Croquet rules

July 11, 2003

The Croquet Foundation of America recommends six-ball guerilla croquet for the backyard setting. This version of the classic game is ideal for groups of up to six players with varying skill levels.

Here's how to play:

  • Choose sides: There are two sides, with the "hot colors" (red, yellow and orange) competing against the "cool colors" (blue, black and green).

  • Players: When the number of players equals the number of balls on a side, each player plays only one ball throughout the game. When the number of players does not equal the number of balls on a side, the players on that side alternate turns and may play any one ball on their side in a turn. With two players, each of them plays all the balls on a side.

  • Boundaries: Natural boundaries, such as a sidewalk or flower bed, and boundaries designated by a string or other special marking should be at least six feet beyond the outer wickets - small wire arches through which balls are hit - and stakes.

  • Starting the game: Toss a coin to see which side will choose whether to go first or second. Each ball must be brought into play in the first round of turns, in the order of the colors on the stake: Blue, red, black, yellow, green, orange. The starting "tee" is one mallet-length in front of Wicket No. 1.

  • Taking turns: A turn consists of one stroke plus any additional bonus strokes earned by the ball in play. After the first round of turns, a side may play any one of its balls in each turn. After a turn in which a wicket or stake point is scored, the wicket clip of the color corresponding to the ball should be placed on the next wicket or stake to be scored by that ball. (Colored clothespins can be used if your set doesn't include wicket clips).

  • Bonus strokes: Bonus strokes can be earned by scoring wicket and stake points or by hitting an opponent's ball with the ball in play. One bonus stroke is earned for passing through your proper wicket in the order of the course, and for striking the Turning Stake after scoring Wicket No. 7. These strokes must be played from where the ball lies after the point is made. No bonus stroke is earned by a ball that "pegs out" by striking the Finishing Stake. You get two bonus strokes when your ball hits an opponent's ball. You may move your ball one mallet head's distance from the other ball before striking, or strike your ball to make both balls move. If your ball clears a wicket and in the same stroke hits an opponent's ball on the other side of the wicket, the hit does not merit two bonus strokes.

  • Boundary balls: All balls struck out of bounds are brought to the point where they crossed the designated boundary and placed one mallet length inside the court before play resumes. There is no penalty or loss of strokes for sending any ball out of bounds.

  • Faults and penalties: You must strike the ball only with the face of the mallet. The mallet may not touch any other ball except the striker's, strike a wicket or stake, or crush a ball against a wicket or stake to make the stake or wicket bend or move. Out-of-turn plays and faults should be corrected by replacing the balls to their positions before the fault occurred and replaying the shots correctly.

  • Rover balls: Rovers, which are balls that have completed all the course except for striking the Finishing Stake, may be driven into the Finishing Stake with any legal stroke by any player at any point in the game.

  • Winning the game: The side which scores all the wickets and strikes the Finishing Stake with all its balls wins the game.

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