NEW ***Hello all fellow croquet players! I hope you are all polishing those mallets and gearing up for the new season. It is glorious weather at the moment, so I hope we have a lovely summer and manage to play lots of croquet.
I was hoping you would take a few minutes to fill in the survey from the Croquet Association it is for croquet players everywhere, not just affiliated groups, and would help the National Body of our sport plan for the future.
Try a different croquet?
'Many groups and clubs do continue to play croquet through the winter so long as the weather, and therefore the state of the playing surface, allows. Many have no choice but to stop and many choose to stop to rest the lawns or keep warm. If you are continuing to play though, there is a variety of croquet that is very fast moving and lasts less than half an hour a game, making it suitable for colder days. This is called one ball and please find more information on the one -Ball.
One-Ball is a variant of Association Croquet but instead of each player having two balls each has just one. The impact of this simple change is to make lengthy breaks quite rare, except by very good players. Indeed, One-Ball is not dissimilar to GC, in that most turns comprise a single shot, which is used to take position or to aim at another ball. However, the tactical decisions in One-Ball are interesting and most games last less than 30 minutes, so a whole mini-tournament can be played in three to four hours.
When the weather is wet and cold and miserable in the middle of January, and we are in the middle of a national lockdown, it is very hard to imagine ever getting out to play on the croquet lawns.
How then to keep our hand in? We can swing the mallet around the sitting room or the kitchen but it is a little dangerous. We can read books on tactics and watch games on the internet, but that soon palls.
Have you considered trying indoor croquet? It can be good fun, even though it is not very much like the real thing. At least it uses hoops and balls and you can swing your mallet safely. There are different ways you can try it out, once you are allowed to meet together, of course.
Some years ago the Croquet Federation gave each Croquet Federation an indoor croquet mat, and I’m sure an indoor bowls mat works just as well. They are like a firm, smooth carpet. They measure 28 x 21 feet and full-size hoops screw into steel plates that sit below the surface. Ideally, you would place it on a smooth level concrete floor. The mat can be heavy but is quite easy to set up. One problem can be if the mat hasn’t been stored well and the edges curl up. Not only are the hoops not forgiving because of the steel plates below, but the boundaries are a bit like crazy golf at times!
Most leisure centres and possibly sports centres may have such a mat. It may be worth asking. They probably won’t have hoops however and your group may have to look at buying some that stand up on top of the mat. There are some reasonably cheap versions available on the internet. They have flat ‘feet’ to the side that keep them upright. It will not be like the real thing, but it will be fun and it will keep your co-ordination and that all-important mallet swing going.
At Whitehead Park in Bury, Bury croquet club is lucky enough to have a large clubhouse with a solid concrete floor and on top, they have a smooth, non-directional hard carpet. There are holes drilled into the concrete so that they can drop in standard hoops when they are using it. The playing surface is 10 x 8 yards which is reasonable. There are no boundaries so they are allowed to move the ball half a mallet length in from the wall. Mostly they play GC for 20-minute sessions and have friendly matches over the winter with a nearby club.
Please take care and fingers crossed we will all be able to get outside wherever we are to play croquet very soon.
Are you looking for an outdoor sport that keeps you mentally and physically fit, providing a competitive and sociable environment?
Croquet is essentially just 6 hoops, 4 balls, 2 mallets, 1 peg and a patch of grass. But it is also a game of skill and strategy, and one that offers friendship, fun and competition. Moreover, it doesn’t need strength or much stamina, so men and women of any age play on an equal footing, and the handicap system allows people to successfully play at all levels.
There are two main forms of croquet, and groups in the u3a play both types, it really depends which you prefer.
Golf croquet is a sequence game played as singles or doubles. The object of the game is to make either of your balls pass through the hoops in a set order before your opponent does. A hoop point is scored for the side whose ball runs a hoop in order first. The winner is the side which scores the most hoop points. The balls are played with one stroke in each turn in a set sequence. All players are on the lawn at the same time. A golf croquet game usually takes about 45 minutes.
Association is more like snooker on grass. It can also be played as singles or doubles. The object of the game is to make both balls of your side pass through all the hoops in order and then hit the peg before your opponent. Unlike golf croquet though, only one player is on the lawn at any one time trying to build up a series of strokes by earning extra strokes, and using the other balls on the lawns to run more than one hoop at a time. Once the player breaks down, then the other player comes on the lawn and has their turn. A game of association croquet can take up to three hours.
My name is Sally Slater. I live in the beautiful Roman city of Chester in North West England and I am a member of Chester u3a. I play table tennis at our u3a group which is great fun, as well as attend talks and visits.
We live close to a park and if it’s a nice evening it has been our habit since we moved here 16 years ago to have a stroll around the park. Our walk takes us past 4 beautiful green croquet lawns and we often stopped and watched people playing croquet. They always seemed to be laughing and having fun, and it looked such a good game, so we decided that when we retired we would have a go. We didn’t wait that long in fact, but once we started we were hooked and I have loved the game ever since. I would love more people to ‘have a go’. It’s such a great sport. Fresh air, fun, competition, friends, sociable – what’s not to like?!
When I first started playing croquet I was still working, and began by playing golf croquet which seemed at first quicker and easier to learn. When I retired I took a course in association croquet at my croquet club and began to enter competitions on short lawn, then full lawn. Last year I won my first national competition at Cheltenham playing full lawn association croquet.
Croquet in the u3a takes many forms. Some u3a’s have a croquet group that uses the equipment and facilities at their local croquet club and they have a slot there each week or every two weeks during the season. They usually pay an agreed ‘green fee’ to the club.
Some u3a’s develop their own croquet club, usually with help from the national Croquet Association’s development officer.
Some individual u3a members prefer to join their local croquet club under their own auspices or with a friend and develop their croquet that way.
As subject adviser I can help you in whatever way I can. I would like as many people as possible to play croquet and to discover what a great sport it is. My best resource is access to the national Croquet Association and its resources, and if I cannot answer any question myself then I know a person who can!
Take a look at the video on the Croquet Association website ‘what is croquet all about – and why should you give it a try’. www.croquet.org.uk
Please feel free to get in touch and ask me anything you like.