Welcome to the World’s Greatest Backyard Sport!
The game of croquet (pronounced "Crow-KAY") is a tradition of backyard recreation in America, as well as a sport that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. Whether you are a novice who plays the occasional friendly game or a determined competitor who gives opponents no quarter, you need to know the rules and have them handy for reference during a game.
This special edition of the rules was prepared by the sport's governing body, the United States Croquet Association (U.S.C.A.), as a guide for informal backyard play. More detailed tournament rules for the American six-wicket game can be ordered from the U.S.C.A. headquarters and are sent free to all USCA six-wicket members. The following rules are suggested for use in play, as it is the purpose of the U.S.C.A. to standardize one set of rules. Some interesting "options" are also listed below, which may make the game more challenging.
Those playing in a game can always create their own rules and variations; however, any variation to be used must be announced before the start of the game.
A backyard croquet court doesn't have to be a perfectly manicured lawn, but short grass provides the best playing surface. If you have room, a full-size court is a rectangle, 100 feet long by 50 feet wide. You can adjust the size and shape of the court to fit the available space. Use string or chalk to mark definite boundaries, or just mark the corners with flags or stakes.
The Wickets and Stakes
The nine wickets and two stakes are arranged in a double- diamond pattern as shown in the diagram. If you are playing on a smaller court, the distances shown should be scaled down in proportion to the length and width of the court. The wickets should be firmly planted in the ground, and the width of the wickets should be uniform throughout the court.
For a two- or four-player, two-sided game, you need four balls. The colors usually used are blue, red, black, and yellow. One side (with one or two players) plays with blue and black, and the other with red and yellow. For a six-player team game, you need six balls. In team play, one side plays blue, black, and green, and the other side plays red, yellow, and orange. In "one-ball" games, you need one ball per player.
Each player uses a mallet. Only the striking (end) face may be used to strike a ball, unless the players have agreed to allow the use of "side" shots or other shot-making variations.
You can use colored clips or clothespins to mark the next wicket your ball must go through. The clip is picked up when a wicket is scored, then placed on the ball's next wicket at the end of the turn.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is to advance the balls through the course by hitting them with a mallet, scoring a point for each wicket and stake made in the correct order and direction.
The winner is the first side to score the 14 wicket points and 2 stake points for each of its balls, unless the game is played to a time limit and time runs out before that happens, in which case the team with the most points at the end of the time period wins (see below).
The players take turns, and only one plays at a time. At the beginning of a turn the player (called the "striker") has one shot. After that shot the turn ends, unless a bonus shot is earned by scoring a wicket or stake or by hitting another ball.
The turn ends when the player has no more bonus shots to play or has finished the course by scoring the finishing stake. The striker may directly hit with the mallet only the ball he or she is playing in that turn (the "striker ball").
Order of Play (game starting point )
All balls are played into the game from a spot halfway between the finishing stake and wicket #1.
When four balls are played by two sides (singles - two players competing against each other playing two balls each; or doubles - two sides of two players each) The sides should toss a coin or hit closest to the middle wicket to determine the order of play. The side winning the coin toss has the choice of playing first and third with blue/black or second and fourth with red/yellow.
The order of play throughout the game is blue, red, black, yellow. Six balls played by two teams of three players The side winning the coin toss has the choice of playing first, third, and fifth with blue/black/green or second, fourth, and sixth with red/yellow/orange. The order of play throughout the game is blue, red, black, yellow, green, orange.