Association croquet is a popular version of the classic croquet game, which originated in England during the 19th century. While other croquet variations are played more recreationally, association croquet is played competitively and has a significant following around the world. Its popularity can be attributed to the complexity of the game, which requires strategic planning, skill, and precision to master. Association croquet is played in singles and doubles formats and is often played in tournaments. Its popularity has spread to countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and South Africa, where it is played at a competitive level.
Croquet is a game played with two opposing teams, consisting of blue and black balls against red and yellow balls. In singles, each player is in charge of two balls while in doubles, the players share one ball. The aim of the game is to guide the balls through the hoops and hit the peg, as displayed in Figure 2. The victorious team is the one who accomplishes this with both balls before their opponent. (Unites States Croquet Association provides these excellent diagrams below)
In this game, players use a mallet to strike the ball. The person playing a turn is referred to as the striker and the ball they are playing with is called the striker's ball. Turns alternate between the two teams. Once both balls of a team are in play, they can choose to play either ball during a turn. Each turn begins with one stroke, but additional strokes can be earned when the striker's ball hits another ball or scores a point. Using these extra strokes can lead to scoring multiple points in one turn.
While the striker's ball can cause other balls to move and score points, the player must not strike any ball other than their own. Players can only use the mallet and cannot touch any ball while playing a stroke. The striker must hit the ball using one of the mallet's striking faces and not with the side or shaft. The ball must be struck cleanly and only once during a stroke.
To start the game, the winner of a coin toss can decide whether to play first or second, which gives the opponent the choice of ball colors. Alternatively, the winner can select the colors, and the opponent gets to choose who leads. Each ball is played into the game from any point on either baulk line, and all four balls must be played within the first four turns.
How To Score
To score a hoop point, the ball must pass through the hoop in the correct sequence and direction. However, if the striker's ball has made a roquet on the same stroke, it cannot score a hoop point for itself.
Each ball has a corresponding clip that indicates which hoop the ball needs to score next. The clip is placed on top of the hoop for hoops #1 through #6, and on the side of the hoop for the remaining hoop points.
If any part of the ball lies directly over a boundary, the ball is considered out of bounds. In this case, the ball is placed one yard in from where it crossed the boundary. If the striker's ball is less than one yard from the boundary and is entitled to play an extra stroke, it remains where it is.
Hitting Other Balls
When the striker's ball hits a live ball, it is called a roquet, and the striker earns the right to play a croquet stroke. All balls are live at the start of every turn. The croquet stroke involves picking up the striker's ball, placing it in contact with the roqueted ball, and then striking the striker's ball to move both balls. The croqueted ball becomes dead until the striker's ball scores its next hoop point or the start of the next turn.
If the striker's ball hits a dead ball, it does not count as a roquet, and no extra stroke is earned. However, if the striker is otherwise entitled to play an extra stroke, the turn continues.
After scoring a hoop point or playing a croquet stroke, the striker can earn an additional stroke called a continuation stroke. However, if any ball goes out of bounds during the croquet stroke, no continuation stroke is awarded. The continuation stroke must be played with the balls in their current positions on the court.
If the striker manages to score two hoops with one stroke, or scores a hoop while playing a croquet stroke, only one continuation stroke is granted.
On the other hand, if the striker's ball scores a hoop point and also makes a roquet on the same stroke, or makes a roquet while playing a croquet stroke, no continuation stroke is earned. Instead, the striker must immediately play a croquet stroke.
In the game, a ball that has successfully scored all twelve hoop points is referred to as a rover ball. If a rover ball, which is the striker's ball, hits the peg, it is considered as having scored the peg point and is then removed from the game. The sides take turns to play even after the peg point is scored. The game comes to an end only when both sides have scored the peg with all of their respective balls.
When playing, the striker's ball is not allowed to both score the peg and make a roquet on the same stroke. The event that happens first takes precedence.