To push, or not to push? That is the question most croquetters will have when strategizing their gameplay. Croquet can be a highly competitive game in which a push or a double tap can be used to your advantage. The real question, “is it worth it?”
A “push” or a “double tap” can be performed accidentally or on purpose during a game of croquet. In all recognized variations of croquet, a push will result in a mallet fault, which is a rules violation that results in a penalty. A double tap will result in a mallet fault unless the second hit results from a roquet, hitting another ball lying beyond the wicket in a wicket shot.
Over seven variations of croquet are currently played internationally, each with its own layout, scoring system, and shot rules. A mallet fault, such as a push or a double tap, is a consistent penalty for all variations of croquet, but the fault is not necessarily a bad thing. Keep reading to learn the difference between a push and a double tap, and how they can cause you to win or lose your next game.
Mallet Faults: Push and Double Tap
A mallet fault occurs during the striking period when the striker makes an illegal move utilizing the mallet. Whether you accidentally push or pull a ball, fail to move your mallet in time to miss an extra hit, or hold your position to accept a fault and restart the turn, mallet faults are an integral part of croquet. Two of the most common mallet faults are the push and the double tap.
- Push – when the mallet maintains contact with the striker ball and another ball for an appreciable amount of time OR the mallet accelerates while still in contact with a ball.
- Double tap – when the mallet maintains contact with the striker ball after it has hit another ball OR the mallet hits the striker ball twice in one shot.
A mallet fault can be intentional or unintentional. However, the risk associated with the action results in a penalty. For a penalty to be imposed, the fault must be acknowledged by you, your opponent, or a referee.
The penalty for committing a mallet fault is that the player’s turn will end, and all balls will be placed as they were before the current turn, which could be a smart offensive or defensive move.
Here’s a quick video showing what a double tap could look like:
Calling Faults and Applying Penalties
If a player feels that a mallet fault has been committed, depending on the variation of a game, a referee can be summoned to observe subsequent shots. If a referee has not been appointed, the players have to act as joint referees. Either way, as a player, it is your responsibility to monitor the game and hold the opponent accountable for their actions.
If your opponent or the referee does not call out the fault, you can continue forward with gameplay. In other words, you must pay attention at all times to prevent a defensive attack from occurring, or if you determine the opponent’s fault benefits you offensively, you can choose to say nothing.
Here’s a good striking fault penalty video to give a better idea of what calls can be made:
A Game of Strategy and Skill
To be successful at winning a game of Croquet, you must have a good understanding of how the layout, shots, faults, and penalties can and will work in your favor. If at any point you are questioning the rules for the specific variation of the game you are playing, you can always look at the guide that comes with your croquet set for clarification.
The game’s appeal lies within the strategy of setting up strokes or shots that make it difficult for your opponent to win. Foul strokes or faults can likewise be used to render your opponent “dead,” but you also run the risk of damaging your own game. A push or a double tap is considered a mallet fault, which is a penalty that, if played at the opportune moment, will have a significant impact on the outcome of the game.
Strategy: Offensive vs. Defensive
As your skill level increases, your dependence on developing a strategy will become beneficial to your chances of winning. To fully understand how and when to use a push or a double tap to your advantage, you must determine whether or not it is for a defensive or offensive purpose that will enhance your gameplay or restrict the progress of your opponent.
An offensive tactic is used for stacking the odds in your favor using moves that will be effective in your victory. In essence, you are setting a plan in motion to out-maneuver your opponent by maximizing the position of your balls. When perfecting the most effective offensive strategy, there are two goals to keep in mind:
- Use as many balls as possible to set up a “break.” A break is when you make multiple wicket shots in one turn.
- Score as many wicket points as possible in one turn.
A wicket point is scored when passing your ball through a wicket using either a striker ball or another ball. When a wicket is scored, the player is entitled to one additional play.
All balls are subject to the striker ball, regardless of who it belongs to. This is where a push or a double tap can come into play to reset the balls if their position is unfavorable.
By planning the placement of two or three balls at forward wickets, you could potentially make all twelve wickets in one “all round break,” which is considered a top honor in croquet.
A defensive plan can be highly effective if you are a skilled player. To onlookers, a defensive move might not make any sense, but with the right play, you can sabotage your opponent’s chance of winning. When you are planning for more of a defensive attack, think about how you can accomplish these two goals:
- Separate the opponent’s balls which forces long shots to roquet other balls.
- Knock the opponent out of position to make their next wicket.
A roquet is a shot in which the striker ball hits a ball it is “alive” on. A ball becomes “alive” when it scores a wicket. Roqueting a ball from a long distance is a difficult maneuver which could benefit you in the long run. By forcing your opponent to roquet a ball, you are returning the odds to your favor.
When determining which tactic is best for your game and how to achieve your set goals, you have to consider the risk vs. reward of your actions. If you have too many faults, it could set you back far enough to where you cannot make a comeback. Your opponent also can seize an opportunity to use your defensive move to their advantage. You need to think about all future moves when you are planning out a successful win. This is the main challenge of croquet.
When you have gained enough skill to determine whether or not your best shot is to make that push or double tap, you are already halfway to the win. Remember to always keep your eye on your opponent’s mallet, and before you speak up, make sure that fault will work in your favor. To push or not to push? That may be the question, but the answer truly lies in whether or not it is worth it to help you achieve your win.