The aim of the game of Pétanque is simple, playing pétanque is placing your boule nearer to the jack and keeping your opponents boule away. To start, pointing should be the focus of your beginning lessons. Shooting skills are usually developed after you’ve mastered you pointing skills.
• Getting closer to the jack
• “Read” the Terrain
Getting nearer to the jack can be achieved in various ways:
a) A boule can be thrown to it.
b) The jack can be moved closer to one of your own boules.
c) The opponent's boule nearest the jack can be moved further away by playing your own onto it.
Pointing is the part of the game in which you try to bring your boule as close as possible to the jack. In general the squatting position is for playing short and the standing position is used for pointing long.
Pointing wins games. To the beginner it is an element of luck. To the expert it is a test of skill and is often used defensively. It’s important to remember that you only have to get closer to the jack than your opponents, not necessarily close to it.
"Read" the terrain as a golfer reads the line of a putt. Predict the path of the ball from where it first will touch the ground (la donnée) to where you want it to stop. The terrain will show you which type of pointing method to use.
There are three main pointing throws in Pétanque.
a. The Rolling Point ( la roulette)
b. The Half Lob (la demi-portée)
c. The High Lob (la portée sometimes la plombée)
The Rolling Point
The last of the pointing throws is the rolling throw, as the name implies your boule is rolled all the way from your circle to the jack. We’ve said that there are two styles of pointing. Well there is a variation of the standing style where you bend forward from your waist and release the boule close to your feet.
Note: Whether you stand, bend forward or squat to make a throw depends largely on the type of terrain you are using. As a general rule for pointing, you need to be higher off the ground on a terrain that is rough and closer to the ground when the terrain is smooth.
The Half Lob (demi-portée)
The most frequent and common way of pointing is the "half lob". Most players adopt this as their standard form for throwing their boule. The half lob is throwing your boule so that it lands between the circle where you are standing and the target, allowing the boule to run along the terrain for the rest of the way to the target. The terrain needs to be reasonably smooth, to allow the boule to roll forward in a line directly to the target. You will pay particular attention to where your ball lands so that you can adjust your next throw as necessary.
The High Lob (portée)
The "high lob" is the most difficult of the three pointing throws, and requires a great deal of height and a lot of backspin to prevent the boule rolling forward too much. The idea is to throw the boule up and landing as close to the jack as possible, then stopping without moving forward too much. At times the throw is executed so well that the boule stops dead where it lands. The throw is difficult to master but a very effective one when carried out correctly. This throw is particularly useful on rough and uneven terrains.
Practice the action of pointing on smooth ground and uneven terrain while both squatting and standing:
• Reading the terrain and choosing the best landing point (la donnée) for the boule to land.
• Plan ahead of your throw: how hard the boule is to be sent, how high it is to go and the distance it has to cover.
• Keeping the eye on the jack, the field of vision which should extend from between where the boule lands and the jack.
• Loose arm-swing which governs the success of the throw.
• Releasing the boule correctly.
• Why and When
• Shooting Styles
Shooting is the act of hitting an opponent’s boules out of the way. Shooting is an option if your opponent’s ball is difficult to out-point which would otherwise cause your team to waste balls in trying. In this way, shooting will clear the path enabling your team to point close to the bouchon. Shooting also increases the ball advantage for your team and pressures your opponent to try to point close again. Shooting also removes opponent’s boules to increase your teams score. Shooting the jack out of play is sometimes necessary to start the hand anew.
Shooting Styles include shooting along smooth ground to remove boules and shooting in the air to remove boules. Shooting through the air is used both when the ground is smooth or when the terrain is rough. Both are effective for different reasons and depend on your own abilities and strengths. Every good shooter, to be fully effective, should have both techniques available, depending on the circumstances.
Shooting along smooth ground (a la raffe)
Usually, shooting on the ground is the beginning style most people start with. Shooting along smooth ground is to throw a boule with controlled force to hit the ground first and then the target ball or balls. It is thrown a few meters in front of the target boule(s), or the jack.
