History of Croquet
Croquet is believed to have been first played by thirteenth century
French peasants who used crudely fashioned mallets to whack wooden balls
through hoops made of willow branches.
The origins of the modern game have been traced back to
1852 when a game called "crooky" was introduced to England from
Ireland where it had been played since the 1830's. Widespread
popularity came when a London sporting goods manufacturer by the
name of John Jaques began selling complete croquet sets (John
Jaques & Sons remain the foremost manufacturer of croquet
equipment today). With the availability of equipment, croquet
flourished and soon became one of the primary social and
recreational activities of the British leisure class.
By 1870 croquet had reached virtually all of the British Colonies
where it continued to gain recognition through the turn of the century.
Given the nature of Victorian courting codes, it is not surprising that
young people-particularly women-relished the game, which gave them the
opportunity to socialize out of earshot of chaperons!
With the introduction of lawn tennis and the onset of World War I,
the growth of croquet began to wane. But during the 1930's and 1940's
croquet enjoyed a resurgence, particularly with the "literati" on the
east coast and the "glitterati" on the west coast of North America.
After World War II, toy makers miniaturized the standard croquet set,
simplified the rules and marketed croquet as a backyard "children's
Croquet began its revitalization as a competitive sport in the late
1970's and has continued to grow in popularity throughout the U.S. and
Canada since that time.
By Ross Robinson, Former Canadian Champion
The sport of croquet is now played competitively in over twenty
countries. The growth of the sport can be largely attributed to the
efforts of international and national croquet organizations such as
Croquet Canada and the United States Croquet Association. Since the
early 1980's the number of competitive players in North America has
risen from 50 to over 8,000.
Many Canadians are familiar with the informal backyard version of
croquet. This version, usually played with nine wickets and two
stakes, is often played between friends and family under "house
rules" on bumpy back lawns. The nine-wicket game continues to be
hugely popular. One retailer estimates that over 100,000 backyard
croquet sets are sold in Canada each year.
But it is the competitive version of croquet which is now
experiencing a dramatic revival. This game is played with six
wickets and one stake in the centre of the court. The "six-wicket"
game offers the player the opportunity to learn more advanced
shot-making techniques and strategies than the backyard game.
Six-wicket croquet is a fascinating, competitive and social game.
The equipment is very different from the "backyard' variety.
Flimsy wire hoops are replaced by iron or steel wickets. The
balls weigh one pound apiece and have only an eighth of an inch
clearance through the uprights. Mallets are often made of fine wood
and are weighted depending on the needs of the player.
Who Plays Croquet?
Croquet can be played by EVERYONE
Croquet attracts players of ALL AGES who compete together. It is a
sport where players can continually improve their game as they get
older and become more experienced. Men and women compete on an
equal playing level without separate divisions.
Because croquet can be played by everyone, it is a very social game.
Divisions exist only among skill levels and most tournaments offer
competition for beginners and seasoned players alike.
No matter when one takes it up, as a youngster or older adult,
croquet provides years of challenge, learning and fun!