How far should you throw the jack?

By Mr.Bordsenius at 2006-07-28

The Seven Deadly Sins – Are YOU Guilty?

A series in seven parts by Ray Ager
Sinner or Winner? Here’s a test question to see which you are:
Part one:
How far should you throw the jack?

If you answered, “6 – 10m”, well, at least you know the rules, for Adults and Juniors at least (how about for Minors, under 11yrs old or Cadets, under 14yr olds?)

However, you may have already have committed the first and most deadly sin, when playing petanque…
1. Not Playing as a Team
Playing as separate individuals, rather than working together as a team is the worst and one of the most common deadly sins that beginners – and others! – make.

The correct answer to the question is, “To a distance that best suits your team and disadvantages the opponents.” This means that you need to talk to your team-mates, consider different options, evaluation the relative strengths and weaknesses of both your own team and the opponents, the score, etc, and then make a team decision about how far to throw the jack.

If you a good team player, you should also be asking where to throw the jack – on a smooth area, on a slope, in deeper gravel, in a stony area, etc. Again, these are all factors that should be taken into account. This assumes you have a “proper” terrain – see Sin No 6 – and that you’re playing Open terrain – see Sin No 5.

The next team question is “Who throws the jack?” Traditional advice the shooter throws, choosing the distance that they prefer, although it would seem more logical that:
- The team makes the decision
- The player who is most accurate at throwing the jack should be the one to throw is.

Just to prove Einstein’s third theorem, “For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert”, there’s a good argument that the pointer should throw the jack, as this will help them read the terrain – see Sin No 3.

You also need to practise – see Sin No 7 – throwing the jack, something often neglected but something that can be a vital skill to give you the edge in a game.

So, now you’ve thrown the jack – better, your team has thrown the jack. One of the most important principles to learn is to think and behave as a team. This means, firstly you need to agree team roles, who is going to point and shoot and who will be the middle player when playing triples.

A related sin is to think of 1st, 2nd and 3rd players. If you say, I’ll play first, then you haven’t learnt that each player has a role in the team – pointer, shooter, middle – and you won’t know who will play first until the opponents have played a boule, when you should then evaluate the situation and decided what shot to play. If you point, then the pointer will play, if you’re going to shoot, then the shooter will play.

Especially when forming a team, you should always evaluate the head together, discuss tactics and hopefully take a team decision on what shot to play and who is going to play, e.g. when pointing you should decide:
- What type of shot, rolling, half-lob, high lob
- What line to take
- Where to land the boule
- Are you trying to get as near the jack as possible, tap a boule out, play onto another boule, etc.

Think positive, don’t say, “Let’s try one shot”, implying doubt and uncertainly. Much better to say, “Let’s take out the holding boule,” a positive statement that says what you are going to do.

When you’ve played your boules, don’t walk off the terrain taking no further interest or part in the end. Instead, stay together as a team and help and advise the other team players on what shot to play.

If you’re the pointer and you’re pointing well, you can help your team by indicting the best line to take, the best landing spot, etc. Although you’ve played your boules, you’re still part of the team and you should be involved and play an active part in team decisions.

If you stand together, you’re showing that you’re together as a team. If you’ve got one player behind the circle, one behind the jack and another chatting to players on the next terrain is shows you’re not together as a team.

Another related sin to poor team work is the frustration shot. Usually in doubles, the pointer – or often, the “first player” – points a couple of boules in quick succession, failing to beat the opponent’s holding boule and, without thought and certainly without consultation, fires off a wild rolling shot that invariably ends up off the terrain, having missed the opponent’s boule by a mile!

What sins were committed?
- Failure to agree roles – the pointer taking a wild shot, when the shooter should be shooting.
- Failure to consult and agree which shot and who is to play.
- Playing too quickly
- Probably not filling in the last hole – and then getting a “bad bounce”, see Sin No 3.

Still feeling sinful? Wait for the next episode!

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