The 9 Best Croquet Sets to Buy in 2020

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There’s nothing quite like a leisurely game of croquet with friends on a warm, sunny day. As long as you’ve got a good croquet set and an open patch of lawn somewhere, you’re ready to play. It’s easy to learn and very adaptable to all skill levels. So, grab yourself a complete croquet set in time for your next family barbecue!

In this guide, first we’ll talk about what equipment comes in a set and what to look for. After our products, we’ll give you some tips on how to choose a croquet set, and of course, we’ll give you our recommendations for the best croquet sets of 2020.

What Comes in a Croquet Set?

A complete croquet set will include all the basic equipment you need for a game of croquet. That includes the mallets, balls, wickets, and goal stakes. Often, you’ll also get a rack or bag to store this equipment in. Here’s a quick look at what factors to consider for each piece of equipment you’ll get in your new croquet set.

Mallets

When looking at mallets, you want to consider both the quantity and the quality. Quantity tells you the maximum number of players your set can accommodate. Most croquet sets come with either four or six mallets, but you can occasionally find an eight-player set.

Quality tells you how long the mallets will last. Generally, you want a fully wooden mallet. There are mallets made from aluminum, fiberglass, and other non-wood materials but these alternatives tend to be flimsier and rarely have as much power in them as a solid wooden mallet.

Mallets come in different lengths. Anything under 30” is tough for an adult to use without some serious back-bending. 32” is often seen as a good length for adults, but you can use shorter and longer mallets, with the longest being 36”.

All of our top picks in the list below are made from hardwood. Hardwood refers to broad-leaved dicot trees. Think oak, pine, or beech. These species offer affordable yet durable wood that make for long-lasting mallets. You’ll see the term pop up a lot as you shop for croquet sets so it’s worth knowing.

Balls

Most croquet sets will come with one ball per mallet. This generally limits you to playing only the variations of the game that involve just one ball per player or per team.

The regulation weight of a croquet ball is 16 ounces. However, if you aren’t competing professionally, finding a regulation set isn’t really that important. Instead, you want to look at quality. In a traditional or antique set, you will sometimes find wooden balls. While these look beautiful, they aren’t quite as durable as the modern plastic or resin ones more popular today.

Wickets

The wickets are the small hoops included in your croquet set. You will most often get six or nine in your set. Quantity is less important here. The only difference would be that a six-wicket set could not be used to play a game of nine-wicket croquet.

A quality wicket is one that is made from a rust-resistant metal. Steel is generally the best option available. The thicker the steel, the better it will hold its shape and the longer it will last. But if your wickets are too thick, you may need to use a rubber-headed mallet to pound them into the ground.

Thinner wire wickets are also available and are easier to push into the ground with your bare hands. However, they do bend out of shape easily. You can twist them back into shape but the more often you do this, the more distorted they become.

Goal Stakes

Your croquet set will include two goal stakes. These are the tall stakes that you position at the start and end of your playing field. After hitting your ball through all of the wickets, you need to hit it at each stake to finally complete the course. You can read more about the rules in the full buyer’s guide below.

They are most often made of the same wood as the mallets included in the croquet set. Quality is less important here as they don’t endure nearly as much impact as the other equipment in your set. Just make sure your set includes both stakes.

Storage Rack or Bag

Nearly all croquet sets will come with some kind of storage option. This is often either a rack or a bag. Both have their pros and cons so the one that makes the most sense for you will mainly come down to personal preference.

Rack

The main advantage of a rack is that it keeps your mallets, balls, and wickets neatly and safely stored. They won’t bump and scrape against each other like they do in a bag, so these croquet sets can have a longer lifespan.

However, the tradeoff comes in portability. It’s not convenient to lug an entire rack with you to the park or take it with you camping. So, this is more suitable for those who intend to mostly use the croquet set in their own backyard.

Bag

A storage bag, on the other hand, is highly portable. You can easily load it into the car or carry it over your shoulder. If you plan to use your croquet set on camping trips or during picnics at the park, this portability will be important to you.

