in the US and Canada. The wickets are arranged in a double diamond pattern and the winner is the first player or team to “stake out,” or finishing all the wickets and striking the finishing stake.
American Six Wicket
Widely played in the US and Canada, this version is played with six hoops with the balls always in played in the same order and strict rules regarding “deadness” (a ball becomes dead when it roquets another ball). “Deadness” is tracked on a type of leader board to keep track of dead balls in play. American Six Wicket rules of play are governed by The United States Croquet Association.
This rendition is the one you have seen the Queen playing in the garden often with family. With easy rules that allow for fun for all ages, Garden Croquet is very relaxing and very forgiving for example, if the players ball is hit off the court it is simply returned to the game without penalty.
Association Croquet is the official international version of the sport and the version used in tournament play. Association Croquet is played by two players with two balls, and the expert players can win the game by quickly advancing their balls through the hoops-the best have been recorded winning in only two turns!
One fun fact about Association, is that male and female players are ranked together with both genders dominating the championships at any given time. Association Croquet is governed by The Croquet Association in England who oversees the rules as well as the innovation of game play.
How to Play Croquet
The first step in getting your group ready to play a spirited game of backyard croquet is purchasing a croquet set. They are many choices that range in price, but for casual play on the lawn you don’t need to invest a lot until you find out if it is something everyone enjoys and will play often.
A good, highly rated beginner set is the Ropoda Six Player Croquet Set on Amazon. This is a sharp looking, basic croquet set and a great bonus is the storage bag that holds all the pieces when not in use.
A higher end, sturdier, 9 wicket set from L.L. Bean, is also a great selection for anyone looking to spend more time playing and learning the game.
With so many variations at so many price points, you won’t be left without an option that suits your family the best. Once you decide on the perfect croquet set, you and your friends and family are ready to have some fun!
How to Play Croquet (4 players)
For a fun, recreational backyard game, let’s look at how to set up a basic croquet game that the entire family can enjoy!
- Prepare your lawn! Cut the grass (shorter grass is preferable and makes it easier to play the game!
- Plant your hoops-If this is your first time playing, opt for 6 hoops planted in a double diamond, figure eight pattern. Using only 6 hoops will make it easier for the younger family members and ensure a shorter game
- Set your peg in the center of the playing area
- Set your flags to determine the corners of the game field
- A basic game is played with four balls all different colors in the order listed on the peg.
- Balls are grouped together-black and blue and yellow and red when playing in teams. If playing individually, every player gets their own ball
- Flip a coin and let the fun begin!
- The first “striker” will always begin with the blue ball
- The objective is to get your ball completely through the hoop. In order to count, the ball must pass all the way through.
- Each player gets one turn unless they have earned extra shots-one for getting through the hoop, two for hitting any of the other three balls
- Each hoop is a point-if your ball hits another ball and goes through the hoop you get two extra shots (called a “roquet) but you will not earn points for that hoop
- If your ball passed through the hoop and then hits another players ball-then you get the point and the extra shot
- If your ball goes out of bounds, it is simply placed back in at an agreed upon spot. There are no penalties
- Players only advance to the next hoop when at least one player has passed through the hoop before
- The winner is the player that passes through all the hoops
You can also click here for a more, in depth look at the rules and setup for a game of Golf Croquet.
The game of croquet has been around for a long time and a lot of people tend to shy away from playing because they are intimidated by the rules and the setup.
It is true you can spend a lot of time studying and memorizing regulations for a croquet match, but for the sole purpose of a spontaneous game in the backyard on a summer day, there is no need-the basic game is enough to get everyone involved and having a good time.
The trick is not to overthink your casual game. Croquet is just another way for everyone to get outside, get some fresh air and enjoy each other’s company.
Buy your croquet set, clear your lawn and get ready to have some fun learning a new game!
Nikki is a full-time homemaker with a love for plants, nature, and the outdoors. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in education, combining her talents and favorite hobby to write educational material for other plant and backyard enthusiasts. Co-founder of Backyardville, Nikki seeks insight for her blogs through reading along with hands-on research in her own yard and garden. Her experiences as a child growing up in a farming community and spending time with her gardening grandmother sparked an interest in growing plants and seeking ways to beautify the spaces around her. Nikki lives in a quiet suburb in Iowa with her husband and their two outdoor-loving children.