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The Game
  Coaching the Fundamentals of the Stroke
by John Riches
Posted January 2, 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.

Australia's chief coach makes the case for updating the traditional wisdom on how and where to load the corner pioneer in your three-ball break. To get the benefit, you have to learn to make a reliable wide-angle split.

Coaching 9 Diagram 1 When I learned the game, I was taught to play a three-ball break by keeping the balls within the rectangle formed by the four corner hoops. This involved sending the croqueted ball about a yard short of the hoop when using a split or stop-shot to load your next hoop. In the diagram at the left, after making hoop 1, you would send the croqueted ball to position 2 behind hoop 3, instead of position 1, which is in front of the hoop.
Diagram 1

Now we place less emphasis on this idea, and instead prefer to send the croqueted ball in front of the hoop to position 1. The reasons for this change are: (1) As illustrated in the diagram at the right, there is a much bigger (circular) area into which you can get your red striker's ball after making Hoop 2 and still be able to easily make hoop 3, compared with the smaller wedge-shaped area for position 2. (2) Loading the hoop within the rectangle often meant making the hoop from behind. (3) It is easier to get a useful forward rush when approaching the hoop from the front. Coaching 9 Diagram 2
Diagram 2

Against this we must weight the fact that some players will find the wider angle split harder to control.

The moral is: Learn to play wide-angle splits confidently, then load your hoops in front rather than behind. One exception in a three-ball break is the 1-back hoop which should still be loaded with a ball placed inside the rectangle and behind the hoop; if you do not understand why, ask your coach to explain it.

[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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