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How to Play Croquet

 Croquet is a classic backyard game.  As simple as it is fun, Croquet can be played by a 2-6 players, and is suitable for players of all ages.  The object of croquet is to use a mallet to hit a ball around a course that includes wickets (hoops) and stakes.  Points are awarded as a player passes through wickets and hits the stakes.  The first player to complete the course and reach the second stake is the winner of that round.

Croquet Setup

The standard setup for croquet is commonly called the double diamond pattern, which includes 9 wickets (hoops) and two stakes. Court size is officially 100 feet long by 50 feet wide for nine wicket, but backyard Croquet can obviously be played on the area available. Create a double diamond formation by placing a wicket at the exact center of the court.  This first piece will be like the center of an X.  Place the outer edges of the X shape on each side.  These should be about 16 feet up/down, and 20 feet out from the exact center.  Next, 2 wickets and a stake at the center on each end.  These will be about 6 feet apart from each other, and about 32 feet from the center of the X that was placed first.

Stakes will be played in the following order: Starting at the bottom stake, then up through the bottom two, to the bottom right, to center, to top right, up through the top two, to the stake, back through the top two, to the top left, center again, to bottom left, through the bottom two, and ending at the stake.

Playing Croquet

Croquet can be played with 2-6 players, either individually or as a team game. The colored rings on the striking stake determine the order of play. If you’re playing in teams, arrange color selection so play alternates between teams.

The object of the game is to be the first through the course (detailed above).  Points are scored for each wicket passed through, and for each stake.  16 total points are awarded for the entire course.  1 point is given for each wicket, and 5 wickets are passed twice.  Each stake is also worth a point.

Each player gets one shot (chance to strike the ball) per turn. A player may get bonus shots if they hit their ball through a wicket (1 bonus shot), hit a stake (1 bonus), or hit another ball (2 bonus shots). Players cannot accumulate bonus shots, but one bonus shot can lead to another.

Hitting another ball is called a roquet. A roquet gives a player four options.

  • Take two bonus strokes from wherever his ball lands.
  • The player may place his own ball a single mallet head’s length away from the ball hit – in any direction he chooses, then take two bonus strokes.
  • The player may put his ball next to the ball hit. Then hit his own ball so that it moves both balls in a desired direction. He then has one bonus shot remaining.
  • The player may place his ball next to the other ball, striking it. Placing your foot on your own ball is optional. The player then has one stroke to execute as he chooses.

Each ball may be roqueted only once per turn unless the player goes through a wicket or hits the turning stake. If a player moves another player’s ball through a wicket or causes it to hit a stake, the wicket or stake is scored, but no bonus strokes are awarded.

Players must play the course in the correct order (roughly counter-clockwise), and each wicket must be passed through – none can be skipped. A player’s ball can only go through the wicket in the forward direction. If you miss a wicket, you must come back to the forward side before proceeding through. Once a player has hit the final stake, the game is stopped and points are scored for that round.

Croquet is sometimes played as a team game, in which case, the first player to reach the stake may choose not to end the game, in order to help teammates score additional points.