How do you make the boule go straight?
Well you can hang on to it a bit longer! It is all about the backswing. Now we always at this point in the coaching tips, pop off to a couple of other sports to make the point. Golf is always a great friend of our sessions. Think of a golf swing. Is the club brought back right over the players head just for power, well, yes but also direction. The work done on the practice pitches is all about a smooth straight swing. Power but also a controlled direction of hit. The same with archery. The pull back of the bow is to give maximum control over the arrow. Once it leaves the bow the arrow is on its own.
So back to petanque, the boule can be controlled by holding it longer, that does not mean jiggling it up and down in your hand or doing some strange doggy paddle motion before you throw. It is all about the back swing. Some players like to bring their arm forward before the backswing to line up the shot, feel free but it is the route your arm takes from it’s furthest point of the backswing that assists the throw. The further you bring your arm back the longer you will have influence over the boule and the straighter it will go. The height and release will usually be the same as you usually throw but by bringing your arm back further than you would normally would will bring benefits. During the cold months it is important to warm up and keep warm when playing so the extra backswing does not pull those muscles but you may find it easier than you think. The main benefit will be your boule will go straighter but you will also find it goes further with the same effort. This can put people off the backswing, especially on fast terrains as the boule rocket down the piste. It is a technique that needs to be mastered. It is not a fix all solution but a step to better play. So with your own boule, after you have warmed up, hold it in your hand palm uppermost to ensure a good grip and a comfortable hold on the boule. Make sure you are balanced and comfortable on your feet. Turn your hand over and bring your arm back to where you would normally throw from. Now bring your arm back around three to four inches more and then throw your boule. You may find the boule goes further than you imagined and this is something you will need to correct when playing. Remember to move the chosen landing spot closer to you to start with. Your arm and shoulder may feel strange as you pull your arm back to this new position. If it hurts do not do it. It will feel a little odd as the effort required to throw your boule is reduced but with all new techniques prepare for your game to decline before it improves. Side benefits will be those 10 metre jacks will no longer be out of reach. If you practice the back swing with a nice straight forward throw it may come in very handy on deeper pistes or long jacks. The practice of this shot may not replace your own throw but it could give you another tool to get out when you need it. Think control, think backswing and be quietly pleased with the results.