The Basic Laws of Association Croquet
This page gives a simplified set of the rules of croquet. This site also has a synopsis of the game, which you may also find helpful. For most players, the basic laws should provide all the information needed regarding the laws to enjoy the sport, up until they are ready to compete at tournament level. However, it should be realised that these are not the definitive laws. Instead they are an abbreviated form aimed at covering all of the most commonly encountered aspects of the games, while at the same time being easy to understand. The definitive laws are also available on this website.
Outline of the Game
A summary is given in paragraphs 1-7. These are amplified in subsequent paragraphs, which also cover some of the special situations that arise in play.
1. A game consists of a series of turns, each of one or more strokes, which are played by hitting a stationary ball with a mallet. One player plays the blue and black balls, the other the red and yellow (or green and brown versus pink and white).
2. The players have alternate turns. At the start of a turn, its player, who is known as the striker, chooses which of their balls to play throughout that turn, except in the 3rd and 4th turns of the game (see para. 22). The ball chosen is known as the striker's ball.
3. A ball scores a hoop point by passing through its next hoop in the required direction. The winner is the first player to score the 12 hoop points in the sequence shown in Diagram 1 and then score the peg point by hitting it, for both their balls, a total of 26 points.
4. A player is initially entitled to one stroke in a turn, after which the turn ends unless, in that stroke, the striker's ball has scored a hoop point or hit another ball.
5. When a hoop point is scored the striker is entitled to play one continuation stroke.
6. When the striker's ball hits another live ball (see para. 7 below), the striker is said to have made a roquet on that ball. At the end of the stroke, the striker's ball is said to become 'a ball in hand' and the striker becomes entitled to play a croquet stroke. The striker's ball is placed in any position in contact with the roqueted ball. The striker then plays the croquet stroke by striking the striker's ball, causing both balls to move. After the croquet stroke the striker plays a continuation stroke, unless the turn has ended because a ball has been sent off the court or for some other reason (see paras 36,37,51).
7. A ball that may be roqueted is known as a 'live' ball; one from which croquet has already been taken, a 'dead' ball. The striker must not attempt to take croquet from a dead ball; if this occurs, the turn ends (see para 56). When a new turn is started, and on each occasion the striker's ball runs its hoop in order, all the balls become live again. Thus by a series of strokes the striker may score more than one hoop during a turn, which is known as making a break.
Court and Setting
8. The standard court is a rectangle 35 yards by 28 yards (Diagram 1).
9. The four corners are called corners 1, 2, 3 and 4. The corners are depicted by Roman numerals.
10. The boundary is marked, usually with a continuous white line. One yard in from the boundary are the yard-lines, which are not marked on the court. The yard line is indicated by the dotted line. The area between the yard-lines and the boundary is termed the yard-line area. In each corner, the yard-lines meet at the corner spot.
11. 13 yard lengths of the yard-line, from the corner spots at corners 1 and 3 towards corners 4 and 2 respectively, are called baulk-lines A and B. The baulk lines are not marked on the court.
12. There is a centre peg and six hoops whose setting is shown in Diagram 1. The order of scoring the hoops and the peg is indicated by arrows.
13. If the area available is too small for a standard court, a modified court may be used, maintaining the same ratio of the dimensions, except that the yard-line remains one yard in from the boundary.
Equipment & Accessories
14. The hoops are made of metal and are painted white. They should be 12" high, and the gap between the uprights should be between 33/4" and 4" (note that hoop settings for tournaments are given in the tournament regulations, and are generally between 1/32" and 1/8" clearance to the balls). The crown of the first hoop is coloured blue and that of the last hoop, red (hoop 12 in order, also known as Rover). Each hoop must be firmly fixed in the ground.
15. The centre peg is made of wood, 11/2 inches in diameter and 18 inches high. There is a detachable extension at the top to hold clips.
16. There are four balls, coloured blue, black, red and yellow (or green, brown, pink and white). Each ball is 35/8 inches in diameter and weighs 1lb.
