Monday, 19 June 2017

Father's (Sad) Day 2017

A response to a bombshell of a sibling quarrel over the weekend (Sunday being Father's Day). A coup by a brother, if you like, while the other sibling is out of the country. And a complicit sister.

Some associated links on the matter:

1. Mothership.Sg:

2. ST journalist Chua Mooi Hoong:

3. Channel News Asia (statement by PM 19/June 2017)

4. Youtube:

In a gist:

Basically, the late LKY's estate is divided equally amongst his three children. Initially it wasn't so neat a ratio. It was divided into 7 shares, with each sibling getting two with the remaining single share going to the daughter LWL. The rationale is that she is unmarried with no children and thus the extra share is for looking after her old age.

Now, apparently the last will of LKY has reverted back to the equal share idea (6 parts, 2 each) but with the provision that LWL could stay in the Oxley Road home as long as she wanted. Once she decides to move out, the place can be demolished as per LKY's often acknowledged  wish. LKY is more for remembrance on performance than on personality worship.

Now this demolition wish of LKY is not a firm thing. Apparently he has not included this wish in his previous wills except the first. That it found its way into the last will is what this argument is about.

LHL is curious why LHY's wife is involved in the drawing up of the will when the usual drafter is their cousin Kwa Kim Li. LHY denies his wife drafting the will but only acting as advisor and council. Kwa however denies writing the will. It appears she was only appending to the will what she was told by LHY's wife. Now, this issue itself is contentious. It means someone is lying.

LHY and LWL beef is why their brother is not respecting their father's wish to have the place demolished. Instead he has appointed a ministerial committee to look into how the place may be preserved. ("Place" or some kind of manifestation, this is not clear). It is understandable why LHL is doing this. LKY is a widely respected and honored politician in Singapore. Heck, he is THE founding father of modern Singapore... leading a team to turn a swampy port of call into a modern metropolis where everything works. Just ask the expats, ask the residents, ask Singaporeans. You may not love LKY, but you certainly have to respect him. He got things done, and he as a frugal man.

World leaders hold LKY in high esteem for his intellect and views on world affairs. I respect LKY for his love of the grassroots, the common folk. All he wanted was a place where a man could get an education, get married, have a home and a job. A safe place to do all that.

I've done some policy case-writing and learned a few things more than the average man regarding how Singapore is governed. And one thing I respect of LKY is him keeping his word. An example: when he cleared the hawkers off the street (for hygiene purposes) he built them hawker centers where they could sell their food/wares in a managed environment. And guess what, the HCs remained mostly in the same areas where the hawkers plied. Why you oddly see hawker centres in the Central Business District, a prime real estate area. The same applied to housing. Why you see HDB blocks again in the CBD or near-CBD. It is LKY's ability to manage people's expectation and life changes and growing the country at the same time that makes me respect him more. Certainly in a world where greedy leaders grab land, destroy people's homestead to build useless national projects or pocket money intended for economic projects, Singapore seems like heaven. And it is. As I've told folks often. You have a safe and un-intruded space to live, work and play, what else do you want?

Of course, Sg is not a place for political parties to flourish. None had done as good a job as the ruling party. (Truth be told, they weren't given a chance. You were either on the ruling party's manifesto or you are not. Then again, Communism was rife in the early history of Sg. And we know now how communist countries turned out.) So, whether you love LKY or hate LKY, you have to respect him. And perhaps wish there are more of him in the world today.

And for those of you who think Sg is homogeneous, think again. We have four races: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others (eg. Eurasians). We are all educated in English and speak to one another thus. The Chinese each know their dialect but is tasked to learn Mandarin to speak to one another so no one dialect is deemed superior to the other. Growing up Singaporean is like a British kid going school to study in Russian and then speaking French at home. Who else in the world does that???

So you can understand if there is a lot of pain growing up in Singapore. But the 70s and 80s were economic "miracle times". High employment, good jobs, middle class growing, affordable housing, etc. And a country growing richer (GDP) by the year.

