Croquet Mallets

Choosing croquet mallets can be as engaging as the game itself. Yet, it should be taken seriously, as the croquet mallet you select will likely be used for years. Your mallet is, of course, the primary “tool” in playing your game (or, the key “weapon,” if you’re very competitive), so getting the right one is key. When deciding which croquet mallet is the best one for you, consider these attributes.

Head
First, what are you using the mallet for, and what’s your ability level? Most competitive and more serious players prefer a croquet mallet with a square head, but some pros prefer cylindrical ones. If your game is more garden-style or backyard fun, you might prefer a cylindrical head shape on your croquet mallet. A square head can give you more flexibility when your shooting movements are hindered by other balls or objects, but not that much.
More serious players opt for narrower mallet face dimensions, but this will be too challenging for younger, beginning or more casual players. A narrow face can miss more easily and prove less accurate, in other words. A good head will often have a surface scored with concentric rings to help in playing stop shots as well as follow through roll shots. Brass rings or other ringing metals at the head’s end will add weight and protect the face from damage caused by miss-hit shots.
Mallet heads are traditionally made of wood; which wood matters less than its strength, for which strong elm or a solid ash is often the longest-lasting and most shock resistant. Newer croquet mallet materials include carbon fibre and plastic composites. Choose a mallet head length that matches your skill level and type of play. Less serious or garden players might opt for a shorter mallet head length of 9 - 9.8 inches (23 - 25cm), while seasoned players often will choose a longer head for more accurate shooting and to avoid slight off-aim twisting possible with a shorter length head.
Your arm length, height and other physical traits will also determine which croquet mallet to choose; this holds true for all users, if you buy a set. In other words, shorter mallet lengths with more lightweight heads are often used for younger players, as they’re not going to be hitting balls as hard as adults. Again, a set with varied options might suit you in to accommodate different needs.
Since the striking surface is all-important, it’s the head of croquet mallets that gets attention first. Be sure to get a head with rounded edges, or it’s going to get chipped and the face will become worn more quickly.

Shaft
Most players prefer a shaft (or “handle) made of a solid hardwood for the comfortable feel and strength of the wood. Several wood options include hickory, African hardwoods, Lignum Vitae and ash.
Jaques of London, established after John Jaques (pronounced like “makes”) popularised the game in England by introducing it at the 1851 Great Exhibition, is the world’s longest-running company still producing superior croquet sets. They use English Sports Ash in some sets, as this is a favoured wood with both the strength and flexibility good croquet shots require.
You might prefer a spliced shaft that combines different woods, as this will offer a different stroke. Experienced players generally choose a lighter handle, as it effectively gives more swinging power to the head’s pendulum motion. Newer shaft materials include fibreglass and carbon fibre composites; both are light weight, yet strong. An octagonally cut shaft might provide easier holding at various angles, allowing you to shift according to ball placement or other variables.

Length
The length of the shaft is entirely up to your comfort feel. However, if you get too short a shaft, it can’t be cut down, so it’s better to get a slightly longer handle than one that’s too short. The normal rule to calculate mallet length is to measure from your hanging wrist to the ground, then add an inch or so to that distance.
A longer shaft will allow you more manipulation with both hands on some shots. A few players rest the tip of the handle in their belly button area as they shoot, for additional stability. When ordering, be aware that the length is from the shaft’s top to the ground, including mallet head depth.

Weight
The range of selection varies from around 2lb 12oz to 3lb 4oz (1.25kg to 1.50kg), hence the average of 3lb (1.4kg), a safe bet in the middle. Making long shots is easier with a heavier mallet: the pendulum motion of the swing does much of the work for you, via the heavy weight striking the ball.
Your job becomes easier, in essence, if your croquet mallet is doing the work. On the other hand, a lighter mallet used on a faster lawn helps you make gentle strokes and stop-shots with less effort. Also, mallet weight will depend on the length you select: with a longer shaft, you might want to cut the weight a bit, and the opposite holds true.

Grip
Various grip materials offer a different feel and hold, so try out different croquet mallets at a club to see the options. Quality leather is a frequent choice, for its ease of grip, durability and long-lasting attributes. Some name-brand materials and grip styles include Carbotec and Takair, used on top-notch mallets.
Overall, choosing the right croquet mallet is a very personal, necessarily tactile decision. Since you’ll likely use your mallet a lot, get one that feels very relaxed with different shots. Also, choose a maker or supplier that offers many options for mallets and has been in the business for a while. Quality croquet sellers like The Croquet Store offer sets that include a variety of mallets for different uses and player ages, if you’re looking for a multi-faceted set.

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