Hoop running and game strategy. Angles - the risk/rewards, safe distances. Consolidation of a) the safe distance, b) the magic circle/triangle c) GC is a game of territory; hoop running follows. More about the rules of the game - double taps, clean hits, half-way rule, scoring a hoop, 'crush' shots.
Well we now know how to drive the ball and how to run hoops. We know how to handle the mallet and take up a croquet stance for various types of shot. We know how to do a stop shot and we know, at least the principle of a jump shot.
Angles. The beginner needn't even try to run a hoop with the ball at an angle of less than 45 degrees. It won't go. Find out what 45 degrees looks like. Sometimes a 'blob' in the hoop is good; you can aim for a blob safely at an angle between 20 & 60 degrees. Beware. If you are directly in front of the hoop and try the blob, the ball often runs the hoop!
Risk/reward. All croquet shots should be taken after a very quick risk/reward assessment. Are the risks too high for the reward you will get? Is it best to try a low-risk shot and achieve a smaller reward? The more you play, the quicker you get at making this assessment. Set up an opponent ball 7 feet in front of the hoop and your own ball beside one of the uprights. What is the optimum risk/reward shot for you in that position? Assume the opponent has a skill level slightly above yours.
Safe distance. What is your 'safe scoring' distance directly in front of the hoop? For a 90% chance of running the hoop is it 2 ft, 3ft, 4 ft or 5ft?
The magic circle/triangle. Is it easier to get into the magic circle if you are aiming for its centre point or for the point closest to the hoop? Good players always aim to position at the back of the magic circle/triangle, not at the front. Some players get away with the odd shot aimed at the front, but immediately you come across an opponent who is aiming at the front you know that you can eventually get the better of them.
Territory. Every approach and hit away should be taken with a view to gaining territory. Your territory might be the magic circle/triangle, it might be the 'ambush' positions from which you can hit away again to great advantage. it may be the 'hide' - a position in which your opponent cannot hit you away. Battle for territory.
'Double tap'. It is a fault if you hit your ball twice. This can happen during a dribbled follow through; or after a swift rebound from an opponent ball that is very close to yours; or from a rebound from a hoop upright or the centre peg. Experience these scenarios and learn what they look and feel like. Sound is an unreliable criterion. You must avoid at any time the mallet face, your mallet ball and any other ball being in contact at the same time, even for a micro-second. Otherwise it is a fault.
'Clean hit'. If your ball doesn't 'double tap' and doen't come in contact with the hoop and the mallet at the same time (however briefly) then it is a clean hit. But if you damage the lawn with the mallet during your shot, and the lawn cannot be repaired immediately so that a ball runs smoothly over it, then the hit is deemed to be a fault.
'Half-way'. If a ball has come to rest over half way to the next hoop after not hitting any other ball, or after hitting a partner ball only, it is offside. It cannot be offside if the last contact was an opponent ball. If any ball goes more than half way during a hoop run by any ball, then it is not offside. Offside doesn't take effect until the hoop is run. If a ball is offside then either side must declare it, and then the opposing side may request for it to be put on one of two penalty spots or that it is left where it is. Learn where the half-way markers are and where the penalty spots are.
Scoring a hoop. A hoop is scored if the ball goes through in the correct direction and no part of the ball protrudes from a line between the two hoop uprights. The imaginary line is from the very back of each upright. In a jump shot, if the opponent ball is blobbed in the hoop and the jumping ball knocks it through then the score goes to the ball that was blobbed. This is a ruling we must keep to even though the jumping ball may have obviously gone through first. You cannot safely, without permission, run your mallet up and down the hoop to check whether a ball is through or not. It is bad form anyway, but there is the danger that you may touch the ball in the hoop. if so, a fault can be called.
'Crush' shot. See 'clean hit'. You must not hit a ball towards the hoop upright if the ball is resting on the hoop upright or just a few mms from resting on the upright. You will 'crush' the ball between mallet and hoop. You must hit the ball in a direction that is away from the upright.
There are different penalties for faults and you need to know them.