Croquet is a popular backyard game and if you want to play, you need to know how to set up croquet courses. The layout can vary but the fun will always be the same.
The layout you choose can be based on spacing, but you may also want to just switch things up to keep the game interesting. Setting up a game of croquet is an important step because the layout will influence the play.
Croquet is set up and played with either 6 or 9 wickets arranged within a 46 x 57 foot rectangle for a 6 wicket game and a 50 x 100 foot rectangle for a 9 wicket game. In a 6 wicket setup, there are 4 wickets placed near the corners of the rectangle, along with the remaining 2 wickets near the center. In a 9 wicket setup, there are 4 wickets that form a square along the edges of the rectangle, 1 wicket in the center, 2 wickets near the top and 2 wickets near the bottom in a straight line.
This guide will take you through setting up a game of croquet, so you can focus on playing and having fun. There are different layouts so it can be a challenge to know where to start.
The guesswork has been removed for you, so you can get your croquet game set up and start playing. Choose your wickets, choose your players, grab your mallet and go!
For my recommendations on the best croquet sets, check out my article here.
Croquet Set Up
Playing croquet can be done competitively as well as for fun. Summer parties, barbecues, and general gatherings are a great time to break out the croquet set.
To play the game, you need to first get the court set up properly. While there are official ways to do this, there are also alterations you can make to accommodate your yard.
You can set up croquet in any yard so long as you know where everything needs to go and how to best use the space you have. This guide will help you get your game set up so you can start having fun.
How Much Space Do You Need To Play Croquet
Croquet needs to be played on the lawn. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly manicured lawn, but shorter grass allows for better play.
The average official croquet courts measure 100 feet in length and 50 feet wide. If your yard cannot accommodate this size, you can always adjust it so that the course fits.
Just be sure that as you reduce the overall size of the court, you keep the proportions the same. Both length and width need to be reduced by the same amount, to keep the court accurate.
If you have longer grass then you will want to set up a smaller court. Use chalk or tape to mark out the boundaries for the croquet court. You can also use flags or cones from Amazon to mark the four corners of the playing space.
If you have any uneven spaces in your lawn, be sure to set the course up away from these. If you have a pool in the yard that takes up most of the space, consider setting up the croquet court in the front yard or along a side yard.
Croquet Field Dimensions
A professional croquet court measures 50 feet wide by 100 feet long. This does not have to be the dimensions for your court.
As mentioned, you can adjust the court to fit within the space you have, so long as any changes are made proportionately. For kids, you can make the court even smaller and in many cases, there are kids indoor croquet sets you can buy.
The surface for croquet, unless playing on an indoor court, should always be short grass. Apart from this, the size can vary as you need. Just make sure the court is always rectangular in shape, with the longer side measuring 1.25 times the shorter side.
Keep the dimensions proportionate and you can create any size court for pros, amateurs, and kids. One final piece of information to use when marking out the croquet court is to use units of seven every time.
6 Wickets vs 9 Wickets Field Setup
The field dimensions will vary depending on whether you are playing 6 or 9 wickets. Once you decide what you are playing, you can get the field marked out in your yard.
6 Wicket Setup
Following the steps below, you can get the standard layout for a 6 wicket croquet course set up quickly and easily. Find the part of your lawn that has no slopes or any other obstructions. The shorter the grass is, the faster the balls will travel.
Using a tape measure, you want to measure out the shortest boundary side. This will be 46 feet. If you have a small yard or want to set up a smaller course so children can play too, try using measurements of either 33 or 23 feet.
You can make the course any size so long as the sides remain proportionate. Using flags or cones mark the two ends of this boundary. You can also use rocks or any other obvious object or can tie string or rope between two stakes.
The rectangle you need to create will have a length that is 1.25 times longer than the width you just created. Starting at the boundary corner measure out the appropriate length.
For the standard width of 46 feet width, the length would be 57.4 feet. Other sizes you can mark out include 33 feet x 41.25 feet or 23 feet x 28.7 feet. Place another boundary marker (stake, flag, or cone) here.