The tradeoff here is in the longevity of your equipment. When kept in a bag, mallets and balls and wickets will be knocked around, leading to scratches and dents. This kind of wear and tear is inevitable with portable sets so it’s often better to go for a lower cost set like the GoSports Croquet Set since you have to budget for replacements a little more often.

Now that you have a better idea of what you will be looking at as you shop for the best croquet set, take a look at our recommendations below.

Top 9 Best Croquet Sets 2020

1. Best Overall: GoSports Six Player Deluxe Croquet Set

Why we like it: This deluxe set features a long-handled mallet and quality construction, making it ideal for friendly backyard games.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 35”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

It can be tough to find croquet sets at this price point with mallets above 30”, so this 35” set is truly a unique find that any adult croquet player will appreciate. The long handles, solid build, and affordable price make it a great choice for a variety of purposes.

Materials

The 35” mallets are made from premium hardwood. This length is ideal for adults, including advanced players who want something closer in size and functionality to the expensive regulation sets.
The croquet balls are molded from heavy-duty polyethylene and the wickets are strong plastic-coated wire. These materials for the balls and wickets are widely used in many croquet sets because they are both low-cost and long-lasting.

However, one drawback is that molded polyethylene can dent easily when the set is used by adults. Usually, the dents are just surface marks that won’t affect actual gameplay but they do make the set look a little less attractive.

For more dent-resistant balls, check out the elastic polymer balls included in the ApudArmis croquet set.

Construction

The materials used to make this set are very durable but the construction is what really stands out. The threading at the end of the handles where it screws into the head is precision-carved and provides a secure fit when assembled. You won’t have to worry about the head coming loose after every strike.

One of the most unique features on this set, however, is the textured grip on the top of the handle sets. This gives you a much better grip as you strike the ball.

Portability

Unlike some other models, the bag included here is large enough to fit the mallets with the heads still attached. This saves you the time it takes to assemble and disassemble your mallets every time you want to play.

It’s not just a time-saver, though. It also contributes to a longer lifespan. Since you aren’t constantly screwing and unscrewing the heads, you aren’t slowly stripping away the threading over time. So, they can stay securely attached for years to come.

Pros
  • Quality hardwood construction
  • Long handles with convenient textured grip
  • Extra-large storage bag so that no disassembly is required
Cons
  • Croquet balls dent somewhat easily

2. Best Premium: Amish-Crafted Deluxe 8-Player Croquet Set

Why we like it: This is the croquet set to get for the family that loves the game and wants a set that can be passed down through the generations. It is built to last.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 8
  • Mallet Length: 28’ and 32’
  • Storage: Rack

Review

This croquet set from Amish Toy Box is incredibly well-built and beautifully designed with a lot of great features from the vinyl-coated steel wickets to the beautiful brass bands on the mallet heads. It’s a great pick if you want to invest in something that will last for generations.

Materials

Maple hardwood makes for a strong mallet and the brass bands around the ends of the mallet head help reinforce the material even further so that you can avoid splitting the wood when hitting the ball.

The steel wickets are coated in vinyl which makes them sturdy enough to withstand impact without bending. Overall, all the materials used in this set are of the highest quality and ready to withstand heavy use and drastic changes in the weather without taking too much damage.

Construction

The inclusion of a well-designed storage rack helps keep this croquet set in great condition for years. The individual slots for the mallets and stakes keep them from banging against each other. Then, the rack along the bottom keeps the balls organized and easily accessible.

One of our favorite things about this set, however, is the mixed mallet sizes. This set includes four 32” mallets and four 28” mallets. The longer ones are ideal for adults while the shorter ones are great for kids.

This allows you to easily play a game with your kids or have two separate games going. If you don’t have any kids, you do have the option of getting a set where all eight mallets are 32”.

Portability

This set comes with a storage rack rather than a bag, meaning that it’s not meant to be portable. However, there is a brass handle mounted to the top of the storage rack that offers some portability.

It’s not really intended for long-distance carrying but if you wanted to store the set indoors and then carry it outside when you want to use it, you can do so easily.

