Croquet is a marvelous way to relax and make friends in a vibrant and sociable sporting community. However, there’s more to croquet than meets the eye. While the sport may appear simple at first glance, becoming a skilled croquet player involves a keen tactical ability, strategic planning, and precise skill.
Many new players find the baffling array of croquet terminology somewhat confusing at first, but there’s no need to panic. The language used during a game of croquet is diverse and, at times, confusing, but you don’t need to master every piece of terminology as a beginner.
Improving your knowledge of the most common jargon used in croquet allows you to understand the game more thoroughly and join in with discussions in real life and online. It’s easy to get a basic grounding relatively quickly. If you want to get a head start before heading out onto the grass, our handy guide to croquet terminology can help.
Below, you’ll find all the croquet terminology you need to know as a beginner to participate in or observe the sport. The more experience you gain, the more your croquet vocabulary will expand to encompass some of the more obscure terms.
Aunt Emma: A risk-averse player who prioritizes preventing their opponents from scoring or progressing instead of focusing on their own progress.
Blob: A situation where you miss scoring because the ball remains within the hoop (jaws).
Block: A reflective move where you place a ball strategically to prevent your opponent from scoring.
Cannon: To deliberately bounce one ball off another to indirectly score or move another ball.
Crush: A fault where the player allows the ball to simultaneously touch the mallet and hoop or peg.
Crunch: To beat another player resoundingly and quickly, usually within six turns.
Cut Rush: To move another ball in an angled manner to your advantage. You may use this move to reposition one or both of the balls involved.
Dambuster Double Bounce Shot: The act of hitting the ball forcefully into the ground so that it bounces into the air (jump shot), causing it to travel a longer distance with two or more bounces.
Dead Ground: The section of the ground where a hoop or peg separates one ball from another.
Deem: To opt not to take a stroke.
Dolly Rush: Moving the ball to an advantageous position (rush) when the balls involved are very close together.
Enemy Ball: Any ball in possession of the out-player.
Furniture: A collective noun encompassing all the necessary items on the lawn, such as the hoops and pegs.
First Colors: The regular set of balls used to play croquet. These balls are black, blue, red, and yellow.
Forward Ball: Any ball belonging to the side that is currently in the lead.
Go For: The act where a striker places their ball in an advantageous position, often in a place where it threatens to score a hoop. Sometimes referred to as ‘take position.’
Hampered: A shot where you are unable to adopt your usual stance or swing properly because there is a hoop, peg, or ball in the way.
Hit Away/Clear: To reposition your opponent’s ball so that it no longer in an advantageous position.
In-Off: Scoring by hitting the ball off another ball and into the hoop.
Jaws: The space within the hoop. This term is sometimes used as a verb when it refers to a player strategically positioning a ball inside the hoop.
Jump Shot: Hitting the ball forcefully downwards so that it ricochets off the ground and bounces upwards. This move allows the player to ‘hop’ the ball over an obstructing ball or possibly score a hoop.
Leave: The strategic position that a player intends to leave the balls in when their turn ends. There are standard ‘leaves’ used by experienced players.
Nestle: Purposefully placing the ball inside the hoop. It can also mean to deliberately position a ball close to your opponent’s ball to hamper their play.
Offside: An adjective describing a ball that comes to rest more than halfway to the next hoop after scoring.
One Ball: A less common type of croquet where each side uses a single ball.
Park: To accidentally position a ball in an inconvenient place, often awkwardly near to a hoop.
Peel: Causing a ball that is not the striker’s to pass through the subsequent hoop.
Position: A synonym for ‘go for’, meaning to place your ball in an advantageous position, usually threatening to score.
Position A: Term used to describe a situation where the ball accidentally ends up in the worst possible position for the striker.
Rover Ball: Any ball that has run through the final hoop.
Rover Hoop: The final hoop (number 12).
Second Colors: An alternative set of balls instead of the First Colors. The Second Colors are brown and green versus pink and white.
Standard Grip: The most common grip used by players to hold the mallet. This grip requires the player to place one hand at the top with the palm towards the body, while the other hand is lower down with the knuckles towards the body.
Straight: A stroke that propels both balls in the same direction, although they may travel unequal distances.
Stun Shot: To cause another ball to move from a short distance with the aim to place your ball in its original position or as near as possible.
Trundle: Using the mallet edge to gently move a ball from place to place to line up a stroke.
Wired: A situation where you cannot hit a ball because it is too near to a hoop or peg.
The Bottom Line
The croquet terminology listed above will give you the understanding you need to converse about the sport with confidence. However, this collection merely skims the surface of the colorful and often whimsical language used to describe croquet maneuvers.
As you become more advanced, you will encounter a broad range of charming terms and descriptions steeped in the game’s history.
If the terminology has inspired you to play more croquet, check out our review of the best croquet sets to buy.