- Don McPherson
Pétanque is a fun, social game that takes minutes to learn . . . “and a lifetime to master!” If you’re interested in learning, come (between Berger and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank) at 9:45 AM on the Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. We have extra boules to lend. Just sign up to be listed on the roster. No membership fees are required. The court is also reserved 10 AM – noon for Club player-arranged pickup games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and is otherwise available to all Oakmont residents having their own boules.
“POINTING” THROWS DEPEND ON TERRAIN
Although there is no rule prohibiting an underhand, palm-up throw or even roll, the standard pétanque throw is backhand, palm down, with the boule cradled in the palm and exiting the hand with a snap, fingers pointing upward. This release creates “retro” or backspin on the throw to stabilize the boule when it hits the ground and produce a truer rollout.
There are three basic “pointing” throws. Choosing is a function of the player’s style and skills and the terrain. In each case, the player evaluates the terrain and calculates the best landing area (donnée) for advancing the boule toward the cochonnet (jack). Identifying the best donnée and line through it to the cochonnet frequently is a subject of consultation among teammates.
The roulette throw can be used if the terrain is level and smooth with few obstacles like stones or thicker sand or gravel in the way. The player throws the boule very low to the ground, hitting just in front of the throwing circle and then rolling the entire distance. The roulette is the easiest throw to master since no donnée must be calculated, only speed and degree of retro, but it cannot be used successfully if the surface is uneven because the boule will be thrown off course by any obstacle in its way.
The most common pointing shot, which also is effectively used if the terrain slopes up, down or sideways or has numerous obstacles, is the demi-portée (or semi-plombée), a half-lob that covers half to three-quarters of the distance to the cochonnet in the air before landing and rolling out. The distance to
the landing spot as well as the height of the lob and the degree of retro all have to be calculated by the player, making the semi-plombée an essential, but difficult, pointing throw to master.
When the terrain has many obstacles, or a wall of other players’ boules in front, the player might try the portée (or plombée), a full-lob thrown approximately 5 yards high, landing and stopping near the cochonnet. The plombée covers the entire distance in the air, making obstacles in the terrain irrelevant. The full-lob is the most difficult throw to master and the only one where the donnée and the position of the cochonnet are identical.