If you stored the wickets and balls in a bag, then you could potentially also put this rack in your trunk to take it to the park – but it would not be the most convenient for someone whose top priority is portability. If you want something easier to carry but still offering the same level of quality check out the other Amish Toy Box set below.

Pros
  • Mixed set of mallet sizes for children and adults
  • Solid maple wood construction
  • Bend-resistant vinyl-coated steel wickets
  • Dent-resistant polymer balls
  • Durable storage rack
Cons
  • One of the more expensive sets on the market
  • Not very portable

3. Best Budget: Six-Player Deluxe Croquet Set

Why we like it: This is one of the most affordable sets to include true adult-size mallets rather than the shorter 27”-28” handles you see on most budget sets.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 32”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

With adult size mallets and crack-resistant croquet balls, this six-player croquet set is great for backyard barbecues, summers at the park, or any other adult outdoor get together. This is a good pick for someone just looking for a casual set of equipment at a price that won’t break the bank.

Materials

The hardwood mallets come with rubber protectors on either side of the head. These rubber protectors will prevent the heads from splitting or cracking from repeated impact. That’s an important feature for a set that is intended for use by adults.

The croquet balls are molded from polymer which makes them both dent and crack-resistant so they should maintain their appearance, even with regular use.

The wickets are on the thinner side as is common with budget croquet sets. However, the vinyl coating instead of the plastic coating you usually see on cheaper sets is a nice touch. Vinyl doesn’t chip or breakdown the way plastic coating does.

You will still have the problem of bending and distorting with high impact, though. The wiring beneath the vinyl is thin. For those looking for a portable croquet set with sturdier wickets, you might be better off with the Scottsdale croquet set.

Construction

The construction of this set is comparable to other sets at the same price. The handles screw into the mallet head securely. They may loosen a bit if you play aggressively but with more casual play, they will hold up fine.

The balls are solid and very durable thanks to the strong polymer material and the fact that they are a solid mold rather than just being coated in plastic. The wickets are likely to bend a bit but not so much that it will seriously affect your game.

Portability

The carrying case that comes with this croquet set makes it a good choice for anyone who prioritizes portability. However, the one drawback is that the case is too small to fit the mallets while they are still assembled.

This means you do need to unscrew the heads before putting them back into the bag every time you finish playing. That only takes a few minutes, but it can feel a little tedious if you play croquet a lot.

If you would prefer a set at a similar price point that can be stored in the bag without disassembling, consider the Juegol six-player croquet set. It has shorter handles but the bag is large enough to store the set without taking the mallets apart.

Pros
  • 32” hardwood mallets
  • Dent and crack resistant polymer croquet balls
  • Higher quality construction compared to other sets at a similar price point
Cons
  • Wickets are somewhat flimsy
  • Carrying bag is too small to fit mallets while assembled

4. Best Portable Set: AmishToyBox.com Family Traditions 8-Player Croquet Set

Why we like it: With this set, you get that famous Amish-crafted quality combined with the convenience of a portable storage bag.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 8
  • Mallet Length: 31”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

This large, eight-player set with long mallets and an extra-large storage bag is ideal for the traveling family or the family that mostly plays croquet at the park. It’s well-built and designed with convenience in mind.

Materials

All the materials used in this set are high-quality and long-lasting. Like the non-portable set by Amish Toy Box discussed above, this portable set includes solid maple wood mallets, crack-resistant polymer molded balls, and thick vinyl-coated steel wickets.

Construction

This set will hold up to the wear and tear of heavy usage and being carried around on camping trips and long road trips. The quality materials combined with the excellent construction ensure that.

The unique square design of the mallet stands out from the traditional rounded shape. But this adds durability to the set. The shape adds extra weight and requires less carving to shape them. This makes it a more stable and wear-resistant design.

Portability

The roomy duffel bag that comes with this set is large enough to accommodate all eight mallets with the heads screwed on. So, there is no disassembly required to store this croquet set.
That’s a convenient feature to have, especially for those who want to take this on road trips. You’ve already got enough packing and unpacking to do at each campsite without having to disassemble your croquet set each time.