From here, turn at a right angle and measure out the same width distance you used earlier. This second shorter side will need to be parallel to the first side you marked out.
Place another boundary marker here to complete the rectangle. Look at the layout from a distance to see if all sides are parallel. If they are not, you can adjust the boundary markers accordingly.
Taking some string, create a diagonal across the course between the corners. You want to create a giant ‘X’. The point where the strings cross will mark the center of the rectangle.
Mark this point with a cone or rock. Do not use one of your croquet wickets to mark this point. You can also find the center by finding the centers of the long side and short side.
Have two people walk out from these points and where they meet will be the center.
9 Wicket Setup
You need flat, even ground for a 9 wicket course and the grass to be as short as possible. You can play on longer grass, but it does make the game harder to play. The ball will not roll as easily or as far.
The standard size for a 9 wicket court is 50 feet x 100 feet. You can make it smaller if needed for amateur fun. Try using 30 or 25 feet sides for the shorter ends. The longer sides will be twice as long as this shorter measurement.
If you scale down the size of the court, make sure all sides are reduced in proportion. You can use flags, stakes, or rocks to mark out this first shorter side of the court.
The second side will be a longer side that is twice as long. Turn to a 90 degree angle from one of the corners you just marked and walk the appropriate distance.
Place another stake or flag here. For a 50 foot side, this longer side will be 100 feet. Other possible sizes can include 30 feet x 60 feet or 25 feet x 50 feet.
Place the final corner marker by turning at another right angle from this last position. The short sides should be parallel. Stand back to look at the grid and re-position any markers so the rectangle has parallel sides.
The next step is to place the center wicket, and then the additional 8. The steps for this are provided further in the article for you.
Croquet Wicket Placement
Once the court is marked out, setting up the wickets is the next step in preparing your croquet court. When marking out a croquet court, you want to use units of seven.
You can use tape, rope, or even your feet to measure out distances. The placement of the wickets will depend on whether you are playing with 6 or 9 and which layout you want to use.
The width of the wickets needs to be uniform throughout the course and they need to be firmly planted into the ground. Make sure the wickets are stable and not likely to fall over if hit. They also need to be high enough out of the ground for the croquet balls to easily pass under.
Some croquet sets will have a wicket with a blue band on them, which indicates it will be wicket number 1. Place the two prongs of the wicket into the ground so it is standing upright.
The prongs need to sit parallel to the shorter side of the court. You can tap down on the wicket with the croquet mallet to make sure it is secure.
Steps are provided below for setting up both 6 and 9 wicket courses. You can also watch this video to help you as you work through each step.
Croquet Layout For 6 Wickets
Placement for a standard 6 wicket game is shown in the diagram and steps are provided below to help you achieve the layout for play.
Start at any of the corners and walk along the shorter side. Keep count of your footsteps as you do this. The count will represent one unit, as shown in the diagram.
Walk until you are about ¼ of the way across and turn to a right angle into the playing area. Walk inwards the same number of steps, or another unit.
When you reach the same number of steps, stop and place the first wicket in the ground. You can also use a tape measure if you want more precise placement.
Next, move to each of the other three corners of the court and place three additional wickets in the exact same way.
Use a measuring tape or walk the same number of steps as you did for the first wicket to make sure all four are in the same location in their respective corners. All wickets need to be placed with the opening facing the shorter sides of the court.
Stand back to make sure the placement is even. If there is any uneven ground in your yard, this will skew the placement and the wickets will appear uneven.
If you are only playing a casual game of croquet, then this does not matter. If you need to move a few of the wickets to make the settings more even, then you can.
Head to the center marker for the 5th wicket placement. Walk towards one of the shorter sides of the court. Take the same number of steps you have been taking in all previous steps.
It will be approximately ¼ of the length of a short side. Place a wicket in the ground when you reach that space. Again, the wicket needs to have the opening facing towards the shorter ends just as with the other wickets.
