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Dr Ian Plummer

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Technical
Intermediate Coaching Notes

Section 2. The Three-Ball Break

The three-ball break is the basic framework about which the more elaborate plays such as the triple and higher peels are based. Three-ball breaks have to be played during a game until you are able to recover the fourth ball and convert to a four-ball break.

You can play three-ball breaks in two broad ways; using rushes and stop shots, using wide split rolls.

2.1. Unlike a basic four-ball break where in any one croquet stroke only one ball of the pair has to find position, in a three-ball break two balls have to be placed fairly accurately.

2.2. The essence of an easy three-ball break is to use rushes and stop shots. The rush is invaluable in "shrinking the lawn" and giving yourself short croquet strokes, rather than long split rolls. The ability to rush is the key to handicap reduction. As discussed in Section 1 it is vital to get on the appropriate rush line.

There is an animation of a 3-ball break on the Virtual Lawn: Virtual Lawn

2.3. The stop shot as was mentioned above is a very accurate way of positioning the back ball in the croquet stroke. This stroke is used to yield a perfect hoop running position or an accurate rush on another ball (figure 2.3)

three ball break using rushes
Figure 2.3. The three-ball break using rushes to the boundary followed by stop shots to approach the next pioneer. The striker's ball is not shown.

2.4. You can make most of your rushes in a three-ball break easier by rushing to a boundary. You then only need to get the direction correct and not be concerned about the strength of the shot. As an example you should aim to rush the reception ball from hoop 1 off the West boundary slightly South of hoop 2. You then stop the reception ball to hoop 3 as a pioneer and take position to rush your hoop 2 pioneer to its hoop.

2.5. The point you rush to should be the one giving you a narrow split angle on the following stop shot, and which allows you to approach your pioneer along its rush line. The wider the split required the more difficult the shot, and hence the more prone to error.

2.6. The most favourable position for pioneers in a three-ball break is different from that required by a four-ball break. Since you will be mostly approaching your pioneers from the boundary you require them to lie between the hoop and the boundary. For example the pioneers for hoops 2, 3, ... should be South-West of hoop 2, North-West of hoop 3, North-East of 4. As in the last paragraph you chose the pioneer's position to give yourself a stop shot approach which does not involve a very wide stop shot (figure 2.6).

pioneer poistions for the tree ball break
Figure 2.6. Pioneer positions for a three-ball break; hoops 2 to 6 and 1-back to rover
See 3-ball Rreak Revisited for further comments

2.7. For the hoops in the centre of the lawn there is no need to rush to the boundary (figure 2.6). Since small distances are involved the shots can be accurate. The pioneer to hoop 5 is placed South-East of 5. The reception ball from hoop 4 is rushed West on to the hoop 5 rush line. The pioneer for hoop 6 wants to be South-East of hoop 6. Your stop shot sends a ball to this position and allows you to approach the pioneer for hoop 5. After hoop 5 you rush to the East of hoop 6 on to the hoop 6 rush line and stop the 1- back pioneer North-East of 1-back whilst approaching the hoop 6 pioneer.

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Updated 28.i.16
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