We play a lot of croquet in our backyard, and whenever we get friends over to play a game, they always ask questions about the proper way to hit a croquet ball. Aside from having a strategy in place, the way you hit your croquet ball can make or break the game for you.
To hit a croquet ball, you’ll first need to grip the handle with either a Standard, Solomon, or Irish grip and take a Center, Side, or Golf style stance. Swing the mallet from your shoulders like a pendulum, hitting the ball at the lowest point of your swing. Follow through with your swing for about a foot or so.
To get your swing perfected, you’ll need to know about all the different grips, stances, and swings you have available to find what works best for you. I’ll also cover the different reasons and game-play scenarios that work best for each type of croquet shot.
How To Hit A Croquet Ball
The first step is to understand the rules of the game and how to play croquet. It’s important to know which shot you plan on taking before you attempt to hit the ball. Different situations may require you to change up your strategy a little bit depending on the game.
For example, we play mostly in our backyard for fun as a recreational activity, and therefore most people use a golf stance with an Irish grip.
Here’s a quick video about how to play your standard backyard 9-Wicket croquet game.
If you feel you need more information about how to play croquet before learning the best way to hit a croquet ball, check out our How To Play Croquet Complete Guide.
Steps to hitting a croquet ball:
To start, you’ll want to find a grip you’re comfortable with. Keep in mind, you may be more comfortable matching up your grip with a certain stance. For example, most players find that a standard grip is the most comfortable way to hit a ball using the center style stance.
Whichever grip you decide to go with, it should match your play-style. Not every grip is going to work in every situation. So pick your favorite, and work on it, but be aware of the other grips and know how to use them if the need arises.
The 3 most popular croquet grips:
- Standard Grip
- Solomon Grip
- Irish Grip
The standard grip is mostly used in competitions and championship games by professionals using the center style or side style stance. This grip isn’t typically used in backyard recreational games of croquet.
To use the standard grip:
- Grasp the handle near the top with your knuckles pointing forward and your thumb up
- Your lower hand supports the handle with your knuckles pointing back and your thumb down
- The spacing between the top and bottom hand can change depending on the player and stroke being played
The Solomon grip is a variation of the standard grip meant for smaller players, or players that need a bigger back swing. This grip is also mostly seen with a center or side style stance used by professional players in competition matches.
To use the Solomon grip:
- Both hands grasp the handle with your thumbs facing up, and your knuckles facing outward
- Typically, your hands will be close together to maximize the strength of the swing
- Good for shorter players
The Irish grip is most often used by recreational players just having a game in their backyard with family or friends. This grip is really only useful with the golf style stance, and is deemed impractical for competition matches by professional croquet players.
To use the Irish grip:
- Both hands will grasp the handle with your knuckles facing back towards you
- Both thumbs are pointing down, gripping the handle
- Typically, this grip is held lower down the shaft for more accuracy
If you’re just playing croquet for fun with friends in your yard, you’ll most likely want to use the golf stance with the Irish grip. You may find that you’ll get more accuracy with the other stances, and they’re used in professional matches, so we’ll cover them here as well.
The 3 Most Popular Croquet Stances:
- Center Style Stance
- Side Style Stance
- Golf Style Stance
Center Style Stance
The center style stance is popular among professional croquet players. You’ll see this stance used a lot in tournaments and competitions, but beginners and recreational players have a hard time using it. It’s really only worth learning and practicing if you’re going to be playing competitively.
To use the center style stance:
- Hold the mallet at the center of your body
- Stand perpendicular to the direction you plan on swinging
- Keep feet in line, or move one foot slightly forward (personal preference)
- The mallet is swung between your legs
Side Style Stance
The side style stance is less common now than it used to be. This stance used to be done by professional players in conjunction with the center style stance depending on which type of shot they were taking.
To use the side style stance:
- Hold the mallet along your right leg facing towards the ball in the direction you want to hit it
- You will bend your knee slightly with your right leg
- Most of your weight is on your forward foot
- The mallet is swung to the side of you
- Switch sides for left handed players
Golf Style Stance
The golf style stance is the most used croquet stance in the game. Although you will almost never see this stance in tournament croquet games or used by professional level players, most games of croquet are played in the backyard. This is the typical stance you would use to play a recreational game of croquet.
To use the golf style stance:
- Stand next to the croquet ball parallel with the direction you want to hit it
- Hold the mallet handle with an Irish grip
- The mallet is swung side to side in front of you
- This is similar to a golf swing
Aiming in Croquet
Aiming is one of the most important parts of hitting a croquet ball. Getting used to aiming the mallet as you hit the ball will greatly improve your game.
When using the golf swing, you shoulders and hips should be parallel to the direction you’re aiming. When using the center or side stance, your shoulders and hips should be perpendicular to your aiming direction.