For the final 6th wicket, return to the center marker. Measure or walk out an equal distance in the other direction from where you just went. Place a wicket in the ground here. This wicket will be in line with the 5th one you placed and will be parallel to the longer sides of the court.
The 5th or 6th wicket you placed should be one that is marked in red. This signifies the final wicket for the game. This along with the first (blue) wicket lets you know the order of play. The red and final wicket needs to be the one that is furthest from the blue starting wicket.
The path of play for a typical 6 wicket course will be as below:
Croquet Layout for 9 Wickets
With more wickets comes a longer course, and placement of the wickets will be different. Following the steps previously, you should have your field marked out and now you can get your 9 wickets into position.
Your four corners are marked, and you need to place the center wicket. Unlike with 6 wickets croquet, the center spot will be marked with a wicket.
You can locate the center position in the same way by crossing diagonal strings from the corners. Where they meet is where the first wicket will go into the ground. The opening of the wicket needs to be facing the short ends of the playing field.
Decide which of the shorter ends of your field will be ‘north’ and which will be ‘south’. This is just terminology and you do not need to decide this based on a compass reading.
The two longer sides will be designated ‘east’ and ‘west’ accordingly. Players will start at the south end when the game begins.
At the center wicket, you need to move towards the north end of the field. If you are using a full sized 50 x 100 feet court, you will need to use a measuring tape as the placement needs to be precise.
For scaled down fields, you can count your steps and walk approximately ⅗ of the distance towards the north side. Place a wicket here with the opening facing the shorter sides of the field.
Return to the center wicket and perform the same steps, only walking towards the ‘south’ end of the court. Place a wicket when you reach the spot.
It will be exactly opposite to the previous wicket you placed. It should measure ⅗ of the way between the center and the south end.
From this spot, walk further to the south, approximately 6 feet for a full-sized court. You can also estimate the distance by taking 4 steps. Place another wicket here in the same manner as other wickets have been placed.
Finally, the south stake needs to be placed. Walk an additional four paces from your last spot and place a stake in the ground. Note that this will be a stake and not a wicket. If your croquet set does not have stakes, then you can use a flag or cone for this marker instead.
Return to the center marker and repeat these steps for the north side of the field. A wicket needs to be placed four paces from the center, walking north, and another four paces beyond this.
At the end you will place the ‘north’ stake. If you were walking from one end of the court to the other you should pass by a stake, two wickets, empty space, the center wicket, another distance, two wickets, and a final stake.
Back at the center wicket place yourself so you are facing the line of wickets and stake that you just placed. Turn to a 45-degree angle to the left and walk to the east side.
You can stop when the center wicket and closest southern wicket are equal distance from you. Place a new wicket here. If you are on a full-sized court, this spot will be 6 feet from the east side of the court.
The last three wickets are left. Head back to the center and you can find the southwest, northeast, and northwest wickets by repeating the pattern you just followed.
Turn 45 degrees from the center in each direction and walk out the same distance. These last four wickets you place should form a square.
The path of play for a typical 9 wicket course will be as below:
Helpful Tips To Know How To Set Up Croquet Field
Setting up a croquet field in your backyard is a great idea for the summer. You now know how to set up croquet for both 6 and 9 wicket games and you can create any size of court that you need.
Before you break out the stakes and measuring tape, there are a few helpful tips to remember for setting up a croquet field.
- Make sure your grass is short as this makes the ball go faster
- Set up the game on even ground if possible
- Decide if you are playing 6 or 9 wickets so you know what amount of space you will need
- Scale down the court size proportionately if needed
Croquet is a great summer game or perfect for any group activity. You can get croquet sets from Amazon and the game can be played in any backyard. Check out my recommendations for the best croquet sets.
As long as you have even ground, you can create a court to fit the space you have. No matter what size you need or how many wickets you are going to play, you now know how to set up croquet. All that is left is to grab your friends, your mallet, and get the ball rolling.