1. Use a long grip.
Any player who has developed the habit of playing rushes with one or both hands down the handle should be able to bring about an almost instantaneous improvement by re-learning the shot with both hands together at the top of the handle.
2. Use a flat swing.
In particular, as the mallet moves through the ball, the bottom of the swing should be more or less parallel to the ground, and the follow-through as low as possible. Do not bring the mallet upward in the follow-through so that the head of the mallet finishes above head height, as some tend to do. The need for a flat-bottomed swing is the reason players who use a short-handled mallet or a shorter grip than necessary will usually not rush as consistently as those with longer mallets and grips. (However, there are other considerations as well that must be taken into account when determining the optimum mallet length and grip for any particular player.)
3. Use a stance that allows a long, straight backswing from the shoulders, not from the wrists; and also a long, low forward swing without overbalancing.
Avoid any unnecessary body movement such as bending of the knees or trunk. The body weight should be back, more or less on the heels, and most players are helped by standing a little f urther back from the ball than they would for a roquet.
4. Use the weight of the mallet alone to provide the necessary force.
Any hurrying of the forward swing, by using muscles in the wrists and forearms, is likely to be even more disastrous in a rush than in other shots. The strength should come entirely from the weight of the falling mallet, and is controlled by the height of the backswing. It is an interesting fact that, depending on the grip and stance, a shorter mallet may in some cases actually allow a higher backswing which can partly compensate for the physical shortness of the 'pendulum' from shoulder to ball.
5. All muscles in fingers, hands, wrists and arms should be relaxed.
This may need to be done consciously during preparation for the swing. There is always a temptation to tighten the grip during the swing, which can twist the head of the mallet off line and ruin the shot completely. This temptation is harder to overcome in the rush than in other shots, and may be another aspect of technique that requires conscious concentration in order to counter it.
6. Do not look up at the ball you are rushing.
After having lined the shot up, fix your eyes on the place where the mallet will contact the striker's ball, and keep them there. Simply allow the mallet to swing through of its own weight in its own time, with confidence that if you get these basics correct, everything will turn out as desired.
7. When attempting a cut-rush, remember Tom Armstrong's dictum that,
To counter the fact that only a fraction of the force from the striker's ball will be imparted to the ball that is being rushed, use a noticeably higher backswing than you would for a straight rush of the same length; but be even more careful not to hurry the forward swing.
[The short article above is one of many in John Riches' 100-page booklet, "CROQUET: FINER POINTS." Riches, one of the most highly accredited and experienced croquet coaches, has hand-produced eight booklets for limited distribution, most of which are available from the author for $30 (Australian) or less. Contact Riches by E-Mail at John.Riches@Adelaide.on.net.]
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