Yup, one thing I learned from the Singapore experience is that when a country is rich, it can do a lot for its people. Housing, good schools, amenities, etc. When you have a leader, make sure he knows his sums. And make sure he is incorruptible. Look at a neighbouring country. Enuf said, is what it is.  

The end.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Please Forgive Me

Please Forgive Me
- A parody - by TC Lai (9th may 2017 )

Still feels like our first Whatsapp together
Feels like the first GIF, of your amazing tits baby
Flipping like a wallswitch those...
Still forwarding on, you perverted asshole
Last time we Whatsapp, you needed spellcheck
You couldn't spell "boner", told me you're a "goner"
And so I turned my cell off

So if you're feeling lonely - hah!
Go get yourself a RealDoll?
It can really do you good
Also can love it more than you should...

So relieved is me, not part of your horny gig
Even spellcheck had problems understanding you
So deny me, all these pain I'd to go through
So forgive me, not like you really need me to
Please forgive me, I already have stopped loving you

Nope, our Facebook status is not "together"
Each memory is an ouch!
Not getting closure baby?
Haven't stalked me enough?
Don't be holding on
You're still making me numb
I remember the smell of your skin
Like sweaty balls all a stink
I remember all your movies
Of you getting whipped or spanked
You getting thru nights, hugging my leg tight

So you're a giant baby, you
How can you be the one I want?
I only want a sweet man's mojo
So If you love me let me go
So forgive me, not giving you what you want
So forgive me, I've stopped loving you
Take panadol if you got pain and weak stool
So forgive me, I've not there with toilet paper
So believe me (oh believe me), you're a baby still
So forgive me, I've already stopped loving you

The one thing I'm sure of
If you want to make love
The RealDoll is what you can depend on
Calling her my name is wrong
With every hump and twerk you'll be getting
A girl who is never denying

So forgive me, if I cannot stare blankly
So forgive me, if my "downstairs" is not rubbery
Thank God there is no more pain to go through
I forgive you, your magazines and porn
No one believed me, you horny son-of-a-gun
So forgive me, when I post my revenge porn

Hah, believe, I don't even care a hoot
You deserve this, you bloody horny toad
Christian, I'd stopped loving you

The end.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Star Wars - What is carbonite?

A friend shared this food pix. I thought it needed something "extra". Actually haven't humorised a pix in a long while (check my earlier postings in this blog to see more). Enjoy!

(Since then I've added more. See pics below. April 2017. In particular, I liked the one I did on The English Patient. A bit more tongue in cheek. ;-)

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Thoughts About Petanque: Tips, Tricks and Vids


A. Foreword
B. Learning the Game
C. Useful Videos (on YouTube)
- i. Training
- ii. Playing
- iii. Rules
D. Postscript
E. On Boule Size
F. Notes on Shooting
- 1. The Take-back or Swingback
- 2a. The Carreau
- 2b. The Follow-thru
- 2c. The Swingback
G. Notes on Pointing
- 1. Rolling
- 2. Lobbing
- 2a. Backswing
- 2b. Types of Lobbing
- 3. Your Line
- 4. The Release
- 5. Grip and Ball Size
H. Epilogue
- H1. How to Point Well
- H2. How to Shoot Well 
- H3: Behaving Well


1. English Petanque Association Training Video. At last, a good video in English!
EPA Training Video

3. Another Great Pointing/Shooting Match!

I was introduced to the game of petanque in the 1980s when I studied engineering under the French. However, we never really got to play the game so it remained in my imagination for a while.

A typical scene at a French village.

Then my sis married and went to live in France, in a small but popular (famous even) seaside town called St Tropez. My first visit there was quite eventful. Walking to my sister's home, I came across a bunch of old men playing petanque on a sandy patch shaded by some giant oak(?) trees. How quintessentially French, I'd thot. And how opportune the occasion. I stood to watch the game for a while and then proceeded to look for my sister's place. It was behind a small car park next to the petanque grounds.

