How to Play Croquet for Beginners | The Backyard Baron (2023)

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Last updated: August 27, 2022

Croquet is an entertaining lawn and backyard game that can be played by two to six players, either individually or as teams.

The game has increased in popularity in recent times, with many variations and spin-offs to choose from, such as Golf, Extreme, Six-wicket, Garden, Nine-wicket, and Ricochet, to name a few.

But how exactly is this game played? Grab a mallet and learn how to play croquet for beginners. This article delves deeper and details the rules and setup of the nine-wicket variant.

Quick navigation:

  • What Is Croquet?
  • Croquet Rules for Dummies
  • Final Thoughts

What Is Croquet?

Croquet is a lawn game where players hit balls through hoops, otherwise known as wickets. A wooden mallet is used to shoot these balls. You can play this game on any flat surface, be it in your backyard or on a professional court.

The game’s primary objective is maneuvering your balls across the lawn and through the nine strategically placed wickets. The balls need to go through the wickets in the correct sequence and direction.

Origins of Croquet

It remains unclear how the game croquet was invented. Some sources claim it originated from the French game “pall mall”, while other theories assert that pall mall was more golf than croquet.

History pinpoints the first documentation of the present game to 1852. During this time, the Irish game “crooky” was launched in England. John Jaques, a London-based sporting goods manufacturer, started manufacturing croquet sets for widespread use and recreation.

Upper-class individuals mostly played initial croquet games, but by 1870, its popularity had spread throughout England and its colonies. The surge in popularity saw croquet introduced in countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

How to Play Croquet for Beginners | The Backyard Baron (1)

However, the emergence of lawn tennis slowed down croquet’s momentum around the start of the 20th century, and it wasn’t until decades later that the game of croquet was revived.

Come 1950, Americans had learned how to play croquet. It was played across the US mainly as a recreational sport. From then to the present, the game has been on an upward trajectory. In Canada and the US, the recreational 9-wicket croquet is prominent, while garden croquet is more popular in the UK.

Why do I like this game so much?

Croquet is quite a sophisticated game that requires good skills and a sense of strategy.

It’s not a wild and action-packed backyard game; instead, it’s a game that allows for a bit of thinking, strategizing, considering, aiming, and so much more. And all of this happens in a relaxing environment shared with family and friends.

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GoSports Six Player Croquet Set

  • COMPLETE CROQUET SET: Includes 6 color mallets, 6 balls, 9 wickets, 2 end posts...
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Are you ready to play this fun game in your backyard? Check out my guide with reviews of the best croquet sets so you can start practicing with your friends and family at home.

Croquet Rules for Dummies

Different croquet versions have unique rules. The United States Croquet Association (USCA) has a rule book that governs 9-wicket and other versions.

Nine-wicket croquet is the ideal recreational game for friends and families, and that is what I am discussing in this article. It’s the simplest form of croquet, best suitable for backyard play.

To explain how to play croquet, I am going to discuss the following:

  1. Equipment
  2. Field setup
  3. Game objective
  4. Game rules

Let’s dive in!

1. Equipment

The game is played by 2, 4, or 6 players using 2, 4, or 6 balls. You typically play as individuals, but you can also create teams of 2 or 3 players.

The first step in learning how to play croquet for beginners is knowing what equipment you need.

Croquet equipment:

  • Mallets x6
  • Stakes x2
  • Balls x6
  • Wickets x9

The mallets and balls typically come in six different colors; one color per player.

How to Play Croquet for Beginners | The Backyard Baron (3)


A croquet mallet is a wooden rod with a hammer end that’s used to strike the ball. The mallet’s length can be between 26 to 35 inches and weighs anywhere between two to three pounds. The hammerhead measures around 12 inches and can be square or round.

Note that sometimes the heads are referred to as the mallets. However, we are referring to mallets as both the handle and the head.


Croquet stakes are typically made from wood and have colored markings that match the colors of the mallets and balls.

Stakes are installed at all ends of the croquet court, approximately 6 feet from the boundary.


A backyard croquet set comes with six balls. The balls have a diameter ranging from 3 to 3.6 inches and can weigh up to 16 ounces.

As mentioned, the mallets and balls have matching colors, so each player plays with one mallet and one ball of the same color.


Players play 9-wicket croquet using nine iron hoops (wickets).

The wickets are fixed to the ground and are roughly 4 inches wide and 12 inches high.

2. Field Setup

You have to know how to set up the playing court when mastering how to play croquet for beginners.

You can play this game anywhere, provided the surface is flat, and the grass is short. The court’s surface must also be soft enough to install the wickets.

You will need nine wickets and two stakes. Optional items such as chalks, flags, and strings also come in handy.

