Here, you will find advice and tips from experienced players on all aspects of the sport.

The best advice we can give to people wanting to start playing is to find a local club and seek advice. Coaching programmes, introductory sessions and friendly advice are always on hand.

Got an aspect of the sport you would like us to cover? Contact us and let us know.

Point to perfection with Hervé

Herve

Hervé Bavazzano is one of England’s top pointers and was part of the England team that played in the 2012 World Championships in Marseille.

My lucky 7 tips to improve your pointing.

You will find searching on Google several articles or videos to help you improve your technique of pointing and avoid general technical mistakes.

  • – How to release the ball
  • – To squat or not to squat
  • – Techniques of lob or half lob, etc.…

I think that these aspects of the game have been already well covered so I am not going to reinvent the wheel. Instead, I am going to concentrate on the more strategic aspect of the art of pointing as I think this would be most helpful for more experienced players (from local to national) wanting to take their game to the next level.

Here are my thoughts to help you with your game and become more consistent.

Tip 1: Practice for the “harder” points.
Most exercises I see involve releasing the boule, hitting the landing spot and aiming for the jack. The reality of the game means that in most situations, pointing will involve avoiding obstacles, going outside or inside a boule, or even over. It’s one thing to try to learn how to lob but it’s another to try to point and avoid obstacles while trying to get near to the jack. The same thing applies for practicing to place the boule exactly where you aim for. This could be in front of another existing boule or just in front of the jack to save the game for example. So, “situational pointing” as a quality of practice certainly helps your performance during the game to replicate the same outcome.

Tip 2: The right attitude. You can’t win a point that you don’t think is beatable. How often do you see a player doubting if he is going to take a point and execute a poor outcome? Very often. The difference between a good pointer and great pointer is not only limited to the technique but their commitment to executing the perfect shot. Very often, this is the difference at top level. On the same topic, the key to successful pointing is our ability to ignore the piste conditions (in particular if they are more challenging than usual) and forgetting about the bad boules very quickly. Too much focus on a poor point can make you lose confidence on the next one and contribute to a poor execution.

Tip 3: Do the basics right, time and time again. I personally learned my pointing by watching top pointers execute the same movement, aim for the same spot, and create the same outcome until it became perfect. They became so sure of their technique that as soon as they had a bad boule during a game, they could revert back to the “basics” which knew would carry them to consistency again.

Tip 4: Take your time and think about what you are doing. You have a full minute to play a boule. So, make the most of it. Think carefully about your landing spot and the type of shot that you are about to execute. Very often, a poor execution is due to a poor analysis of the conditions presented (playing surface, landing spot, type of shot and direction of the shot). Preparation is key to success. So, don’t rush it.

Tip 5: Play the right point according to the surface. Don’t over do it but play the shot that you believe will create a higher chance of success. For example, if lobbing is required, then go for it as opposed to making them roll from your feet. Of course, you may say but how many times do you see this happening during a game? Generally the outcome is likely to be poor. Same for a flat piste when I see people lobbing being surprised to be 1m long.

Tip 6: The best point is the one that stays longer in first position. It is not the point specifically in front or behind the coche or even too close to the coche. Your boule is only as good as the pressure that you put on the shooter/pointer.

Tip 7: Being a pointer isn’t a punishment. It’s the foundation of the team. Some people think that pointing isn’t as “sexy” as being a shooter. I hear it’s “boring” and “repetitive”. I personally hate boring tasks I am going to admit but I certainly love pointing because I know the impact that a great pointing can have on the outcome. You can be the catalyst of the team by putting real pressure on the shooter.

Hope this helps you and your game. Any questions, feel free to contact me [email protected]

Mind coach with Martin

Martin playing

Martin Hughes plays his pétanque in Chiltern Region and has played at regional and national level. He is the founder of positivepetanque.org

Like all sports the mental aspects of pétanque are absolutely crucial. The best analogy I have seen is an iceberg. The skill of a player is what you see above the surface, but it is the hidden aspects ‘below the waterline’ involving tactics and the mental approach to the game which are equally important.

In this first piece, I am going to look at ways in which players can overcome a dip in form, often known as a ‘slump’.

The first thing to say is that however good players are in any sport, they will experience slumps from time to time. A slump is a period of time during which you do not perform to the level you are accustomed and can vary in length.

Slumps can be a vicious circle of frustration, over exertion and loss of confidence. They often lead to players focusing on outcomes (“I need to win this competition”) rather than the process of executing a good individual point or shot. Paralysis by analysis is also something that can happen during a slump – overthinking what you are doing rather than just surrendering to the process.

The paradox is that over-control can put you right out of control – how many times have you seen a play fail because a player or a team has spent too much time thinking about it or discussing it? I watched a superb 13 year-old shooter in France recently step consistently into the circle and shoot almost instantaneously with outstanding results. Yes, he had an amazing ability, but he let that innate ability – no doubt achieved through intensive training – take control.

My advice is do not over-think. Practice hard to improve but let your performance flow naturally and as sub-consciously as possibly. Just ‘do your thing’. Get back to the fundamentals of your game.

Getting focused is key to overcoming dips in performance. Forget about distractions whether they are internal (negative or off-task thoughts) or external (like comments from your opponents). Pay attention only to the task at hand – hitting a boule or landing a point on the right spot. If you are a shooter, your mind should be focused on ‘relax and release’ – that will keep your posture calm and natural. This quote from tennis legend Billie Jean King could have been written for pointers: ‘Every point I play is the now moment. The last point means nothing, the next point means nothing.’ Do not think about what has just happened (maybe a missed shot or a short point) or what might happen (like the outcome of the game or how your mates might think you’re performing).

Letting what you have practiced take control will happen if you maintain the your focus on the right things. Focus on the wrong things – the venue, opinions of others, your teammates actions, trying to look good by playing an unnecessarily  ‘showboating’ high lob or how lucky the bounce was for your opponents’ last boule – and your chances for error will be dramatically increased.

Being a golfer as well as a pétanque player, I find that there are great parallels between the two sports in getting the right task-oriented focus. Jack Nicklaus used a technique where he played a mental video in his head of the shot he was about to play. He imagined where his shot would end up even to the extent of how it bounced and stopped. He then swung his club to make that image a reality. To me, that sums up what is meant by getting into focus on the task in hand.

They say that slumps are like a comfy chair, easy to get into but much harder to get out of. Getting back to your natural game, trusting your instincts, avoiding over-thinking and focusing on the task at hand will get you back on track.