Pros
  • Quality, maple wood construction
  • Large bag for storing without disassembling
  • 31” mallets are comfortable for both children and adults
  • 8-player set ideal for larger gatherings
Cons
  • More expensive than other portable sets
  • Not as well-built as the non-portable version from this brand

5. Best for Beginners: ApudArmis Six-Player Croquet Set

Why we like it: The elastic polymer balls included in this set are a good enough reason on their own to choose this one, especially if you’re new to the game.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 28”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

This compact croquet set is easy to carry and very well built for its price point. It’s a great set for beginners or older children to learn with. The balls are very high quality and the set has a beautiful design that makes it look more expensive than it is.

Materials

While the mallets are what you would expect from any other set in this price range, the balls are what really make this croquet set stand out. They are made of a special elastic polymer, which makes for highly dent-resistant balls.

The slight elasticity means that the surface can spring back into shape after impact. One of the most common complaints you see with most croquet sets is about the balls. While the mallets hold up, the balls dent quickly and become less functional as they lose their round shape.

With this set, you won’t have that problem. Both the mallets and the balls will stand up to the wear and tear of time. This makes them ideal for those who are still learning how to strike and aim.

Construction

There are some nice features on this set that make it both more durable and more attractive. The mallet head includes thin metal bands that help prevent the head from splitting and create a more elegant appearance.

Moreover, all the wood elements are lacquered to prevent scratching as well as provide a nice gloss effect. The tops of the handles feature some subtle grooves that improve the grip which will, in turn, improve your ability to strike the ball.

The main drawback to the design is the handle length. While 28” is functional for most players, it may be too short for taller players. For those on the taller side, consider handles that are closer to the regulation length like the GoSports deluxe croquet set, which features 35” handles but is still affordable enough for beginners.

Portability

This is a highly portable set and a great choice for someone who expects to have to carry this from place to place often. The mallets are made from pine which is naturally a lighter weight wood than oak or maple, making this an overall lighter load to carry.

The only inconvenience here is that the mallets need to be disassembled in order to be stored in the bag. This is fairly common among portable croquet sets and assembly only takes a few minutes. However, if you want something you can quickly take out and pack away again, consider the Amish Toy Box croquet set which can be stored without disassembly.

Pros
  • Beautiful, lacquered pine finish
  • Highly dent-resistant elastic polymer balls
  • Very lightweight and compact for portability
Cons
  • 28” handles may be too short for taller players
  • Mallets need to be disassembled for storage

6. Best for Kids: Juegoal Six Player Croquet Set with Drawstring Bag

Why we like it: Kids will love the bright colors and the easy-grip handles while parents will appreciate the low cost and light weight.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 28”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

This is a great set to get for the whole family. The mallets are lightweight yet crack-resistant, and the medium handles will suit a wide age range of players. If you want something affordable that will provide hours of entertainment for your kids, this is a great pick.

Materials

The materials in this croquet set are pretty standard. The mallets are made with a lightweight hardwood. The wickets are made with a thinner steel that is vinyl-coated to prevent bending. The balls are a heavy-duty polymer mold that will not gauge or chip, but it may dent a bit.

Construction

Overall, the construction is reliable but not as long-lasting as some of the higher-end sets you can find. The threading at the ends of the handles that screw into the mallet heads is not as deep or cleanly cut as it could be.

This may cause the head to loosen on impact if the impact is strong enough. However, if you’re getting this set for your kids, they are unlikely to be strong enough to cause that to happen.
The rubber caps on the ends of the mallet are effective at preventing the wood from cracking as well as preventing dents in the croquet balls. So there are some nice features in this build. However, if you want something with more noticeable quality and more suitable for adults rather than kids, you might prefer the Six-player deluxe croquet set which has a similar price tag but is better suited to adults.

Portability

Thanks to the lightweight materials and the large bag, this set earns a lot of points for portability. It’s an easy to use drawstring bag as well, so you can just dump everything out when you want to play, and then toss it all back in without dismantling the mallet heads when you’re done.