A standard nine-wicket court measures 100 feet in length and 50 feet in width. Of course, the lawn doesn’t have to be that long, but whatever measurements you choose, ensure that all sides are scaled down in proportion. The settings below are for a 100 x 50 feet lawn.

How to Play Croquet for Beginners | The Backyard Baron (4)

Once you mark the boundaries of the playing court, the next step is setting up the stakes, followed by the wickets:

  1. Install the stakes along the centerline. Each stake should be 6 feet from either end of the court.
  2. Measure a distance of 6 feet from the stake and install the first wicket.
  3. Install the second wicket 6 feet away from the first and in line with the stake.
  4. The next step is installing two wickets on either side of the court. They have to be 16 feet away from the second wicket.
  5. The fifth wicket is placed in the center of the court, 32 feet away from the second.

These are the settings for one half of the lawn; follow the same process when fixing the remaining wickets on the other half.

3. Game Objective

The objective of nine-wicket croquet is to be the first player to score 14 wickets and 2 stakes in the correct order.

Before playing, you will need to determine the number of players and which player to go first. Each player will get one mallet plus a ball of the same color.

The order of play is determined by the colored markings on the stake. The player with the color that is highest on the stake goes first.

How to Play Croquet for Beginners | The Backyard Baron (5)

The game starts by placing the ball between the starting stake and the first wicket. From there, the first player must try and shoot the ball through the first wicket, followed by the second wicket, and so on.

Once a player hits the stake at the other end of the field (after completing the first 7 wickets), they turn to complete the remaining 7 wickets, after which they need to hit the starting stake to end the game.

4. Game Rules

Now that we’ve discussed the field setup and objective of the game, let’s dive a little deeper into the rules of croquet.

Turns and Bonus Shots

Each player gets one shot per turn. However, bonus shots can be earned when one of the following happens:

  • Scoring a wicket.
  • Hitting the stake.
  • Hitting an opponent’s ball.

Scoring a wicket or hitting the stake results in 1 bonus shot. Note that the ball must pass through the wicket entirely for it to be a score.

Hitting an opponent’s ball results in 2 bonus shots. When hitting an opponent’s ball and then scoring a wicket in the same shot, the wicket doesn’t count, but the two bonus shots are awarded. When scoring a wicket and then hitting an opponent’s ball in the same shot, the wicket is scored, but the two bonus shots are not awarded.

A player can earn a maximum of 2 bonus shots per turn, unless the ball is going through a wicket. When a ball goes through a wicket, the number of bonus shots resets to 1.

In other words, a player can, in theory, complete and win a game in just one turn.

Play Direction

Players earn a wicket only if they strike the ball through the wicket in the correct direction.

Hitting the ball through the wicket in the wrong direction is allowed but won’t earn you anything.

Ball out of Play

If you’re playing with boundaries around the court, and a ball goes out of play, there are rules to consider.

To bring the ball back into play, place the ball one mallet’s length (or 1 meter) from the boundaries into the field where the ball exited the field.

Final Thoughts

You’d be forgiven for assuming that croquet has complicated rules, but hopefully, after reading this article and playing a few times, you will find it’s pretty easy to pick up.

Croquet certainly isn’t for everyone, and I also find that the vibe is very different from, for example, playing a game of washer toss.

But ultimately, croquet is a fun game that allows for bonding between friends and family in the yard. It has certainly become one of my favorites in recent years.

How to Play Croquet for Beginners | The Backyard Baron (6)


How do you play backyard croquet? ›

Ideally, you take croquet from your partner ball near the peg. Line the balls up so that in the croquet shot the partner ball hits the peg, then in the continuation shot the striker's ball hits the peg. However, you can also win the game by hitting the peg with each ball in two separate turns.

Where do you start in croquet? ›

Starting the Croquet Game. The game starts with the toss of a coin (or mallet), the winner having the choice of playing first or second, the loser having the choice of balls. The first four turns are used to play all four balls onto the court from any point on either baulk line.

How many hits do you get in croquet? ›

Players only have one shot per turn, but they can earn extra shots. Players earn 1 bonus shot each time they clear a wicket. If two wickets are cleared in one stroke the player earns 2 extra shots.

Is croquet easy to learn? ›

Golf Croquet is easy to learn, in less than 10 minutes, with one shot per turn, and is a very popular sociable game played at a fast pace. Simply, the first ball through a hoop scores the hoop for that side and then all players move on to the next hoop from the position where the balls are.

Is croquet a good workout? ›

Croquet provides non-strenuous exercise and an effective low-intensity workout. While the game can be played by both adults and children, it's a sociable activity that is suitable for all ages, combing both mental and physical skills.

