Croquet Rules for the Backyard

This is a game where the players use mallets to hit a ball through wire wickets. It can be played with 2 – 6 players at a time. Although there are variations of the game, in America we tend to play the 9 wicket “backyard” game, which is what I will explain for rules. The history of croquet is believed to go back to the thirteenth century and originated by French peasants. Complete history can be found at The Croquet Foundation of America. It can be played as teams or individuals, but I will focus on individual play, also called “cut throat”.

Rules to 9 Wicket Croquet

  • How to set up 9 wicket Backyard Croquet

    Backyard Croquet is usually played on an area that is 100’ x 50’, but that can be altered according to the space you have available. You will see on the diagram that the wickets are placed in a double diamond pattern and if playing on a full size area, it gives the placement of each wicket as well as where the stakes go. If the area is smaller, just adjust the placement of the wicket proportionate to the space you have.

  • You may play as teams or individuals. For individual play, each player will have a different color ball and use the mallet that matches the color of the ball. If playing teams, you would just pick which colors are teamed up together.
  • Correct way to hit a croquet ball

    The ball may only be hit by the ends of the mallet unless the group decides to be allowed to hit with the side of the mallet head.

  • Notice the stakes are placed at both ends of the course in line with the first two wickets and the wickets at the other end.
  • Image of a wicket and croquet ball

    The object of the game is to score points by hitting your ball through the wickets and to the stakes in the correct order. The team or individual who gets all 14 points first for going through the wickets in order and hitting the stakes “staking out” in order will be determined the winner.

  • Backyard Croquet will start with the player who has the mallet of the color that is top on the stake and then go in that order. All players turn will consist of one hit and any extra bonus shots earned.
  • There are two ways to score bonus points. One is when a player puts their ball through a wicket or hit the stake they get an extra hit. The second way is by hitting another ball with your own ball (called a roquet), they then earn two extra hits. You have option when you hit another ball, and they are:
  1. Position your ball a mallet distance or less from the ball you hit, and take your next stroke
  2. Position your “striker” ball so it touches the ball that was hit. While holding your “striker” ball with your foot, hit it so that the opponents ball is “sent” in a strategic direction.
  3. Position your ball next to the opponents ball and without holding it with your foot, hit your ball.
  4. Hit the ball from where the striker ball stopped after the roquet.
  • The second bonus shots is just like a regular shot after you choose one of the options mentioned above.
  • You may not earn any other extra shots until you go through another wicket or until your next shot. You may not use the same ball for another roquet before going through another wicket.

Variations to the game of croquet

Once a player goes through the entire course and hits the stake it can be played where they come back though the two wickets and become “poison” which means that player may hit other balls to knock them out of the game. However, if you are “poison” and go through a wicket, you are “dead” and out of the game.

My personal experience playing croquet

For many years we would gather at a friends house and have a croquet tournament just before the school year began. Over the years there were many variations to courses, such as: having toilets as stakes, tents through the middle of the course, hitting the ball through “tunnels” and other fun adaptations.

The students in my classes like playing croquet and on certain days of the year you can drive by and see the football filled up with courses set up for all the students to be playing at the same time.


Review of croquet sets

The cost of a croquet set can be anywhere from $22.60 to $1,189.81. You don’t have to buy the most expensive set, but try to stay away from cheap sets as the mallets tend to break easily and the wickets tend to get bent out of shape. I would love to equip my home and school with the croquet set made from the Amish ToyBox out of Lancaster because they are made from strong sturdy hard maple wood and because of the carrying rack, but at that price I am not able to afford it. Since I have bought many sets over the years, I would recommend the Crown Sporting Goods set. It is sturdy enough to hold up to typical use, it is made out of hardwoods, the structure of it is good and it comes with a bag to carry it to social gatherings.

In Conclusion

9 wicket backyard croquet is a fun game to play. I feel the more people you have, the more fun it is. Start out learning the rules and playing the game, then go ahead and add some fun variations. This is a great game to host a tournament and have the top players of each round play in a championship game. So gather up a bunch of friends, make an excuse to get together, bring lots of food and drinks and finally, use your imagination to set up a fun and memorable croquet course. Of course, there has to be a trophy for the winner, so maybe you can find an old mallet and spray paint it gold and make it into a trophy for the grand prize winner. It could even be a traveling trophy and you come back each year to hold the event. While people are not playing or if they don’t make the championship round, you can always set up other lawn games to be played.





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