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.

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