English Language Pétanque Guides

Harwell Thrasher’s “Winning Pétanque” (2022) is a welcome addition to Byron Putnam’s “Pétanque: The Greatest Game You Never Heard Of” (2011), as the only two easily acquired physical books on Pétanque in the English language. Both are aimed at “newer” American players who have progressed beyond the “interested” novice stage to being active players. Both are available from Amazon and other on-line book sellers.

Thrasher plays regularly in the Atlanta Pétanque League. His 290-page paperback has over 100 illustrations and diagrams, including many avatar illustrations of various throwing positions. He writes without rhetorical flourish and pays no attention to the ambience of the game, its French background and French terminology. Instead, he takes an engineering approach to constructing step-by-step lessons on how to improve one’s game.

“Winning Pétanque” lays out specific steps for analyzing and improving posture and throwing including especially tips on how to eliminate unhelpful movements when throwing. Thrasher also includes detailed discussion of team strategies and tactics. He has “no nonsense” discussions of posture, palm, hand, arm, swing, backspin and follow through.

“Winning Pétanque” has been criticized as a particularly American, dry, “how to” guide that completely fails to capture the ambience and endless subtleties of a joyful, deeply French game. But it nevertheless represents a new, serious English language effort to meet the needs of newer players.

Byron Putnam also aims at meeting the needs of newer players but his book functions more as a comprehensive handbook to the game. The large format 140-page paperback is generously illustrated with photographs and diagrams and similarly provides detailed discussion of throwing techniques and throwing mechanics.

Also an active player, Putnam takes a player’s-need approach to his discussions of Skills, Strategy, Etiquette, Throwing Techniques and Throwing Mechanics. He has been criticized for spending too much time bemoaning that pétanque still has fewer participants in the United States than other sports and touting its superiority as a game over bocce. Nevertheless, his handbook has become a useful, standard guide for newer players.

PÉTANQUE IN OAKMONT WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY

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.

Oktoberfest, the final tournament and pot luck picnic of the season, is on Saturday, October 22.

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Harwell Thrasher’s “Winning Pétanque.”

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Byron Putnam’s “Pétanque: The Greatest Game You Never Heard Of.”

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