THE SQUAT POSITION
The two pétanque positions for pointing are standing and squatting. Some players, including many of the best, rarely use the squat position. But others, including some of the world’s best, use the iconic squat position frequently.
Pointing accurately and consistently requires first “reading” the terrain. But doing this doesn’t require throwing from the squat position — like preparation for a golf putt, a player can squat down to read the ground and then stand to shoot. As B.W. Putnam observes in Pétanque: The Greatest Game You Never Heard Of: “The prerequisite to precise and consistent pointing is controlled rebound and true rollout. All things equal while in the squat the pointer’s release is only about half the height of a standing release. Thus, the squat pointer’s arc is lower, rebounds less and has a truer rollout.”
In general, pointing from a lower position for most players works best for short distances of 6 – 8 meters, while pointing from a standing position works best for distances of 8 meters or greater.
PLAYING TIP: A BOULE IN THE WAY
Placing a boule in front of the target cochonnet creates both a physical and a psychological obstacle. The classic French expression is “boule devant, boule d’argent” (a ball in front is a money ball). Assuming the boule is not so near the cochonnet that it must be shot out, the next player must deal with the obstacle.
It may be possible to curve a boule to the left or right of the obstacle if skill and surface conditions permit. But usually “the proper strategy is to point as if the blocking boule were not there” advises Alec Stone Sweet of La Boule New Yorkaise. “You may miss the boule; you may touch it but continue on to win the point; you may make it more difficult to shoot your boule without removing your opponent’s boule.” Since the obstacle boule is already a point, pushing it forward leaves you no worse off.
WEDNESDAY & SATURDAY CLUB PLAY
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.