To borrow from John Prince's croquet video, "A famous player once remarked that hitting one's own ball correctly was the only difficult thing in croquet".

Below you will find an overview of the shots involved in croquet, and some high-level guidance on how to achieve them. More detailed information on specific strokes may also be found in the Technique section

If you have read the introduction section, or are already somewhat familiar with croquet, then you will realise that there are two basic types of stroke involved - single ball strokes and croquet strokes.

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Single-ball strokes


A roquet is the act of hitting your ball onto another ball. A roquet can be made at any distance, be it the length of the court, or from just a few inches. Most of what is written in the Technique section covers how to play with a technique that you would use to make a roquet.

To reiterate, it is important to develop a smooth, unhurried swing. The best way to do this is to stand far enough back from the ball so that your swing is free and you can clearly see the aiming line. Finding the aiming line is easier if you are able to see your own ball and also the target ball in your peripheral vision, and therefore when you have taken your stance, your head should not be any further forward than the back of the striker's ball. Once the aiming has been completed, the only thought should then be on striking your own ball with the centre of the mallet, and keeping your head down throughout the strike.

A roquet should be hit with a smooth strike and the mallet should be flat upon impact with the ball

Remember to ensure that whatever technique you use, it should be the same for roquets of any distance. A good practice routine for roqueting is to take two sets of balls, and place each set 4-5 yards apart. Take 4 shots. If you hit them all, then extend the range to 5 yards and repeat. Keep extending the range by a yard each time.

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Not exactly what the name implies, there is nothing hurried about a rush! A rush is simply a roquet but from short range - indeed, sometimes a rush is referred to as a "roquet-rush". What sets a rush apart from a normal roquet is that instead of just trying to hit the target ball (as with a roquet), the aim of the rush is to send the target ball to a specific spot or area so that the next shot (a croquet stroke) is played from as easy a place as possible.

A short rush. Notice that the mallet is parallel to the ground at point of contact

An example of this might be when your ball is 1-foot away from another ball and you would attempt to roquet the ball so that it stops near to your current hoop - from there you could play your croquet stroke from a position that is already close to your hoop!

A rush that is not in a straight line is referred to as a "cut rush", whereby you aim at a point on the object ball that is off-centre. In exactly the same concept as in snooker or pool, when the centre of your ball hits the spot on the object ball, the object ball will travel in a direction in line with that spot.

A cut rush to send red to a particular spot

The key to being a good croquet player is to avoid having to play difficult shots very often. Mastering the rush is a key part of achieving this goal.

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Hoop Shot

When running a hoop, the same principle applies as with making a roquet. It is particularly important here to observe a smooth follow-through, because this will enable the ball to be imparted with natural forward-spin so that the ball is rolling - not skidding - when it reaches the hoop. Any minor misjudgement of direction of the shot may be alleviated by the forward spin that has been imparted. Conversely it you were to jab at the ball with a quick stabbing motion, it would negate any natural forward spin and cause the ball to skid along the ground - this can result in the ball stopping and sticking in the hoop upon contact with the hoop upright.

When running hoops from an angle, the key thing to remember is that the ball must miss the "near wire" (the hoop upright closest to the ball) in order to run the hoop. Even a light brush against the near wire will result in a failed hoop

Running an angled hoop. The shot on the left will fail because the centre of the ball is aimed at the centre of the gap. The shot on the right will succeed because the edge of the ball is aimed to just miss the near upright of the hoop.

While it is true that topspin can help a ball run a hoop, you must avoid the temptation to apply additional topspin via hitting down on the ball - doing so is likely to lead to inaccuracy with direction and also loss of control, and should be reserved for only extreme angles where running the hoop would otherwise be very doubtful.

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Croquet strokes


While the takeoff is technically a croquet stroke, in reality it is played in the same way as a single-ball stroke. The main purpose of the takeoff is to position the striker's ball for its continuation stroke, and leave the croqueted ball more-or-less where it is. When playing the takeoff, you must remember that the croqueted ball has to move, otherwise it will not be a valid croquet stroke and incur end-of-turn.

Blue plays a "thin" takeoff from red
Blue plays a "thick" takeoff from red

You can play a takeoff from either side of the croqueted ball. The amount by which the croqueted ball moves is determined by the angle towards the object ball at which you hit - a small inward angle will result in what is called a "fine" or "thin" takeoff, whereby the croqueted ball just moves maybe an inch or two. If you hit in towards the croqueted ball more, then more momentum will be transferred into it, moving it more - resulting in what's known as a "thick takeoff".