Then in 2013, my secondary school mates had a 50th anniversary event and we all met again after something like 34 years. One of these schoolmates was Ivan See, who was a goalkeeper on the school's football team. Over the years, he had learned the game petanque and became quite good at it, he and his wife Stephanie. So in 2015, we all came together to learn the game. Over the course of time, they also involved us in tournaments all over Singapore. We became regulars at their Admiralty Petanque Club.

I was impressed (and surprised) that we have such a large petanque court in the Admiralty precinct just behind the Woodgrove Secondary School. It is a gravel court, which is quite a challenge for beginners. Nevertheless a more traditional court, so to speak. A great intro to the game!

I find Petanque to be a wonderful game in that one can play it almost on any surface. Sand, soil, gravel, name it. All it takes is a jack (or "piglet" as it is known in French) and three steel balls. And it is a game that can be played at any age (young enuf to hold and throw a ball; old enuf to stand and throw a ball, lol) and of any gender. In France, there are competitions for mixed teams. I can think of no other game that is so egalitarian, except maybe in the game of billiards (the 8-ball type). One of the world's top players is a lady from Taiwan.

In France, Petanque is considered a national sport. There are over 340,000 registered players. Regional competitions are common, Marseille being the "holy" ground for it. Players from countries such as Spain, Italy, Belgium, Madagascar and Thailand go over there to compete often. In Italy, there is another petanque-like game called "bocce". It is essentially the same except players are allowed to run up before bowling. In petanque, the feet must be planted on the ground when throwing the ball/boule. The word "petanque" comes from the two French words for "feet" and "planted". Note that bocce balls are larger and made of urethane even. It is more akin to lawn bowling.

I'm a very natural ball player who has played competitively at squash, tennis, football and my all-time favourite sport, badminton. Like golf, I took to petanque easily. However, I am still looking for a set of petanque balls that suit my style and grip. It is quite sad that petanque equipment is not so readily available here in Sg and that the sport, whilst having a national body, is dedicated to developing young players, mostly from the universities. You can find them playing at the Toa Payoh grounds. I feel this is a big mistreatment of the sport here. It is also why there are no ranking events nor any national event to speak of.  Also while there were once attempts to promote the sport amongst the elderly (again, another misconception of petanque as an "old person" game), petanque faces competition from other elderly friendly games such as pickleball. Well, who can blame them! With pickleball, you can reuse the badminton courts at the CCs. With petanque, you would have to build a dedicated court, supply the equipment, etc. The steel balls or boules are also an expensive outlay at the beginning if a good set is desired. To overcome all these, a major national effort or shift in thinking is needed.

In fact, getting petanque to be our national sport is not that difficult. We have many unused grassy areas that can be turned into instant petanque playing grounds. In HDB estates, there are grass lanes that are unused and dedicated for firetruck parking in case of fire. These can be recognised by those yellow little stumps. These firetruck "lanes" can be converted to gravel or new ones built with them. And viola! You have a petanque court for the residents living in the area. In France, most carparks are filled with gravel and it is not unusual to find folks playing petanque on them. Even professional players have no qualms having a quick game by the roadside!

An imagined conversion of firetruck grass lane to one of gravel (by TC Lai)
Here's another typical firetruck lane behind a HDB flat (in Sembawang. Note the yellow stone markers). Very ideal for conversion to an impromptu petanque court. It's just at the rear gate of Endeavor Primary School. Ideal spot to teach kids the game. Plus (and it is a big plus), the place is in one of Sg's "wind channels". Strong winds blow through here every day. Cooling and an ideal spot. I train there sometimes because it is so cooling!
In Asia, the biggest petanque-playing nation is Thailand. They have over 40,000 registered players. Why Thailand, you may ask? Well, their late Queen Mother learned the game whilst she was in exile in Switzerland in the 1920s and when the royal family came home, she brought the game along and introduced it to her fellow country citizens. She felt petanque was a good form of exercise and social game, especially for the folks in the countryside who had little to do after dusk. She was right. And now, the game of petanque is as popular as it is in France. And every military service conscript in Thailand must learn the game. No wonder they have some very world-class players in their ranks!

