Croquet Rules


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Some Common Croquet Rules and Variations


Object: The object of Croquet is to complete the entire course with all of your balls before your opponent(s).


Intro to rules: The rules of croquet vary from course to course, family to family, club to club, etc. Of course, there are official croquet rules sanctioned by the USCA and Croquet Canada. Even those change over time.


These are the rules that we use now. We’ve included some common variations of many of the rules. We started with the USCA rules, read lots of rulebooks and pamphlets and talked to lots of people and played lots of croquet. These rules have evolved to be our present day favorites. Here’s where we are now:



Whether playing in a backyard, in a park, on a hillside, or in the woods, we adapt the basic double diamond course with the ratios based on a 100’ x 50’ course and the spacing guidelines shown on the basic course map at the bottom of the page. Feel free to adopt the double diamond to an L shape, for smaller yards. You may be able to incorporate the front and the back yards.  We keep the ratios in mind and then adjust individual wicket placements to adapt to obstacles, hazards, weird shaped areas, etc.


This table shows our recommended setup for playing the game. We usually play with 2 balls each when we have 3 or less players but sometimes we play with one ball, if we want a quick game. Draw randomly the first game to see who is which color and go in order of stake. A die, some poker chips, straws, or blades of grass work well.



# of players

# of balls each


(cutthroat or teams)

Color groups


1, 2, or 3


Blue & yellow vs. red & green


1 or 2


Blue & yellow vs. red & green vs. orange & black



Teams or cutthroat

Teams: Blue & yellow vs. red & green

Cutthroat: Blue vs. red vs. yellow vs. black



Teams or cutthroat.

If teams, best team gets 3 balls to give other team a handicap, or draw to let one person use 2 balls.





Draw colors, or lag for position.

To Play;

Players’ turns follow order on stake, skipping colors you’re not using. Blue goes first, etc.

  • Start game less than halfway from 1st stake to wicket #1.
  • Hit ball forward, with mallet head only, thru wickets in order. One bonus shot is earned for each “pass through a wicket” in the right direction. You may go through a wicket backwards (e.g. to set up your next shot or to block someone else but no bonus shot is earned). To “pass through a wicket” means that after the ball stops a mallet handle can be put behind the ball, touch both sides of the wicket and not touch the ball.
  • Variation: instead of hitting the ball, you may move it up to one full mallet length, including the handle. You can do this in any direction but not to “pass through wickets” forward or to bump (roquet) other balls.
  • After a color passes through the first 7 wickets, it has to hit the halfway stakes before returning through the final 7 wickets. When it has passed all 14 wickets and hits the final stake it is “staked out” and game is over for that color. Of course, in single-ball cutthroat, it wins.
  • When all colors of on player (cutthroat style) or all colors of one team have staked out, that player or team wins.
  • Variation: point system: 3 games per match. Give 1 point per wicket and 2 points for each stake. A total of 18 points is possible for the winner of a game. When the first person stakes out in a game, they get 18 points and everyone else gets the points they had when that player hit the stake. At the end of three games, whoever accumulated the most points wins.
  • The Croquet and other Bonus Shots
  • One bonus shot is earned for passing through each wicket.
  • Two bonus shots are earned by hitting (roqueting) an opponents color. One of the bonus shots must be a croquet. So, the bonus is “croquet + 1”. You may not accumulate bonus shots to exceed “croquet + 2”. For example, if you pass through a stake and hit a ball on the way out of the second stake, you still only have croquet + 2. There are lots of situations that would exceed croquet + 2.
  • Variation: Unlimited bonus shots.
  • Whenever you roquet (hit) an opponent, you must come back to it and croquet it, even if it hampers your position.
  • Variation: Choice as to whether to croquet or not. In this case, you get two bonus shots instead of “croquet +1”.
  • When it is time to croquet a ball, take your “ball in hand” and bring it to wherever the roqueted ball stopped after you hit it. Strike your ball with the object of improving your position and hindering your opponent’s position.
  • Variation: You may place your foot on your ball while hitting it so only your opponent’s ball moves. We don’t use this variation because we think it’s so easy and decreases the strategy of the game. With practice, you can make theirs move very far while yours moves just a little (or a lot) and in a direction that helps your game.
  • If you roquet two balls in one shot, you may choose which one to croquet but you can’t croquet both of them. And, you only get the usual “croquet + 1”. The other ball stays where it landed until it’s that color’s turn.
  • Deadness
  • After you croquet an opponent’s ball, you are “dead” on that color until you pass through the next wicket. In some cases, that may be on the croquet shot.
  • If you are dead on a color, you can’t earn any bonuses for hitting that color until you pass through the next wicket. But you may use your turn to hit them just to hinder them or to improve your position but you get no extra shots.
  • Rovers
  • A color that has passed through all 14 wickets but has not “staked” out is a rover.
  • Variation: No rovers allowed. Player must try to stake out instead of chasing other players.
  • The purpose of a rover is to help its team colors get through the course and to hinder the opponents’ colors. Even with three balls per team, only the first color to pass wicket #14 can become a rover.  There can be only one rover per team.
  • Variation: 2 rovers per team allowed, if there are 3 balls per team.
  • Any color can put a rover out of the game by driving the rover into the stake.
  • Variation: Only another rover can stake out a rover.
  • A rover does become dead on other colors but can relieve deadness by passing through any wicket in any direction but no bonus shots are earned.
  • Variation: Rovers earn bonus shots like everyone else.
  • If a rover roquets a color, it gets the croquet bonus shot but not the +1.
  • Variation: Rovers get croquet +1 just like other colors. In the variation above, they could even get croquet +2 because they may earn shots while going through wickets.
  • Out of Bounds
  • Definition: The line determined to be the boundaries of the course, before the game starts.

Variation: No Out of  bounds. Play it where it lies. Feel free to even include water hazards as in bounds. It’s up to you. Croquet balls don’t sink like golf balls. Just like you’d hardly ever give up on a disc in disc golf, don’t give up on your croquet ball.

    • Whenever a color goes out of bounds, it must be immediately placed one mallet head distance in bounds or halfway to the edge line of the nearest wicket, whichever is less. This must be done right away so that upcoming players have the chance to hit it.
    • Variation: Move the ball to be right on the out of bounds line.
    • If a color roquets its opponent out of bounds, the color loses all bonus shots and moves its opponent back in bounds per the line rule you’re using.
    • If a color croquets another color out of bounds, they lose their “+1” shot. Even if they passed through a wicket as they did it, they lose that bonus shot too.
  • We hope this has been helpful. We encourage you to check lots of other resources such as: www.croquet.com, Croquet, Its History Strategy, Rules, and Records by James Charleton, www.extremecroquet.com, their links,  and www.croquetamerica.com, the USCA site, and some of their links. Above all, experiment with your own rules, your own course designs, and your own terrains and have fun.


This is a basic, double diamond set up but feel free to change the course to suit the unique terrain that you’re playing on. Extreme croquet is fun. Just like disc golf, the course can follow your imagination. When playing extreme croquet, we use the basic double diamond idea but the dimensional ratios and size usually end up radically different.