Intro to Pétanque, Saturday January 19th

Everyone is Welcome!

Meet at our CreekSide Terrain at 1:00 to learn Pétanque fundamentals: rules, etiquette, pointing techniques and basic strategies.


Byron Putman the author of the best selling english language pétanque book ever written, Petanque: The Greatest Game You Never Heard Of!, will provide the instruction.

After about 30 minutes of instruction and practice we’ll split up into groups to throw a few casual games.

RSVP to to reserve a set of loaner boules.

Dress casually for a dusty hard-packed, dirt-and-gravel surface and bring something to drink.

Email us with any questions.


Pétanque and the Myth of Dedicated Terrains Revisited

I realize that it’s a recurring theme but Americans (including  many/most FP-USA club members) can’t accept the legitimacy of throwing pétanque in multi-use public spaces. When I tell people that world-wide 95% of pétanque is played in shared public spaces rather than dedicated terrains or clubs they often roll their eyes in disbelief or perhaps at the concept of such a low brow, declasse sport – something of French origin – has fallen to the level of the great unwashed masses!

Public space pétanque is the best way to promote one of the world’s most egalitarian, environmentally friendly and economically frugal sports.

Here’s a video of a typical european tournament where the volume of early round matches outnumbers the dedicated terrain’s capacity; so matches spill out onto the public, dirt-and-gravel walking paths . You’ll notice people, dogs, strollers, pedicabs and bicycles using the path as serious play is in progress.

What makes this video so telling is that one of the players Claudy Weibel, the great belgique, a world’s top ten player, isn’t aggrieved or distracted by the activity along the walking path.

If it’s good enough for Claudy, then non-dedicated terrains should be good enough for everyone.

Challenging Terrains (within reason) Drive Pointing & Shooting Skills

American ten-pin bowling, boccé and lawn bowling employ level and meticulously groomed courts. Among pétanque’s many unique characteristics is the unleveled, hard-packed dirt-and-gravel terrain. See the post: You Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Court! which details the ecological, egalitarian and economically parsimonious philosophy of community-based “courtless” play.

The surest way to retard pétanque development is to play  exclusively on a single style of terrain which enables a player with beginner’s skills to thrive. As Waldo Emerson observed, “Where Ignorance is Bliss, Tis Folly to be Wise”. Most U.S. players don’t see the need to develop challenging pointing (squat or plombée) or shooting (plein-fer vs. palet roulant) skills because their terrains endulge simple technique. Every club should have several different types of terrains and players rotate among them to develop and modulate a variety of situation specific techniques and strategies.

  What makes a great pétanque terrain?

The playability of a a terrain is a function of the amount, size and shape of gravel, surface hardness and rebound, and slopes and contours; too flat and smooth, and pointers never develop skills such as analyzing and selecting an optimum donnée, throwing high plombées and employing the joys and rigour of dynamic squat pointing. When a terrain is too soft and lacks sufficiently large gravel, plombée pointers effortlessly arrest boule rollout to less than 50-cm – like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel.

A terrain which is too hard, rocky, sloped and contoured neutralizes even advanced skills and turns every  throw into a random event.

CreekSide’s 20m x 7m Intermediate Player Terrain

This year we got a bit overly enthusiastic and added several 5-gallon buckets of larger gravel to the already challenging immediate-level terrain. Players (and rightfully so) felt that their pointing skills were not be challenged, but rather undermined by the additional gravel and extreme contours which collectively produced random rebounds and unpredictable rollouts.

Taking advantage of the wet terrain from Saturday night’s rain, we removed about half of the larger gravel and filled and leveled some of the more extreme contours. Although the reconfigured terrain is still a solid intermediate-level, it should play more consistently and highlight (rather than neuralize) demi-portée pointing skills.

CreekSide 18m x 9m Marseille Terrain

For those looking for a more challenging terrain, the area adjacent to the swing gate is our Marseille terrain; alternating sections of hard and soft surface, a mixture of small to large sharp-edged gravel, and moderate omnidirectional contours it demands critical donnée selection and a variety of subtle squat pointing techniques from demi-portées to the highest plombées and true plein-fer shooting. It’s also illuminated by a sodium vapor street lamp for acceptable (not ideal) night play.