Choosing Croquet Hoops
To purchase croquet hoops, please visit the Croquet England online Shop.
There are a wide range of croquet hoops available, and we hope this guide will be of some assistance, but please don't hesitate to contact the office for expert advice if you would like to discuss the options further.
The regulations for hoops say that they should have uprights which are 5/8" diameter, a gap which is between 4" and 3¾" wide, and the crown of the hoop should be 12" above the ground. In practice, for clubs and tournaments, the gap of the hoop is normally set to the diameter of the balls in use, with a clearance of between 1/16" and 3/16".
Hoops will generally come in sets of six, being the number on a standard croquet lawn. One hoop (the first) will be marked with a blue top, and one (the last) with a red top. Otherwise hoops usually have a white painted finish.
Refer to Hoop Specification and Approvals for details.
Tournament Standard Hoops
A tournament or club standard hoop will meet the above regulations, and will in addition have a 'carrot' shape on the end of each hoop leg. The carrots should be heavy, tapering in depth, and will ensure a firm setting for the hoop in the ground. Some hoops (not generally available in the UK) have fins on the legs below ground level for the same purpose, but these are really only suitable for sandy soil as the fins may be easily damaged in harder ground.
There are two main types of tournament hoop on sale in the UK. The traditional hoop is made from cast iron, and may have a visible seam running up the inside of the legs. These have a slightly rougher finish, and are favoured by the majority of croquet clubs. Both Townsend and Jaques hoops are of this type.
The newer type of hoop is made from welded bright steel bar, and has a more perfectly round upright, and a smoother finish. These are sometimes criticised as being 'too easy to run', as the smooth surface is more likely to let a ball slip through. The Aldridge and Omega hoops are of this type. In addition, the Omega hoops have an adjusting mechanism using offset rotatable carrots, for ease of setting the hoop gap accurately.
Tournament standard hoops will require holes or sockets to go into, which can be made with a hoop and an appropriate rubber hammer, or by a hoop drill. When removed, they will leave noticeable holes in the ground.
Tournament standard hoops are significantly more expensive than wire garden hoops, starting at around £400 for a set.
Garden hoops are generally made with thinner uprights, a wider gap, and will have extended legs to go into the ground, but no 'carrot'. It is best to choose a hoop with thicker uprights (either solid or tube), as the thicker the wire, the more firmly they will be held in the ground. However, even a thick wire garden hoop will be of limited value to a serious croquet player who wants to practice hoop running, as they are too easily 'bullied' - i.e. a hard shot will tend to get through too easily, because the hoop can 'give' too much. The hoop height should be long enough to allow at least 6" in the ground. For the cheaper shorter hoops it may be better to set them shorter than the regulation 12" height to allow for enough ground grip.
If the lawn to be used is of the usual rough back lawn nature, then choosing hoops which are 4" wide may well be a good idea for casual garden play. The more serious player, and particularly on a higher quality lawn, may want to go for a tighter hoop width, more like 3¾".