The Simplified Laws of Association Croquet

Based on an article by Dr. Ian Plummer, Oxford University, 2002

  1. Introduction

    This document is intended to go part way in filling the gap between the simple synopsis and the Full Laws. In any case of dispute the Full Laws always apply.
  2. Equipment

    The court is a flat grassed area of measuring 35 by 28 yards laid out according to the following diagram. Smaller courts can be used.

    Diagram 1. The Standard Court. The corners are depicted by roman numerals. The yard-line and baulk-lines are not marked on the court and lie 1 yard in from the boundary. All distances are in yards.

    The peg is 18" tall above ground and 1Ĺ" in diameter with a smaller dowel extension about Ĺ" in diameter and 6" long plugged in the top. The extension may be temporarily removed if it impedes the striker. The peg is in the centre of the lawn.

    Championship hoops are made of 5/8" diameter metal forming a 12" high hoop with a straight top. The gape of the hoop is approximately 3-3/4" between the jaws (1/8" wider than the balls). Hoops are bare metal or painted white with the first hoop having a blue top and the last hoop (rover) having a red top.

    Championship balls are 3-5/8" diameter, coloured Blue, Black, Red and Yellow and weigh 16oz (454g).

    Clips coloured to match the balls indicate which hoop which colour ball is next for. Clips are placed on the top of the hoop if the ball is for hoops 1 to 6, or on the hoop upright for the second circuit. They can be temporarily removed if they impede the striker.

    Mallets must have parallel and identical end-faces made of wood or any other material giving similar properties.

  3. The Basic Game

    1. The Object of the Game
      The game is a race around the circuit of hoops in the order and directions shown in the diagram above. The Blue and Black balls play against the Red and Yellow balls. The first side to get both of their balls through the 12 hoops in order and hit the peg is the winner. Once a ball has completed the circuit and hit the peg (is pegged out) it is removed from the game.
    2. The Turn
      The players play alternate turns. A player can start their turn by striking either of their balls but must thereafter strike only that ball (the strikerís ball) during that turn. A turn consists of a single stroke, after which the turn ends, unless in that stroke
      1. the striker's ball scores its next hoop in which case it earns a continuation stroke, or
      2. hits another ball (makes a roquet) whereupon it gains a croquet stroke then a continuation stroke.
      When the striker's ball has been through the last hoop it is known as a rover.  It can then score a peg point by striking the peg (pegging out) and be removed from the game. It may also cause another rovers to be pegged out.
    3. Scoring Points
      The striker's ball scores a hoop point for itself by entering a hoop from the correct direction and passing sufficiently through the hoop so that no part of the ball protrudes from the side of the hoop it entered by (runs a hoop). This may occur in one or more turns. On running the hoop the striker gets an extra stroke - a continuation stroke.

      If the striker's ball causes another ball to run that ballís hoop, that other ball is said to be peeled through the hoop and it gains a point. You do not gain a continuation stroke for peeling a ball. The owner of the ball which is peeled gets the hoop point.

      The score is the sum of the number of hoops and peg points each side has obtained.
    4. The Roquet
      If the striker's ball hits another ball the striker gets two extra strokes. The first extra stroke is the croquet stroke and is played by picking up the strikerís ball and placing it in contact with the ball it has struck, the roqueted ball. The striker takes croquet (see below) from the roqueted ball which then becomes known as the croqueted ball. Following the croquet stroke the striker has a continuation stroke on their own ball.

      Summary: Roquet => Croquet => Continuation.

      At the start of each turn the striker's ball may roquet each of the other three balls once. However, every time the striker's ball scores its next hoop point it may roquet each of the other three balls again. The striker can roquet balls, run its next hoop and roquet the balls again, etc., in one turn so making a break.

      A ball can roquet another ball directly or after being scattered off a hoop, peg or other ball which it has already roqueted. If at the start of a turn the strikerís ball is in contact with another ball and the player chooses to play with that ball, a roquet is taken to have been made and you must take croquet immediately. Should the striker's ball dislodge a ball it has already roqueted, the balls remain where they come to rest unless the striker's ball subsequently hits a ball it may roquet.

      If a player completely runs their hoop and roquets a ball lying completely outside the jaws of the hoop then this is taken to be hoop run then roquet. Croquet must then be taken. A ball which has made a roquet is still in the game and can cause other balls to be moved and potentially peeled. Once it has made a roquet the strikerís ball may not score hoop points for itself in the same stroke, but may move other balls.
    5. The Croquet Stroke
      In the croquet stroke the striker strikes their own ball when it is contact with the roqueted ball.  The roqueted ball must move or shake in the stroke. If it does not move it is a fault and the turn ends. After a fault the balls are either replaced as for the croquet stroke, or left where they ended up at the opponent's option. The turn also ends if either ball in the croquet stroke leaves the lawn.

      If the croqueted ball is sent off the court after it is pegged out or if the striker's ball roquets another ball, or runs its hoop before leaving the court, then the turn continues without penalty.
    6. The Continuation Stroke
      This is an ordinary stroke following the croquet stroke or hoop run in which, for example, a further roquet may be made or a point may be scored. Continuation strokes cannot be accumulated; for example if you run your hoop and make a roquet in the same stroke you must take croquet immediately.
    7. The Start of a Game
      The game starts with the toss of a coin. The winner of the toss decides whether they will take the choice of lead, i.e. which side plays first or second, or which pair of balls (Blue & Black or Red & Yellow) they will play with. If they take the choice of balls the adversary has the choice of who plays first and vice versa.

