... it seems to me that there are two different aspects to be considered with respect to the usefulness or otherwise of "body movement" if we define it as movement of body parts other than the arms during a croquet swing.
If power is the main consideration (which it rarely is in croquet) then it should start from the larger muscles in the trunk and/or legs as Kevin suggests.
If accuracy rather than power is the main aim, then the fewer muscles involved and needing to be co-ordinated the better.
Try the following experiment. Make a dot with a pencil on a sheet of paper lying on your desktop. Try to place the pencil point again on the exact same dot by:
In cricket or tennis, where power is often important, the trunk muscles and leg muscles come into play in allowing power to be generated with the apparent effortless ease exhibited by the top players; but it requires a degree of co-ordination that not many of us possess naturally or are capable of developing. Even in these sports, a delicate stop-shot in tennis, or a fine cut or leg glance in cricket should be played using only the arms and/or wrists, and avoiding body movement.
I believe we have much more to learn on the subject, and have spent time working with a bio-mechanics expert using force-platforms, electrodes attached to muscles and linked to computers, impact measuring devices, etc. The results so far have been inconclusive for reasons connected partly with the nature of biomechanics experimentation, partly with the personal interests of the expert, and partly with croquet politics. I can explain further if anyone is interested (which is unlikely), or is thinking of pursuing such research themselves (possible, but probably ill-advised).
A further point from Kevin's letter is that the centre of gravity of the player will usually move during a swing. This may not matter provided it remains above the base on which he is standing. Thus a step-stance rather than a level stance is recommended, especially for players with small feet (seriously!) and less body weight, and for everyone when playing strokes such as long rushes, rolls and cannons where real power is required.
It may be of comfort to some to realise that additional body weight, particularly around the nether regions, is an advantage for the sport of croquet because it provides more stability and can be used to counterbalance the forward movement of the arms.
The alternative to adopting a stance which can cope with a forward
in the centre of gravity without overbalancing is to either move the
forward during the swing by walking as some players do, or
the forward movement of the arms by moving some body part of similar
in the opposite direction. Which body part should you consciously move
backward during the swing? David Maugham and Paul Skinley are two who
to noticeably use the top part of the trunk as a counterweight, but
top players tend to minimise body movement and contrive to keep the
of gravity above the base provided by their stance. It can be easier to
do this if you start with the weight back on your heels, allowing a
degree of forward movement of the arms and mallet before any
backward movement is needed to keep the system stable.