17. A mallet consists of a head and a shaft, fixed in the centre of the head at right angles to it. The head of the mallet must be made of wood or another rigid material. The two end faces must be identical.
18. For each ball, there is a clip of the same colour that is moved to indicate the hoop or peg next in order for it. For the first six hoops the clip is placed on the crown and for the last six on an upright.
19. The corners of the court may be marked with decorative flags, coloured blue, red, black and yellow respectively. Corner pegs may be used to mark positions on the boundary one yard from the corner flag.
20. The peg extension, clips, corner flags and pegs are accessories which may be temporarily removed by the striker if they are in the way.
Start of the Game
21. The winner of a toss can choose whether to play first or second; or can choose which colour balls to play with. The opponent then has the other choice.
22. The first player plays one of their balls from any point on baulk-line A or B. At the end of that turn the opponent does likewise. In the third and fourth turns the remaining two balls are similarly played into the game. From the fifth turn onwards the striker may choose either ball to play for that turn (see para. 2.)
23. The first four turns are otherwise normal turns, in which hoop points can be scored and roquets made.
Ball Off or near the Edge of the Court
24. A ball goes off the court as soon as any part of it would touch a straight edge raised from the inside edge of the boundary. The only time the striker's turn ends because of this is in a croquet stroke (see paras. 37, 38).
25. At the end of each stroke, the striker must replace any ball that has gone off the court on the nearest point of the yard-line to where it went off, except the striker's ball when it is about to take croquet (see paras. 33, 39),
26. At the end of each stroke, any ball that lies between the yard-line and the boundary, except the striker's ball during a turn, must be replaced on the nearest point of the yard-line to where it lies.
27. If the striker's ball is in the yard-line area it is played from where it lies, unless it is a ball in hand or the turn has ended, in which case it is also placed on the nearest point on the yard-line.
28. If the striker cannot replace a ball because of the presence of other balls on or near the yard-line, the ball should be placed on the yard-line in contact with one of them.
29. The striker's ball makes a roquet when it hits a live ball (see para. 7). The roquet is made on the first live ball contacted by the striker's ball, even if it hit a hoop or a dead ball earlier in the stroke.
30. At the end of the stroke in which a roquet is made, the striker replaces the roqueted ball if it is in the yard-line area (see para. 25), then, unless the turn has ended (see para. 51), the striker picks up the striker's ball and prepares to take croquet from the roqueted ball (see paras. 33 - 39).
31. The turn is not ended by either the striker's or the roqueted ball going off the court in that stroke.
32. If, at the beginning of a turn, the striker decides to play a ball which is one of a group of two or more touching balls, the striker must prepare to take croquet from one of them.
33. The striker prepares for a croquet stroke by placing the striker's ball in contact with the ball from which it is taking croquet, which is called the croqueted ball and which should not be moved (unless it needed to be replaced on the yard-line (see para. 25)).
34. Any other balls that formed part of a group of touching balls before the striker's ball was picked up should also be picked up and placed in contact with the croqueted ball or a ball in contact with it, but not in contact with the striker's ball.
35. The croquet stroke is played by hitting the striker's ball with the mallet in a direction which causes the croqueted ball to move or shake. If it fails to move, a fault is declared (see para 54) and the turn ends.
36. The croqueted ball becomes dead immediately the croquet stroke is played.
37. The turn ends if in the croquet stroke the croqueted ball is sent off the court.
38. The turn ends if in the croquet stroke the striker's ball is sent off the court, unless it scores a hoop point or makes a roquet during that stroke.
39. At the end of a croquet stroke, the striker replaces any balls except the striker's ball that are in the yard-line area (see para. 26), then, unless a roquet was made (in which case see para. 29) or the turn has ended (see paras. 35,37,38,51), a continuation stroke is played from where the ball lies.