      At the start of a game, the player entitled to play first plays either of their balls into the court from any point on either baulk-line (see diagram). At the end of that turn their adversary does likewise. In the third and fourth turns the remaining two balls are similarly played into the game.

      As soon as a ball is played on to the court it can immediately score points and make roquets. Once all four balls have been played on to the court the striker can start any subsequent turn with either of their balls.

      At the end of each stroke any ball in the yard-line area other than the striker's ball, which is played from where it lies, is brought back onto the yard-line nearest to its position. If at the end of a turn the strikerís ball lies within the yard-line it is brought back onto the yard-line. Any ball which has left the lawn is brought back onto the yard-line unless it is the strikerís ball due to take croquet.

      A ball goes off the court as soon as any part of it crosses a straight edge raised vertically from the inside of the boundary. If a ball cannot be exactly replaced on the yard-line because of the presence of other yard-line balls, it is replaced on the yard-line in contact with those balls.
  4. Miscellaneous Rules

    1. Lifts
      At the start of a turn a ball is wired and eligible for an optional lift when there are no open balls for it to hit and it has been placed in that position by the opponent.  A ball is open when you have a clear shot with the striker's ball at all parts of the target ball using any legal part of the mallet face.  A lift allows a player to lift and play a wired ball from either of the baulk lines at the start of their turn.

      Balls can only be wired by hoops and the peg, not by other balls.  A ball can be wired by a hoop upright ~1-3/4" away from its edge as this could prevent the striker's ball from being able to clip the nearest edge of the target ball. You can be wired if the peg or a hoop prevents you from playing a normal backswing to hit an 'open ball' (the other balls being of course wired). A ball with any part lying in the jaws of a hoop is wired by definition from the other balls; again the opponent must be responsible for its position.

      A lift can be claimed many turns after the opponent became responsible for a ballís position if the above conditions apply. If the opponent causes a ball to shake by indirectly moving it, e.g. hitting the hoop in which a ball lies, they become responsible for its position. Also if any part of the ball lies within the jaws of a hoop it is eligible for a lift provided that the opponent is responsible for its position.
    2. Cannons
      If three or more balls are in contact and one or more of which is on the yard-line then it is a 3-ball group or 4-ball group. If the striker is taking croquet from a ball which forms part of a 3-ball or 4-ball group all balls other than the roqueted ball, which may not be moved, are temporarily removed and are replaced as follows; The strikerís ball is placed only in contact with the roqueted ball; the other balls are placed in contact with the roqueted ball but not the strikerís ball. The striker then takes croquet by hitting their own ball.
  5. Errors

    These are complex and the Full Laws should be referred to!
    1. Striking the wrong ball
      If the striker strikes a wrong ball that stroke and any subsequent strokes are invalid and no points are scored for any ball. The balls are replaced and the turn ends.
    2. Playing the wrong ball into the game
      If the wrong ball is struck in one of the first four turns of the game the correct ball is placed at any point on either baulk-line as the striker chooses and the turn ends.
    3. Playing when a ball is out of position
      If any ball is out of position, e.g. has not been bought on to the yard-line, play must be stopped and the position corrected. The turn then continues. If the strikerís ball has been struck the stroke stands, the balls are moved to their correct positions and the turn continues.
    4. Taking croquet from a wrong ball
      If this is noticed some time after the event the croqueted ball is swapped with the correct ball and play continues. Otherwise the opponent can elect a replay and the turn continues.
    5. Taking croquet when you should not
      If noticed before two more strokes have been played the balls are replaced and the turn continues, otherwise the play is taken to be valid and the turn continues.
    6. Failing to take croquet when you should
      As above.
  6. Faults

    These are complex and the Full Laws should be referred to!

    All the following are encompassed in Law 28 in the Full Laws.

    When striking a ball you may NOT:
    1. touch the head of the mallet with your hand;
    2. rest the shaft of the mallet or a hand or arm on the ground or an outside agency;
    3. rest the shaft of the mallet or a hand or arm directly connected with the stroke against any part of your legs or feet;
    4. move the striker's ball other than by striking it with the mallet audibly and distinctly;
    5. cause or attempt to cause the mallet to strike the striker's ball by kicking, hitting, dropping or throwing the mallet;
    6. strike the striker's ball with any part of the mallet other than an end face of the head, either:
      1. deliberately; or
      2. accidentally in a stroke which requires special care because of the proximity of a hoop or the peg or another ball;
    7. subject to Law 28(d), maintain contact between the mallet and the striker's ball for an appreciable period when the striker's ball is not in contact with any other ball or after the striker's ball has hit another ball;
    8. subject to Law 28(d), strike the striker's ball more than once in the same stroke or allow the striker's ball to retouch the mallet
    9. strike the striker's ball so as to cause it to touch a hoop upright or, unless the striker's ball is pegged out in the stroke, the peg when in contact with the mallet;
    10. strike the striker's ball when it lies in contact with a hoop upright or, unless the striker's ball is pegged out in the stroke, the peg otherwise than in a direction away therefrom;
    11. move or shake a ball at rest by hitting a hoop or the peg with the mallet or with any part of your body or clothes;
    12. touch any ball, other than the striker's ball, with the mallet;
    13. touch any ball with any part of your body or clothes;
    14. in a croquet stroke, play away from or fail to move or shake the croqueted ball;
    15. deliberately play a stroke in a manner in which the mallet is likely toand does cause substantial damage to the court.

    The penalty for all of these is that the turn ends, it is the opponent's option as to whether the balls are replaced or remain where they lie. In the event of a croqueted ball leaving the lawn and a fault being claimed, the adversary may waive the fault and the balls remain where they end up and the turn finishes.