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Backyard Drills: Four-Ball Break

Time: approx. 30-40 minutes

This is a new feature that I’d like to put out monthly that will focus on skills for the basic backyard game. The strategy and drills are pretty common so experienced players probably won’t find much use in this series, but new players should find some value.
We’ll start with my favorite and most practical drill. This one is most likely to simulate that one chance that will should come up in the nine-wicket backyard game (one ball) for a big run. Ball color does not matter but for instructional purposes place the red ball between wickets one and two (off center is good). Place the black ball four to six feet past wicket two. Place the yellow ball somewhere in the vicinity of wicket number three. Placement of all three balls is not critical at all and you’ll want to vary it somewhat for each session (Figure 1).

Place your blue ball at the starting line and clear wicket one just as you would in a real game. The object here is to make a sixteen wicket run. You’ll contact red (Figure 2) between the wickets then send it roughly halfway between wickets two and three (Figure 3) with a stop shot (meaning blue ball stays between wickets one and two).

Score wicket two then contact the black ball (Figure 4). You’ll want to do a ¼ roll shot that sends black toward wicket four and the blue ball toward red between wickets two and three (Figure 5).
Contact red then, you’ll likely need a ½ or ¾ roll shot to get red out near wicket four and blue closer to wicket three or the yellow ball (Figure 6).
If the yellow is on the near side, you may want to contact it before clearing wicket three. You can then perform a roll shot that sets up an easy hoop shot on wicket three while placing yellow on the far side. If yellow was already on the far side you could skip that step and score wicket three if the shot is makeable (Figure 7).



Once wicket three is cleared, the pattern essentially repeats. Contact yellow (Figure 8), roll shot sending yellow toward five and blue toward red (Figure 9).
Contact red, roll shot sending red toward five and blue toward black (Figure 10).
Roll shot, black to other side of four, blue to set up hoop shot on wicket three (Figure 11). Score wicket three then repeat (Figure 12).


The four-ball break is the ideal situation that every player is looking for in a game, so practicing the sequence will get you experience with those critical roll shots. In practice, the fun part is trying to run all sixteen, but if you miss a shot replay it until you play it successfully. The idea is to ingrain the shots and strategy into your mindset – making it second nature. There’s always tomorrow to try to pull off that pure sixteen wicket run.



U.S. Tournament Calendar -- March 2008

Feb 27 - Mar 2 -- Audobon Invitational
Audobon Croquet Club, Naples, FL
Contact: jnjbalson@aol.com

Mar 3–8 -- 20th Peyton Ballenger Invitational
Crouquet Club at PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Contact: margostinson47@msn.com

Mar 7–9 -- Boca Grande Invitational
Gasparilla Inn & Boca Bay, Boca Grande, FL
Contact: blainedavis@att.net

Mar 9–11 -- USCA Croquet Week Golf Croquet Championship
National Croquet Center, West Palm Beach
Contact: tournamentusca@aol.com

Mar 12–16 -- USCA National Club Teams Championship
National Croquet Center, West Palm Beach
Contact: tournamentusca@aol.com

Mar 20–22 -- Mar-a-Lago Singles Invitational
Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach , FL
Contact: Twenty6to2@aol.com

Mar 27–30 -- NC Open Championship Qualifier, 1st & 2nd Flt.
Pinehurst Croquet Club, Pinehurst, NC
Contact: frank@avmetro.com

Source: USCA Calendar Page (click for more details)


February Croquet Photo of the Month

(flicker/cc -- user: sheilaellen)

The Dream Field
I don't know where this was taken, but it sure says croquet to me. The photo was titled "Rotura Croquet Lawn."


WCF Worlds -- Maui Club Rundown

A little surf across the web this morning revealed this Maui Club breakdown of the World Championships. An excellent bracket that really clarifies how it went down. Good stuff.

Maui Club WCF World Championship Link


England's Chris Clarke is World Champion

Chris Clarke won his second world championship by defeating Stephen Mulliner in four games this past weekend in Christchurch, New Zealand. Clarke last won in 1995.

2008 Finals Scores:
Chris Clarke (England) bt Stephen Mulliner (England) 9-26tp, 26-0tp, 26-17, 26-14

Story Link: press.co.nz


WCF Championships -- Crazy Eight

Five from England advance

RESULTS (number denotes seed)

8-Stephen Mulliner (England) bt Michael Wright (NZ) 26-0 , 22-26, 26-20

Shane Davis (NZ) bt Ian Lines (England) 19-26, 26-13, 26-5

5-David Maugham (England) bt Paddy Chapman (NZ) 26tp-22 26tp-1

Aaron Westerby (NZ) bt 4-Rutger Beijderwellen (Netherlands) 1-26 26tp-9 26-13

3-Robert Fulford (England) bt Paul Skinley (NZ) 26-0 26-9

6-Keith Aiton (Scotland) bt Ian Dumergue (Australia) 26-0 26-10

7-James Death (England) bt Samir Patel (England) 26-7 26tp-22

2-Chris Clarke (England) bt Bob Jackson (NZ) 26-7 26-22

From the Croquet World forum.