How Croquet Works

Croquet Rules

This is a common croquet court layout. This is a common croquet court layout.
This is a common croquet court layout.
2012 HowStuffWorks

Obviously, thanks to all the different types of croquet, you're going to use different rule sets depending on how you want to play. But the basics are pretty similar across the board.

The standard size for a croquet court is 35 yards (32 meters) by 28 yards (25.6 meters). The equipment includes a mallet and ball for each player, and a set of hoops and a peg or two that stick into the ground. The number of hoops, also known as wickets, can vary depending on the type of croquet, but a six-hoop court is common. In a four-player game, the balls are blue, red, black and yellow, to be played in that order. In doubles competitions, the person hitting the blue ball is partnered with the person hitting the black ball, and red goes with yellow.

There are lots of variants on this four-ball, six-wicket setup. You can play with nine wickets (or another number of your choosing), and the field may have two pegs instead of one. Some sets follow a different color scheme – a common alternative is green, pink, brown and white, with teams playing green-brown and pink-white combos. Using a six-ball set, six people can play in three teams of two or two teams of three. Most six-ball backyard croquet sets add green and orange, which play in that order after blue, red, black and yellow.

Regardless of the number of balls or wickets, the goal is for players to get their balls through each hoop – in the right order and from the right direction – known as running a hoop. Then, the ball has to hit the final peg, after which it's pegged out and finished for the match. In six-wicket setups, each ball must usually pass through each hoop twice, once in each direction.

To play, competitors take turns as striker, using their mallet to hit their ball, and score a point every time they run a hoop. The person or team that pegs out first wins. If it's a timed game and no one makes it to the peg in time, the person or team with the most points wins. In a six-hoop game, players can score up to 13 points – one for each hoop (from each direction) and one for the final peg.