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. The basic laws should provide all the information needed regarding the laws to enjoy these two games. It is suitable for most players, 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.
The basis of the game 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. The game consists of a series of 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. Except at the start of the game (see para. 21) a player may play either of his two balls in his turn. The ball he chooses at the start of his turn must be played throughout that turn, during which it 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 player who makes both his balls score the 12 hoop points in the sequence shown in Diagram 1 and then score the peg point by hitting it, a total of 26 points, before his opponent.
4. A player is initially entitled to one stroke in a turn, after which his turn ends unless, in that stroke, his 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, see para. 7 below) ball, the striker is said to have made a roquet on that ball and he becomes entitled to play a croquet stroke. This is played after picking up the striker's ball and placing it in any position in contact with the roqueted ball, which in the croquet stroke is now known as the croqueted ball. The striker then plays the croquet stroke by striking his own ball, causing both balls to move. After the croquet stroke the striker plays a continuation stroke, unless his turn has ended because he has sent a ball off the lawn or for some other reason.
7. A ball that may be roqueted is known as a live ball, one from which croquet has been taken, dead. The striker must not attempt to take croquet from a dead ball; if he does so, his turn ends (see para 54). When a new turn is started, and each time 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.
Diagram 1: The Standard Court
Click for full-size image
8. The standard court is a rectangle 35 yards by 28 yards (Diagram 1). The boundary is marked, usually with a continuous white line. One yard in from the boundary are the yard-lines, which are not marked. The area between the yard-lines and the boundary is termed the yard-line area.
9. The four corners are called corners 1, 2, 3 and 4. In each corner the yard-lines meet at the corner spot.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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 1/16" and 1/8" clearance to the balls). The crown of the first hoop is coloured blue and that of the last hoop, which is known as rover, red. Each hoop must be firmly fixed in the ground.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. For each ball, a clip of the same colour is placed on the first hoop at the start of the game and then moved to the hoop or peg next in order for it at the end of each turn. For the first six hoops the clip is placed on the crown and for the last six on an upright.
18. 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.
19. The peg extension, clips, corner flags and pegs are accessories which may be temporarily removed by the striker if they are in the way.
20. The winner of the toss can take the choice of lead (i.e. to play first or make his opponent do so) or choice of balls. If he takes the choice of lead his opponent has the choice of balls and vice versa.
21. The first player plays either of his balls from any point on baulk-line A or B. At the end of that turn his 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 which of his two balls he is going to play for that turn (as stated in para. 2.)
22. The first four turns are otherwise normal turns, in which points can be scored and roquets made.
23. 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 para 37).
24. At the end of each stroke, the striker must replace any ball that has gone off the court, except the striker's ball when it is about to take croquet (see para 32), on the nearest point of the yard-line to where it went off.
25. At the end of each stroke, the striker must replace any ball that lies between the yard-line and the boundary, except the striker's ball during a turn, on the nearest point of the yard-line to where it lies.
26. If the striker's ball is in the yard-line area it is played from where it lies, unless the turn has ended, in which case it is also placed on the nearest point on the yard-line.
27. If the striker cannot replace a ball because of the presence of other balls on or near the yard-line, he should replace it on the yard-line in contact with one of them, on either side at his choice.
29. At the end of the stroke in which a roquet is made, the striker replaces the roqueted ball on the yard-line if necessary (see para 25), then, unless his turn has ended (see para 50), he picks up his ball and prepares for and plays a croquet stroke (see paras 32 - 38).
30. The turn is not ended by either the striker's or the roqueted ball going off the court after making a roquet.
31. 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, it is deemed to have made a roquet on the one he chooses and so he picks up his ball and prepares for and plays a croquet stroke immediately.
33. 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 roqueted ball or a ball in contact with it, but not in contact with the striker's ball.
34. In a croquet stroke, the roqueted ball is known as the croqueted ball, and becomes dead.
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 does not, a fault is made (see para 53) and the turn ends.
36. The turn ends if in the croquet stroke the croqueted ball is sent off the court.
37. 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.
38. At the end of a croquet stroke, the striker replaces all balls except the striker's ball on the yard-line if necessary (see para 25), then, unless a roquet was made (in which case see para 29) or the turn has ended (see paras 36,37,50), he plays a continuation stroke from where his ball lies.
40. At the end of a continuation stroke, unless a roquet was made (in which case see para 29) or a hoop point was scored in it, the striker replaces all balls on the yard-line if necessary (see paras 24,25) and the turn ends.
41. 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 runs his hoop and then makes a roquet in the same stroke, he immediately takes croquet and then plays one continuation stroke;
(c) if the striker runs his hoop in a croquet stroke, he only plays one continuation stroke.