40. After a croquet stroke or a stroke in which the striker's ball scored a hoop point, the striker plays a continuation stroke from where the ball lies.
41. At the end of a continuation stroke, unless a roquet was made (in which case see para. 29) or a hoop point scored, the striker ensures that all balls in the yard-line area are placed on the yard-line (see paras. 26,27) and the turn ends.
42. Continuation strokes are not cumulative, so that:
(a) if a roquet is made in a croquet stroke, the striker takes croquet immediately and then plays one continuation stroke;
(b) if the striker scores a hoop point and then makes a roquet in the same stroke, the striker immediately takes croquet and then plays one continuation stroke;
(c) if the striker scores a hoop point in a croquet stroke, the striker only plays one continuation stroke.
43. A ball scores a hoop point by passing through its next hoop in the order and direction shown in Diagram 1. This is also known as running a hoop.
44. A ball begins to run a hoop when any part of it first emerges from the back of the hoop and finishes doing so when the whole of it finally enters the front of the hoop, provided that it does not roll back past this point later in the stroke (see Diagram 2).
45. A ball may take more than one stroke or turn to run a hoop, provided that it is not placed as the striker's ball for a croquet stroke while doing so.
46. A ball cannot run a hoop after making a roquet, unless the ball it hit was clear of and behind the hoop at the start of the stroke, in which case the hoop is run and a roquet is made, providing that the ball ends up through the hoop.
47. At the end of a stroke in which the striker's ball has scored a hoop point, the striker plays a continuation stroke (after replacing the striker's ball on the yard-line if it went off the court), unless a roquet was made (in which case he takes croquet) or the turn has ended.
48. When a ball other than the striker's ball is caused to run its hoop in order, it is said to have been peeled through the hoop and the hoop point is scored for that ball, but doing so does not earn a continuation stroke.
49. When a ball has scored all 12 hoop points it is known as a rover ball and only then can it score its peg point by hitting the peg (but see also para. 69 for handicap play), or cause another rover ball to do so.
50. After making a roquet, the striker's ball cannot score a peg point for itself in that stroke.
51. A ball that has scored its peg point is said to have been pegged out. At the end of a stroke, any balls that have been pegged out and their clips are removed from the court and take no further part in the game. If the striker's ball or a roqueted ball was pegged out, the turn ends.
52. A ball is wired from another ball if:
(a) a hoop or the peg would impede the direct course of the striker's ball towards any part of the other ball; or
(b) the swing of the mallet prior to impact with the ball is impeded by a hoop or the peg; or
(c) any part of the striker's ball is within the jaws of a hoop.
53. If, at the beginning of a turn, the striker elects to play a ball:
(a) for whose position the opponent is responsible; and
(b) which is wired from all other balls; and
(c) which is not in contact with any other ball
then the striker may lift that ball and play it from any position on baulk-line A or B, or choose to play it from where it lies.
54. The striker must hold the mallet by its shaft and swing it so as to attempt to hit the striker's ball cleanly with an end face of its head. A fault is committed if the striker does not do so, or if, when playing a stroke, the striker:
(a) touches any ball or the mallet touches any other ball; or
(b) contacts the striker's ball more than once; or
(c) squeezes the striker's ball against a hoop or the peg; or
(d) fails to move or shake the croqueted ball in a croquet stroke.
55. If a fault is committed the striker's turn ends, no points are scored in that stroke, and the opponent has the option of having the balls replaced to their position prior to the faulty stroke.
Other Errors and Irregularities
56. If the striker hits a wrong ball with the mallet, or takes croquet from a dead ball, the turn ends and the balls and clips are replaced to their position after the last valid stroke.
57. The turn will end if the striker attempts to run a hoop out of order, because no continuation stroke will be earned.
58. The opponent should not warn the striker about committing one of these fatal errors. However, in no other case does a breach of the laws cause the striker's turn to end, so as the players are jointly responsible for the conduct of the game, either of them should draw attention as soon as possible to any irregularity which they suspect is about to be or has been committed.
