how to play croquet

How to Play Croquet for Beginners: Set up and Rules

Croquet is a perfect way to while away time on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

There are many variations of this popular game, but don’t let that intimidate you.

In its simplest form, every version of croquet involves hitting balls through hoops using a mallet.

Of course, there is an order in which you should pass the ball through the hoops.

Just as well, there is the correct way the hoops should be set up.

Don’t worry, though.

With the help of this guide, you can learn how to play croquet in no time.

Also, check out best croquet set to buy in 2021 in case you are looking for a set to get started.

What Is Croquet Played On?

First things first: where can you play croquet. Well, this is a lawn game, so it is best played on natural grass.

Ideally, it is best to make sure the grass is short.

This will allow the balls to travel faster and more smoothly.

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In addition to short grass, the lawn should also preferably be flat and even without patches, slopes or uneven ground.

A croquet playing area should be rectangular, with the longer side measuring 1.25 times the shorter side.

A full-size garden croquet playing area measures 14m x 17.5m and the boundaries are demarcated using flags at each corner.

If you are playing on a lawn having long grass or a rough surface, then you might want to go with a smaller playing court measuring 10m x 12.5m or 7m x 8.75m.

When marking out a garden croquet playing field, it is preferable to use units of 7.

What Are the Basic Rules of Croquet?

Gard croquet is often played with six hoops, but as mentioned earlier, it is possible to have other variations of the game.

These variations add to the complexity of the game, and they come with stricter rules as well.

Besides, a 6-hoop configuration allows for a shorter game which doesn’t drag on for hours.

The rules outlined here are the basic set of rules which apply when playing croquet in a relaxed social setup.


The game of croquet involves the use of four balls colored blue, red, black and yellow. These balls must be played in this order and to remind you of the same; the colors are painted on the center peg.

Blue and black are always on the same side while red and yellow are also always on the same team.

When playing singles, blue and black balls are used by one player while the other player uses yellow and red balls.

When playing doubles, each player has their own balls but blue partners with black while red partners with yellow.


A coin toss determines which team gets to go first. The person whose turn it is to play is called the striker.

Winner of the coin toss always starts by playing the blue ball.

Every player must play their turn. No one is allowed to ‘pass’.

For every turn, you can only make one strike unless extra shots have been earned.


You can earn extra shots by:

  • Running a hoop (passing a ball through the hoop). This earns you one extra shot.
  • Making a roquet (striking any of the other three balls). This earns you two extra shots.


Bonus shots are never accumulated. So, this means you can either get one or two bonus shots, never three.

If your ball hits another ball then goes through the hoop, you earn two extra shots but no hoop points are earned.

If your ball goes through the hoop then strikes another ball in the same shot, you earn hoop points and one extra shot. The roquet is ignored.


You should only strike a ball using the face of the mallet head and no other part of the mallet.

Touching the ball with any other part of the mallet is a fault which means the turn ends and you score no points.


Once the hoops and pegs have been set up in place, you cannot move them to facilitate play.


There is no penalty for striking a ball outside the bounds of the court. You just put the ball back at an agreed distance from the boundary. The agreed distance could be a mallet shaft length or shorter.

If the player had another shot, their turn continues.


Players only move to play the next hoop once at least one player has run the preceding hoop.

It may take more than one turn to run a hoop.

If your ball passes through a hoop by getting hit by an opponent’s ball, you get credit for that run and can move on to the next hoop.

The winner of the game is the first person/team to run all seven hoops.


You can only score points on a hoop if the ball entirely crosses clear past the hoop and no part of it is visible on the other side.

Additionally, the ball must enter the hoop through the correct side for it to count as a score.

How Do You Set Up the Game of Croquet?

Step 1: Start demarcating the boundaries of the 14m x 17.5m playing area.

Mark each corner using flags

Step 2: Place the peg right in the center of the demarcated playing area.

Step 3: Mark out a rectangle measuring 7m x 10.5m having the peg at the center and put four hoops on each corner of this smaller rectangle.

These pegs should all be equidistant from the peg.

Step 4: Along the longer centerline of the playing area, place two hoops each 3.5m from either end of the peg.

All six hoops should be positioned parallel to the shorter side of the playing area.

The blue-top hoop goes in position 1 while the red-top hoop goes in position 6, as shown below.

The figure below also shows the hoop order and the direction in which you should hit the ball.

croquet rules

How Do You Keep Score in Croquet?

Running a hoop earns the player one point for each ball.  Additionally, one point is awarded when a ball hits the peg at the end of the six hoops.

So, if you are playing with two balls and you manage to run them all through the six hoops, that earns you 12 points.

Add two points for striking the peg, and you have 14 points in total at the end of a game.