The late Thai Queen Mother playing petanque. She introduced the game to Thailand as a positive social and keep-fit game.


The rules of petanque are simple; it is easy to learn how to play quickly. But mastering the game is not as easy as it seems. It is a bit like golf: Easy on concept, hard on the skills, especially when one wants to do well in competitions. (Why Tiger Woods is such a draw!)

As in any game, playing often helps. As do practice. You can also learn a lot by watching Youtube videos, and there are plenty of top-class action to be found there. Whilst most of the videos are in French, you do not need to know the language to understand what is going on. There are regional competitions at a national, club and individual level. Some of the famous petanque players in France are:

- Marco Foyot, the original "King" (or roi, French) of the game;
- Philippe Suchaud, the former No.1 shooter of France;
- Philippe Quintais, an all-round pointer and shooter. A very good competition player;  
- Romain Fournie, is a very good results pointer and shooter;
- Christian Fazzino, is one of the greats. An older gent recognisable for his round glasses and moustache. Consistent and a very reliable competition player;
- Stephane Robineau, another excellent pointer and shooter at competition level;
- Claudy Weibel, is another successful player. He has a rotund figure (like Quintais) and has a quick short throw. Does well at precision tournaments;
- Dylan Rocher, the current No. 1 shooter in France (he's only 24). He has a rather exaggerated throwing style that is very consistent. He carreaus often. And he once hit 98 out of a 100 boules;
- Tyson Molinas, increasingly the most likely to succeed Rocher. Tyson is only 17. A multiple champion in the youth ranks;
- Henri Lacroix, is a multiple French and European champ. When you see him point and shoot, you'll understand why. Very consistent in competitions and on ALL surfaces;
- Damien Hureau, a very natural shooter of the ball; "Trust the throw," he says. Yeah;
- Diego Rizzo, a young Italian who competes regularly in France. He has a rather Asian style of throwing... What I call the "Crane School" of holding the ball. Slight-built and with dark eyes and eyebrows.

Besides the names mentioned above, there are also many top-notch players from Thailand, Madagascar, Benin, Tunisia and even Malaysia. The top female from the 2017 WPC in Ghent was from Cambodia. And the mixed doubles champs were from Thailand. It's no longer a French domain game.

Watching the World Record of 1000 Boules In One Hour event is also very helpful in understanding how one can achieve a consistent throw. Usually the top ten players are invited and they will throw 100 balls each, 10 in a row each time. Then the tally (over a 100) is scored. Folks like Robineau, Quintais, Rocher, Hureau usually score very high.


I've watched quite a few petanque videos at Youtube since picking up the sport. I will share some of them here, including some comments. (Many of the videos are in my other computer linked to the big-screen TV, but I will try to recall some of them here.) It's understandable to find more videos of petanque from France, but to appreciate the skills of players of all nationalities, do check out their best players. Here is the video of the 2016 Petanque World Championships final held in Antarananrivo, Madagascar. Madagascar beat Belgium and Benin beat France (comprising a stellar cast of Henri Lacroix, Bruno Bourischard, Philippe Suchaud & Dylan Rocher no less) to set up a memorable final.

Madagascar vs Benin 2016 World Championship Final  

i. Training:


English Petanque Association Training Video 

1. Mijn Methode Door Marco Foyot This is perhaps one of the best training videos out there. Shows you what you can do with the boule in all manners of pointing and shooting. A clinic conducted by Marco Foyot in his heyday. The video is in Dutch but is easily understood.

2. Kastteknik Petanque A very good tutorial on the classic way of holding and throwing a boule.

3. Marco Foyot Teaching Left/Right Effect On Boule This is how you get around boules in front of the jack. Yes, I've tried it and it works!

Marco Foyot in a clinic session.

4. How to Throw a Boule with Force Even if you do not throw like this man, Sougil85 is an excellent channel on the technical aspects of boule throwing. I tried his method once and it works, especially if you want to hit a boule that is close to one another. Pretty accurate, I say, but not my "natural" style. Look at this video (Sougil85 tete-a-tete) to see why being good at shooting allows you decide how many points you want to score. 

