|COACH'S CORNER - Beginner Level: The Golden Rule of Croquet
"learn the rules, so that others may not do unto you."
The U.S.C.A. Rule Book is articulate, and allows croquet players to compete fairly. Every possible game situation is covered, but like the English language, the rules continue to evolve.
After a player has decided that they in fact like the game of croquet, it seems obvious that they should dedicate a few quiet hours to studying the rule book. It has amazed me how many players have lost games because of lack of knowledge of boundary or wicket encroachment rules.
At CroqCan '92, in the Championship Flight, a player (2 handicap) hit away from a ball encroaching into the jaws of the 4-back wicket, abandoning a four ball break, now three ball dead. An understanding of the relevant rule would have allowed the break to continue, and the game to be put away.
Going onto the court confident in your knowledge of the rules (and always with a rule book in your back pocket) will give you a big psychological boost.
To encourage readers to study the rules, I have prepared two True or False questions. Anyone who responds correctly before 31 December, and encloses a completed 1993 membership application (and $35!), will be rewarded with a Swiss embroidered Croquet Canada crest. Go for it...
- During a double banked game, a referee should forestall a striker from playing a ball from the other game. True or False.
- If, during a croquet shot, the striker's ball hits a ball it is alive on, it is a roquet and the striker is immediately ball in hand and must take croquet. True or False.
Intermediate Level: Take Off, Eh?
The MacKenzie brothers have made a lot of money saying, "Take off, eh?" But, have they ever experienced the thrill of watching a thin take-off roll down a bent grass croquet court, drawing ever so slightly as it slows up, and stopping in perfect position on the playing side of the next hoop?
There are two types of take-offs, which in fact gradually merge into one another. The thin take-off must move or at least shake the croqueted ball but the major object is to direct the striker's ball to a particular place on the court. The thick take-off moves the striker's ball much further than the croqueted ball, but the latter is moved to a noticeable degree. The final position of the striker's ball is usually to be of primary importance, but the opportunity is taken to move the croqueted ball sideways to a desired position.
The accompanying diagrams show how to utilize the mallet shaft to aim the striker's ball. Ideally you would like to aim directly at the target, but that would result in the other ball not being moved. To avoid this fault, aim slightly inwards toward the other ball. The striker's ball will travel along a line at right angles to the line of the centres of the two balls.
The theory of draw, or pull, will be discussed in the next issue of The Mastery of thick take-offs requires a lot of practice. The draw factor must be taken into effect, and due to the resistance from the croqueted ball, it is much more difficult to judge how hard to swing the mallet to move the striker's ball to the desired spot.
Players should practice sides of the ball to be croqueted Oftentimes, there is only one proper side to choose (for example, when hitting from near a boundary line), and you do not want to develop a mindset which lessens your chances of hitting a good stroke when forced to play from your "wrong" side.
Practice, and you will be rewarded. Breaks can be built using thick take-offs, and opportunities to use this skill occur often during each game.
(Information gleaned from the excellent book, The World of Croquet, by John McCullough and Stephen Mulliner)
- Ross Robinson