Object of the Game
The object of the game is to make both of your balls run through all the wickets in a pre-determined order and to hit the winning stake before your opponent(s).
The Court Dimensions
The court is 105' X 84' with the wickets 1,2,3 & 4 being set in 21' from each boundary. Wickets 5 & 6 are set in the center (east to west) and 31-1/2' from north & south boundaries. A single winning stake is positioned in the center. The boundary is marked with a white string and the corners marked with flags in the colors of the balls, blue, red, black and yellow which is the order of play as well.
If space doesn't permit a full size court, any size can be laid out so long as the 5:4 ratio is maintained.
Playing the Game
American 6 Wicket croquet is played with four balls...the blue & black balls competing against the red & yellow balls. In singles, two players use two balls each.
Doubles is played with each of 4 players hitting one ball each. Each player hits the same ball throughout the game.
The game continues until one team scores all the wickets in the order shown including the winning stake with both balls, or, has scored the most points within a time limited game.
The game begins with each ball hit, in turn, from 3 feet behind wicket #1. The order in which the balls play are indicated by the color sequence, from the top, on the winning stake: blue, red, black and yellow.
Each player (striker) in turn, positions their ball 3 feet behind wicket 1 , and in turn begins the game. A ball, however, is not considered to be "in play" until it has gone through #1 wicket.
A ball has made a point when it has passed completely through the playing side of a wicket and comes to a complete stop on the non-playing side of the wicket.
Clips, matching the ball colours are used to keep track of which wicket that same colour ball is going to score next.
If during a turn, a ball comes to rest beyond the boundary or less than 9" from it, it is placed 9" inside the boundary line perpendicular to the point it crossed the line.
The striker's turn ends when any balls roll past the boundary line unless it is the striker's ball that has rolled out of bounds after hitting another ball and becoming "ball in hand". Two subsequent turns are then played from a point where the striker ball is in contact with the struck ball and a subsequent turn (a continuation) from the position the striker ball travelled and stopped.
When the player’s ball passes through a wicket in the required direction, a point is counted and a single continuation shot is earned. Each successive wicket a ball passes through earns an additional point and earns one additional continuation shot.
If the striker's ball hits a ball it is alive on, that is, a ball that has not been hit by the striker since its last wicket was scored, it becomes "ball in hand". At this point the striker's ball is placed next to the "roqueted" ball for the first of two earned shots. The first, the "croquet" shot is taken by hitting the striker's ball causing both balls to move, ideally to their desired location. The second, "continuation" shot, is taken by hitting the striker's ball from the point where it came to rest after the croquet shot.
Deadness is a condition of a ball after it has hit another ball during the course of its turn. A striker can only hit any ball it is alive on during their turn. Deadness is cleared on all balls when the striker scores its next hoop. A team can also clear the deadness on any one ball of its choice each time the opposing team scores the seventh wicket called the "1 Back" wicket.
When a ball has scored the "rover" wicket, it is considered a rover ball and is alive on all the balls on the court. It can clear its deadness by running through any wicket in either direction but can only hit each ball on the court once during a turn. The purpose of remaining in the game is to assist its partner ball in scoring more wickets.
A more thorough understanding of the rules can be had by reading the current USCA rule book, available at the United States Croquet Association website.