Team Captain's Page


Petanque Coach

It isn't easy being a team captain. There is so much more than calling the coin toss... at least there you have a 50% chance of success! A good captain can make a real difference in the success of his team's efforts on tournament day.

Here are a few ideas that might increase your team's success the next time out.


Consider your teammate's favorite donnee. This is especially important when playing panache tournaments. You don't have any control over who your teammates are, but you can help them to succeed by tossing the jack such that they will naturally have a good donnee area to work with.

I got this idea from a team captain that I played with once. He said that he watched his teammates and if they had a favorite donnee distance, he did what he could to ensure that when he tossed out the jack there was a good landing spot for their boules at the distance they liked to throw them. He never mentioned this to the other players, but they just naturally did better on his team... he won the panache tournament by paying attention to that detail.

The fact that he is an international level player helped too.


The captain as catcher. I played in a tournament once where one of the pointers was having a hard time placing their boules the first time we met the team. The next time we played them, however, in the finals, she was pointing very well! What was the difference? The second time the captain was squatting behind the jack as a catcher on a baseball team would! He was even doing the hand signals! She was pointing right in there, and never over-threw.

Why the big difference??? Well, he was giving her a place to focus as would the catcher's mitt in baseball for one thing. How many pitchers in baseball could throw a strike if they were throwing into an empty backstop without the catcher's mitt as a target? Not very many! By giving her a target he helped her focus and point consistently well for the entire game.

His squatting there also acted as an instinctive backstop. That is, she knew there was a barrier there and never over-threw. I had heard another version of this from an international level player who said that she visualizes a baby behind the jack when she is over-throwing, and that stops the problem. In the case of the catcher-captain he was going a step further by creating an actual barrier that the player could see.

One potential problem with the catcher-captain is that if they are touched by their teammate's boule, that boule is dead and removed from the game - so he had better be nimble!


Play the finals terrain. If you can find out where the finals are going to be played - and most tournaments will specify which pistes the finals are to be played on - try to practice on that terrain as much as possible - even to the extent that you choose that terrain when you win the coin toss. The finals terrain is often the most difficult at the club, but might also be the one that is easiest for the largest number of people to watch. In any event, play on that surface as much as possible! Then when you make it to the finals your team will be at an advantage. It might take several ends for your opponents to get used to the surface and that can make all the difference in an otherwise close game!

If you don't win the coin tosses and can't play on the finals terrain, then have your team on it between games and during lunch to get familiar with it. They want to have figured out whether high lobs or low rollers will be best long before the actual finals game starts.


Keep your team in competition mode. This can be hard to do with the long delays in most petanque tournaments. Your team might be sitting for an hour or more waiting for another game to finish. Use that time wisely! Watch the teams that you will be playing next for weaknesses and strengths. Practice on the terrains that you will be playing on while you have a chance. If you take the tournament seriously don't let your team sit and gab during the time they are waiting to play. Realize that the opponents will come to your still in game mode with their adrenalin up and ready for action, while your team will be low-energy and distracted. That is, unless you fill the waiting time effectively. So use that time to practice, take in some fluids, watch the future opponents and discuss the best strategy to use against them.