Choosing a Croquet Mallet
To purchase a mallet, please visit the CA online Shop. There are a wide range of croquet mallets available, and we hope this guide will be of some assistance, but please don't hesitate to contact the CA Office for expert advice if you would like to discuss the options further.
The best general advice is to visit a club and try out as many different mallets as you can to find one that suits you best. Choice of mallet is a very personal thing, and there are no hard and fast rules, so wherever possible, try before you buy.
There are relatively few regulations governing mallets, and the main factors such as weight and size are entirely a matter of choice. All the mallets sold on this site (including children's mallets) would meet the regulations.
The primary factors in choosing a mallet are the weight and length of the mallet, and for beginners these are the issues to focus on.
Most people will want to choose a mallet that is in the range 2lb 12oz to 3lb 4oz. If in doubt, you should not go far wrong with a 3lb mallet. If you are choosing a mallet that is particularly long (or short) then you may want to add (or reduce) the weight a little, since it is the head weight that is important, and of course you will be adding (or reducing) weight in the handle.
A heavier mallet may make long shots easier, since the weight of the mallet helps the pendulum motion of the mallet, and you can hit harder and straighter with less effort. A lighter mallet will make stop-shots and delicate strokes on a fast lawn easier.
There are no hard and fast rules for choosing length, as a players style can significantly affect the length of mallet required. If possible, find a mallet that is too long for you, and adjust your grip to a height on the mallet that is comfortable for you. This will tell you how long you need. If this is not possible, then a general rule is to take the height of your wrist from the ground, when your arm is hanging down by your side. Add an inch to this. However, Solomon grip players will generally want a longer mallet (add about 4 inches) and an Irish grip player will generally want a shorter length. If in doubt, get a mallet that errs on the long side - you can always cut the end off the shaft if it proves too long, but you can't add to it if it proves too short!
When specifying length, always give the total length of the mallet, from the ground to the tip of the handle (i.e. including the depth of the head).
A standard mallet has a head length of 9 to 9.5", and this is recommended for beginners. Expert players may use longer head lengths up to 12", as this is thought to make aiming more accurate and makes it harder to accidentally twist the mallet during the stroke. However, the longer head is more awkward to use, and beginners may find they are taking divots out of the lawn. It is better to start with a shorter head, and increase the length once you have more experience.
Round Head or Square Head?
Most serious players use mallets with a square cross-section head. However, this is by no means universal, and in practice the differences are marginal. The main reason for the square head is that it reduces the width of the head, which makes it easier to play hampered shots (e.g. when there is a hoop in the way of the swing of your mallet). There may also be some advantage sometimes in being able to stand the mallet upright and stepping back from it to check alignment - only possible of course with a square-headed mallet.
End-Faces or Ring Bindings?
The cheaper garden mallets have plain heads with neither brass rings nor end-face plates on the mallet heads. These are fine for occasional garden use, but there is no protection against the wood splitting. The next option widely available is to put brass rings around either end of the head. This binds the wood and helps prevent splitting, and also adds a little weight and generally looks nice. However, this is not an ideal solution, since it does not prevent the wood in the head from wearing, and if it wears down to the level of the rings then the rings can become a nuisance, cutting into the balls. The best solution by far is to have end-plates on either end on the mallet head, which totally protects the wood. These are usually made from a tough plastic material such as Tufnol.
Handle Weight and Flexibility
For most beginners, a wooden shafted mallet will be perfectly adequate, provided that it is made from a reasonable quality wood such as Ash, Hickory, or New Zealand Tawa. More experienced players may want to try to keep the weight of the handle down, so that more of the weight is in the head, and the mallet has a better pendulum action. This is one of the main advantages of going for a fibre-glass, carbon-fibre or aluminium shaft. The flexibility of the shaft is also affected by the type of wood or other material used - this is very much a matter of personal taste, and you should try a range of different types before taking a decision on this.