A ball which scores all six hoop points and has also scored a peg point is immediately removed from play by taking it away from the playing area.

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What is Poison in Croquet?

In croquet, a poison ball, also known as the rover, is a ball that has run all the hoops but it is yet to strike the peg.

Hitting the peg is always the final move for any ball in croquet. After accomplishing that, points are awarded, and the ball is pegged out (removed from play).

If a poison ball happens to hit an opponent’s ball, the opponent’s ball is removed from play, and no points are awarded.

If instead, an opponent’s ball strikes the poison ball, then the poison ball is removed from play, and once again, no points are awarded.

Just as well, the poison ball will be taken out of play if it passes through any hoop in any direction.

The player does not get any bonus shots if the poison ball strikes another ball.

When playing poison croquet, players compete to see who gets to become poison first.

Once their ball becomes poison, the player will then use it to eliminate an opponent’s balls from the game. Any ball that’s hit by a poison ball gets removed from play.

In this version of poison croquet, the last player left in the game takes the win.

More than one player can have a poison ball, so anyone can win the game depending on how successful their roquet attempts are.

Poison croquet has simple rules, so it is a very popular croquet variation among amateur players.

Another advantage is that poison croquet can be played on almost any terrain, including rugged ground. You do not necessarily need a well-groomed lawn.

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What Happens When You Hit A Ball in Croquet?

When your striker ball hits another ball in the same shot, this is known as a roquet.

When a striker makes a roquet, they gain two extra shots: a croquet shot and a continuation shot. The croquet and continuation shots should be taken in that sequence.

1. Croquet Shot

When making a croquet shot, you take the striker’s ball and place it in contact with the ball you hit. The only ball you move is the striker’s ball. The other ball stays in place where it came to rest.

With the two balls in contact, you then hit the striker’s ball, thereby displacing both balls.

A roqueted ball is one that has been hit by a striker ball, but the player is yet to take the croquet shot. Once a player takes the croquet shot, this roqueted ball is now called a croqueted ball.

For a croquet shot to count, the roqueted ball has to move or shake when the player takes the shot.

If the roqueted ball fails to do so, this is considered a fault and the turn ends. The player cannot make the continuation shot.

In this instance, the opponent has the option to reposition the balls as they were before the croquet shot, or they could choose to leave the balls as they are.

2. Continuation Shot

Once the striker ball comes to rest after having displaced it in the croquet shot, you then hit it in what is known as the continuation shot. A continuation shot is an ordinary stroke.

How Do You Hit A Croquet Ball?

When you strike a croquet ball, three things might happen. You could: run a hoop, roquet a ball, or move your ball thereby placing it in a more favorable position.

Regardless of what you aim to achieve with a particular shot, the best stance is to stand holding the mallet between your legs and swing it smoothly and gracefully.

It is important to pay attention to a couple of factors if you wish to achieve a successful strike of the croquet ball.

1.Your Body Alignment

The correct body alignment requires stalking. Stalking is when you walk up to the striker ball, along the line in which you intend to hit it.

Doing this will allow you to position your feet correctly as well as align your body with the direction of the stroke.

Position your hips and shoulders perpendicular to the direction of the swing. The rule here is that the ball will always go in the direction that your body s facing.

To confirm that you have the correct alignment, you may cast over the ball by doing a few pendulum-like practice swings. Just make sure you do not accidentally strike the ball in the process.

2.Your Swing

While holding the mallet, if you swing your hands loosely, in a pendulum-like style, then the mallet’s line of swing ought to be through both the striker ball and the intended target.

The mallet should be swung from the shoulder, not from the wrists.

Doing this will allows you to have a long pendulum, thereby maximizing the energy of the stroke.

Make sure you are gripping the mallet gently, to avoid it twisting and getting off-line.

3.Watching the Ball

Keep your head down, shoulders still and your eyes on the ball.

With your eyes firmly fixed on the ball, do not lift your head until after the ball has been struck. Lifting your head during a swing will move your shoulders, thereby interfering with the alignment of the shot.

Besides simply looking at the ball, keep your eyes fixed on the point you intend to hit. This will increase your chances of striking that point with the centre of the mallet’s face.

Basically, you know you are playing croquet the right way when you hear your ball going through the hoop. Not when you see it do so.

4.The Follow-Through

Just like when playing golf, when playing croquet, having a good follow-through will ensure the mallet remains in the correct line alignment.

For about a foot or so, the mallet should travel parallel to the ground as is following the ball.


Croquet is a great summer game which you can learn to play in a very short time.

As long as you know the basic rules of the game and master the correct stance and swing, then you would be well on your way to win a couple of games.

Alright now it is time to get some action. Have fun.