5. Training Day with Ivarsson I like this video because it shows that boule throwing shouldn't be too much effort. ;-) Here's another one with Ivarsson

6. How To Shoot Right A video showing another fella with a comfortable technique.

7. Learn To Shoot In this video, this guy shows incredible accuracy. (Note: From my own experience, if you grip the ball slightly tighter, it will hit inches further.)

8. Effortless Petanque (How It Should Be!) This site makes a very good point: Petanque is supposed to be effortless. If you are using too much strength or feel, it would be just too tiring to play. Then you are most likely using the wrong techniques. Just as in golf, let your arm swing do the work. Your grip is to determine backspin; and your release to is determine where the boule should land.

9. Training Course From Epping P-Club Here are some good lesson tips from a petanque club. Advice on clothing and footwear as well.

10. Easy Does It! A light-hearted video where bubbly. young Swedish actress/singer/radio host Ellen Bergstrom takes the challenge of learning petanque so she could play a match with Swedish Women Champion Noon Geffenblad. Part 2 is on technik, Part 3 the match. Watch her carreau on the first try.

11. A Slow-mo video showing various top players' grip and style when pointing and shooting in 1998, . what most folks refer to as the Golden Age of Petanque. Check out Philippe Suchaud's page-boy haircut, lol. 

12. EPA Training Video. Finally a comprehensive video in English!

ii. Playing:

1. Marseille 2016: Foyot vs Dugeny This shows very, very good pointing. It also illustrates that when the ground is kind to rolling, it may be better to out-point your opponent than to shoot at them.

2. A Very Good End In The Final 2011 This is an absolute favourite video of mine and shows the unpredictability of petanque despite the mastery of technique. Stars Stephane Robineau and Roamin Fournie and others. (An "end" or "mene" is a game when all have thrown their balls and points scored. You play ends until a team reaches 13 points first.)

3, A Very Good Recovery and Winning Point With the score close at 11-12, even the best falter. Balls that shud roll, don't. Why I think everyone shud develop a "fail-safe" way of pointing in case nerves get the better of you. I have a method that always land the ball close to the jack.

4. Head to Head Competition Europe 2016: France Vs Switzerland This video shows a very different playing surface. Looks like soft dirt (what Toa Payoh Petanque HQ has). In any case, Lacroix manages to better master the surface over his opponent.

5. Exhibition Match Indoor Mall Fance Vs Belgium This video demonstrates some very accurate "high lob" pointing. If the ground is rocky, high lob pointing is the way to go. And why most pros prefer to high lob than roll. Rolling is for amateurs and old ladies? (I find rolling useful when the jack is 6-7 m near you. Most pros prefer to throw at a distance of 8.5 m.

6. Precision Shooting Tournament An age gap, two throwing styles, Watch how Henri Lacroix prepares for his throw.

7. Best Shoot-out End? This video shows the top players from Madagascar and Thailand, and one of the best shot for shot end. Incredible. Or as the French say, "Incroyable!" (an-kwai-yap)

8. Junior Masters! A video of kid-level Masters. Nice to see so many junior "prosumers" of the game. This is what we need to see at our primary schools. Start a sport that is both social and lasting in their lives.

This graphic shows the elements of precision shooting contest. A hit is one point; a hit and the target ball flies out is 3 points; a carreau with the target ball out is 5 (full points). Another contest is just hitting the jack. 

iii. Rules:

Some sites on the rules of petanque: (Most follow France's FIPJP rules)

1. Petanque Rules (Wordpress) This is a very good site in general as with regards to all things petanque! Take your time to go through them. ;-)

Can you wear gloves to play petanque? Yes, you can! 

iv. Choosing a Boule:

The "rule" is this:

- For the pointer: A smaller and heavier boule for pointing. Smaller so your opponent finds it hard to hit you; heavier so the ball lands with a thud and not roll away so easily.
- For the shooter: A bigger and lighter boule for shooting. Bigger for better line and target; lighter so as not so tiring.
- For the all-rounder or middle (or "milieu" (me-lure) in French), something not too big nor too heavy.

