Module 2

Canberra Croquet Club
Introductory Coaching Notes

The Single Ball Stroke


Objectives

In this Module you will learn how to :

hold your mallet in a way that suits you

stand

swing the mallet

hit a ball where you want it to go (direction & distance)

run a hoop

The Stance, Grip & Swing

How you stand, how you hold your mallet, and how you swing it are all individual choices. However, your choice in these is limited somewhat in order to carry out certain strokes successfully.

We suggest you grip your mallet near the top with your hands together. There are three distinct grips (Orthodox, Solomon, and Irish) and your Coach will explain these. Many players use the Orthodox grip.

Most players today swing a mallet centre-style (between their legs). The only alternative is to play side-style, where the mallet is swung outside the body. Your coach will demonstrate both, and explain their advantages.

With centre-style the feet are generally kept side by side but some people prefer to have one foot slightly in front of the other. Some keep their feet very close together, others wide apart.

It is important that you experiment with different length and weight mallets, and different feet placement, stances and grips to find out what you are comfortable with, and what suits you best.

The swing should be straight, and smooth. The height of the backswing controls how hard you hit a ball, and hence, how far it travels.

You may find holding the mallet and swinging it a little uncomfortable at first. However, you will soon get used to it. Starting off correctly will stop problems occurring later on – the swing is the key to how well you play.

The best way to see if you are standing and swinging correctly is to hit a ball …

Hitting A Ball

Like all sports in which you hit a ball it is vitally important that you line things up and stand correctly to maximise your chances of sending the ball where you want it to go.

To line up where you want to send a ball, you must stalk it. This means going back a couple of metres and walking up to the ball from behind, looking at the line you want to hit it along. It is important – golf players do it too.

Then get comfortable in your stance : relax; try to bend your knees a little; keep your head and shoulders still; and concentrate on the centre spot on the back of the ball. All these things improve your chances of hitting the ball correctly.

What you will do next depends on what you find comfortable and what works for you. Most players swing their mallet above the ball a few times to get the aim spot on. Some then line the mallet up accurately behind the ball and stop before hitting; others simply keep swinging until they are happy and then bring the mallet down on a backswing and strike the ball.

Do not look up as you hit the ball. Keeping your eyes firmly planted on the ball you are hitting means you keep your shoulders still and do not accidentally twist or "top'' the ball.

As you hit the ball and follow through, push your upper arms away from your body. You are using your shoulders at the pivot. The swing should end with your arms extended – but not stiff.

Direction is one thing but almost as important is distance. You need to be able to judge how hard to hit the ball (you do not want to go out, or only 1/2–way to your target either).

Hitting a ball a long way is more a matter of timing than hitting hard. It you try to hit too hard your body will not be steady as you hit the ball, and you will lose accuracy. Keep your swing smooth.

Running A Hoop

Once you can hit a ball straight and judge the distance the next step is to run a hoop. It is vital that you stalk the ball. When you are directly in front you should line your ball up with the centre of the hoop. When you are off to one side you should aim to miss the near leg. Aim to hit the ball slightly above centre, use a very short backswing and a good (almost exaggerated) follow through, as these help put forward spin on your ball. This added spin can make the difference between "sticking'' in the hoop and running it successfully. If you hit the ball too hard it will skid across the grass and not have this forward spin when it reaches the hoop.

Some Laws

It is important to learn a few of the more important laws of the game as you go along, and so each of these modules has some relevant laws.

Ball off the Court: A ball goes off the court as soon as any part of it protrudes over the inner edge of the boundary line.

 

Ball in the Yard-Line Area: At the end of every stroke any ball (other than the striker’s ball) that comes to rest in the yard-line area is placed on the yard-line nearest to where it lies. The striker’s ball is played from where it finished, and is only yarded in at the end of the turn if it ended up in the yard-line area.

When you replace a ball on the yard-line you must do it accurately, carefully, and with your back to the court.

If you cannot put a ball on the yard-line because another ball is in the way then you must place it on either side (your choice) and in contact with that ball and on the yard-line.

If a ball ends up in a corner square then it is yarded in to the corner spot.

Practice

Hitting a ball straight, and with the correct strength does not come straight away. It takes practice to be comfortable with your swing, and to be able to judge distances accurately. At this early stage it is vitally important to get the basics right. The practice here is (unfortunately) repetitive. Try each of the first 3 exercises below 10 times.