Diagram 2: Running a Hoop
Click for full-size image
43. 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 come back past this point later in the stroke (see Diagram 2).
44. 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.
45. 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.
46. 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 his ball on the yard-line if it went off the court), unless he has made a roquet (in which case he takes croquet) or his turn has ended.
47. 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, but no continuation stroke is earned.
49. After making a roquet, the striker's ball cannot score a peg point for itself in that stroke.
50. 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 play no further part in the game. If the striker's ball or a roqueted ball was pegged out, the turn ends.
51. 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.
52. 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 he may lift that ball and play it from any position on baulk-line A or B, or play it from where it lies.
53. The striker must hold the mallet by its shaft and swing it so as to attempt
to hit his ball cleanly with an end face of its head. He commits a fault if
he does not do so, or if, when playing a stroke, he:
(a) touches any ball or his mallet touches any other ball; or
(b) hits his own ball more than once, other than because of interference by a ball roqueted or pegged out in the stroke; or
(c) squeezes his ball against a hoop or the peg; or
(d) fails to move or shake the croqueted ball in a croquet stroke.
54. If a fault is committed the striker's turn ends, no points are scored in the stroke, and the opponent has the option of having the balls replaced or not.
55. If the striker aims to and does hit a wrong ball with his mallet, or purports to take croquet from a dead ball, his turn ends and the balls and clips are replaced to their position after the last valid stroke.
56. If the striker attempts to run a wrong hoop, his turn will end unless he was playing a croquet stroke, because he will not be entitled to a continuation stroke.
57. The opponent should not warn the striker about committing one of these fatal errors. However, in no other case does a breach of the rules cause the striker's turn to end, so as joint referees of the game either player should draw attention as soon as possible to any irregularity which he suspects is about to be or has been committed.
58. If the striker misses his ball, his turn ends.
59. If the striker plays more strokes than he is entitled to, the balls and clips are replaced to their positions after the last valid stroke.
60. If the striker plays the wrong type of stroke, e.g. if he fails to take croquet when he should or vice-versa, the balls and clips should be replaced and he plays the correct stroke, unless his turn would have ended for some other reason.
61. 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.
62. 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.
63. The striker may move the balls to avoid obstacles or damage to the court and is entitled to a replay if he is misled by his opponent.
64. Any other irregularity should be dealt with so as to minimise its effect whilst maintaining the balance of the game.
65. 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 his normal turn, but only playing the same ball. At the start of a bisque turn, all the balls become live.
66. 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.
67. The number of bisques to be given is the difference between the handicaps of the two players.
68. In a handicap game, a player may not peg-out his own ball before his partner ball has become a rover, unless an opponent's ball has already been pegged out.
69. In doubles, there are two players on each side. There are two forms of the game. In one, each of players has their own ball; at the start of a turn, the partnership decide which ball, and hence player, is to play; the players of a side do not necessarily take alternate turns. The turn ends if a player plays his partner's ball.
70. The other form is called Alternate Stroke Doubles (Appendix 4 of the Laws). 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. Either player of the partnership may play either of their balls.
71. 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.
72. Shortened games can be played, e.g. consisting of the first six hoops followed by the peg.
73. The balls are not played in sequence (this is only done in Golf Croquet).
74. You can roquet and take croquet before you have scored a hoop.
75. When you run your hoop in order the slate is wiped clean and you may roquet and take croquet from each of the balls again.
76. Similarly if you start a new turn, including a bisque turn, all the balls become live again.
77. If you have taken croquet from a ball and, before running your next hoop in order, your striker's ball hits the same ball again, it is not a roquet and you cannot therefore take croquet from it. If you do, your turn ends.
78. You are entitled to a continuation stroke after playing a croquet stroke, or running your hoop in order, but you are never entitled to two successive continuation strokes.
79. You cannot put your foot on your ball in a croquet stroke (this is a fault and your turn ends).
80. Your TURN ENDS unless, in any stroke except a croquet stroke, you:
(i) make a roquet; or
(ii) you run your hoop in order.
81. Your TURN ENDS if, in a croquet stroke, you:
(i) send the croqueted ball off the court; or
(ii) send your ball off the court, unless it makes a roquet or scores its hoop in order.
82. Your TURN ENDS if you commit a fault in any stroke.
83. Your TURN ENDS if you play a wrong ball.
84. Your TURN DOES NOT END if you make a roquet and:
(i) the roqueted ball goes off; or
(ii) your ball goes off
85. Your TURN DOES NOT END if you run your hoop in order and your ball then goes off.
86. A ball can only be pegged out if both it and the striker's ball have run all their hoops.