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The Game
  Coaching the Fundamentals of the Stroke
by John Riches
Posted January 10, 1999
 • Part One: How "wristy" is your swing?
 • Part Two: Some Points on Hoop Making
 • Part Three: Why Do I Miss?
 • Part Four: Peels Without Hoops
 • Part Five: The Basics of the Rush
 • Part Six: Practise Playing Seriously
 • Part Seven: Follow the "Ten Commandments" and Train Your Own Coach.
 • Part Eight: Roqueting: Swinging in Line and Do You Suffer from Cramp.
 • Part Nine: In the Rectangle

The correct address for a single-ball shot begins with the hands well out in front of the body, providing space for an unimpeded backswing and a smooth, unhurried follow-through.

One of the things we tell players who play centre-style, as most do nowadays, is that when they address the ball their hands should be well out in front of their body. In fact, there should be a gap of about one foot between the hands and body for most people, depending on stature and body shape. (I had one player who said, "but my arms are not long enough for that. My body is a foot out in front already!") This allows plenty of room for a full backswing, so that the stroke can be played using the full weight of the mallet without having to jab or hurry the forward swing, and applies to all grips and stances, whether the hands are together or apart.

Many players address the ball with their hands much closer to the body, with elbows bent so that the backswing will be severely restricted, and a common reaction when they are told to comfortably straighten their elbows so that their hands are further forward is, "But if I do that I will not be able to see the ball as I hit it." They are often surprised when we tell them that they do not need to see the ball as they hit it; because they have been told in past years to fix their eyes on the back of the ball and keep them there during the swing.

This is good advice and is essential during the lining up and the backswing, in order to get the body square to the line of the swing and ensure that the mallet is swung back in the correct line. Fixing the eyes on the ball and keeping them there, also helps to keep the head and shoulders still during the swing; but as long as the shoulders do not move, it is not essential that you be able to see the ball during the forward swing.

To illustrate this, you can line everything up, swing the mallet back, then close your eyes as you start the forward swing. It will make no difference in your ability to roquet or run a hoop that your eyes are shut. Actually, if your eyes are open and you see something going wrong (e.g. your mallet starting to go offline) there would be nothing you could do about it anyway, because your reaction time is too short to make any correction after starting the forward swing. Your hands should come forward slightly ahead of the mallet head, and will usually block your view of the ball before the mallet impacts it, but this will not be a problem.

So when addressing the ball, remember to push your hands out away from your body and give yourself more room.

[John Riches is the author of a number of coaching booklets, including "Croquet Technique", "Croquet Coaching: Error Correction", "Croquet: Lessons in Tactics", "Croquet: Next Break Strategy", " Croquet: The Mental Approach", and "Croquet: Finer Points".]

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