Pros
  • Reliable, lightweight construction suited for children
  • Bright colorful design
  • Large bag fits the mallets without disassembly
Cons
  • May be too small or flimsy for adults

7. Most Attractive Design: Franklin Sports Outdoor Croquet Set

Why we like it: The beautiful vintage design makes this croquet set something you will be proud to keep out on display in your backyard.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 36”
  • Storage: Rack

Review

The antique look combined with strong modern construction makes this backyard croquet set just as enjoyable to look at as it is to use. It’s a great set if you want to keep your croquet set out on display when it’s not in use as it will add to your décor rather than making your space look cluttered.

Materials

The dark hardwood mallets, the brass fittings, the all-weather molded balls and every other element of this set speak to its quality and durability. This set is made of materials that can withstand the wear and tear of the decades.

Most notably, the wickets are much thicker steel than you usually see. These aren’t the thin wiry hoops you are used to. They have real weight to them and will not bend without putting up a fight.

Construction

This set looks like it came straight out of the 19th century with its dark wood mallets and slanted storage rack. But the details of the construction are what really count. The mallets screw together with brass fittings and screws, making them far less likely to come loose during the game.

The only drawback is that the unique design and the relatively high price might make you hesitant to let your kids play with it. This is definitely a better choice for a household without kids or pets. The regulation length handles are likely too long for children anyway.

For something more kid-friendly, check out the Juegoal croquet set with shorter handles and a smaller price tag.

Portability

This is not meant to be a portable set. It’s intended for at-home use. However, the rack does have a cool transportable design with a handle at the top end of the slanted ball rack and wheels at the bottom so you can move it from place to place.

It’s definitely not designed for wheeling it all the way to the park or loading it into the car for a camping trip but you can certainly take it out to the backyard and back into the house with ease.

Pros
  • Unique vintage design
  • Solid, heavy-duty steel wickets
  • Strong storage rack for greater longevity
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Mallets are too large for children

8. Best for Advanced Players: Scottsdale Croquet Set by North Meadow

Why we like it: Long handles and a sleek, high-quality design make this a great portable croquet set for the professional or avid player.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 30”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

The sleek design is both lightweight and durable, making it a great choice for players on the go. While it is certainly an investment, we think it’s one that will pay off for anyone who plans to use this set frequently.

Materials

The quality in this set is evident in all the details. The lacquered mallets are made from solid maple wood, one of the strongest hardwoods available. The molded polymer balls are also denser than what you get in other sets, making them much more durable and resistant to wear.

The wickets are solid steel and a little thicker than the average wicket so that they won’t bend out of shape as much. One downside to the heavier wickets is that they can be more difficult to drive into the ground, especially if you play anywhere with dry or rocky soil. We recommend getting a small rubber-head hammer to pound the wickets into the ground easily and securely.

For thinner wickets that can easily be set up without tools, you might prefer the ApudArmis croquet set. The wickets are thinner but still reasonably sturdy.

Construction

While there are no brass rings or screws to lend stability to the mallet heads, the precision carved grooves provide a secure fit that is unlikely to come loose during the game. Moreover, the fact that you don’t need to keep screwing and unscrewing them to store them in the bag prevents that gradual wearing down of the grooves that you risk with more compact portable sets.

The lacquer finish works to both make this set look nicer as well as prevent cracks and weather damage in the wood. Overall, it is a well-designed set that will last for years, even if you play all year round.

Portability

With the spacious storage bag, you can carry this croquet set with you anywhere. It’s large enough to fit the mallets with the heads on. So this is a set you can assemble once and then leave it intact.

While maple wood does tend to be heavier than some of the other woods, the thinner design ensures that this is still a relatively lightweight set. Carrying it around won’t be a back-breaking ordeal.

