A Quick Overview of Association Croquet

From the outside, Association Croquet can look pretty complicated and confusing, but the basics of the game are actually pretty simple!  However, once you’ve started playing, the tactical side of the game can be as simple or as complex as you wish!

The following is an overview of the basics.  Obviously it doesn’t include all the laws of the game, it’s just to give you an idea of the aim of the game.  If you want further information then we have other resources, and so do lots of other clubs and websites, or maybe you should come along and give it a go!

Association Croquet – An Overview

You have two balls, your opponent has two balls. There’s a lawn with 6 hoops and a peg. The idea is to get both of your balls through each of the hoops twice, and then hit the peg with both. 

You’ll quickly realise that making one hoop at a time isn’t very efficient or successful as a tactic, so you’ll be wanting to create “breaks”, which is simply where you have a number of consecutive shots. 

If you simply aim for your hoop straight away, then if you miss it your go will end. Instead, you can use all 3 of the other balls to help you out!

If you hit one of the other balls on the lawn (you have one other ball, your “partner ball”, and your opponent’s 2 balls) then you automatically get two more goes. 

The first of these goes is called a “Croquet stroke”. You pick up your ball, wherever it ended up, and place it so that it is touching the ball which you hit. Your shot can then go anywhere, as long as the ball you are touching moves. It can move a little or a lot, but it must move, or else it’s the end of your go.  This is also the only shot where you aren’t allowed to hit either ball off the lawn, or else it’s the end of your go. 

After this, you have one more shot, the same as at the beginning, except that the ball you just hit is “dead”, so you won’t get another go if you hit it again. You can still hit either of the other two balls, and repeat the process with them. 

You can do this with all 3 balls, or with none – it’s up to you! Hopefully, though, it’ll end with you in front of your next hoop, and able to get your ball through it!

If you manage to get your ball through the hoop, known as “running your hoop”, then you get a super special bonus! All three of the other balls become “alive” again, so you can restart the process (hitting, taking croquet, repeat!) which you used before, in order to make the next hoop. 

You can actually keep this process going all the way around, running all 12 hoops in one go! After that, if your opponent gives you a chance, you could do the same with the other ball, and then you just need to hit the peg with both to win!  Of course, it takes a while to get to that standard!

There are a lot of rules in croquet, some more complicated than others, but you’ll be surprised how often the rules are simply the application of common sense, and you just pick them up while playing. 

Croquet has been described as a cross between snooker and chess, which gives a good indication of the skills involved. It’s a combination of knowing where you want to put the balls with each shot, to make your life easier, and having the skill to put them there. It can be quite surprising to see the top players in action, as you will rarely see them having to play difficult shots, and this is down to them thinking so many shots ahead, and placing the balls precisely where they know they’ll want them later.

You can take a look at Oxford Croquet’s overview of the game, or their simplified version of the rules but, as you might expect, the best way to learn is by doing!

There are many members at the club who would be very happy to spend some time taking you through the intricacies of Association Croquet, and before long you’ll find yourself addicted to the challenge!