How do you get good at croquet? ›

15 Winning Tips for the Backyard Croquet Game
  1. Choose the mallet with the heaviest head and the longest shaft. ...
  2. Due to the long grass, the harder you hit it — the straighter it goes. ...
  3. Avoid toy croquet sets if you can, but the odds are against you. ...
  4. Swing between the legs. ...
  5. Use a grip that feels natural to you.
5 Mar 2011

What is the difference between croquet and croquette? ›

Croquet is a lawn game using mallets, wooden balls, and wickets. Croquette is a fried mass of mince (chopped) meat, fish, and/or vegetables: “The menu at the restaurant featured a croquette specialty.”

What is poison in croquet? ›

A poison ball is one that has scored all the wickets but hasn't hit the finishing stake. A poison ball may hit any opponent ball and have it removed from the game. Conversely, if an opponent ball hits a poison ball, the poison ball is removed from the game.

What are croquet balls called? ›

Almost all croquet balls made today (including all tournament quality balls) are of a solid plastic construction, these are often called composite balls.

What are the gates in croquet called? ›

Croquet (UK: /ˈkroʊkeɪ, -ki/ or US: /kroʊˈkeɪ/; French: croquet) is a sport that involves hitting wooden or plastic balls with a mallet through hoops (often called "wickets" in the United States) embedded in a grass playing court.

How long does a game of croquet take? ›

You can play the game with two to six players. You can play in teams or as individuals (otherwise known as “Cutthroat Croquet.”) Play usually takes about two hours. To play the game, you will have to go to a sporting goods store and buy a croquet set.

How do you aim in croquet? ›

Stop before the striker's ball, swing mallet over it, check that the forward swing is central to the target; eyes down to the striker's ball, swing back, let your shoulders drop a little and allow gravity to take the mallet through on the same line, flat as you can, letting the hands swing onward towards that same ...

How many times can you hit someone else's ball in croquet? ›

You can only hit another ball for bonus shots once per turn unless you go through a wicket. After going through a wicket, you can hit another ball for bonus shots. Two bonus shots are the maximum a player can have per turn unless the player goes through another wicket.

Can you hit the same ball twice in croquet? ›

A roquet ball can't be hit twice in the same turn. If you hit another players ball, you may not also score a wicket in the same stroke. Hitting another players ball, gives you a continuation stroke. If you score a wicket and then hit another ball in the same stroke, the roquet doesn't count.

Can you hit another persons ball in croquet? ›

If you hit another ball (make a roquet) and earn two extra shots the first of those (the croquet shot) must be played in contact with the roquet ball. In order to do that you move your ball and place it anywhere in contact with the ball that was hit. The roqueted ball must move or shake with the next strike.

What skills are needed for croquet? ›

It requires only one basic skill, that of propelling a ball with a degree of accuracy. The principal difference between croquet and most other outdoor sports in that croquet requires delicacy and skill, rather than speed or strength. It also requires tactical ability and forward planning rather than quick reflexes.

What age is croquet for? ›

Nine Holes Anywhere croquet golf game appeals to all age groups, primarily for players 8+.

Why is croquet good for the elderly? ›

The health benefits of playing croquet in retirement

Croquet is another example of how retirement community living helps seniors to stay connected, keep moving, and maintain healthy brain function. Being a non-strenuous, low impact game, croquet is ideal for people who have a knee or hip complaint for example.

Why was croquet removed from Olympics? ›

The game originally was intended to be included as part of the program in the first Olympics in 1896, but was removed due to a lack of participants. Croquet was featured only once — during the 1900 Olympics in Paris — as an official sport.

Why is it called croquet? ›

The Chambers dictionary lists croquet as a northern French dialect form of crochet, meaning a little crook. It is generally agreed that the game croquet emerged from Ireland around 1850 where it was known as crookey, a word with its root meaning as a hooked stick.

What is the best croquet grip? ›

Most players use the Standard grip and it is advised that this be the grip to begin with. The Standard Grip: The shaft is grasped near the top with knuckles of hand pointing forward and the thumb up. The lower hand supports the back of the shaft with knuckles pointing backwards and thumb down.

What is a croquet stroke? ›

If a player strikes their ball so that it hits another ball on the court (roquets a ball) the player gains two extra stokes; the first is called the croquet stroke where the striker's ball is carried to where the ball it struck came to rest and placed in contact.

Who is the best croquet player of all time? ›

player of all time, demonstrates exactly why he has. consistently dominated the world rankings since.

Can you go backwards in croquet? ›

Each person continues through the croquet course, trying to hit their ball through each correct wicket in the correct order. If you overshoot a wicket, you can backtrack. However, you must hit the ball through the wicket in the direction the game is going. You can't hit the ball backwards through a wicket.

