The first time I ever thought about croquet was watching Alice in Wonderland. To me, it looked like one of the most confusing sports I’d ever seen. After some intense research, I’ve discovered it’s not quite as confusing as I first thought, and you don’t actually play with flamingos for a mallet, which is great news because, really, that would be a very cruel thing to do. I digress. The point of this article is to de-confuse you about the wonderful game that is croquet. Let’s go!
Croquet was first played in 1830’s Ireland, and quickly spread around Britain. Due to the focus on skill rather than strength in this sport, it was the only game in which men and women could compete equally at the time, which increased its popularity immensely. Croquet travelled the world as Britain spread its Empire, meaning there is a popularity base for the sport in places as far as Australia! These days, croquet is a game that most people have heard of but few know how to play. Luckily I’m here to explain it….
A game of croquet is played by two sides. You can either have two players versus each other, or two teams of two. Each side has two balls; traditionally one side has a blue and a black ball and the other has a red and a yellow ball but this can differ depending on your croquet set. The aim of the game is to get both of your team’s balls through all of the hoops and to hit the central pole before the other side does. There’s a certain order that you have to go through the hoops and you have to take it in turns with the other side to hit the ball.
To win a game of croquet, your side has to be the first to get twenty six points. These are made up of thirteen points per ball. A point is awarded once it goes through a hoop. There are six hoops and each ball needs to go through them twice, in a specific order. That makes up twelve points for each ball. The last two points are awarded when each ball hits the winning post which is positioned in the middle of the playing green.
Croquet actually has a reputation for being quite an aggressive sport (no wonder the Queen of Hearts loves to play!). This is because the rules allow players to deliberately hinder the progress of their opponents by striking their balls so they roll further away from the hoops. A particularly skilled player will be able to strike their opponents ball so that their own ball bounces off it, sending it closer, if not through, the desired hoop whilst ruining their opponents positioning. Croquet is unique in that it is one of few target sports that allows players to compete in this tactical way.
Croquet is a great and easy sport to play for fun as it requires very little equipment. All you need is two mallets, a winning post, six hoops, and four balls. You can buy these in sets in shops or online. It’s the perfect game to play with your friends and family because anybody can be good at it! Croquet requires you to be able to judge distances and surfaces, which are skills that, although they can be trained, everyone has in their own way. So you see, croquet isn’t as confusing as you first thought!