Here's a site for it: How to Choose a Competition Boule

Asian players typically have smaller hands, so choose something that's comfortable. I use a 72mm/690g boule. I believe my preferred size is 71mm/670g. But this size combo cannot be found in Sg (out of stock). So I am making do (with a set of boules lent kindly by Ivan See).

Note that there are leisure boules and there are competition boules. Leisure boules are cheap. In Sg, you can buy a set of 8 from SGD$ 25-35 at the Decathlon sportsmart. Recently they have started selling a set of 3 for $9.90, certainly a very very affordable way to start learning the game.

The price of the boules tell you they are "leisure balls" plated in chrome (other countries sell titanium plated ones that do not chip. Chrome does). But even if the chrome surface has chipped and worn out, you'll will still end up with a playable iron ball.

Competition or pro boules are either made of carbon steel (that can still rust) or stainless steel (no maintenance required). There are also boules made of bronze. They look "gold" in color and are soft on the outside. Knocks are visible. But they land great when played on a hard surface. In France, the biggest boule name is Obut. Another name is Geologic. In Asia, you can find brands like JB, MS or KTK.

Typically a set of chromed leisure boules. The chrome will eventually wear off and you'll end up with an iron ball. Still usable though. ;-) 
In March 2017, Decathlon Sg started selling chromed petanque balls in sensible groups of three (SGD$9.90). I do hope they set up a boutique so serious players can order their balls direct from France or a country nearby. I think Decathlon partners with Geologic.


That's it for now. I will post more when I come across any interesting videos, info or time to share more thoughts on the game. :-) In the meanwhile, there are always new uploads on petanque competition games from France (and elsewhere) on Youtube. I rather find them rather enjoyable, just like any sports event (such as football or badminton). And it also pay to watch games from other regions as well.

At a competition in Yu Hua.
Again, me in action, this time leading a newbie (for tourney experience).
Building the Petanque Equipment Box for Ivan See. I'm an experienced builder, working with hand tools as well as power tools. (See here: Building a Village)

Box taking shape with an open-and-hold hinge lid. Box is lined with thick light rubber at bottom.
The final artwork and captions. Delivered early March 2017.
I wanted something light and compact for the kids (see pix below) to use, so I created a petanque scoreboard out of a desk standee calendar and a spare deck of playing cards. Joker for 0, King for 13 points. Just nice, and easy to view too! 
Teaching petanque to some enthusiastic kids (Qayshon, Mervin, Isabelle)
They learned the game fast. Next step is to point and shoot well, master the techniques.
Petanque court in Admiralty (behind Woodgrove Sec School) near Blk 581.

Children have a great propensity for learning.

They should do this more often (have proper training aids).
Petanque is a great game to get children outdoors and play in a genteel social manner. Much like how we used to "goli" (play marbles) back in the 70s. ;-)


There are charts to tell you which boule is best suited to your size of hand. I find them rather misleading. First, both your fingers and palm can differ in relative size. So how the ball fits to your palm and how well you grip it can only be determined by actually holding the ball and trying it out.

I did that one time, just so to satisfy my curiosity. I have what is called an "engineer's hand" - a palm this is slightly longer than my fingers. When I use the Obut chart to determine my boule size, it came back very small. However, from my experience using a small boule, it was difficult to have a consistent line of throw. I kept missing by just a bit. To compound the problem, I discovered that my master hand - the right hand - is not straight. This is because of years of holding a badminton racquet in a ready position playing in competitive matches. My fingers all point 30 degrees to the left (see pix below). This means a boule will not roll off at my fingertips. And that I would also have to cock my wrist differently.

Uneven hands from playing competitive badminton since 8 yrs old! My right hand is so used to holding a racquet it is now naturally at a 30 degree "racquet ready" angle.

To try out different boules, I went to the Toa Payoh petanque grounds to sample different sized boules during their practice day. (See pics below).

Using a scale to check true weight.

690g boule.

