Tips to Help You Improve Your Petanque Game


Practice Your Throw Options

Many players have one throw, be it a low bowling roll, or a semi-lob, or even a high lob. Whatever their throw, they use it in all situations. This puts them at a real disadvantage if they try to play on a different terrain. It would be best if you could do all three types of throws, and should practice with that goal in mind. In the US many petanque players have had experience bowling in bowling alleys and their petanque technique reflects that legacy, The bowling throw will work so long as the surface that you are playing on is very smooth. But on a gravel, or lumpy, or rough, or even soft, surface bowling is much less effective.

A good second throw to work on might be the semi-lob. This is where you throw the boule half way to the target and let it roll the rest of the way. Realize that every foot that the boule is in the air, is that much less ground that can affect the boule's path. I think that my semi-lobbing technique is one reason that I have been able to catch up, and compete with players that have been playing for years longer than I have.

The high lob is a throw that requires more strength but can be quite effective if you can master it. Most of the top players of the world use the high lob most often. It allows them to throw their boules over most of the surface landing a short distance in front of their target, with little chance of deviation. The height of the throw and a back-spin ensures that the boule will not travel far after it hits the ground.

And finally, I would like to encourage everyone to consider shooting more often if the situation calls for it. For some reason a lot of people consider shooting throws to be difficult throws. But they aren't really. True they take a bit more strength than rolling a ball, but not that much more. And sometimes people consider a missed shot as a wasted boule, but so is an impossible pointing attempt where lots of guard boules block your path. And too, a well executed shooting throw can result in multiple point ends where a single pointing throw rarely will. So practice shooting and when a shot is what is needed, do it!

I know that my enjoyment of the game has really increased with my ability to use these various throws as needed, and am certain that yours will too!

  Practice your throws!
Too large a boule

Choose Your Boule Size Carefully!

I have given a bit of thought to boule size. Forget for a moment the size of your hand. Think about all the very close measurements that you lost in your games - the ones that mattered. It is amazing how often a millimeter matters! Well, that millimeter can be built into your boule! That's right. A player with a 78 mm boule against a player with 72 mm boules will have a 3 mm advantage on every close measurement. No wonder the top players generally play with big boules! So run out and buy mondo boules right?

Wait a minute,

Look at the picture to the left. To me, it looks as though that fellow is going to have a hard time controlling his boule. Not to mention ripping out every little tendon in his hand. There are situtations where the boule is just too big to control.

So it all really starts with the size of your hand and your fingers. Most sites that sell boules have ways to measure for boule size. Once you figure that, you will want to have the largest boule that you can control. If you are a member of a club, try some of your friends' boules on for size. I started with 72s, decided I was giving up too many millimeters to my brother's mighty 75 mms, and went to 74s (his hands are a lot bigger than mine). Even though I won a few tournaments with those 74s they always seemed just on the edge of out of control - and I felt the strain on the back of my hand. So I have backed off to 73 mm and they feel a lot better. So I'll give my brother a 1 mm advantage... but I'll spare my hand,and hopefully make a lot more good throws. He'll need that extra 1 mm!

Check the end!

Check the End!

Many an opportunity is missed simply by not studying the lie of the end before you throw. You have an entire minute from the time the last boule stops until you have to throw. 60 seconds is a long time! If you don't believe it, watch the second hand of a clock go around one complete revolution. I learned how long it really is by watching the French Masters play. They will look at the end... discuss the possible donnee (landing spot)... go down to the throwing circle to see how it looks from there... walk back and discuss it some more... one of the team will break away from the others... settle into the throwing circle... compose himself... and throw... all within the minute allowed. It has been my observation that most players throw way too quickly without really considering their best throw.

Sadly, I have been negligent in this regard myself, with unfortunate consequences! Going into a particular tournament I told my teammate over and over again that we were both to watch the end and tell each other if we see an opportunity. But as the day went on and finding shade seemed more important than studying ends, we made a critical error. We were winning 9-2 over the host club's best team... then one one end I failed to get out of the throwing circle, and shade and inspect the end. If I had, I would have seen that shooting out their best boule would have given us enough points on the ground to win the game! I had been shooting about 70% that day and had two boules in hand yet. I opted to point, oblivious to the potential. They got the point, rallyed (that they would be given such a gift!), and won 9-13. Believe me, I inspect the ends now! And so should you.

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