59. The turn will end if the striker fails to hit the striker's ball during a stroke.
60. If the striker plays more strokes than entitled to, the balls and clips are replaced to their positions after the last valid stroke.
61. If the striker plays the wrong type of stroke, e.g. failing to take croquet when required to do so or vice-versa, the balls and clips should be replaced and the striker plays the correct stroke, unless the turn would have ended for some other reason.
62. Any fatal error not noticed before the first stroke of the opponent's turn, or other error not noticed before two further strokes of the striker's turn, is ignored.
63. If either player disturbs a ball (except when actually trying to hit it), or fails to or wrongly replaces a ball on the yard-line, it should be placed correctly as soon as it is noticed, without penalty.
64. The striker may move the balls to avoid obstacles or damage to the court.
65. Any other irregularity should be dealt with so as to minimise its effect whilst maintaining the balance of the game.
Other Forms of Play
66. In handicap play, the stronger player gives the weaker one a number of extra turns, called bisques. One or more of these can be taken at the striker's option at the end of a normal turn, with the same ball as the striker's ball. At the start of a bisque turn, all the balls become live.
67. A half-bisque is a turn in which no point can be scored for any ball. A bisque cannot be split into two half-bisques.
68. The number of bisques to be given is the difference between the handicaps of the two players.
69. In a handicap game, a player may not peg-out the striker's ball before the partner ball has become a Rover, unless an opponent's ball has already been pegged out.
70. In doubles, there are two players on each side. There are two forms of the game. In one, called Ordinary Doubles (see Laws 45 - 47) each of player has their own colour ball; at the start of a turn, the partnership decide which ball, and hence player, is to play, so the players of a side do not necessarily take alternate turns. The turn ends if the striker plays partner's ball.
71. The other form is called Alternate Stroke Doubles (see Laws 48 - 50). In this, the players of a side play alternate strokes throughout the game; the partner of whoever played the last stroke of the partnership's last turn starts their next one, with either ball of the side.
72. In handicap doubles, the number of bisques given is half the difference between the joint handicaps of the sides, rounded up to the nearest half-bisque.
73. Shortened games can be played, e.g. consisting of the first six hoops followed by the peg (see Laws 51 - 53).
Some Common Misconceptions and Points to Remember
74. The balls are not played in sequence (this is only done in Golf Croquet).
75. The striker's ball can roquet and take croquet before any hoop points have been scored.
76. Once the striker's ball has run a hoop in order the slate is wiped clean and striker may roquet and take croquet from each of the balls again.
77. Similarly at the start a new turn, including a bisque turn, all the balls become live again.
78. If the striker's ball has taken croquet from a ball and, before running its next hoop in order, the striker's ball hits the same ball again, it is not a roquet and the striker cannot therefore take croquet from it. If croquet is taken again, the turn ends.
79. The striker is entitled to a continuation stroke after playing a croquet stroke, or running a hoop in order, but never to two successive continuation strokes without doing so.
80. The striker cannot put a foot on the ball in a croquet stroke (this is a fault and the turn ends).
81. The striker's TURN ENDS unless, in any stroke except a croquet stroke, the striker's ball:
(a) makes a roquet; or
(b) runs its hoop in order.
82. The striker's TURN ENDS if, in a croquet stroke:
(i) the croqueted ball goes off the court; or
(ii) the striker's ball goes off the court, unless it makes a roquet or scores its hoop in order.
83. The striker's TURN ENDS if a fault is committed in any stroke.
84. The striker's TURN ENDS if a wrong ball is played.
85. The striker's TURN DOES NOT END if a roquet is made and:
(i) the roqueted ball goes off; or
(ii) the striker's ball goes off
86. The striker's TURN DOES NOT END if the striker's ball runs its hoop in order and the ball then goes off.
87. A ball can only be pegged out if both it and the striker's ball have run all their hoops (see paras. 49 - 51).