How do you hit a jump shot in croquet? ›

With the Hammer stance the striker stands in front of the ball and plays back between the legs. With an Upwards Stroke the striker stands well behind the ball and plays it upwards, rather like a stop shot, but with the aim of hitting the ball directly into the air, rather than bouncing it off the ground.

What country invented croquet? ›

The game of hitting balls through hoops can be traced back to 14th century France. There, peasants fashioned hoops from willow branches and used shepherds crooks to hit the balls.

Where is croquet most popular? ›

Where is Croquet Most Popular? Croquet is most popular in England. While the United States has many professional leagues and clubs, as well as recreational players, croquet has been most popular in England since its inception in the 1850's as a professional sport and a recreational activity.

Is a Tater Tot a croquette? ›

Tater tots versus potato croquettes: Both dishes are made from mashed potatoes all right. But the croquettes have cheese and are breaded with flour and egg before deep-frying. Tater tots versus hash browns: They are very similar, yes! Their only difference is the shape – hash browns are flat while tots are cylindrical.

What is poisonous touch? ›

Poisonous Touch is the rare and deadly ability to spread poison through skin contact. Users are immune to all poisons and can create any poison they desire. Users can also absorb poisons to reverse its effects. It is triggered through hate. The only known user is Klea.

How much space do you need for croquet? ›

The official full-size court is a rectangle 100 feet long by 50 feet wide, but court size and shape can be adjusted to fit available space with distances between wickets and stakes scaled down in proportion. Boundaries are optional and can be marked with string or flags.

What is 6 wicket croquet called? ›

The COMPLETE RULES are maintained by the USCA, and are called "American Rules". In the United States, the game is also called "Six-Wicket Croquet".

Can you roquet before first hoop? ›

74. The balls are not played in sequence (this is only done in Golf Croquet). 75. The striker's ball can roquet and take croquet before any hoop points have been scored.

Is it a dead ball if it hits a runner? ›

Ruling: Runner is declared out. Ball is dead, and batter-runner is awarded first base. The fact that the runner had contact with the base when struck with the batted ball has no bearing on the play. (An exception to this is when the runner is hit by an Infield Fly while on base.)

What is the croquet hammer called? ›

The hoop mallet, or wicket mallet, is a short, usually rubber hammer used to pound the wickets and stakes into the ground. Hoop mallets are usually included in every croquet set.

What are the four colours of croquet balls? ›

The Laws and Rules of Croquet state that balls shall be coloured (blue, black, red and yellow, alternatively green, brown, pink and white) but make no attempt to specify the colours.

What was croquet originally called? ›

"Croquet is a very old game, widely known and practised in France since the XI century under the name of 'jeu de mail'. Borrowed by the British around 1300, it was modified over the centuries: the Scots made golf out of it, the Irish turned it into croquet.”

What is the layout for a croquet set? ›

The international rules of association croquet state that the court must be 105′ long by 84′ wide. No wicket may be within 21′ of the outside boundaries of the court. Six wickets will be used in total, two set 21′ feet from the center stake, and the others 21 feet from either edge in the corners of the court.

How long does it take to play a game of croquet? ›

You can play the game with two to six players. You can play in teams or as individuals (otherwise known as “Cutthroat Croquet.”) Play usually takes about two hours.

What color goes first in croquet? ›

The game starts after tossing a coin. The winner of the toss decides whether to play first or second. The side playing first plays the Blue and Black balls, with Blue being played in the first stroke. The first four strokes are played in order from a position within one yard of corner 4 (see Diagram 1).

What is the ball in croquet called? ›

The term used to describe a ball after it has been hit by the striker's ball and before the croquet stroke has been played. Once the stroke is played, the roqueted ball is called the croqueted ball. Rover ball.

Where do you put croquet hoops? ›

The corner hoops are seven yards (6.4 m) in along each boundary from each corner. The peg is in the middle of the lawn and the 'centre hoops' are seven yards (6.4 m) out from the peg along the long axis of the lawn.

What happens if you hit someone's ball in croquet? ›

After going through a wicket, or hitting a stake, the player will take another ordinary shot. If a player's ball hits another player's ball, two bonus shots are awarded. The first of the bonus shots can be taken in four different ways. Take a mallet head: set your ball up one mallet head's length from the ball you hit.

Do you need a flat lawn for croquet? ›

In gardens croquet is usually played with six hoops and one central peg. You need a flat area of lawn or short mown grass; ideally around 35 yards x 28 yards for six hoops, although this can be scaled down for smaller spaces.

What are croquet sticks called? ›

6 letter answer(s) to croquet stick


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