Note also that some natural side-spin will be imparted on the striker's ball due to having been in contact with the croqueted ball. After the striker's ball is struck, and as it slows down, it will curve inwards slightly, in the same direction that which the croqueted ball had been on.

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Stop Shot

The stop shot is a croquet stroke which causes the striker's ball to move the shortest distance in relation to the croqueted ball. This is achieved by hitting slightly underneath the centreline of your ball, countering the natural forward spin which would be imparted when playing a normal stroke. The mallet is grounded upon impacting the ball and there is no follow-through. Because the mallet head is angled upward (as shown in the image), the mallet handle is angled slightly further back than normal, so in order to play the stop shot comfortably, you should stand with your feet slightly further back than you would for a normal stroke.

Note the upward angle of the mallet face
Foot position for a right-handed and left-handed player respectively

Depending on the lawn, balls and mallet weight, ratios of anywhere between 1:5 and 1:10 (and sometimes even higher) can be achieved with a stop shot. It is a good idea to practise and become very familiar with your stop shot ratio, as the easiest way to play a well-controlled break is through the use of accurate stop shots and drives.

Although playing a stop shot is easy, a good technique is required to achieve a good ratio. Essentially the only shot where a smooth strike is unhelpful, it can take a while to master the timing involved in grounding the mallet at the exact moment of impact with the ball.

As mentioned above, you should stand further back from the ball when playing a stop shot because the whole mallet is angled slightly back. Placement of the feet on this shot varies - some player will take a half-step back with both feet, whereas others will keep one foot in the normal position with the other further behind, rocking onto the back foot to achieve the same result.

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The drive is the simplest croquet stroke to play, as it is played exactly the same way as a single-ball stroke - with a normal stance and a normal follow through. Although the ratio will always vary depending on a number of factors (lawn, ball composition and mallet weight), the standard ratio achieved with a drive is about 1:3.

The drive is played like a single-ball stroke

As with the stop shot, it is important to develop a consistent and repeatable drive ratio, because these two strokes are the basis of solid and controlled break play.

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Half Roll

The half roll is played by hitting slightly downwards onto your ball - this imparts a small amount of extra forward spin compared to a drive, enabling a ratio of about 1:2. In order to play the stroke comfortably, you should stand further forward than for a normal stroke, with your feet (or at least your front foot) about level with the striker's ball. Because you are standing closer to the ball than normal on this shot, moving both your hands down the mallet somewhat will make the shot easier to play, as it will give more control over the mallet and also make the backswing easier.

The mallet strikes blue at a downward angle to impart additional topspin, increasing the distance blue travels

The half roll can easily be played centre-style, however some players choose to play this stroke side-style in order to generate more power.

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Full Roll

The full roll is a croquet stroke where both balls travel approximately the same distance. It is often used as a recovery stroke. In order to get the striker's ball to travel the same distance as the croqueted ball, a lot of forward spin is needed to be imparted on the striker's ball - to achieve this, your hands need to drop a lot further down the mallet than normal, and the mallet should impact the striker's ball at a steeper angle than for a half roll.

The mallet strikes blue at a steep angle, imparting high topspin and causing both balls to travel a similar distance.

The full roll is often played side-style in order to generate enough power in the stroke. However, if the player has good timing and technique, it is possible to play this stroke centre-style.

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Pass Roll

The pass roll is similar to the full roll, but the striker's ball travels even further than the croqueted ball. In order to achieve this, even more forward spin is required - as a consequence, the hands need to drop even further down the mallet than for the full roll. The pass roll needs to be played with more punch than the full roll, meaning that the mallet head must still be in the process of accellerating at the moment it makes contact with the ball. To help achieve this, you can shorten the backswing and apply additional force to the forward swing.

The mallet strikes blue at an acute angle, creating maximum topspin

Like the full roll, the pass roll is often played side-style in order to generate the power and "punch" required to apply such topspin. Because of the steep downward angle of the mallet required to generate the necessary forward spin means standing very far forward, playing this stroke centre-style will give a very restricted backswing. The placement of the bottom hand should be very close to the mallet head, but beware that touching the mallet head during the stroke is a fault.

