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© Robert Fenwick Elliott 2005-2006

Trick shot

Groovy Shots

A Fenwick 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 makable?

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 tap.

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 Von Schmieder 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.

Sometimes, there 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 shot.

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.

The Aspinall Peel

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 through.