A hit for health

 

The ball-and-mallet game of croquet has been a global phenomenon of strategy, skill and tactics for more than 160 years. It is often portrayed on film as the social activity du jour of British society, and it could reach an even wider audience following a collaboration between Croquet Victoria and the APA.

Through investigation of the physical and mental benefits of the game, a modified shorter game of golf croquet is being promoted as an outdoor, low-impact activity for people of all ages, including those with limited movement.

The following videos, one aimed at the general public and the other at allied health professionals, have been produced with input from physiotherapists Hannah Sharma and Joanna Tan, both members of the APA Gerontology Group. They provided expert guidance and research evidence on how and why the game could, in particular, help an older population, reviewed physical movements undertaken during the hour-long game, consulted with players and Croquet Victoria, and even played the game.

Croquet: an ageless game

‘We needed to know exactly what we were recommending to our patients,’ says Hannah. ‘So we considered what community sport options were available to older adults, and whether engaging in this game was associated with physical, cognitive, social and emotional benefits.’

Croquet: a hit for health

An analysis of the evidence suggested positive outcomes across these and other domains of health. The videos explain the game and its physicality, including how required movements impact a player’s body, as well as the cognitive and psychosocial benefits of participating in the sport, and promote helping patients with coordination, upper and lower limb strength, static and dynamic balance. Physical movements include flexion of hips and knees, gentle shoulder motion, a light grip strength with both hands on the mallet and no significant twisting of body or spine, making it a viable option for people with many musculoskeletal, neurological or chronic conditions.

Hannah believes golf croquet could provide the impetus to keeping people mobile rather than sedentary. ‘The benefits of participating in any sport are well known and the positive opportunities provided by croquet are improved self-esteem, goal attainment, contentment with participation, satisfaction of achieving and social interaction,’ she says.

Croquet Victoria’s vice president Kate Patrick says the game has the potential to bridge the gap in people wanting to return to sport following injury.

‘It’s an enjoyable way of getting exercise. It’s a great sport, physically anyone can play. There are certainly people who are keen on playing sport who have had to stop because they have a physical condition. If they did, they would then most likely see a physiotherapist, so we approached the APA to see what physiotherapists thought about croquet as an option for these people.’

Along with its social aspects, Hannah discovered the game to be strategic and competitive. A surprise part of playing, she says, was having to focus on her own hand–eye coordination, static and dynamic balance and mental focus. She also learnt new skills of understanding how to market to an audience.

‘Seeing firsthand the process of writing a script and how the video was shot gave insight into how you need to focus and promote what you are trying to achieve—these are valuable skills that are transferable into clinical work.

‘Facilitating activity participation to the maximum level at any given time in a person’s life is what physiotherapy is all about and, I suppose, croquet strongly reverberates that theme by providing a wonderful avenue to explore these benefits.’

The videos are being promoted on the APA and Croquet Victoria websites, and Kate is hoping other physiotherapists follow Joanna and Hannah’s lead in trying the sport.

‘It’s been a fantastic and enjoyable partnership and we have enjoyed working with the APA on this project. We hope more physiotherapists take the opportunity to come along and try the sport and see first-hand the benefits it could bring to their patients.’

Contact your state croquet association to locate clubs near you for more information and to become involved.

 

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