Including Young Players in the Game

 

Petanque Talk!

Petanque Coach

Young Adriel Doster practicing his shooting

Petanque is a sport that is easy to begin playing while still quite young. With smaller, lighter boules kids can begin as young as 6 or 8 years old. FPUSA rules allow kids to use junior boules as light as 600 gms and as small as 65 mm in competitions for youngsters 11 and younger. The JB line of boules has sizes down to 70.5 mm. and weights down to 650 gm - the minimum for competition and a good size for younger players.

Unfortunately, there are very few Juniors and younger tournaments in the US at the time of this writing. (A couple of clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area are to be commended for their Juniors tournaments!) Perhaps the FPUSA will see the necessity and wisdom of establishing a Youth Program in the near future (or they may already have done so unbeknownst to me). In the meanwhile clubs and individuals can organize tournaments at club terrains or areas around community youth centers.

Another good option is to incorporate the Youth players into regularly scheduled Senior tournaments. The younger players can be allowed to throw from a meter forward of the throwing circle as they would in their own age group competition.

Dylan Rocher

Dylan Rocher, French Junior Champ - like his father Bruno before him. Dylan now plays in the French Masters tour.

 
 

Minims

If they are old enough for t-ball, they are old enough for petanque!

The Federation of Petanque rules state that young players play on a shorter piste. You can simulate that when including them in Senior tournaments by allowing them to throw from a position one or two meters, depending on their age, in front of the throwing circle. I have done this with young people and it works great! That little bit of distance allows them to be fully integrated into the game.

Another good way to encourage adults to recruit Juniors is to have tournaments in which at least one player on each team must be 18 or younger. If we were to do this on a regular basis, believe me, those kids would feel really important really fast!

 
 

The Age Groups for Young Petanque Players

Minimes (Minors): under 11 years.

Minimes throw the jack 4 to 8 meters.

Cadet: 11 to 14 years

Cadets throw the jack 5 to 9 meters.

Junior: 15 to 18 years

Juniors throw the jack the same as Seniors 6 to 10 meters.

Les Espoirs; 18 - 23 years. In most of the world, the players aged 18 to 23 years are a closely watched and very important group in competitive play. These are the players that will comprise their nations' World Championship teams in the years to come. They are the ones that will pick up the torch, as it were, from their elders and lead the sport into the next generation.

Here in the US, we have done virtually nothing to develop our younger players, indeed to introduce the sport to our youth at all. The few young players we see on the piste are the result of their parents playing the game. If we wait for the sport to grow in this way (especially since so many Americans are introduced to petanque when they are past child-rearing age) it will be decades before there are enough young people to justify events for them!

This does not bode well for our standing in the international petanque community as the immigrant players who have been so important to the FPUSA World Championship teams age with scant replacement.

At some point the FPUSA will realize the importance of a Youth Program for Petanque, or watch its membership dwindle into its dotage.

 
 

It would be really fun for the young players if there were an FPUSA Juniors National tournament each year hosted by a club near Disneyland or Disney World! That way they could combine tournament with a memorable vacation! The FPUSA Junior Nationals and Disneyland! Now that would be a summer to remember!

Another Happy Player!

Another potential life-long player!

 
 

The US's answer to Dylan Rocher??? The next generation, Quinton Nguyen, of the Nguyen Petanque Dynasty pointing his team to victory at the San Pedro Open along with his father and Grandfather. The other player (on the opposing team) is Artem Zuev - a former Junior World Petanque Championship competitor for the US, and an excellent player. This picture was taken during the finals - the Nguyen family team won the tournament against a tough All-Star team from the LA Petanque Club.

An excellent US Junior Player!