Croquet News

QUICK TIP: Offside Ball and Direction to a Penalty Area

By Cheryl Bromley

Here’s a familiar situation: A ball has traveled beyond the halfway line to the next hoop in order without touching an opponent ball. The current hoop is scored and now that initial ball is an “offside” ball.

Quick Tip: If you are the non-offending team, you have the option to leave the offside ball where it lies or direct it to a penalty area, but you must do so before the non-offending team takes its next shot.

Below are a few basic scenarios to illustrate this:

Scenario #1: Location - hoop #5. Blue shoots and misses a clearing shot which causes the blue ball to roll beyond the halfway line to hoop #6. Red scores hoop #5. Black plays to position in front of hoop #6. Before Yellow shoots, Team R/Y must decide whether to leave blue where it is or direct it to a penalty area. This is the last moment they may do so - Before the Non-offending team plays their next shot. (Rule 8.4.2)

Scenario #2: Location – hoop #3. In an attempt to go halfway, Yellow rolls beyond the halfway line to hoop #4. Blue plays to halfway. Red sets up in front of hoop #3. Black shoots and scores hoop #3. Yellow, who is offside, shoots immediately before Blue/Black has given direction and scores hoop #4. Before the Non-offending team plays their next shot (in this case blue), they may direct the offside Yellow ball to a penalty area to replay its shot since it played before being given direction. The point is cancelled at hoop #4. (Rule 8.4.5)

Scenario #3: Location – hoop #8. Blue shoots and scores hoop #8. His partner, Black, is more than halfway to hoop #9 and is now offside. Before the Non-offending team plays their next shot (in this case red), they need to decide whether to leave black where it lies or direct it to a penalty area. If red plays without giving direction to black, it condones the offside ball and black may remain where it is.

Recommendation: As soon as a hoop is scored, make the decision about an offside ball if you are the non-offending team. And remember, as the opponent (non-offender), you do not have to send an offside ball to a penalty area, you have the option to have it remain where it lies. This is particularly strategic if the offside ball is way out of position.

Common Practice: Many top players I’ve encountered will acknowledge that their ball is offside as soon as the hoop is scored and will ask their opponent where they would like them to be placed. They are entitled to do this per rule 8.4.3 and I also view this an example of good sportsmanship.

Please note this is a basic overview of the rule. There are, of course, other finer points that are discussed in the rulebook.

*Before the Non-offending team plays their next shot*

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