There are several ways to begin to play croquet.
The simplest way is to buy a set of croquet equipment and set up in your back garden. You can knock a ball around and run it through hoops just having fun. The basic requirement is for a large flat area of lawn that is cut quite short. Think closer to a putting green than the rough area of a golf course as the ideal, but a decent fairway would get you started.
If you would like to try it out, the CAI has a croquet set available free for loan. Check the offer on the home page.
The full sized lawn is 35 x 28 yards in size for the playing surface and additional area outside that to enable playing a ball on the actual boundary. Many croquet lawns, especially privately owned, would not be that large.
If you were interested in seeing the wide range of croquet equipment available, the Croquet Association Shop would be a good place to browse. Our Croquet Equipment Loan scheme is assisted by Garden Games
When choosing to play a set of rules of the game would be useful. The game has several sets of rules. There is an informal garden set of rules, often with local variations but there are two different forms of the game played in Europe.
The simplest form, and probably the easiest to get started with, is the game of Golf Croquet. Golf croquet has the very family oriented feature that each player takes a single shot in turn, so each player is fully involved. But make no mistake, this is played very seriously right up to the level of World Championships. The 2007 Ladies World Championship was held in Carrickmines, and the results are available on this site. If croquet was to become an Olympic Sport it might well be in its Golf Croquet form.
You can read our simplified version of the rules of Golf Croquet here.
The other form of the game is known as 'Association Croquet', which is a formal version of garden croquet. In this form of the game a player gets extra shots after running a hoop, after contacting another ball and after playing from the ball he contacted. So it is possible for a good player to keep playing through all the hoops around to the central peg, while his opponent just watches.
The Oxford Croquet Site is a good place to find the formal rules of Association Croquet while the Croquet Association has rules for a simplified version of Association Croquet as well as Golf Croquet. However beware the rules you find on a website in USA or Canada as they play a variation of the game, while recognising the 'International Rules' of Association Croquet.
The Oxford site has an outstanding collection of coaching notes which explain the best techniques to play each stroke and explain the tactics of the game.
Whether you decide to play at home or not, it is a good idea to visit a croquet club. There is a list of clubs in Ireland on this website with contact details. Each club would be delighted to hear from prospective new member, or indeed people interested in finding out more about the game.
In 2010 the Croquet Association of Ireland has set up a series of croquet coaching courses from beginners through to advanced players. See the 2010 fixture list and the Coaching Pages for details.
One of the great features of the game is that players of all ages compete together in events and there are some fine teenage players in Ireland. Two schools have Croquet modules in their transition year syllabus, and there is a Croquet Club in Trinity College.