After getting into your stance:
- Pick your head up and look in the direction you want to hit the ball
- Line your mallet up with the ball
- Check that the mallet is facing your aiming direction
- Adjust as you need to
- Keep head down and eyes on ball as you make your swing
Some players prefer to stalk their ball before getting into a stance. This is mostly seen in competitive games, but can be helpful in any type of croquet game. The idea is that you walk up to your ball in the direction you want to hit the ball.
- Start from 6′ behind your ball
- Walk towards your ball in the direction you want to aim
- Use that time to align your shoulders and hips in the aiming direction
Croquet Swing Technique
There’s a certain way to swing a croquet mallet for increasingly accurate shots. If you start by practicing with a bad swing, you’ll only be able to get so good, and it’ll be harder to get rid of those bad habits.
Keep these three things in mind:
- Head down
- Swing from the shoulders
- Follow through
Keeping your head down is an often overlooked aspect of taking a croquet swing. However, many shots are missed or not executed properly because the player lifted their head as they were swinging. Keep your eyes on the ball as you take your shot.
Swing from the shoulders, not the wrists. You want to swing the mallet like a pendulum. In fact, your wrist should be doing very little during a croquet swing.
Follow through with your shot about a foot after you hit the ball. The mallet should hit the ball at the very bottom of the pendulum swing, and then follow the ball after the hit.
Practice your swing often, and commit it to memory. The more you play, the better you’ll get at it. Now let’s cover some techniques used when hitting a croquet ball.
It’s typically a good strategy to put some forward spin on the ball when you hit it. This is especially true when trying to make a wicket or hit another players ball.
When hitting another players ball, it’s usually best that you hit their ball in a direction that will be favorable to you. We’ll explain what that means later in ‘roquet strokes’, but the point is, you want to learn how to add forward spin on the ball.
A wicket is only 1/8 inch wider than a croquet ball, leaving only 1/16 of an inch on either side. This only allows a shooting angle of around 13 degrees to make a wicket without touching it.
Needless to say, hitting the side of the wicket as you pass the ball through is a pretty common occurrence. To ensure that your ball will make it through a wicket even though it hits the edge of one, you’ll want to have some forward spin on the ball.
To add forward spin:
- You’ll want to hit the ball just above center with your mallet
- The higher up on the ball you hit, the more forward spin it will have
- Consider hitting the ball up and to the left or right to make angled shots or to put a slight side spin if needed
- This takes some practice, but can really step up your game if done right
How To Jump A Ball In Croquet
Learning how to jump a ball in croquet will come in handy in a few situations. The first being, a time where you want to make a wicket but you have another players ball blocking the wicket from you. You don’t want to hit their ball through the wicket for them, and you don’t want your ball going off course.
If you hit another players ball, and then make a wicket, the wicket doesn’t count. So you typically don’t want to hit another players ball while scoring a wicket.
Another reason to jump a ball, is if you’re playing doubles or teams. You may find a situation where you want to leave a friendly ball in place, but still advance your own.
To jump a ball in croquet:
- Hit the ball with the mallet just below center of the ball
- The lower down on the ball you hit, the higher you can jump the ball
- Be careful, hitting another ball on the top still counts as a roquet
- This type of shot is hard to do accurately
A roquet is when you hit another players ball with your ball. There’s a few options available to you if this happens. All of them include getting two bonus shots for that turn.
Getting a roquet at the right times needs to be incorporated into your overall strategy for the game. Those 2 bonus shots can really help move your ball around the course.
- You can not pass through the wicket and get a roquet on the same stroke
- Whichever happens first takes precedence
- Once you roquet a ball it becomes a dead-ball and may not be roqueted by you again that turn
- If you make a wicket, it resets all dead-balls and they may be roqueted again
The best use of a roquet, is to get the tow extra shots to line your self up for your next wicket, or possibly even make your next wicket and continue through the course. Here’s some of the options you have with your 2 bonus shots after making a roquet.
2 Bonus Shots
You can just take your 2 bonus shots from wherever your ball ended up after making the roquet. Sometimes players will hit their opponents ball off course when getting the roquet, and then take their 2 shots gaining the lead.
You can take your ball and place it one mallet length from the ball you hit, and take your 2 bonus shots from there. This is particularly helpful if you’ve hit your opponents ball close to the wicket you need to score next.
You can take your ball and place it up against the ball you hit, and take your 2 bonus shots from there. This is particularly helpful if you’ve hit your opponents ball into an advantageous position.
You can take your ball, place it next to the ball you hit, place your foot on your ball, and hit your ball. The goal is to send your opponents ball off course with this type of shot. You then get one remaining bonus shot you may take from where your ball rests.