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Dr Ian Plummer

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Guide To Croquet Etiquette
Updated for 6th edition Amended Laws

The aim of these notes is to indicate what conventions apply in matches between clubs and at tournaments.


  • You may only practise before the match with the manager's/organiser's permission.
  • Conventionally the lower handicap (better) player tosses the coin at the start of a game.
  • Before the game starts confirm with your opponent the type of game, any time limits and the number of bisques.
  • You must stand off the court when the adversary is playing. (Law 51b).
  • You must play with expediency (without undue delay); long trances or extended discussions in doubles are unacceptable (Law 49). To play deliberately slowly in a timed game when it is to your advantage is cheating - there are some viable tactics however.
  • When replacing a ball on the yard line you should face out of the court (Law 12e). There then can be no dispute that the ball's position might be adjusted slightly left or right to your advantage, e.g. avoiding a wiring.
  • To summon a referee (see below) hold your mallet, head up, above your head. A referee may witness and rule on strokes, explain the Laws and sort out mistakes but not give advice.
  • To summon an 'umpire' or assistant referee, hold your mallet horizontally above your head. An assistant referee may witness and rule on strokes, but may not interpret the Laws or give advice.
  • Normally the winner offers to buy the drinks.

What's He Doing?

  • You must not tell an opponent that they are about to strike the wrong ball (Law 23b).
  • You should not interrupt a player if you see them approach the wrong hoop or appear to be about to roquet a ball for the second time. As a rule of thumb, let them do the odd thing then, before their next stroke, query them as to what is happening. They may be playing an advanced tactic that you may not fathom, alternatively, they may have made a mistake and you should stop them before their next stroke to sort it out.
  • If you see a player about to take a croquet before they have actually roqueted, take croquet from the wrong ball and similar omissions you should stop them in the act and query the situation. Most of these acts of omission just require the correct stroke to be played instead. If the balls are disturbed by subsequent play it can be difficult to unravel the game and replace the balls in their correct positions

Bisques (Law 37)

  • Your option to take a bisque (handicap turn) ceases when you step off the lawn once all the balls have been replaced. Do not leave the lawn until you have decided not to take a bisque.
  • When you want to take a bisque you must indicate clearly and see an acknowledgement from the opponent, e.g. they pull a bisque out of the ground or wave. If you take an unacknowledged bisque and pull off a tremendous shot, then you will have to take the ball back and do it all again!
  • If you indicate you wish to take a bisque or half bisque you can change your mind. If you indicate you will not be taking a bisque you cannot change your mind.
  • Unless you indicate otherwise it is assumed that you are taking a whole bisque. Either say you want a half or make a '+' sign with your arms and see that the half bisque is pulled out before proceeding.

Hindered Strokes

  • If you feel that a stroke may have a questionable outcome, then you should have the stroke watched, preferably by a referee or assistant referee. In their absence ask a player from another game, an old lady walking her dog through the Park or finally, as a last resort, your opponent to watch. If you say 'yes' and your opponent says 'no' you have a conflict.
  • If you have a ball close to a hoop and there is the likelihood of a crush, double tap, bevelled-edge fault, etc. (Law 28) you must have the shot watched. This removes the need for you to observe the aftermath of your actions allowing you to concentrate solely on the stroke. This includes balls just through the hoop.
  • If you are shooting at a ball in the jaws of a hoop, unless it is an obvious 'dead cert', it should always be watched. It means that you do not have to lift your head to witness the event. You may clip a wire and just graze the ball, you may hit the hoop and cause the ball to shake but not roquet it. In the latter case, a person who shakes a ball becomes responsible for its position and hence may give a lift away (Law 13). The observer is only required to volunteer the information about whether the ball moved if asked.
  • If you are watching an attempted roquet of a ball in the hoop, stand close and view it from above. It is pointless being 10 foot away, 3 foot or less is appropriate. Be prepared to jump if the ball glances off towards your feet. Remain available for a while to allow the opponent to query you about whether the ball shook or not.
  • In double banking if someone asks you 'just to watch a ball in case it might get hit' always mark the ball. To do otherwise is daft!

Double Banking

  • If players of different games get in each other's way, precedence of play is normally given to the player with a break, or the one most likely to get their manoeuvre over quickest. If one game is close to Time then that game is normally given precedence.
  • Avoid walking across the striking line of players, whether in your game or the other.
  • If a ball from the other game is likely to be struck by your play or is a hindrance you should consider marking it. Before touching the ball you must get both double banking players' permissions - it may be critically placed - 'can I mark red?' When you mark a ball use two markers across its width, preferably pointing at a peg or a hoop. Thus if one gets displaced by a ball you still have a good guide. You have a responsibility to the other players to mark and replace the ball as accurately as possible.
  • If a ball is critically placed a referee or assistant referee may, with the agreement of the players from the other game, be asked to mark it.
  • Do not leave the lawn for lunch if any balls are in critical positions, e.g. wired or in the jaws of hoops, as they will obstruct people in the double banked game.
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Updated 20.iv.16
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