Petanque the five things you can do for the perfect throw FEET!
This section is looking at pointing. There are five main areas to cover the throw. Feet, Grip, Backswing, Release and what on earth you other hand is doing. Many coaches split the release into release and follow through. We will cover it in one note later.
So lets start with the Feet, Feet and Feet.
Everything needs good foundations, be it, a building, a bridge or a sports player.
If you can achieve the base it allows you to concentrate on the task in hand without falling over when you are trying to carry, hit, bend or throw something. It all starts with the feet.
Petanque is an interesting sport as far as feet go, it’s name is thought to derive from the French term Feet together. The concept of throwing from a circle allows the player to develop their own stance whilst keeping in the confines of a limiting area. The introduction of new plastic circles, once rare, now commonplace gives plenty of room for manoeuvre. Times in the past witnessed the jokers of the game drawing a circle 35cm diameter to constrict those players with a wide stance. Not really in the spirit of the game but jolly funny to witness. The wide stance player looking like someone had tied their shoe laces together and was just waiting for the swaying shooter to hit the ground like a felled tree. Different times….. Anyway the vast expanse of the new 50cm circles give plenty of room and allow a vast range of feet styles to be accommodated. Some players even stand on the edge of the circle just in case it blows away. It could be particularly windy and they use both feet to hold it down. Rest assured no matter how windy the player may think it might be, this is not allowed and feet must be completely in the circle without touching the edge.
It is best to have both feet flat on the ground when throwing, back to foundations. The throw can be controlled with the player secure in the knowledge they will be grounded and balanced throughout the throw. Some players do lift portions of the foot as they release the boule, normally the heel when pointing. I think it comes from a knee bend being part of the throw and the spring at the last minute gives the boule an extra bit of lift. More in the mind of the player than the boule. Mostly it is just a habit they have got into and it does little harm. However, what if your foot position stops you from effectively playing a shot. Now that is something more serious to the player looking to improve. Being on tip toe will generally tip the player forward. The very act of being on tip toe sends signals to the brain, blimey now we are getting serious, and shifts the balance so the attitude of the body is forward. The balance of the body will ensure if a fall takes place it is generally forward. That is why accidents involving slipping over when your feet shoot forward and generally more serious than a slip forward. You are vulnerable when you fall backwards as you have little protection. What has this got to do with Petanque?
The shot that suffers most when you are on tip toe is the high lob. This is the shot where the boule is powered up to a height until it loses its direction as gravity takes over and the boule falls in a steep angle to the jack and stops in the general area. The boule can reach great heights and it is a shot that needs practice. The shot requires solid stance. Both feet will need to be flat on the floor at the start for the shot to be successful. A lean back, just slightly. will help power the boule into the air. If you are on tip toe the lean back will be diminished and the height of the boule will be affected dramatically. If you feel the need to end up on tip toe then so be it, your balance maybe affected but it is the start where you need to plant your feet securely. The high lob can be used on an assortment of pistes, deadly on a fast piste if the ground is sloping up away from you and of course deep gravel pistes. If you hear a player discussing their failure on deep pistes it could be a clear indication they have not sorted their feet out.