The game of Backyard Croquet has maintained its popularity in North America for more than a hundred years as the ideal complement of garden parties, family gatherings, outdoor fund-raisers, and social events.
The object of the game, whether you are playing singles or doubles is to make both of your balls to run through all the hoops in the order shown here and to hit the winning stake before your opponent(s).
The court in its full size is 105′ X 84′ with the hoops 1,2,3 & 4 being set in 21′ from each boundary. Hoops 5 & 6 are set in the center (east to west) and 31-1/2′ from north & south boundaries. A single winning stake is positioned in the center. The boundary is marked with a white string and the corners marked with flags in the colors shown. If space doesn’t permit a full size court, any size can be laid out so long as the 5:4 ratio is maintained.
Croquet is played with the blue & black balls competing against the red & yellow balls. In singles, each of two players uses two balls. Doubles is played with each of 4 players hitting one ball each. Each player hits the same ball throughout the game. The game continues until either, one team scores all the hoops in the order shown including the winning stake with both balls, or, has scored the most points within a time limited game.
When the player’s ball passes through a hoop in the required direction, a point is counted and a single continuation shot is earned. Each successive wicket passed through earns an additional point and earns one additional continuation shot.
If the striker’s ball hits a ball it is alive on, that is, a ball that has not been hit by the striker since its last hoop was scored, it becomes “ball in hand”. At this point the striker’s ball is placed next to the “roqueted” ball for the first of two earned shots. The first, the “croquet” shot is taken by hitting the striker’s ball causing both balls to move, hopefully to their desired location. The second, “continuation” shot, is taken by hitting the striker’s ball from where it came to rest after the croquet shot.
Deadness is a condition of a ball that has croqueted another ball during the course of its turn. A striker can hit any ball it is alive on during their turn. Deadness is cleared on all other balls when the striker scores its next hoop. A team can also clear the deadness on any one ball of its choice each time the opposing team scores the “1 Back” hoop.
When a ball has scored the “rover” hoop, it is considered a rover ball and is alive on all the balls on the court. It can clear its deadness by running through any hoop in either direction but can only hit each ball on the court once during a turn. The purpose of remaining in the game is to assist its partner ball in scoring more hoops.
History of Croquet
The game of hitting balls through hoops can be traced back to 13th century France. There, peasants fashioned hoops from willow branches and used shepherds crooks to hit the balls. It showed up again in 17th century Ireland where a British sports equipment maker, John Jaques first saw it. Taking the idea home with him, equipment was produced and it quickly became the sport of the elite class. A governing body was established around 1870 in England. By mid the 1880’s, its popularity waned as its luster was tarnished by gambling and other questionable social concerns in the Victorian era. Even the first known club at Wimbledon, The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, ejected the sport and dropped its context from the club’s name. Croquet’s survival was in the immense popularity as a backyard game and, with the influence of the British Empire, croquet was found in most of the Commonwealth countries.
The English players, not to be banished to their gardens forever, formed the beginnings of the Croquet Association (CA) in 1897. On the other side of the Atlantic, popularity grew in the 1930’s and 40’s. It was taken to especially by the rich and famous of the United States. Many of Hollywood stars found croquet the sport to be playing. This short resurgence in the United States was short lived until the mid-sixties when a group of players on Long Island and another in Florida started playing again. From these beginnings, the USCA was formed, and along with it, formal rules and regulations governing play, American-style.
The 80’s saw explosive growth in the sport, which continues today with over 350 clubs in Canada, and the USA. With the formation of the World Croquet Federation recently has joined the national associations of more than a dozen countries around the world. It is responsible for unifying the sport and promoting international competition. Many of the world’s top players now target the world championships as their sport’s pinnacle.