The Rules of Croquet

The following definitions are used in the rules of croquet:

To Run a Hoop: when the striker hits a ball completely through a hoop in the correct order and the correct direction.

To Make a Roquet: when the player’s ball strikes another ball.

To Take Croquet: Having made a roquet the player places their own ball in contact with the displaced ball and then strikes their ball so that the other ball moves.

A Continuation Stroke: This is the additional stroke a player is entitled to having taken croquet.

Making A Break: The combination of taking croquet and running hoops as many times as possible in one turn.

To Become A Rover: This occurs when a ball has passed through its last hoop and only needs to hit the peg to finish the circuit. It is now known as a Rover Ball.

To Peg Out: This results when a player hits their rover ball on to the peg or when it is hit on to the peg by another rover ball.

To Peel A Ball: If the striker’s ball causes another ball to run that ball’s hoop, that other ball is said to be peeled through the hoop and gains a point. The striker does not gain a continuation stroke for peeling a ball.

Baulk Lines: The starting lines at either end of the court.

The Yard-Line: A Yard inside the boundary.

The Object of the Game

The object of the game is to race around the circuit of hoops as shown in the diagram below with each player trying to manoeuvre both their own and their opponent’s balls to win points. Careful positioning of the balls at the end of each turn can restrict their opponent’s chances of gaining points for themselves.

Croquet is played with four balls; Black and Blue versus Red and Yellow. The first side to get both of their balls through the 6 hoops twice in the order marked on the diagram and hit the peg is the winner. Once a ball has completed the circuit and hit the peg (pegged out) it is removed from the game. The side which first completes this course with both balls wins the game. The game can be played as singles or doubles.


A hoop point is scored when a ball passes right through each hoop (runs a hoop) from the correct direction and in the correct order. The point is scored whether the ball is struck directly with the mallet or with another ball. On running the hoop the striker gets an extra stroke - a continuation stoke. If the striker’s ball causes another ball to run that ball’s next hoop (peeling) it’s player gains a point but the striker does not gain a continuation stroke. To win, 26 points are required - 12 hoop points and 1 peg point for each ball.

The court is a flat grassed area measuring 35 by 28 yards and should be laid out according to the diagram below.

Croquet court layout

Clips coloured to match the balls are placed on the hoops or peg to indicate the next point for each ball. The clips are placed on the top of the hoop for the first 6 hoops, and on the side for the second circuit.

The game starts with the toss of a coin. The winner can make one of two choices; whether they take the lead and play first or which pair of balls they will play with. If they take the choice of lead their opponent has the choice of balls and vice versa.

The sides take alternate turns. Each player starts by playing their balls into the court from the starting lines (baulk lines). Once the four balls are on the court a side chooses which of its two balls it shall play in each turn.

A turn consists initially of one stroke only, but extra strokes can be earned in two ways:

1) If the player’s ball runs its next hoop, they are entitled to another stroke.
2) If the player’s ball hits another ball (makes a roquet), they place their own ball in contact with the displaced ball and then strike their own ball so that the other ball moves (takes croquet). The player is then entitled to one further continuation stroke.

During each turn the player may roquet and then take croquet from each of the other three balls once, however, each time their ball runs its next hoop they may roquet the other balls once more. This enables the player to run many hoops in any one turn (making a break).

A turn ends when a player has made all the strokes to which he is entitled, or if the a ball is sent off the court in a croquet shot, or if a fault is committed (See List of Rules).

After each shot, any ball which has been sent off court is placed a yard inside the boundary (on the yard-line), nearest to where it went off. Any ball lying between the boundary and the yard-line, except the player’s own ball, is also replaced on the yard line. At the end of a turn the player’s own ball is placed on the yard-line if it has left the court or lies between the boundary and the yard-line.

When a ball has scored its last hoop point (become a rover) it can score the peg point either by the player directly hitting it on to the peg or by being hit on to the peg by another rover ball. The ball is then removed from the court.

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