PÉTANQUE ZEN: IN THE CIRCLE

In the circle, Jeff Clemence focuses intently on the throw he intends to make while Ellean Huff and Bob Baciocco look on.
In the circle, Jeff Clemence focuses intently on the throw he intends to make while Ellean Huff and Bob Baciocco look on.

PÉTANQUE ZEN: IN THE CIRCLE

Pétanque players stand inside a circle to throw their boules. Traditionally, circles with an inside diameter of 35 – 50 centimeters were simply scribed on the ground. Since 2005 manufactured plastic circles with an inside diameter of 50 centimeters predominate.

Under the rules, the circle functions as a foot foul line. “Pétanque” derives from the Occitan/Provençal words “pés tanca” meaning “feet planted.” By rule, a player’s feet must be entirely within the 50 centimeter diameter of the inside of the circle, and may not touch the drawn line or the plastic. Neither may the player’s feet entirely leave the ground before the thrown boule hits the ground.

Beyond the rules though, the circle occupies a singular place in the mores of the game. A player steps into the circle to do all the mental and physical work required to prepare and execute a throw. Even as a member of a doubles or triples team, once inside the circle the player is totally alone, focusing intently on shutting out all distractions in order to concentrate solely and completely on the task of pointing or shooting a boule.

Thus the “zen” of Pétanque is in the circle. Once a player steps inside to prepare to throw, other players – teammates and opponents alike – are expected to be quiet and be still. Making noise, chatting with another, making comments to or about the player in the circle, or moving within the player’s line of sight, while not per se against a rule, are shunned as discourteous faux pas that violate the spirit of the game.

OKTOBERFEST – SATURDAY OCTOBER 16

The annual Oktoberfest celebration will kick off next Saturday, October 16, at 9:30 a.m. with Tournament registration (melée format: randomly assigned teams). The Tournament is limited by the capacity of the courts to the first 18 registrants. Play begins at 9:45 a.m.

A Potluck Lunch, to which all club members are invited whether playing or not, as well as their spouses/partners/companions, will begin at approximately 12 noon. Please bring your own beverage, chairs, and a lunch dish to share. Cups, plates, and utensils will be provided.

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. There are boules to lend, the game is easy to learn, and you’ll be playing right away. Anyone interested, regardless of experience, is welcome to join in. 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.

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