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The Croquet England Mentoring Scheme

The Mentoring Scheme facilitates the rapid progress of Under-25 Associates through collaboration with leading players. Details of the scheme and how it works are given below.

To apply to join the scheme, contact the Mentoring Officer, stating:

Croquet England encourages its Under-25 Members to make the most of this opportunity.

Players keen to act as mentors should also contact the Mentoring Officer.

1. Scheme Description and Operation

  1. The Mentoring Scheme maintains a register of leading croquet players (mentors) who are willing to act as advisers and sources of information for young croquet players who show good potential for improvement and are keen to make progress in the tournament croquet arena. No distinction is drawn between Association Croquet and Golf Croquet for this purpose, although some mentors may feel more comfortable in advising on only one croquet code.
  2. The scheme is coordinated by the Mentoring Officer, who is appointed by the Executive
  3. The Mentoring Officer and a list of mentors are published in the online Directory. Where required, mentors are subjected to all relevant checks for the protection of children and other vulnerable persons. Mentors appointed by the Mentoring Officer are subject to ratification by the Executive Director for Competitive and the Croquet Coaching Committee.
  4. Assistance under the scheme is in the first instance available to Under-25 Associates. Such a player (student) wishing to join the Scheme should contact the Mentoring Officer. If the student already has a mentor in mind, the Mentoring Officer will contact the proposed mentor and check if they are willing and able to act as mentor to the student and report back. If the student does not have a mentor in mind, the Mentoring Officer will make suggestions and then carry out the same liaison role.
  5. Once a mentor/student pairing has been established, it will last for an initial period of 12 months although it can be extended for two further periods of 12 months if both mentor and student agree and notify the Mentoring Officer. It is primarily the student's responsibility to make the most of the relationship, although it is expected that mentors will take an active interest in the progress of their students. A mentor may have more than one student but each student should have only one mentor. Either party is free to terminate the mentoring at any time. The party terminating the arrangement should inform the Mentoring Officer: in appropriate cases, the Mentoring Officer may appoint a different mentor.
  6. The Executive and Coaching Committee may from time to time request from the Mentoring Officer a report on the effectiveness of the scheme, and the Mentoring Officer may offer feedback from the scheme at any time.

2. How Does Mentoring Work?

  1. As described above, a mentor is a source of advice and information. Meetings between mentor and student at tournaments and elsewhere are an excellent way of passing on advice, especially in connection with physical skills (see 3 below). However, phone and e-mail are likely to be the most frequent forms of communication for many mentor/student pairings.
  2. What sort of advice?
    There are seven main areas where a mentor should be of help:
    1. Physical skills
    2. Tactics
    3. Psychology
    4. Choice of tournaments
    5. Gaining Under-25 representative croquet experience
    6. Help in making travel and accommodation arrangements, especially in relation to international events.
    7. Advice about possible funding.
  3. Physical skills
    Many young players find both AC and GC relatively easy to play in terms of stroke production. Often assisted by excellent hand-eye coordination, those who are possible mentoring candidates are likely to have already exhibited considerable abilities in terms of single ball strokes and most do not seem to find the standard croquet strokes particularly difficult either. However, there are three areas where a mentor may be useful:
    1. checking the student's choice of mallet to ensure that it is not a hindrance to progress though being too heavy or too light or too long or too short;
    2. watching the student's swing and stance to see if they contain any unusual aspects which are likely to put consistency at risk; and
    3. demonstrating unusual strokes (standard and open cannons, various types of jump strokes, bombards etc.).
  4. Tactics
    Tactical issues can be categorised as follows:
    1. Break play (AC only)
      The main examples are how to pick up breaks and the risk/reward issues involved, break repair tactics and developing peeling skills.
    2. Opponent-based tactics (AC)
      In AC, these divide into formal and informal situations. Formal tactics consist of playing the openings effectively, making good leaves, peeling the opponent's ball and handling different court conditions. Informal situations are those that occur in broken play, especially in more challenging playing conditions.
    3. Opponent-based tactics (GC)
      In GC, opponent-based tactics are at the heart of the game and, given the current relative lack of literature on the topic, a good GC mentor can help a young player develop their tactical awareness and ability more quickly than they might be able to achieve on their own.
    In all the above, there is no substitute for learning by making tactical mistakes. However, the usefulness of the experience can be increased by being able to discuss it with a mentor who may well be able to extend and intensify the lesson by pointing out other common playing situations where similar principles may apply.
  5. Psychology
    Sports psychology has been developing in importance in a wide range of sports, including croquet, for at least 20 years. If the student finds that they have problems in dealing with the pressure of competition, their mentor should be a first port of call for help, either directly if the mentor has the relevant knowledge and skills, or by being able to suggest another player who might be able to offer useful advice, including suitable literature or Internet resources.
  6. Choice of tournaments
    An ambitious young player may well be uncertain about the correct balance between entering local tournaments, which will cost little to enter but may well not attract strong players and do little to attract the attention of the Croquet England's AC and/or GC Selectors, and entering championships, which will impose larger costs for entry fees, travel and accommodation, and which may lead to an early exit into the plate. The mentor should be able to assess the personality and potential of the student and offer advice on a tournament programme that suits the student's priorities and budget.
  7. Gaining Under-25 representative croquet experience
    In recent years there has been a welcome trend towards creating Under-25 representative fixtures and events. The mentor should ensure that the student is aware of what is available and should be prepared to act as an agent for the student to ensure that the selectors are aware of the student's availability, current playing strength and potential.
  8. Help in making travel and accommodation arrangements, especially in relation to international events.
    A mentor can play an invaluable role in facilitating participation in events that involve travelling by providing reassurance to the student and their parents and explaining the practical steps that need to be taken and when they should be taken. Advice may extend to ensuring that passports, visas and other travel documents are in good order, what amount of money is likely to be needed, what and who to expect at the destination, how to travel in the vicinity of the event and other related practical issues. If the mentor is not personally familiar with an event destination, they should be able to use their contacts and knowledge to find another experienced player who can be contacted by the student.
  9. Funding advice.
    Croquet England and other bodies make funding available from time to time to encourage young players to gain experience. Mentors should endeavour to keep abreast of such developments and committees should make sure the Mentoring Officer is informed of all relevant programmes.