Elliott Mallet is good for any shot that any other mallet can do. The high moment of inertia means it is
particularly good for hitting long roquets.
But there are
one or two features that make it particularly good for some shots that are not very
often attempted, but which are both groovy and useful, and will make you smile
if you can do them.
The Jump Slice
What do you do
when you ball is close, or very close, to a hoop, but angled so as to be barely
It is too
dangerous to hit the ball hard into the far leg with a jump shot, hoping
that the ball’s spin will; take it
through, since the mallet head’s follow through will often result in a double
One option is to
hit the ball hard with both top spin and a sideways slice, so that the mallet
head will pass away to the side of the ball so as avoid a double tap. It is hard to aim this shot accurately, but
when it works, it is like magic. The
ball leaves the mallet head with top spin, and as it seems to climb up the far
post, will pick up even more top spin.
If it does not get through on the full (see movie), it will sometimes bounce back
down in front of the far leg, and then leap off through the hoop as the spin
bites on the grass (see movie).
This shot can
make hoops that are otherwise unmakable, and can get
the ball well out the other side. I have
never seen anyone else play it, but since there is precious little that is new
in the game, someone will no doubt tell me that Great Uncle George used it regularly
in Bognor Regis before the war…
The Flat Sweep
A sweep shot is
where the handle is positioned horizontally, just an inch or so off the ground,
instead of vertically. It is used where
the striker’s ball is impeded by a hoop, usually to roquet a reception ball
after a hoop is made. There is a good
description by John Riches on the Oxford Web site at www.oxfordcroquet.com/coach/sweep/index.asp.
There are at least 2 versions of the sweep shot. In the usual sweep shot, also known as the
Sweep, the “top” of the handle is kept
more or less still, such that the head follows an arc, much as it would
in a normal
shot but horizontally instead of vertically. If the ball can
barely be reached, such the the impact takes place at the very bottom
(now the side) of the striking face, the ball will pick up a little
side spin, which will cause it to deviate an inch or so to the side:
the devitation is in the same direction as the shaft.
The Flat Sweep
is slightly different: the whole of the shaft is pushed forward together, the
two hands working in unison (see movie). It is rather more accurate and more powerful
than the Von Schmieder, but for very marginal balls is less good, because it is harder to get the side spin effect.
There are a
number of things that need to borne in mind to keep the shot legal:
- The hands and arms must not touch the legs. I usually roll up my sleeves, so that
the referee can see there is no contact.
- The hand near the head must not touch the head:
Keep it a good inch or so away.
- It is OK to lay the mallet flat on the ground,
and then move to a vantage point behind it, to make sure the head is
perfectly lined up on the target.
- It is OK for the bottom of the head to be played
along the side of a hoop leg.
- The shot can be played with the handle on the
left or on the right, and with the head either between or on either side
the hoop legs. If the hoop is not
going to be in the way of the handle, I usually play the shot with the
handle on the left, since my right (dominant) hand is then controlling the
head end of the shaft.
The Self-Promotion Cannon
In a normal
promotion cannon (or super worm, as it is sometimes called), the 3rd ball is
not roqueted, but is instead sent somewhere useful
like the next hoop in turn (still live), while the striker’s ball is sent
somewhere within roqueting distance of the 4th ball out on the lawn,
but not as far as the destination of the 3rd ball. Because the 3rd ball will move more
or less directly away from the croquet ball, it is easy to get the 3rd
ball to move in whatever direction you like, provided it is placed in the right
place. Where the shot is played as a
drive with the 3 balls more or less in line, the striker’s will not go far, so
the 4th ball needs to be fairly close.
is no available 4th ball (because it is far away, or has been
used). In the self-promotion Cannon, the
3 balls are played more or less but not quite in line, and the shot is played
as a roll – because 3 balls need to be moved, it is more akin in action to a
pass roll. The 3rd ball is
not intended to roqueted in this canon shot, but to
go to the next hoop in turn still live, with the striker’s ball following it up
so as to end up in easy roqueting distance of it. Sometimes, the striker’s ball will catch the
3rd ball up, and roquet it somewhere near its eventual resting
place; this is not a usually fatal, but merely loses a possible
opportunity to rush the 3rd ball even closer to the hoop in the next
In what way is
the self-promotion cannon groovier than a simple worm cannon? Apart from being much more fun, it provides a
means for getting the croqueted ball out into the lawn, instead of leaving it
on the boundary.
While on the
subject of rolls, the Aspinall Peel is groovy. When peeling an angled hoop, play the shot as
a roll, so that immediately after the peelee ball has
jawsed in the hoop, the striker’s ball comes along behind
and somewhat outside it (ie on the playing side of the hoop), and knocks it