This one seems very complete
This one seems very complete
When Hopper first joined the club, he was like any other beginner. He figured that his goal was to get his boule as close as possible to the jack. So, like most new players, he threw his boules at the jack. This of course meant that his boules hit close to the jack and then rolled beyond it.
One day he happened to draw the Master as his doubles partner. After they had played a few rounds, the Master took him aside and told him the secret of effective pointing. The Master told him about the three spots.
When they are pointing, new players think in terms of only one spot — the spot where the jack is located. But experienced pointers know that there are actually three spots that are important.
So the first rule of pointing is “Don’t aim for the jack”.
And then aim for the donnée.
Having left Brighton nearly a year ago for the lovely small Mediterranean port of La Ciotat, Ray Ager gives us an account of his year of pétanque.
“Upon arriving in La Ciotat, the birthplace of pétanque, it very quickly became apparent that I was at very best, an ‘average’ player here. There were two major factors:
La Ciotat has two clubs, Jules le Noir, where the game started and Le Cercle des Boulomanes. There is a third area, Le Lido, not a club but a public area where groups of players meet every day to play. There is also a fourth terrain, Le Logis de Provence, where again players meet and there is a weekly mêlée.
The terrains are rock hard, baked by the fierce sun and each terrain is different. Jules le Noir is a varied terrain, some parts fairly smooth, some quite stony, some parts sloping. Les Boulomanes is a smoother terrain, more suited to le Jeu Provençal—more later—but also has sloping areas. Here an uncontrolled boule will continue rolling for an embarrassingly long distance…
Le Lido is probably the most challenging terrain I’ve ever played on. Again varied, some smooth sections but most of it very uneven and full of stones, tree roots, drain covers, etc, full of traps for the uninitiated. Le Logis de Provence is also a very stony terrain.
The first thing that impressed me was how accurate and how consistent the good pointers were. You might think you played a good boule, 20cm from the jack—but the good pointers would consistently beat it. As a generalization, the better players tend to lob their boules but on the smoother terrains, many of the good pointers will roll. Shooting again, very impressive—it seems like the really good shooters rarely miss a shot.
Although the smoother terrains lend themselves to rolling shots, à la rafle, the puristsreally don’t like this and most will shoot boule to boule, au fer. I’d always known that I had a problem with my shooting technique but here it became very apparent. Whereas in Brighton, a shot in front will often hit the target boule, here anything short simply bounces over. 99% of my shots landed short and 100% of them bounced over the target boule!
So I had to work on my pointing and shooting. With pointing, I’ve had to work very hard to learn to get much better control of the boule: more souplesse — rather than ‘heavy-handed’ shots — much more gentle shots, more backspin and always trying to play in front of the jack – boule devant, boule d’argent.
With shooting, again, much more souplesse, a gentle lob, landing on the boule, rather than a hard shot to hit the boule. I have found it very difficult to unlearn the ingrained habits. When I do it right, I can shoot effectively but I’m very irregular and easily slip back into the old ways, unless I remember to concentrate on every single shot.
I have always believed that coaching is an important part of the game. I now believe more than ever that having good coaching and getting the basics right are absolutely essential for anybody wishing to play well.
Gradually I’ve improved and I can now ‘hold my own’ in most games. I’ve won quite a few of the consolante (Plate) competitions and a couple of times the Main concours.
There is also a big difference in the culture or mentalité of the players. Many are fiercely competitive, verycritical of any poor play, and arguments and flare-ups are pretty regular!
Le Jeu Provençal [à la longue] is still regularly played here. Played from 15 – 21m, players take one step out of the circle to point and three running steps to shoot. Shooting is on the run and is much harder than pétanque. Games take a much longer time and because shooting is so hard, it’s a mainly pointing game. I’ve played a few times but prefer pétanque, probably because it’s the game I’m used to but I do find pétanque a more dynamic game of attack/defense. To use a cricketing analogy: pétanque is like a 20-20 match, whereas le Jeu Provençal is like a 5-day test match!
Hope to see some of you in La Ciotat – all for now.
We met Artem in Albuquerque and he was great to watch, smooth and with lots of finesse. His blog is interesting.
“Extension is at the core of effortless gameplay. As you begin to let go of the tension in your arm and become the string, you will begin to harness the power of gravity and eliminate all unnecessary force from your swing. So when you are in the circle about to make that game winning shot, first remember to breathe, relax, let go of the tension in your arm, and allow the boule to lead the way.”
by Jules Lenoir
Before I could write “The Master limits the damage”, I discovered that the Harrogate Montpellier Petanque Club had already written it, and done a great job. So here is my (lightly edited for American readers) copy of their basic tactics page.
Always try to put your first boule infront of the jack. About 30-50 cm is a good distance, but even a meter in front is better than 10cm behind (see Backstops below). The French have a saying, “Une boule devant, c’est une boule d’argent” – A boule in front, that’s a money boule.
The ‘boule devant’ has two advantages:
It’s much easier to stop a boule against a backstop than it is to stop it without. Just throw slightly harder than you think you need to and let the backstop do its job. A boule resting against a backstop is also harder to knock away because of the extra weight behind it.
Of course, there’s nothing to stop the opposition from now using your boule as a backstop — but that’s all part of the game.
As mentioned above, boules in front of the jack can be promoted by running your boule into them and knocking them forward. [Americans usually call this "pushing" your own boule.] There’s often an additional benefit in that the second ball remains close to the point of impact, forming a blocker.
Be careful if there’s an opposition boule close to the one you wish to promote. You can push an opponent’s boule as easily as one of your own, so take into account how accurately you can throw.
A common scenario for beginners starts when the opposition get a boule very close to the jack early in the end. You can’t really point closer so you try to shoot it away. Your team’s throws keep getting closer and you’re sure the next one will do it but you suddenly realize that your team have used up all of your boules! Your missed shots have probably all gone sailing off well past the jack, allowing the opposition to rack up a big score with their remaining boules.
To reduce the odds of getting thrashed like this, you need to point one or two boules that, although not closest to the jack, are close enough to make it difficult for the opposition to score lots of points. Better for them to score a couple of points than five or six.
Ideally, try to make your boule snuggle up to the opposition’s closest boule so that they’ll think twice about trying to shoot yours away.
Of course in a situation where the opposition team needs only a single point to win the game, limiting the damage to only one point won’t help. Strategies to consider in this situation are:
None of these strategies are an easy option but you don’t have a lot of choice.