Better Pointing



Petanque Coach

Petanque Coach






Return to Petanque Talk!



What I advise here might at first seem to be over-simplification of the challenge of becoming an excellent pointer. But we must begin with the basics and build our skills from there. So here we go.

First decide on a posture. I have seen excellent pointers throw from a standing posture as well as a crouching or squatting posture. All postures have advantages and disadvantages. But most important is that you decide which it will be, and that after having experimented some you are confident in your choice.

I started as most people do throwing from a standing posture. I found myself naturally crouching lower and lower. At some point I tried throwing from a squat as many of the top players do. Now that posture seems most comfortable. It allows a good view of the slopes and naturally provides a lower trajectory angle minimizing bounces to the sides.

Many people, because of hip or knee problems simply can't use the squatting posture for throwing. That shouldn't keep them from becoming excellent pointers - though they may find that a crouch will help.

Squat posture
Petanque Secret Portal!

This player (below) has been very successful using a crouch throwing posture when pointing. He sometimes gets so low on his crouch that he will scrape his knuckles! I've done that from a squat, but to do it from a crouch you have to get really low!

the crouching throw


Try to keep your hand straight and fingers together when releasing the boule. A slight tilt to the left will result in a boule bouncing or curving to the left, and slight tilt to the right will result in the boule curving or bouncing to the right on impact. Those bounces can drive you crazy, but controlled they can result in a purposeful curve around guard boules. Spend most of your time practicing a good straight line, but occasionally experiment with tilting your hand one way or the other and see the results. If you end up playing the milieu (the team's all-arounder and usually middle player) position on the team being able to curve slightly will help you get around all the boules cluttering the best lines to the jack.

Whenever possible, place your boules in front of the jack. Doing so blocks the best lines from the opponent and often results in your boule being bumped (promoted or advanced) into an even better position. Boules that end up behind the jack can be used as backstops by your opponents leaving their boule closer and bumping yours even further away.



If you are playing on a team, I believe that it is helpful to have your pointer throw out the jack. Of course the team captain should be consulted in the decision as to where the jack should be thrown, but I think that it is important for the pointer to do the throwing. First off, you pointer is probably the best at making an accurate placement. Second, by going through the motion of the throw (which should always be underhanded and in the same motion that is used for throwing the boule), the pointer gains valuable experience in the motion of placing the jack. And by watching the path of the jack, the pointer can learn a lot about the terrain's surface before taking that critical first throw.

If you are playing alone, then you should throw the jack from the same posture and using the same arm motion as you will point with. Going first has many disadvantages (not the least of which is that you are down a boule on your first throw!), one of them being that your opponent can watch the line of your boule and adjust their throw accordingly... the only thing that is going to be rolling out there before you throw will be the jack - make the most of it!

The Perfect End!

The perfect end!

The image above is your goal as a pointer. All of the smooth boules are from one team, the lined boules are the opposing team. That is a 6 point end that you are looking at! It has not been staged but actually happened during the finals of a 2011 FPUSA Regional Tournament in California. You can see the tracks of the boules indicating how they got there. This is an example of very very precise pointing!


An elegant pointer!

This pointer is among the most graceful that I have seen. I try to make my pointing throws a thing of elegance as well.

copyright 2007 - 2011 Nathan G. Doster