Croquet: an international rules summary

for USCA players


This is the summary version of the International Rules Primer. It is useful as a reference, particularly as an inclusion in tournament programs. (Read the Copyright Notice before making any copies of this article.) The full version of the Primer treats each item in greater detail.

Both versions deal only with the rules, not with tactics. It is assumed that you are already familiar with USCA Croquet.

The court and setting

The court and equipment are identical to those used in USCA rules. No deadness board. There is a yard-line (not marked) parallel to and one yard inside the boundary; the yard-line has the same functions as the USCA rules nine-inch-line. The four corners of the yard-line are known as the corner spots. The yard-line area is that which lies between the boundary and the yard-line.

The A-baulk-line runs from the Corner I corner spot to the mid-point of the South yard-line; the B-baulk-line is diagonally opposite. There is a corner peg at each of the eight points on the boundary that are one yard away from a corner.

Starting the game

The winner of the toss has right of choice and may take either choice of lead or choice of colors; the opponent has the remaining choice. In a match consisting of more than one game, the right of choice alternates after the first game.

Balls are played into the game from any point on either baulk-line.


A ball is out of bounds as soon as any part of the ball is directly over the boundary (the inside edge of the string).

After every stroke, any out-of-bounds ball (except for the striker’s ball after a roquet) must be placed on the yard-line at the point nearest to where it went out. Also, any ball in the yard-line area (except for the striker’s ball when it is entitled to continue) must be placed on the yard-line at the point nearest to where it came to rest.

The only time an out-of-bounds ball ends the turn is when, on a croquet stroke, either the croqueted ball goes out, or the striker’s ball goes out without having first made a roquet or scored a hoop. Otherwise, out-of-bounds balls are placed in and the striker continues the turn.

When a ball cannot be placed in directly due to the presence of another ball, the ball must be placed on the yard-line in contact with the other ball.

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Non-sequential play

Turns alternate between sides. Either ball of a side may be played at the start of any turn, except that all four balls must be played into the game in the game’s first four turns.

When one ball has been pegged out, turns continue to alternate between sides.


As soon as a ball is in play, it is alive on all other balls.

There is no “carry-over” deadness, i.e., a ball is alive on all other balls at the start of every turn.

Hitting a dead ball is perfectly legal (no ball is replaced and the turn does not necessarily end), but it isn’t a roquet—you do not take croquet from the hit ball.

However, if you purport to take croquet from a dead ball, your turn ends.


At the start of a turn, if you choose to play a ball that is already in contact with another ball, the roquet is deemed and you must take croquet directly (you may move the striker’s ball as usual before the croquet stroke).

After a roquet, the striker’s ball does not become a ball in hand until the end of the stroke. If the striker’s ball hits other balls after making a roquet, those balls are not replaced. After a roquet, the striker’s ball may not score a point for itself on that stroke, although it may cause other balls to score points.

Hoop and roquet: When the striker’s ball runs its hoop and then on the same stroke hits another ball that was clear of the hoop on the non-playing side, the hoop is scored and a roquet is made (unless the balls started in contact). If the striker’s ball runs its hoop and on the same stroke hits a dead ball that was encroaching on the jaws of the hoop, the hoop is scored and no roquet is made.


The Rover hoop is run in the “natural” direction, i.e., away from the peg. Once a ball has become a rover, it may roquet the other balls once per turn, but does not earn a continuation stroke by running a hoop.

If the striker’s ball is a rover and roquets another rover into the peg, that other ball is pegged out and the turn ends immediately.


Wiring lift is to any point on either baulk-line.

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The limit of claims for a fault ends after the striker who committed the fault has played two further strokes in the same turn, or else when the opponent plays a stroke. (Playing a wrong ball and purporting to take croquet from a dead ball are turn-ending errors, but are not faults. The limit of claims for both of these errors ends when the opponent plays a stroke.)

If the striker commits a fault, the opponent must declare whether or not the balls are to be replaced to their positions at the start of the stroke, that is, whether or not the fault is to be rectified. In either case, the turn ends and any points scored during the fault stroke are cancelled. This option does not apply to errors other than faults.

On certain types of stroke, it is a fault to damage the court (i.e., take a divot) with the mallet. This mainly applies to jump shots, hammer shots and golf-style strokes.

Time-limited games

Double-banking time-outs are allowed during the final 15 minutes, or, at some tournaments, at any time. Personal time-outs may be allowed at some tournaments. Always check the policy when you go to a tournament.

Expeditious play is required at all times. Shot clocks are never used.

When the time expires, the game goes into the extension period, in which the current striker finishes the turn and then the opponent plays one turn. At this point, the game ends, unless the score is tied, in which case the game becomes “sudden death”.


A bisque is a complete extra turn (striker’s ball becomes alive again) that may be taken at the end of any regular or bisque turn, except that a bisque may not be taken during or immediately following the extension period.

A half bisque is a restricted bisque turn on which no point can be scored for any ball. You may take a bisque immediately after a half bisque and begin scoring points again.

Advanced play

Championship-level games are played under the conditions of Advanced Play. When a side scores 1-back or 4-back (only with the striker’s ball for that turn—peels don’t count), the other side has the option of starting the next turn by lifting either ball to any point on either baulk-line and playing it from there. (The lift is optional; you may also play as the balls lie.)

When a side runs 1-back and 4-back on the same turn, and the partner ball had not scored 1-back at the start of that turn, the other side has the option of a lift to contact with any other ball to start the next turn (in addition to the option of a lift to baulk).

These options do not apply to a side that has caused any ball to score the peg point during the game.

Referee intervention

The players are the referees of the game, and as such have the usual obligation to announce any fault or error they notice. Except in the unusual case in which there is a designated referee in charge for the game, an outside referee never intervenes unless asked by the players to make a ruling or observe a questionable stroke.

Copyright notice

Copyright 1997–2008 by Jeff Soo.

You may make and distribute paper copies of this article, under the following conditions:

  1. each copy must include the complete text of the article, unmodified, including this copyright notice.
  2. the copies must be distributed free of charge.

Electronic distribution or re-publication is prohibited. However, you are welcome to publish links to this article via email or WWW. Link to

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Initial publication 04/04/2001
Minor update reflecting the new USCA regulations 03/17/2003