Lots of players can run breaks. Not so many know how to make a good leave at the end of a break. For this you need three things: control of the break, control of the spent ball, and a plan. The first two are mainly a matter of practice. This article deals with that last item, planning and executing leaves in USCA croquet.
A good leave has two basic requirements: your opponent does not have a short shot, and your partner ball is set up for a three-ball break. There are many ways to improve on the basic leave, the main ones being to lengthen the opponent's shot, to wire the opponent from any ball in the open court, and to leave no free shots. By "short" I mean any shot of less than about 15 yards, and by "free" I mean a shot your opponent can take and miss without giving you an immediate four-ball-break.
The following examples are taken from real games. In some cases the break is ragged and the goal is a basic leave. In other cases there is more scope for refinement. If you can make a three-ball break with reasonable control at least some of the time, you are ready to try all of these leaves. If your play isn't so consistent yet you can still practice them. Practicing detailed routines like these is much more rewarding than aimlessly practicing breaks.
Some of these sequences may seem difficult at first, but keep trying—you may find that they are easier than they first appear. Once you have done the leaves several times the sequences become almost automatic, allowing you to concentrate on execution. And remember that there is an almost limitless variety of possible configurations beyond the ones described here.
Copyright 2001–2008 by Jeff Soo.
12 February 2001