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Gaining the Upper Hand 2

As in all sport, success or failure may depend on the way a player and/or team has prepared for competition.  This preparation will involve a personal and team training programme and other ways in which he/she gets ready for the contest.  These other ways should include the application of a familiar routine before the competition (the night before and/or the morning) and what actions are carried out once at the venue before the match starts eg warming up on the terrain, or a similar surface if available and ensuring an adequate nutrition level.

There is also the need to prepare for each shot that is delivered once play has started.

Preparation to Deliver a Boule

A player has two main considerations when playing any shot:

  1. To focus and concentrate on the task

  2. To eliminate all distractions

When a player is able to master these two factors, then there’s more chance that player will achieve optimum performance and a consistently successful outcome.

typical phrases used by some successful sportsmen express this state of mind as:

 “being in the here and now,” “being in the moment,” “ in the zone.”

How can a player achieve this?

  1. To focus and concentrate on the next shot to be played and nothing else is vital.However, the player also needs to relax.A player unable to relax will often show tension that has a negative effect on the shot: perhaps caused by gripping boule too tightly or rigidity in the stance and movement.Ensure you breathe regularly and relax facial muscles, especially the mouth and jaw.

  2. The unwanted distractions may be external eg other people moving and talking, the weather etc.Or they may be internal to the player eg own negative thoughts eg “my last shot went wrong when it landed on that stone; will this one do the same?”

      “if I miss this shot, we could lose the match.”

Ensure you have only positive thoughts: “I know what I want to do with this boule. This boule will be a good one.”


To achieve this state of mind and positive way of thinking, the player can be helped by carrying out a personal and habitual routine before playing every shot.


Once the shot to be played has been decided on, after discussion and agreement with team mates, the player goes through exactly the same procedure each time.

It could be as follows:

  • Selection of landing spot/donne if appropriate


  • Attend to any divot on the terrain if needed


  • Stand behind playing ring


  • Think of and use your own word or phrase, which starts to place you in that personal mental zone, where there are no distractions, and the only thought is about the boule you’re about to deliver.

(examples: “under starters orders”“best shot”“play”“relax”


  • Going through playing the shot in your mind () can help.Not only seeing it successfully played, but feeling throughout your body how it is done.


  • Step forward into the playing ring, perhaps checking feet alignment and grip.


  • Visualise the shot once again.


  • Deliver the boule.


A player needs to be aware and realise when the personal routine is interfered with and interrupted by any distraction (internal or external) whatsoever.

If this happens, the player shouldn’t carry on regardless; he/she should come out of the procedure and, when ready, start again, using the trigger.


As a player becomes more experienced in the sport, he/she may decide to add something personal to that routine.Petanque is a sport where individual players have many variations in habits, which may often seem quirky, unusual or strange.

But you do whatever you find works well for yourself in order to achieve your maximum performance, consistency in playing and a route to success.

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