Pros
  • Heavy-duty, quality construction
  • Durable maple wood mallets
  • Large canvas bag fits mallets with the heads attached
Cons
  • More expensive
  • Thicker wickets are harder to drive into the ground by hand

9. Best for Casual Players: Ropoda Six-Player Croquet Set

Why we like it: This lightweight and affordable design is a great set for the family that plays croquet seasonally and doesn’t want to invest too much in their croquet set.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Number of Mallets: 6
  • Mallet Length: 27”
  • Storage: Bag

Review

This croquet set is compact, easy to carry, and sells at an attractive price point that won’t blow your budget this summer. You’ll get a reliable set that is ideal for the casual backyard game or the occasional camping trip.

Materials

The six mallets, including both handles and heads, are made of a lightweight and premium hardwood. The balls are a molded resin which naturally offers a little more elasticity than polymer so these are more dent resistant than other sets.

Construction

There are some nice features in the construction of this croquet set. The resin balls are grooved to better absorb impact, and the steel wickets are vinyl-coated to better resist bending. The carrying case is also one of the nicer ones you’ll see.

However, advanced adult players might find the 27” handles too short and might notice the end caps on the mallet head start to chip or fall off with frequent use. However, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that will sit in your garage most of the year, this is a great set to get.

You can break it out on warm days or take it with you on weekend trips without worrying too much about it. If you do prefer something with more quality in material and construction, you might want to check out the Scottsdale croquet set with maple wood mallets and great construction.

Portability

The beautiful cream-colored storage bag features strong handles that can go over your shoulder or fit comfortably in your hand. The equipment is also made from lighter hardwood and resin so it’s not as heavy as other croquet sets.

The only downside in terms of portability is the bag size. You will have to disassemble the mallets to put them back in the bag.

Pros
  • Dent-resistant resin croquet balls
  • Beautiful and durable storage bag
  • Protective rubber caps to prevent cracking
Cons
  • Not sturdy enough for frequent or professional use
  • Mallets must be disassembled to fit in the bag

How to Choose a Great Croquet Set

Choosing the best croquet set for you mostly comes down to who, where, and how often you plan to use it. You also want to factor in the average age and number of players at any given time. In this section, we will briefly look at how each of those factors will influence your decision as you shop for your croquet set.

Age of the Players

While most croquet sets are suitable for all age groups, you may not want your toddlers playing with a beautiful—and pricey—vintage or classic croquet set. Instead, you should be looking for something around the middle or lower end of the price spectrum.

It should be heavy-duty enough to withstand regular gameplay but affordable enough that you won’t worry about the set while your kids are playing with it. The Ropoda croquet set is a good example of a quality set suitable for children.

For adult or professional players, on the other hand, quality is a much higher priority. Adults have the strength to potentially break a low-quality mallet from the force of impact with the ball.

Avoid composite wood or lightweight mallets for this reason. Instead, opt for heavier woods. For example, the Amish-crafted croquet set is made from maple wood which is dense enough to withstand regular use by adults.

Number of Players

This is a really important factor to consider before you purchase. It’s easy enough to buy additional balls or wickets but to buy additional mallets, you usually have to buy a complete additional set.

Individual mallets tend to be expensive because they’re mainly intended for professional players. You may also have a hard time finding additional mallets that match your current set. Moreover, you won’t be able to easily store them with the rest of your set which likely came with a storage rack or bag suited only for the number of mallets the set came with.

All this is to say that it’s better to opt for a larger set than you think you need over a smaller one. Take the number of people you expect to regularly use the set and double it.

If it’s just for your two kids, get a four-mallet set. If you’re getting the croquet set for a family of three, opt for a six-mallet set. If you’re getting it for family gatherings, go up to an eight-mallet set.

Location

Location is important in deciding whether or not you need a storage bag or a storage rack for your croquet set. If you will mainly use it in your own backyard, a rack is almost always the better option since it can preserve the longevity of your equipment.

If you’re getting it primarily for playing on camping trips, beach days, or family gatherings at the park, a storage bag that you can easily carry will make more sense.

Unfortunately, few sets offer both and it’s not easy to find either a rack or bag for croquet sets on their own. So for families who plan to use it both in their own backyard and on family outings, you still have to choose between portability and longevity.

Climate

With so many wooden components, the climate will affect the lifespan of your croquet set. This is especially true of climates that shift from wet to dry throughout the year. This change in humidity levels can lead to cracks in the wood. These cracks will appear even faster in lower-quality wood.