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Split Shot

A split shot is not a croquet stroke in its own right, but rather a variation of the croquet strokes listed above. It can apply to anything from a stop shot through to a pass roll, and refers to playing a croquet stroke where both balls go in different directions.

Line of aim is halfway between the two intended destination points

For a given croquet stroke, the player should line the two balls up in a line of where they wish the object ball to be sent. After determining the intended destination point for the striker's ball, you must aim at a point halfway between the two. The croqueted ball will actually "pull" slightly in the direction which you are playing the stroke, so some allowance needs to be made for that when lining up the two balls.

The wider the angle of split, the less "roll" (topspin) is required to be applied to the striker's ball to get it to travel a given distance - knowing the amount of roll to apply comes with practice.

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Special Shots

There are various shots that crop up during a game which are needed to recover from particular situations, such as when you have run a hoop but have a hampered backswing - and deserve special mention.

Jump Shot

The jump stroke is a single-ball stroke in which you hit downwards onto your ball, causing it to jump into the air. There are a number of reasons for doing this, such as jumping over a ball lodged in your hoop after a failed peel, or jumping over a hoop to try and hit another ball. Perhaps the most common scenario for playing a jump stroke is to try and run a very angled hoop (e.g. from over 40deg) - hitting down onto your ball imparts extra forward spin, and this can be useful to coax a ball through what would otherwise be considered an unrunnable hoop.

By striking down on the the blue, it is rebounded into the air with a lot of topspin

There are a number of ways to play the jump stroke, depending on how high, and how sharply, you need your ball to rise off the ground. In general, the more sharply you hit down onto your ball, the steeper the jump angle. If you played the stroke with a fairly shallow downward angle, then the ball would rise more gradually over a longer distance compared to playing the stroke with sharper and more pronounced downward angle.

When using a jump shot to run a hoop, the most important thing is to miss the near wire of the hoop. The additional topspin imparted by the jump shot will deter the ball from rebounding when it makes contact with the hoop upright, and instead will keep spinning forwards and (hopefully) through the hoop.

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Sweep Shot

A sweep shot is used to get out of a hampered situation, normally after running a hoop and not having a clean swing at the reception ball. It is played while kneeling on the court with the mallet held horizontally across the body, one hand near (but not touching) the mallet head and the other hand closer to the top of the handle.

Sweep shot after blue has run the hoop, hampered from red

The swing is in an arc shape, and is played in such a way that the hand closest to the mallet head will be moving forwards when the top hand is moving backwards, in a lever motion. As a result, when the mallet face contacts the ball, it hits across the ball horizontally, imparting a small amount of side spin. This in turn will help the ball curve slightly in the direction towards the intended target. The line of aim should be at the outside edge of the target ball.

It is a shot worth practising both left-handed and right-handed, because either method may be required during a game, depending on the side of the hoop the mallet needs to swing.

There are a number of faults to look out for when playing a sweep shot, and some common ones include

  • Touching the mallet head
  • Resting your arm on your leg
  • Resting a hand or arm on the ground
  • Hitting the ball with the corner of the mallet face

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A cannon is a shot involving 3 (or occasionally 4) balls. The most common cannon is the Corner 1 cannon, where three balls will all be in the corner, each ball in contact with one other ball.

A common scenario where a cannon might arise is when the striker rushes a ball into the corner area when there is already a ball on the corner spot. The roqueted ball is lined back onto the court, in contact with the existing corner ball, on either boundary. At that point the existing corner ball can be moved to any position around the roqueted ball in contact with it. As the striker made a roquet, they must take croquet from the roqueted ball. The striker's ball must not be in contact with the existing corner ball.

If the striker's ball is for hoop 1, then the aim of the Corner 1 cannon would be to croquet a pioneer ball towards hoop 2, and in the same shot roquet the third ball, rushing it to hoop 1. This may sound somewhat complicated, but once you break it down it is actually fairly simple.

Blue rushes black into the corner square. Red is a corner ball. Black is replaced on the yardline in contact with red.
Ball placement and line of aim for Corner 1 cannon. Blue takes croquet from black and will roquet red in the same shot. Note the image is not to scale

Exact line of aim will need to be adjusted for the player's mallet characteristics - generally a heavier mallet which is better at rolls would aim somewhere near hoop 6 whereas a light mallet that is good for stop shots would aim nearer to hoop 5. For most players, it would be somewhere between the two. The stroke is normally played as a drive, but again could be slightly adjusted depending upon mallet characteristics.

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