Playing Guide



These notes are a simplified guide and are therefore not lawyer proof. The 5th Edition rules on the Croquet Association web site should be consulted for a fuller version.

‘Playing side’ – is the side of the hoop from which the ball must run the hoop to score

‘Striker’ – is the player of the next ball in sequence

‘Penalty Area’ – is a 1 yard semi-circle centred at midway points on both long sides.

1. The Start 

The winner side of the toss of a coin always starts with the BLUE ball (GREEN if using secondary balls)  Start within 1 yard of the corner showing the YELLOW flag (or marked triangle)  The order of play for the balls is – BLUE, RED, BLACK, YELLOW or if using the secondary balls GREEN, PINK, BROWN, WHITE.

2. Playing 

You choose the colour of the ball you want to play or it is chosen for you.

In singles, you play two balls, either blue and black or red and yellow (green/brown or pink/white)

 In doubles, a team of two play either blue and black or red and yellow (green/brown or pink/white) 

You play the chosen ball(s) for the duration of the game. 

Balls are always played in the same order (as above) 

The game starts when a player attempts to strike a ball 

The order of ‘Running the Hoops’ is proscribed and best demonstrated on the courts.

3. The Turn 

A single stroke per ball is a turn and starts immediately following after the previous turn ends.  Any touching of the ball accidentally or otherwise is deemed to be a turn.

4. Running the Hoop 

A point is awarded when the ball has passed completely through the hoop from the ‘Playing Side’.  Only ONE point per hoop  If the ball is sticking proud of the wires on the playing side – no point is achieved  The first ball through the hoop scores the point; any ball “following through” does not score at that hoop, except where a ball has ‘lodged’ within a hoop and a jumping ball pushes that ball through either before or after running the hoop themselves the ‘lodged’ ball gets the point.  A ball coming from the non-playing side has to clear the non-playing side before running the hoop from the playing side at a later turn

5. Playing the Wrong Ball 

The emphasis is on ‘Don’t let it happen’. Warn if about to happen. If it does occur, play is stopped and ‘Replace and Play’ is the main option. 

a.  IF Striker plays an opponent’s ball, or Striker’s partner plays an opponent’s ball, or  Striker’s partner plays striker’s ball

The Wrong stroke is annulled and the balls replaced. The Striker then plays the correct ball. There is NO penalty.

b.  IF Same side plays successive strokes or Striker’s opponent plays wrong ball 

Non-offending side chooses whether the balls are left where  they stopped or are replaced in the positions they occupied  before invalid stroke played by the offending side. The non- offending side then plays either ball of their side. No points  are scored by the offending side. There is NO penalty.

c. IF Striker plays their partner’s ball or Striker’s partner plays the ball out of sequence

 The opponent(s) needs to promptly decide if ‘Replace and  Play’ is to apply or ‘Ball swap’ whereby the stroke was deemed valid (point can be scored), balls left where they  stopped except wrongly played ball and partner ball are swapped. The non-offending side then plays the next ball in  sequence after the partner ball of the ball in the last stroke.  There is NO other penalty. 

If a second stroke is played before the wrong ball scenario is discovered, any point scored of either stroke is cancelled and play continues by ‘Penalty Area Continuation’.

6. Scoring 

The first team to reach “7” points wins the game  Should the score be “6:6” at the end of 12 hoops; a decider hoop is played – 13.  Scoring is recorded by placing a peg on your, or your partner’s, clothes or by some other method

7. Wrong Hoop 

Where the wrong hoop is played, the game is stopped. NO point is scored. ‘Penalty Area Continuation’ is then used. (Does not apply where the players have previously deemed to play hoops in a different order).

8. Penalty Area Continuation 

The location is as ‘Penalty Area’. A coin is tossed to decide which side goes first; the loser of the toss decides which Penalty Area to use.  ALL balls go to the Penalty Area and the winner of the toss plays either one of their balls.

9. Faults 

The ball must only be played with “full face” of the mallet 

Occurs when accidental contact of the ball is made by player or any part of a players clothes or the side of a mallet 

Balls MAY NOT be crushed against the hoop or peg (i.e. to play a ball that is in contact with the hoop upright or peg has to be away) 

A “push” or “pull” shot IS a fault 

Touching balls (or up to 4mm apart) maybe played in any direction and are NOT a fault  Close non-touching balls (between 4 and 50mm apart) should be played away to prevent double tap 

Penalty: The opponent(s) can elect to have the ball(s) replaced to their original positions or leave them in the new position(s), the opponent then plays their turn.

10. Interference 

Where a moving ball is interfered with, e.g. by animals, hitting another person, etc., the balls are to be moved back and any stroke affected replayed, or if the outcome of the stroke is known then the ball is moved to its anticipated location. NO points are scored.  If a stationary ball is moved by, say, an animal or even wind, it is to be moved back before the next stroke.

11. Halfway 

Prior to a hoop being run you may play halfway to the next hoop.  If a ball is wholly more than halfway it is ‘offside’, your opponent(s) may or may not give a ‘Direction’ to send it to one of the ‘Penalty Areas’.  If your ball hits an opponent’s ball or is moved by an opponent’s ball halfway can be exceeded  If a ball is ‘offside’ due to the player having to miss a turn it is still ‘offside’.  The owner of an ‘offside’ ball can play their ‘on-side’ ball, if it is in sequence of play, before the ‘Direction’.

12. The Boundary Line – Ball Out of Play 

The boundary line is the inner plane of the white line  The ball to be classed as “out” when it touches the line and becomes an ‘outside agency’ and remains as such until it is next played ie assume the ball does not exist.  The ball is played on the boundary, or just inside the court, as near as possible to where it was knocked out

13. Advice 

In doubles – partner players can discuss tactics  Advice can be given during club play  Discussion may also be acceptable with opponent(s) except when in ‘formal’ competition

14. Etiquette 

Avoid talking and moving when a shot is being played. Avoid casting a shadow over play  Watch balls – avoid contact – thus avoiding any fault  Play at reasonable speed ie within 30 seconds of the previous turn ending (except of course when played has been stopped for any reason).

Coaching is available within the Club. Please make enquires with either Ann Bradley 01629 735776 (, David Gregory 01629 732455 (, Colin Turnbull 01773 852203 (, Margaret Marshall 07786 613 995 ( or Louis McMeeken 01629 732108 (