If you get a lot of rain or have drastic shifts in temperature and humidity from season to season, try to keep your croquet set stored indoors or at least in a garage to help extend its lifespan.

Frequency

The more often you plan to use it, the more durable it should be. If your family plays croquet all year round, you don’t want a set that breaks down or damages too easily or else you’ll find yourself buying replacement equipment or new sets on an almost annual basis.

By the same logic, if you only break out the croquet set a couple of times a year at family barbecues, it may not make sense to invest in high-end equipment. It could be more cost-effective to go for a more affordable, if slightly lower quality, set.

What Is the Best Croquet Set for Adults?

Any croquet set with mallets longer than 30” will work for adults. If you’re new to the game, you might feel a little uncomfortable having to hunch over to strike the ball but this is a feature of the game. Even with the longest mallets available, which are about 36”, you’re still going to have to hunch a bit.

The Franklin Sports croquet set is a great set for adults, featuring full-length 36” mallets and quality construction. However, you do need to consider more than mallet length when choosing the best croquet set. Other factors like the ones discussed in the previous section will be more important to your decision.

What Is the Best Croquet Set for Children?

Croquet sets are already very kid-friendly as they are, so it isn’t always necessary to get a special set for children. You would simply adapt the game to your kids’ skill levels by placing the wickets a little closer together.

The only meaningful difference between a set for adults and a set for children is the length of the handle on the mallet. For children who are 4’5” or taller, an adult set will work just fine. For children right on the cusp of that height, you might as well get an adult set and let them grow into it.

With that said, for very young children, especially toddlers, look for a set with mallets that are below 30”. The Juegoal croquet set features 28” handles on the mallets, making it a great choice for young children.

What Is the Standardized Size of a Croquet Mallet?

The regulation length of a croquet mallet is 36”. Unfortunately, most standard croquet sets on the market include mallets much shorter than this, usually 27” or 28”. The shorter handle won’t significantly impact your gameplay but you will have to hunch over a bit more than usual.

If you would like to play with handles closer to the standardized size, consider the GoSports six player deluxe croquet set which includes some very high-quality hardwood mallets with 35” handles.

How Do You Play Croquet?

There are a number of variations to the game and different variations are more popular in different regions. For example, one-ball croquet is the most widely played version in the United States, while Association croquet is more popular in the United Kingdom.

The more variations you know, the more fun you can have with your new croquet set. Here are four versions of the classic game you can try:

Nine-Wicket Croquet

This is the standard version of the game across the United States. In fact, the croquet sets you find are mostly designed for this variation of the game. It’s so common across the US and Canada that when people talk about “playing croquet,” this is usually the version they are referring to. The rules are as follows:

  1. Set up your croquet court in a figure-eight shape as shown in this diagram.
  2. Optional: for a more formal game, mark out the edges of the court with string or rope. Regulation dimensions are 100 feet by 50 feet. This isn’t necessary for a casual backyard game.
  3. Each player takes one mallet and one ball, ideally the ball that matches the color pattern on the mallet. Place the balls at the first stake.
  4. Each player takes turns striking their ball, using only the striking end of the mallet. You can’t use the side, top, or bottom.
  5. If you successfully hit your ball through the correct wicket, you earn another turn. If you don’t get it through a wicket, your turn is up. To earn that bonus turn, the ball has to go all the way through the wicket. If it stops underneath, this doesn’t count.
  6. The goal is to hit your ball through each of the wickets in the correct order. Start with the first two in front of the starting stake. Then, go to the wicket on the right of your court. Then, the center wicket and up to the last wicket on the right.
  7. When you get through the two wickets in front of the stake at the other end of the field, you turn and come back down the other side.
  8. The winner is the one who gets their ball back to the stake you began at first.

Another optional rule you can add is giving bonus turns for striking an opponent’s ball with your own during your turn. If your ball is touching an opponent’s ball when it stops, you can place your foot on top of your own ball and strike it hard with your mallet to send the opponent’s ball in any direction of your choosing.

