Pétanque: aggression, back-spin and a drop of Pernod

According to Welsh boules champion Neil Dobbins – who has played in nine European boules championships and two world cups – there is a set of easy pétanque techniques that could help you hold your own on the market-squares of Provence this summer.

First of all, says Dobbins, you will need to cast aside your British timidity and cultivate a bit of Gallic bile. "If a Brit was to go abroad and play in the south of France," says Dobbins, "they would just constantly try to get closer to the jack" – a tactic that the French consider defensive. Instead, you should play with outright belligerence: ignore the jack, and "just aggressively attack the opposition's boules and hit them off the piste".

Honing your throwing technique is also a vital step towards total boules assimilation. Stand front-on, says Dobbins, bend your knees, and crouch down slightly. Now "cup the ball in your hand with the fingers closed", swing your arm back and forth like a pendulum, and then release it out the back of your hand – flexing your wrist "so that it puts back-spin on the ball".

Failing to adapt your game to different kinds of surfaces will clearly out you as a rosbif – so pay close attention to the condition of the piste you are playing on. If it is quite a smooth piste, just roll the ball along the ground – "but you don't want to put too much pace on it," advises Dobbins. "If it's a rough piste with big stones, you might want to give the ball more elevation, and put a bit more power into the shot to lift it up in the air."

And lastly, says Scottish number one Robbie Stronach, remember to sip "a wee bit of Pernod" in between throws. The aniseed-based spirit is a staple drink of the hardened boules player; a pint of Stella is apparently no substitute.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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