Adding Throw Power With The Backswing

Shari Downs takes a big backswing to add power to her shot.
Shari Downs takes a big backswing to add power to her shot.

Graphic by
The pétanque throw, using backswing with the non-throwing arm extended backward

All throws in pétanque start with visualizing and using the throwing arm as a pendulum for peak efficiency and accuracy. Players often ask: “How can I get more power for long pointing, shooting, and lobbing?” A common answer is “throw harder.” But we know from experience that the way to increase momentum in a pendulum is to pull the pendulum back further and higher. Similarly, the more efficient way of increasing throwing power is to increase momentum in the throwing arm. The technique for doing that is to use a bigger backswing.

Often, the player seeking more power typically begins a throw with the throwing arm straight down to the side or only slightly pulled back. Extending the throwing arm back to horizontal with the ground greatly increases the throw’s momentum and, therefore, its power. Adding a bend forward at the waist and extending the throwing arm back further and higher adds even more velocity without requiring the effort of a “harder” throw.

A healthy backswing is a virtual necessity for au fer shooting (direct hit from the air as distinguished from a ground shot), which can be accomplished even at long distances without the trying to throw the boule “harder.” The same is true for the added power needed for the half-lob and especially the full, high lob, which require more velocity than an ordinary ground shot. You don’t always need to shoot or lob, so you don’t always need more throw power. But when you do, try increasing the backswing.

Holding the non-throwing arm in front, or perpendicular to the ground, greatly reduces the momentum that can be gained in any given throw regardless of the degree of backswing. The simple adjustment of extending the non-throwing arm out to the side and back not only provides balance but also adds even greater momentum to the throw.

The Club encourages all Oakmonters who may be interested in playing or learning to play pétanque (pay-tonk) to come to the courts between Berger and the OVA offices at 9:45 a.m. on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. The Club has boules to lend while you’re learning, and you’ll be playing right away. Anyone, regardless of experience, is welcome to enjoy the challenge and camaraderie of a simple game that is inexpensive, fun to play, learned quickly, and endlessly fascinating in its deeper levels of execution and strategy. No dues are required – just sign up to be on the Club roster. Club play days are casual friendly games with teams randomly assigned. The courts are also reserved 10 a.m. – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The first tournament and potluck picnic lunch of the season is Homage to Spring on Saturday, April 30.


Oakmont’s Own More Joy

Back again by popular demand, Oakmont’s beloved hometown group with songs from our past that will make you laugh and cry in the same concert. More Joy is a deep and delightful quartet of artists that weave amazing harmonies throughout a broad selection of folk, country, blues and beyond.

Comedy Show at OAK

Laugh along with Steph and Tom Clark and San Franciscan Dan St. Paul about married life and getting older