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Quick Reference Guide for Backyard Croquet Rules

Sequence of wickets

Set up wickets/stakes as shown in the diagram at left and follow the order in which they are scored. Try to keep the space between the stake and the two beginning and turnaround wickets at least 3 feet. The court can take any shape to fit your playing area. Bending around tree or going around a corner of the house is great fun. Boundaries are optional.


Croquet can be played as a singles game (either one or two balls on a side), doubles (each player has a partner playing his/her own ball), or triples using six balls (six players in the game – either three teams of two players or two teams of three players.) There is a version of croquet called cutthroat where each player plays one ball against the other players. Anywhere from two to six players can play cut-throat.


1) Object of Game: to have your side’s ball(s) score more wickets than your opponent. In a time limit game, the winner is the side with the most points at the end of time (each wicket scored by a ball is one point).


2) Sequence of Play: Follow the colors on the stakes; blue, red, black, and yellow in a four ball game and blue, red, black, yellow, green, and orange in a six ball game.

  • In a four ball game the sides are blue/black against red/yellow

  • In a six ball game the sides are blue/black/green against red/yellow/orange.

  • When there are three teams of two, the sides are blue/yellow, red/green, and black/orange.

3) Extra Strokes:

When you make your wicket in order or hit the turn stake you get one extra shot. If you hit (roquet) a ball you get two strokes. The first shot can be played:

a. from a mallet-head distance or less away from the ball that was hit (“taking a mallethead”).

b. from a position in contact with the ball that was hit, with the striker ball held steady by the striker’s foot or hand (a “foot shot” or “hand shot”).


c. from a position in contact with the ball that was hit, with the striker ball not held by foot or hand (a “croquet shot”).


d. from where the striker ball stopped after the roquet.


The second bonus shot after a roquet is an ordinary shot played from where the striker ball came to rest, called a “continuation shot”. You are “dead” on a ball for extra shots until you clear your next wicket or start of your next turn whichever comes first. Please see the USCA 9 Wicket Rules for a more comprehensive description of deadness.


4) Special Conditions:


Two strokes are earned for going through the first two or upper two wickets, or wicket #7 and the turn stake in one stroke. If you hit the turning stake deadness is cleared and you play from where the ball came to rest.


If you make your wicket and then hit a ball on the other side of the wicket you get one shot for having made the wicket and may hit (roquet) the ball again if you wish to get two extra shots. The maximum number of bonus shots earned by a striker is two; there is never a time when a striker is allowed three shots.


5) Rover Ball: If you score all the wickets you are a rover. A rover helps his/her side’s ball(s) while hindering the opponent’s balls. A rover may roquet all the balls only once per turn. Any ball can cause the rover ball to hit the finishing stake thereby removing it from the game.

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