Some information about the game of croquet.

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NOTE: These pages try to give a flavour of the game. There is a very full rules & coaching guide at the Oxford University site.

Or perhaps you're an intermediate player and would like to try your hand at our question and answer page.

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A potted history of the game

Games in which a ball had to be knocked around a course of hoops or obstacles with a mallet were popular in seventeenth and eighteenth century France. One of them, "Paille Maille", was introduced to London, where it was played in open ground near St. James's Palace - later becoming known as Pall Mall.

Croquet became the sports craze of Victorian England with National Championships held at Wimbledon before the lawns there were transformed into the tennis courts of today.

Despite its genteel history, croquet is by no means simply the sporting diversion at vicarage garden parties which it is often portrayed as being. Clubs exist in every part of Britain and in many countries overseas. Both national teams and individuals compete at a variety of matches and tournaments every year. Nowadays, it is more popular than it has ever been since its introduction last century and it continues to be a fast-growing sport.

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Some of the attractions of croquet

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A brief description of the game

Croquet is a friendly game, easy to understand, fun to play. It requires only one basic skill - that of propelling a ball with accuracy.

Although Croquet can look complicated, the basic idea of the game is very simple and can be easily learned in a few practice sessions. There are two forms of the game, called Association Croquet and Golf Croquet.

Both versions of the game are played with four balls - red, yellow, black and blue and can be played as singles or doubles. Red and yellow always plays against blue and black (in doubles you would have red and your partner yellow, in singles you play both red and yellow).

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Association croquet

In Association Croquet the object of the game is to get both balls around a course of twelve hoops in a set order, and finish by hitting the centre peg, (which has given us the phrase "pegging out").

On your turn you have two options:

Or you can:

This second option is the key to the game. When you hit another ball, you pick your ball up and place it against the ball you've hit. You then play your ball again (called a croquet stroke). This means you can send both balls to different parts of the lawn. After the croquet stroke you have another free shot with which you can aim for another ball or run your hoop. You're allowed to hit (and then croquet) each of the other three balls on your turn.

By careful play you should be able to manoeuvre your ball in front of its hoop. If you do that and then run the hoop, you're allowed to hit all the other balls again. By using the other three balls you can then get your ball in front of its next hoop, etc, etc.

Good players can make 'breaks' as in snooker, sometimes running all twelve hoops in a single turn. But....if the player miscalculates and fails to run the hoop or hit another ball, his turn comes to an end, and his opponent has the chance to make the running himself.

This above description gives the essentials of the game; all other rules and modifications can be picked up easily in the course of play.

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Golf croquet

This is a much simpler and quicker version of the game, but can be just as exciting.

The object is to score hoops in the same order as in Association Croquet. There are no extra turns for going through hoops or hitting other balls although opposing balls can be knocked out of the way. The moment any of the players make a hoop, that hoop is "abandoned", and all players rush on to the next hoop.

The first player to score seven hoops wins the game, which usually takes about twenty minutes.

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Click on the options at the sides of the lawn