Conventions, Customs, and Good Manners
Please refer also to the Court Booking Guidance.
Casual comfortable clothes are worn for most occasions but "whites" are conventionally worn for league matches, tournaments and some club competitions - and always on our finals weekend.
Flat-soled shoes must be worn on the lawns - that is, with no heel and relatively flat soles. Avoid smooth soles, which can slip on wet grass.
The CA Regulations specify that in tournaments "predominantly white clothing should be worn" and that "in team events, such as inter-club events, teams may wear other colours of clothing, provided all team members (other than those wearing white) are wearing the same design."
Preparing to Play
- Do not play on a lawn that is waterlogged or frosted
- Use the dew switch to disperse worm casts as necessary. The grass beneath a flattened worm cast can take weeks to recover
- After the lawns have been mowed, the contractors leave the centre peg lying down and the hoops are left loose in their holes
- If you are the first players to use the lawn, the peg should be replaced and hoops should be lightly firmed
Do not bury the hoops in their holes. The photo shows that the carrots (the wider base of the hoop that gives it more grip in the ground) can be projecting an inch above ground and not affect the passage of a ball through the hoop. In rare situations, a striker might find that the projecting carrots prevent them from making a fair stroke - in that case only can the hoop be hammered down to the ground. See Law 5.
- Play with the set of colours booked
- It is courteous to turn up early for a timed game so it may begin at the arranged time (note that club competitions include time to warm-up)
- Remember to bring a timer
- Place a timer so each player can see it clearly - phones are not ideal for this
- Do not practice immediately before a competition match, other than for a maximum of ten minutes with your opponent present, or at the agreed start time
- In tournaments, you are permitted 10 minutes to warm-up before the start of your first game of the day, which must be completed before the advertised start time. If the manager has given you a late start that day, then you may warm-up for 10 minutes when allocated a court. If your opponent has already played a game that day, you may practice for any reasonable time until you feel fully ready. Refer to the CA Regulations
- When you know that you are going to be double-banking:
- avoid delays by always carrying plastic markers
- never use coins or similar items - they cause expensive damage to lawnmowers!
When playing in inter-club competitions or tournaments at the club or elsewhere you should take particular care to:
- Read any briefing information carefully and follow any instructions
- Take your handicap card - the manager will ask to see it
- Arrive by the stated time - leave time to sort yourself out properly - there's usually a tight schedule
- Make yourself known to the Manager
- Do not leave the grounds without the Manager's consent
- The person with the lowest handicap tosses and is responsible for setting up any bisques
- In AC, the winner of the toss may choose either who has first innings or which colours to play with
- In GC, the winner of the toss plays first with the blue ball
- In a best-of-three (or more) match, a coin is tossed only once, at the start, and there is a strict convention for subsequent games:
- In AC, the winner of the toss alternates - whoever won the toss at the start is deemed to have lost the toss for game 2 and won the toss for game 3, etc.
- In GC, the loser of a game starts the next game but keeps the colours they were playing, and can play either of their balls to start the sequence
- Bisques, extra strokes, or starting Advantage are calculated according to the Rules and Laws or the conditions of the competition
- In both AC and GC, each player gets the bisques / extra stroke tokens for the other
- In AC they are placed in a convenient position by the lawn within sight of both players (and spectators)
- In GC, a player with extra stroke tokens keeps them on their person
On the Court
Fundamental to croquet is the principle that each player is the referee of their own play. This duty remains even in games with an external referee. So, know the Rules of GC (especially Rule 16 Behaviour) and/or the Laws of AC (especially Part 4 Conduct of the game).
Note in particular:
- When and how to call a referee or umpire to watch any shot whose outcome is doubtful (hampered shot, roquet on ball by hoop or peg, very fine take-off, etc.)
- If you and your opponent agree, you may ask for spectator help (e.g. on what just happened, on where an accidentally moved ball should be replaced or a moving ball would have stopped if it hadn't been obstructed)
- Be scrupulously honest about your strokes
- Put a ball on the yard line with your back to the court
- During your turn you may ask your opponent about the state of the game or about the rules or laws
- Observe the croqueted ball in a take-off so that you can certify it moved - or confess the fault if it didn’t
- Play briskly (the official phrase is 'with due dispatch') and avoid spending an excessive amount of time thinking about your next shot
- When playing doubles do not engage in long on-court discussions with your partner
- Avoid shots that risk damaging the lawn, particularly in the jaws of a hoop
- Any lawn damage should be repaired immediately. If you cannot repair the damage, report it to any Committee member - or the tournament manager if playing away
- Do not offer or accept advice
- this includes not asking pointed questions (e.g. "Which is black's next hoop?" when black is about to run the wrong hoop)
- If you are playing doubles, you and your partner may confer and offer each other advice
- But you may ask your opponent about the state of the game or points of law
- Players should be aware of the circumstances under which forestalling is required
- For AC, there's a summary of To Tell or Not To Tell
- Things are simpler in GC where the opportunities for error are fewer
- For example, when your opponent is about to play a wrong ball you should forestall and mention it - see Rule 10.2
- You shouldn't offer tactical advice, such as when it looks like they are lining up on the wrong hoop, but if you do, they can simply take advantage of your help - see Rule 14.
- Using bisques / extra strokes
- You should be familiar with the conditions under which you may take these
- In AC, you must indicate clearly to your opponent you wish to take a bisque before taking the stroke - it is their responsibility to remove the bisque and lay it down by those still standing. See Law 42.4
- In GC, you must clearly indicate your intention and hand over a token before the stroke is played. See Rule 19.5. When considering whether to play an extra stroke, you must warn your opponent either before or immediately after playing your stroke. If they have taken their stance to play, it is too late to decide to take an extra stroke
- In both games, if you indicate your intent to stop, you cannot change your mind
- Do not chat to your opponent(s) unless you are clear that it is welcome
- Do not distract your opponent by walking about, talking loudly, catching their eye, etc.
- Do not stand directly behind them watching them shoot, or directly in front on the line of aim
- Off-lawn players and spectators must not distract on-lawn players by comments and chat whether or not these are related to the game
- When parking or walking past a lawn, pause and stand still while in the eyeline of a player preparing to take a shot
- Stand clear and stand still when your GC opponent is taking their turn
- Beware of distracting players; keep your voice down, including while using a mobile phone
- Get out of the way of a player who might need to stalk from where you are, or who is shooting towards you
See the guide section Double-Banking.
At the End of the Game
Sports-person-ship always prevails - no gloating or sulking thank you very much.
- The players agree the score
- It is the winners' responsibility to record the result - this may take the form of reporting this immediately to the manager of the competition, or completing the (online) results record accurately
- The Manager's decision is final on all matters
- Each player must record the result on their handicap card - accuracy is essential
- It is the winner's responsibility to clear the court of balls, clips, bisques and other paraphernalia
- When double-banking, or players are waiting to come on to the lawn, this must be done promptly
- It is customary to shake hands
- The opponents thank each other for the game, no matter how tedious or disheartening it was
- It is customary for the winner to offer his opponent a cup of tea or similar refreshment after the game
- If playing at a club with a bar, the offer of alcoholic refreshment to the loser is always appreciated
- Being sensitive to the needs and mood of their opponent, players may engage in supportive post-game analysis to identify their strengths and areas for improvement
- To sustain your hope that your play will improve next time, each should resolve to
- Practice more
- Seek coaching advice
- Thank the manager of the event and any others who have played a key role e.g. referees, grounds team, catering team