In this final instalment (for now) we discuss the importance of practice. Hope you’ve enjoyed the articles, found them useful and a big thank you goes to our resident writer.
There is a school of thought which advises beginners: Learn to point well first and then to shoot. With respect, if that worked the French would teach beginners like that, and as far as I can tell, they do not.
I ask a simple question; have you seen a competent shooter who can’t point?
Shooting and pointing both involve the boule travelling through the air and landing on a pre-determined spot. It is as simple as that and the less time the boule spends on the ground, the less it will deviate.
One warm up technique that works for me is to start with a target boule at about two metres and try to carreau every throw. Simply loop the shot and drop it on the target boule on the front lower quadrant. If you can hit the boule , you can hit the donnee. Move back a metre and do the same again. Note where your hand starts and finishes. Check that your swing is smooth and parallel to the line and not across your body. Aim to release the boule cleanly. Do not grip it.
On terrains with a lot of limestone dust you may find that the skin of your palm dries and loses sensitivity. The rules prohibit ‘wetting’ the boule but you will see players blowing into their fist to slightly moisten the palm. Most of us carry a chiffon , usually a decent piece of ‘chammy’ leather. This is the boulists ‘sucky blanket’, in most cases a fetish which, personally, I can’t play without.
Cock the wrist backward and use the fingers as a sling, relying on angular momentum to keep the boule in your fingers. Note how far it is rolling on different grades of the terrain after landing.
Practice throwing the coche accurately to the distance you want. Hold it between thumb and index and apply backspin to it much as you would a boule to stop it. There is little point in throwing a coche which bounces to nine and a half meters and you then point two meters short of it and the poor old shooter can barely see it.
With some teams the shooter always throws the coche, normally to a distance where he/she is comfortable shooting. Logic would suggest that the pointer should do it provided that they don’t assume that further is better, more difficult for the opposition or ” I like a long coche”. All very well but there are three of you in the team. Good coche throwing is equally as important as good pointing. Practice it.
When pointing , practice looking at the donnee and not the coche as you release the ball. The donnee is the target and not a random piece of terrain where the boule might land, somewhere between you and the coche. Some players are known to practice at home by throwing the boules into a bucket or a piece of drainpipe. It is also very useful to have someone standing behind your arm and checking the line of your swing as you practice.
As with any sport an element of luck is required and as in all things (except the lottery) the more you practice the luckier you become.