This addition makes the game more challenging and competitive. For that reason, we don’t recommend using this rule for games with young children.

Association Croquet

Association croquet is most often played in the UK but it is a fun variation that you can easily play with your new backyard croquet set. The basic rules of how you can hit the ball and what the goal is are the same as the American variation above. However, the setup of the field is very different and the number of balls also differs. Here are the rules:

  1. Set up your croquet court using just one stake at the center. Hence the British term “center peg.” Arrange six wickets on your field according to this diagram.
  2. Each player begins with two balls. Traditionally, black and blue are paired together and red and yellow are paired together. However, for a casual backyard game, pick any two and just remember which ones are yours.
  3. Beginning at the wicket at the bottom left corner of your field, maneuver both balls through each wicket on the outer corners.
  4. On your turn, you get just one strike, meaning you can only hit one ball. You can choose either one. If you get a ball through the correct wicket, you get a bonus turn as you do in nine-wicket croquet.
  5. Once you get through the wicket on the bottom right corner, go up through the center two wickets, without hitting the center stake.
  6. When you get through the second center wicket, turn left and move back through each of the corner wickets again. This time, you go in the opposite direction to when you started.
  7. After you go through the first center wicket, you need to maneuver your ball passed the center stake, down below the second center wicket. Then, back up through that second center wicket and, finally, to the center stake.

Because this requires two balls, you either need to buy an extra set of croquet balls or divide large groups of players into teams depending on how many balls you have available.

For an added challenge, designate a first and second ball so that as you move through the course. Then, you always have to hit one ball through a wicket first before you can hit the other through. For example, if you’re playing with red and yellow, designate red as the first ball. The yellow ball can’t go through the wicket until the red ball does.

The rule about bonus turns for hitting an opponent’s ball is also a common feature of association croquet but it is optional in casual games.

Ricochet Croquet

This variation was invented in Australia in the 1980s. It’s a variation on association croquet with the field set up exactly the same and all the rules remaining the same. You even play with two balls per player (or per team) as you do in association croquet.

The only difference is that if you hit an opponent’s ball, you get two bonus shots instead of one. You use your first bonus shot to launch your opponent’s ball in any direction you choose. You then use your second bonus shot as you wish.

If possible, you can use the second bonus shot to go through a wicket, winning you yet another bonus shot, but just one this time. You can also use the second bonus shot to hit another of your opponent’s balls and earn yourself a second set of two bonus shots.

This added rule makes it a little more aggressive and competitive since you are rewarded for actively attacking your opponent’s balls. It’s very fun but usually takes longer to play a full game since you’ll spend a lot more time hitting balls back into position after your opponent has knocked them to the edge of the field.

Golf Croquet

This is a fun, fast-paced and very competitive variation on the sport meant for just two players (or two teams). You set up the field and play according to the pattern of association croquet, except you only use one ball. You then move through the wickets on the field as you would for a normal game of association croquet.

The difference is that instead of competing to get through the course and to the goal stake first, you are competing at each wicket to get your ball through it first. The player who successfully gets through a wicket first, pulls the wicket out of the ground and keeps it. The winner is the player with the most wickets by the end of the course.

Since you have to move through the course twice, according to the rules of association croquet, you might have to get creative. If you have extra wickets, you can set up two at each location to have a wicket to remove in each direction. Alternatively, use one wicket in each location and just keep a note of how many wickets each player has won on a notepad.

If you get to the end of the game and the players are tied, the last center wicket (according to Association croquet rules) becomes the deciding wicket. Set it back up and whoever gets through it first is the winner.

Final Word

When choosing the best croquet set, you want to start by deciding whether you need something portable or stationary. Then, decide on the level of quality you want to invest in based on how often you intend to play. More frequent and more competitive playing requires a higher quality set while less frequent, casual playing can be done with a more budget-friendly set.

Refer to the information provided in the buying guide above to easily recognize the difference between high- and low-quality croquet sets as you shop. Once you’ve got your set, try out all the variations of the game and decide which one is your favorite!