Good Point

Hello and here’s another article for you to enjoy…

On the face of it petanque appears to be a simple game, you point or you shoot. Indeed it isn’t witchcraft but neither should one be too dismissive. The game is more complex than it sometimes appears and to get the real flavour one must explore it’s subtlety and challenges. This can not really be taught, but requires observation and experience. This will only come from playing and practice…

Pointing is a vitally important aspect of petanque and requires constant practice and development. Each throw must be planned, rather than merely rolling a boule toward the coche in the hope that it will run out of speed somewhere close. Choose the donnee carefully ,ensuring it is clear of obstacles , offers the best use of any slopes or dips and is a suitable distance from the coche given the terrain surface. Next calculate the height, weight of your throw and spin needed on the boule. Remember the coche is very often not the target. The FFPJP rules forbid “preparation” of the donnee but there is usually a bit of common sense relaxation , provided that it is not blatantly abused.

Boule devant (boule en argent) A boule placed in front of the coche , ideally 10 to 15cm , Everyone’s favourite , the ideal opening throw. It deserves the respect of a shot , jouez le jou.

Le biberon . Literally a baby’s bottle. A point which stops in front and touching the coche. As the first boule of an end it may look great but both boule and coche are likely to finish out of play for a dead end if it is shot. The best reply is sometimes a straight roll point for half ball side contact or a side spin point.

Le bâtard Means exactly what it sounds like , and it is. Best placed about 30cm to the side and slightly forward of the coche. Intended to cause hesitation and indecision and hopefully a miss. Do I shoot it ? Naw there is plenty of room to point inside it ! Better not go too far past it!. Because it is forward of the coche , to the unwary pointer it looks closer than it is. Ignore it and it will surely be there at the end and probably counting.

Le Devant de boule. One behind the other touching or very close. Instead of shooting, for example, for an uncertain carreau on an off centre boule, just beyond the coche ,try playing right up behind it and touching if possible. You should finish nearer the coche and it will need a very accurate thin shot “on the ear” to move it because (as Newton proved) the middle boule will not move if hit squarely. You can now safely play hard on to your own boule . Two chances of gaining a point or two.

Boule derrière Back boule placed to catch a dislodged coche . A favourite tactic of Foyot is la pousette ,carrying the coche through on to a previously placed or a clutch of previously shot “rentrant” boules at the back

Le recul Pull back/recoil . A throw with enough backspin so that when played over the coche on to a back boule it will spin back toward the coche a push it toward the front boules.

Se mélanger Shuffle. The portée, high lob played near vertically into a clutch of opposing boules to spread them. Usually preferable to a direct shot for moving more than one and with the chance of staying in the middle of the head. Not recommended if it’s your last boule. . So ,the right shot in the right spot at the right time is what pointing is all about.

The terrain and the throw

Never speak of a good or bad terrain. They are just different and the skill is to play accordingly and make best use of the conditions. Reading the terrain is often what makes the difference between winning and losing points.

You may want to put the coche where there is a good chance that any boules shot or overplayed will go dead. Instead of throwing a long coche , put your circle at the distance you want plus a meter or so from the dead line and throw the coche to be just legally in. If you are shooting well you have the opportunity to play a softer shot or hard point which will stay in the head but make sure that the shot ball goes dead.

La Donnée One cannot over-emphasise the importance of the donnee. This is the point where the boule touches the terrain for the first time. This is in fact your target and so deserves your full attention. It should be your focus as you release the boule. For a natural throw it will lie on a line between your release point and the point where you want the boule to finish. It will dictate the length of roll and weight of throw required. While it is forbidden to “prepare” the donnee you will see players smoothing out an imaginary hole where they intend their boule to land.

La Roulette The rolling point, played low close to the terrain , landing no more than 3 metres from the rond. Useful on a smooth, fast terrain. Normally best played sitting.

La demi-portée The half lob played to about midway , medium height ,describing a bell curve. The angle of descent and surface will dictate the roll distance . Again usually played sitting

La portée The high lob , played standing, to within 2 metres of the coche. The steep angle of descent can , with spin, result in practically no roll. Useful for playing to a coche close to the line or over blocking boules.

We Need You!

The West Yorkshire Petanque League season opens this Tuesday (19th April) with a home match against Heckmondwike at 7pm. 

Our team is raring to go so please come along and support them if you can!

Articles of Interest 

Hello All

Once again I am really pleased to post up the first part of some articles on Petanque constructed by one of our members – fascinating stuff and well worth a read so grab a good glass of wine or a mug of Yorkshire tea depending on your mood find a good spot to read and enjoy!  Thank you to our resident writer for taking the time.

The thoughts of Jean-Marc


Some of the following is distilled from Marco Foyot’s 1984 book imaginatively titled “Petanque”. Naturally there are a few “Ah but what ifs” but go with it and see how it grabs you. It must be said that he is not the most popular man among some top players in France but he has been a great ambassador for the game. He says in the introduction “ I am not addressing the five hundred or so top players, who neither want or need my advice but speaking to the thousands of people drawn to the sport, the novices, those who play for fun with their friends and those who test themselves on the big terrains on a Sunday. I want them to see petanque as rejuvenating , athletic, dynamic and essentially ‘sporting’ in the true sense”.    Bearing in mind that our French friends never use one word when five will do, I have tried to keep any translation as sensibly concise as possible.

To my mind Foyot was and still possibly is, the best tactical player in the game. The content is aimed at good level competitive play but also addresses the basics. His texts on the basic techniques are not very different from those described in practically every book written on the game so hardly need repeating but I have always found his take on the game thought provoking and informative .

