- A coin toss determines who goes first with the loser of the toss picking which balls to use.
- Each player plays in turn, taking one shot unless extra shots are earned. Extra shots are gained by either “running a hoop” (passing through the correct hoop) or hitting one of the other three balls. These earn one and two extra shots respectively.
- The first four turns must be used to bring all four balls into play, after which you can choose to play either ball, although extra shots can be earned immediately.
- 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. The next shot is called the continuation shot and must be played from where the first, original ball lies.
- Extra shots are not cumulative and you can only earn extra shots once from each ball until the next hoop is scored.
- If a ball is struck off the lawn or lies within a metre of the edge it is moved to a metre inside the lawn. There is no penalty for this.
- To score a hoop no part of the ball must be visible on the original side of the hoop – that is to say, all of the ball must have passed at least some part of the hoop.
- The ball can only be struck with the face of the mallet and must be hit cleanly without moving the other balls, hoops or peg to make the shot.
- Once a ball hits the peg at the end of the game it is removed from play.
Backyard croquet being played in rough grass with inexpensive equipment, United States, 2009
Backward ball: The ball of a side that has scored fewer hoops (compare with ‘forward ball’).
Ball-in-hand: A ball that the striker can pick up to change its position, for example:
any ball when it leaves the court has to be replaced on the yard-line
the striker’s ball after making a roquet must be placed in contact with the roqueted ball
the striker’s ball when the striker is entitled to a lift.
Ball in play: A ball after it has been played into the game, which is not a ball in hand or pegged out.
Baulk: An imaginary line on which a ball is placed for its first shot in the game, or when taking a lift. The A-baulk coincides with the western half of the yard line along the south boundary; the B-baulk occupies the eastern half of the north boundary yard line.
Bisque, half-bisque A bisque is a free turn in a handicap match. A half-bisque is a restricted handicap turn in which no point may be scored.
Break down: To end a turn by making a mistake.
Continuation stroke: Either the bonus stroke played after running a hoop in order or the second bonus stroke played after making a roquet.
Croquet stroke: A stroke taken after making a roquet, in which the striker’s ball and the roqueted ball are placed together in contact.
Double tap: A fault in which the mallet makes more than one audible sound when it strikes the ball.
Forward ball: The ball of a side that has scored more hoops (compare with ‘backward ball’).
Hoop: Metal U-shaped gate pushed into ground. (Also called a wicket in the US).
Leave: The position of the balls after a successful break, in which the striker is able to leave the balls placed so as to make life as difficult as possible for the opponent.
Lift: A turn in which the player is entitled to remove the ball from its current position and play instead from either baulk line. A lift is permitted when a ball has been placed by the opponent in a position where it is wired from all other balls, and also in advanced play when the opponent has completed a break that includes hoops 1-back or 4-back.
Object ball: A ball which is going to be rushed.
Peg out: To cause a rover ball to strike the peg and conclude its active involvement in the game.
Peel: To send a ball other than the striker’s ball through its target hoop.
Pioneer: A ball placed in a strategic position near the striker’s next-but-one or next-but-two hoop, to assist in running that hoop later in the break.
Primary colours or first colours: The main croquet ball colours used which are blue, red, black and yellow (in order of play). One player or team plays blue and black, the other red and yellow.
Push: A fault when the mallet pushes the striker’s ball, rather than making a clean strike.
Roquet: (Second syllable rhymes with “play”.) When the striker’s ball hits a ball that he is entitled to then take a croquet shot with. At the start of a turn, the striker is entitled to roquet all the other three balls once. Once the striker’s ball goes through its target hoop, it is again entitled to roquet the other balls once.
Rover ball: A ball that has run all 12 hoops and can be pegged out.
Rover hoop: The last hoop, indicated by a red top bar. The first hoop has a blue top.
Run a hoop: To send the striker’s ball through a hoop. If the hoop is the hoop in order for the striker’s ball, the striker earns a bonus stroke.
Rush: A roquet when the roqueted ball is sent to a specific position on the court, such as the next hoop for the striker’s ball or close to a ball that the striker wishes to roquet next.
Scatter shot: A continuation stroke used to hit a ball which may not be roqueted in order to send it to a less dangerous position.
Secondary colours or second colours; also known as alternate colours: The colours of the balls used in the second game played on the same court in double-banking: green, pink, brown and white (in order of play). Green and brown versus pink and white, are played by the same player or pair.
Sextuple peel (SXP): To peel the partner ball through its last six hoops in the course of a single turn. Very few players have achieved this feat, but it is being seen increasingly at championship level.
Tice: A ball sent to a location that will entice an opponent to shoot at it but miss.
Triple peel (TP): To send a ball other than the striker’s ball through its last three hoops, and then peg it out. See also Triple Peel, A variant is the Triple Peel on Opponent (TPO), where the peelee is the opponent’s ball rather than the partner ball. The significance of this manoevre is that in advanced play, making a break that includes the tenth hoop (called 4-back) is penalized by granting the opponent a lift (entitling him to take the next shot from either baulk line). Therefore, many breaks stop voluntarily with three hoops and the peg still to run.
Wired: When a hoop or the peg impedes the path of a striker’s ball, or the swing of the mallet. A player will often endeavour to finish a turn with the opponent’s balls wired from each other.
Yard line: An imaginary line one yard (0.91 m) from the boundary. Balls that go off the boundary are generally replaced on the yard line (but if this happens on a croquet stroke, the turn ends).