The arm-swing is forceful and rapid and the boule leaves the hand by the fingertips. On touching the ground there should be a slight backspin. The boule moves rapidly along the ground until it makes contact.
The One Bounce Shot
This method is differentiated from the previous one because it uses less force and greater precision.
The boule is thrown to land about one to two meters in front of the object to be shot and is often deadly because your ball often stays around within the area.
Shooting through the air (au fer)
The shooting form and stance is essentially the same as in pointing with the only difference being that you are applying more power to hit the boule directly. This is a precision shot.
In principle, it is easier to shoot a boule away on rough terrain than it is to point a boule close to the jack.
In this diagram there is no arc shown for the direct hit Shot. This is fundamentally wrong and this picture depicts perfectly the mistake most beginning shooters make. This style of shot takes twice the energy to perform and is unpredictably disruptive to balls you don’t wish to disturb.
The ideal arc depends entirely on the distance the target ball is from you. The longer the shot…the higher the arc you will need.
Skills Pointing Practice– Rolling Point, Half Lob, and High Lob
From the drawn throwing circle, place a jack 6 meters away and draw another circle around the jack about the same size as the throwing circle. Practice pointing boules into that circle with the jack.
Practice all three styles, Rolling-Half Lob-High Lob, separately with landing spots that correspond to each style.
Repeat this exercise at 8 meters and then at 10 meters.
The donnée for the rolling point is selected by choosing a flat and smooth spot just in front of the throwing circle. The medium arc point is thrown to a landing spot roughly half the distance from the throwing circle and the jack. The high arc point is a very special technique in which the boule is thrown high so that after it lands, it only has a very short distance to roll.
Skills Shooting Practice – Shooting along the Ground, The One Bounce Shot, and Shooting through the air
Shooting practice is the same as pointing practice except that you will place a single target ball near the jack at 6,8, and 10 meters. Practice all three styles of shooting separately at each of these distances. Both styles are very similar. The main difference is the point of release.
For a more focused practice, place extra boules that represent your team’s boules next to the jack. Avoid hitting your team’s boules.
• Evaluate position
• Your team's/opponents' strengths/weaknesses
• Decide on a shot
• Position the jack
• Smooth or rough
General Tactics of a Game of Petanque
In the game of petanque the teams do not play simultaneously but one after the other. The team which starts the game has, an initial disadvantage, since the opponent has one more boule in hand than they have. It follows that the team that throws second has the advantage until they miss. Keeping track of this ball advantage is key to winning and determines when you should point and when you should shoot.
This advantage can be worth one point for every boule held, in real life this is rarely attained.
When your team as the ball advantage you must decide whether to point or shoot. When there is a choice between shooting and pointing, use the method which looks most likely to succeed.
In petanque, shooting is not necessarily attacking and pointing is not necessarily defending.
Shooting to defend a point or pointing to attack will enable you to regain the advantage.
Even if you have the advantage, you should point if the opponents' most recent boule is poor and easy to outpoint. Be sure that the nature of the surface or the skill of the opponents does not leave you open to attack. There are many elements which have to be taken into account including your own skill when you adapt your tactics.
Consider shooting to reduce the opponents' score or break up the game, send the jack out, scattering the boules even if the opponents have one or more boules more than you.
Nobody is immune from making an error of play, though this is usually a case of failing to carry out an attempted throw.
The Financial times has finally understood that Petanque is the game of the future, with our long time friend Mike Pegg, International umpire.
"It may not be the sunny south of France but even on a chilly Devon day, British fans are warming to the charms of pétanque"
We stumbled across a petanque-game for the andoid-system. From the produces description:"Petanque in St Tropez is a 3D bowls game, as played on the mediterannean coast." We do not have an android-phone to test it on, perhaps one of you can help us out?
The world wide petanque and boule community, by and for users.