 The anatomy of a game

With options almost always available for each shot ,it is judicious choice and application which produces the right tactic. The choice is not always immediately obvious; whether to shoot, point ,play on to a boule or the coche. Do you go close to invite a shot or wide to invite a point or play a teaser in between …?

The simple success or failure of a shot does not in itself prove very much. Everyone can miss. A hazardous shot can succeed and an apparently simple one can go wrong. If you think about it, the odds of success almost always outweigh the odds of failure , otherwise no one would ever win. The experienced player will assess the situation in front of them and not just play their stock shot. As they say “jouer le jeu” .Nobody pretends it is easy but a thinking approach to the game can make the difference. A match can be considered in four elements;

(Le Debut) The Start

For example, assuming you have the first throw of the coche. Set it at 7 or 8 metres or less. The first few ends are where you try to get a measure of the other team. The aim in the early ends will be to contain a stronger and put pressure on a weaker opposition. The score over the first few ends is not as important as assessing how the opposition play. Bearing in mind they may be double bluffing, establish for example : Do they simply react to what you do and defend? Do they seem reluctant to or ready to attack.? Do they talk to each other before each shot?

You point 300mm in front of the coche . Do they shoot or point past it? Did they automatically point without going to the head to check. Who decided what shot to play ,did anybody ask? Did they examine the donnee before pointing?. You are looking for anything careless or ill-judged which you can exploit. How is the team made up.? Are they “one trick ponies” or good pointers who can also shoot well. For example, is their shooter left handed? If so, boules on the right will draw his boule away from the coche ( barring a spot carreau) and vice versa. Keep that in mind. Do they roll point at the coche and rely on direction and weight, ignoring the surface conditions? If so put your next coche just beyond the roughest spot you can find. You share the same piste so it is up to you to exploit it better. 


 (L’engagement) Commitment

This generally will come somewhere in between points 1 and 7,depending who has control at this stage. This is where you can begin to take a few risks. Shots which are a little dangerous but will if successful ,pressurise the opponents . Look for the “payant”, the money shots where you can pick up more than one point taking you to within a possible 3 or 4 and game. Even if you are 5 -0 down at this point it is not catastrophique. Don’t panic. Conserve your ammunition and make the opponents to use all theirs. The aim now is to get to 9 before they do and be in a position to get to 13 with one big end.

(Le tournant) The Turn

This is the pivot point, 7 -9 , where a win is possible in a single end . Each point is now doubly important and the team that holds it’s nerve has the advantage. Don’t be too tempted to change what is working well so far. Steady and deliberate . Hold what you have and keep the coche even if you have to kill the end . Aim to have the last boule . Your judgement on whether to defend or attack will depend on the score, the confidence of your team and theirs ,the position of the boules played and remaining boules held.

(La conclusion) The Finish

This final push comes between 9 and 13. You will play to finish and the other team will be doing the same. The difference will be conservation of your boules and the team with boules in hand will be in the best position. It may be the time to consider putting a long boule behind to cover a coche displacement .It may suggests that you might plan to shoot the coche and the other team may put a boule or even two in front to stop you rather than the definite scoring shot which they might have played. Getting them to waste boules is a way to gain advantage in boules in hand…. . The key to victory . Avoid being fixated by 12 ,it is not the be all and end all. You may be on 12 and the opponents on 10 or 11 but you have not won yet and sometimes it even increases the pressure and the “bati-bati” kicks in. A team can just as easily win from 10 as from 12 ,and losing from an eight or ten point lead is not all that uncommon. From 12 ,any point you score is a winner and the opposition must attack it. The pressure will be on them so stay cool and clearheaded.

Hope you enjoyed that as much as I did.

Next week – Good Point…an article on the different shots pointing has to offer.

LPC news and update

Hello All

Hope you are well and enjoying these (slightly) warmer and lighter evenings. Tuesday’s are off to a good start, and it was great to see Tim join us from Ilkley, hope to see you all tomorrow from 6pm.

*IMPORTANT* – W Yorks League players needed!

Pam is still seeking volunteers for this year’s West Yorkshire petanque league matches taking place in April and May with fixtures as follows:

Our home fixtures will all take place on Tuesday evenings at 7pm (19th April and 17th & 31st May)
Away fixtures are as follows:

            Tues 26th April 1pm at Huddersfield

            Mon 9th May 10am at Mirfield

            Weds 25th May 10.30 at Heckmondwike

Please let Pam know if you are available for any or all of these matches. We currently still need players for the first two Tuesday evening games and the away matches at Huddersfield (1pm Tues 26th Apr) and Mirfield (10am Mon 9th May)

The plan is to have 6 players and 2 reserves lined up for each game so that we don’t run the risk (as happened last year) of losing a match by default.

It was awesome fun last year and we came second overall so if you can commit to some or all the dates above please let Pam know on 0113 2752174 or 07968 502326. Thank you.

Finally, some dates for your diary:

LPC Open Day. Provisionally on Sunday 15th May – please put the date in all your friends and family diaries.

Leeds’ award winning Waterfront Festival is back for it’s 9th year in 2016….taking place on 25th & 26th June we will be supporting it as usual so please come along.

LPC AGM date – will besend out shortly for a Tuesday evening.

Thanks for reading!

Calling all Ladies (& Men) – Harrogate Montpellier Petanque Club Invitation


This summer the Harrogate Montpellier Petanque club will be running 3 daytime sessions for ladies. The times are Friday lunchtime from 12pmto 1.30pm and two U3A groups to run on Monday and Wednesday afternoon 2-4pm.

Any member of our Leeds Petanque Club (not just our lovely ladies, men too and you don’t have to have U3A  membership) would be very welcome to join the Harrogate club at any of these times, please just let Nigel Clay, Club Chairman know a little in advance either contacting him via:

mobile: 07809 862470 or by email at:

Have fun & enjoy!