The following advice comes largely from Shirley Chrispin with additions from DavidC.
1. Check in with the competition manager
(Note: the competition manager is there to help you but please don't fuss unecessarily. Also, the manager's decision is final).
2. Ask if practise is acceptable
3. Check the order of play
4. If it's a handicap competition compare handicaps with opponent(s) and take the Extra Turn markers (ETs) necessary
5. The manager will tell everyone details of the games to be played and any local rules. Please listen carefully and ask questions when the manager invites you to do so.
6. At the appropriate juncture, go to the correct lawn with the opponent
7. The better-ranked player tosses a coin. The winner of the toss must take blue and black
8. Take clips for the hoops. In our club we use six clips and it is necessary only for one side to take clips
9. Start the game, or if all players are to start at the same time, raise a mallet in the air to signify you are ready
10. If all are starting at the same time the manager will ring a bell (or blow a whistle etc.)
11. Play steadily, not wasting time
12. Usually you are your own referee so do not take shots that may result in a foul unless you ask them to be watched
13. You can raise a mallet and someone from the organising group will come and watch a shot if there is a possibility of a foul occurring. Their decision is firm, but could be referred to the manager if there is still some doubt. The manager's decision is final. It is very rare to refer to the manager after a first referee has already made a rulling. A referee cannot hear two objections or explanations at the same time so if things are complicating themselves he/she may ask for players to retire some distance and then speak to one player only. The referee may be able to make a decision on that evidence and then he/she will call all the players together and go through the decision with them and ask that play continue on that basis.
14. Please don't laugh at an opponent's misfortune, or at your good fortune. Best to make no comment at all.
15. Do not interfere in any way with an opponent's shot (verbally, physically, shadow, peripheral vision etc.). Stand well away from the opponent as a courtesy (besides it's good exercise to walk away over the lawn). Do avoid commenting or making noises concerning an opponent's shot.
16. If you win, do so with good manners. Don't take your top off and run around the croquet lawn whooping for joy. Please don't say to a loser 'well played' (or similar) since it's obvious that the opponent will be disappointed with their play. Best to say a polite 'thank you'.
17. If you lose, congratulate the winner(s) and repair to the manager's area with grace. The winner usually gives the manager the score.
18. Always shake hands at the end of a match.
19. It is easy to forget these points and sometimes therefore offend. It is especially important not to 'crowd' an opponent by standing too close by while a shot is being taken or talking during a strike.
20. Do avoid indulging in 'gamesmanship'. It is often counter-productive
21. Chatting while playing in a tournament game is rarely a good idea
22. When playing doubles it is bad form (and poor manners) to criticise your partner during a game.
Nobody, except the players (and a referee), should be on the lawn during a game. It can be very offensive to step onto a lawn and distract players.
Spectators will obviously support good shots noisily, but otherwise are asked to be considerate to players who may be put off by comments, commentary or fun and games close to the edge of the lawns.
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