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on Playing the Game

by Reuben Edwards
Editor, The Game Department
Posted November 22, 1997

John Taves became a champion through disciplined practice. He hopes to show beginning players how they can start to find their game, and has some good advice for experienced players on how to help the novices. John's advice is tailored for the American Rules Game with its, some say, arcane system of "deadness." But by encouraging novices to play the "style" of game best suited to their skill level, John strikes a nice balance for fostering motivated croquet players.

Q: "How Can Beginning Players Get the Most From Coaching?"

John Taves

John has represented the U.S. at the 1996 MacRobertson Shield in Britain and the 1997 Solomon Trophy in Thousand Oaks, California. He is currently the highest ranked American player in the International Rules game.

"I don't think that the best players make the best coaches. They have a tendency to teach beginners how to run breaks and do fancy split shots. But in the American Rules game, if you are not that good at the split shots required to run a break, then you would probably do better to execute a play that didn't require those shots. If a player asks me for advice on how to do a split shot better I will tell them, but I will also tell them how to win without doing it.

I am trying to develop a framework for thinking about the game so that beginners can answer the question: 'what should I do next?' This framework consists of two parts right now. One part is the plans:

  • Plan A - Make hoops with the striker's ball
  • Plan B - Help partner
  • Plan C - Mess up opponent
The other part is the do's and don'ts: 'Don't attempt a play unless you have the whole sequence figured out and you expect to make all the shots,' 'Don't expect to make it through a hoop if you are taking croquet to make that hoop from a distance greater than 2 yards,' 'etc....'

My mother and father are the guinea pigs for this framework. The jury is still out on how good it is."

[Next up: The ONE thing you can do that will improve your game]

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