650g boule.
Discarded doorknobs (stainless steel) are a great substitute for boules in training. Use them both as jacks and target balls in pointing and shooting training. These knobs are of stainless steel and as you cna see, very resilient. 

What I discovered during this trial rather surprised me. By using a larger boule (a 75mm one), I could hit very well without much effort. It was a bit like throwing a bowling ball and not missing much, lol. On the other hand, a smaller boule allowed me to throw the ball to pinpoint accuracy, much in the same way as Gilles of the Sougil85 channel on Youtube. It was fun, being able to do that. But using a small boule is vulnerable. In a game, a light boule can get whacked and fly far away from the jack.

So at the end of the day, the question still is: Which boule size and weight is the most suitable? My answer is: Get something that feels comfortable in your hand, with enough weight to point as well. A light ball will tend to land and bounce more. It can also be knocked away easily.


The first mistake people have of petanque shooting is to make a direct hit as if they are throwing a stone or dart. No. That is not the correct way. Remember, the petanque ball is not light. Use your swing to aid the travel of the ball.

This diagram below is very apt: (from the site Art of Petanque)

1. The Take-back or Backswing Of The Throwing Arm.

You notice that the many of the good petanque players often pull their arm way back high. There's a reason. That is to generate as much down-force as possible going forward again. Try it out as a kind of gentle pendulum swing. As the ball comes back down towards the centre vertical line (your leg, that is), it has a force and momentum all its own. Without this force and momentum, your ball will not travel forward. It works in pointing as well. How many times have we ended up short because we did not pull our swing arm back adequately?

Using the swing as the throw force, it doesn't matter whether a boule is heavy or light. This is important especially for young players who have to play with adult balls (because kids' balls are not available). It is the same with swinging a 5kg bag of rice over a wall. You use its own weight as a pendulum to get a trajectory of travel. Same same.

The graphic below (mine) shows where the main forces lie.

At 'a', you take your ball as far back as it can go comfortably. It then has no choice but to drop down. As it comes down to 'b', the weigh of the ball generates the greatest force. You help it a little more by swinging it past 'c'. This is the 'slamming' action. Imagine a cushion there and you are slamming the ball into it. (This is actually the same analogy as in golf. What most folks attribute to golf great, Jack Nicholas. "Plank it," he says.)

If you count "a one and two..." for 'a' to 'b', you'll know what I mean.

With the force at 'c', now you need to decide where to release the ball. Would it be 'd'? Or would it be at 'e'?

It would depend on the kind of throw you want to achieve.

What kind of throw, you ask?

Well, there's the Carreau, the Follow Through, the Backspin.

2a. The Carreau (car-oh)

The carreau is when your ball hits the target ball and takes its place. It is the best shot in petanque shooting as it replaces the position of your opponent's ball, stealing their point.

The carreau is achieved by dropping your ball right in front of the target ball and knocking it away.

Note: If you stoop (bend at the knees) and shoot, you are lowering your angle of attack and line to the target ball. It is more direct and allows you to better effect a carreau. Folks like Philippe Suchaud, Romain Fournie, Stephane Robineau, Tyson Molinas and others do it sometimes. This is also when you see them sweep their hand to the left at the end of a throw. This is to give the ball more push, usually accompanied by a more speedy throw. (Well, now we are treading advanced petanque territory)

Damien Hureau (pronounced as "who-row") is a good example of a pendulum swing thrower who gets many carreaus. Watch him in action and you'll understand.

To give another perspective on the "crank" and arm-lock throw, here's a guy who throws it with force. What I call "The Wing Throw" video.

Note: Another easy way to carreau (and throw) is to cup the ball (same way as Claudy Weibel) and lift it to target ball height. Then bring it down in one downward movement - straight and slightly inward and swing it out the same height. This "cupping-throw" has little spin and when hit, will surely carreau. It's the easiest way of throwing for a beginner and gets results most of the time. Check out this video here: Easy Throwing and Carreau.

2b. The Follow-Through

When do you need a ball to have follow-through, meaning for it to continue rolling even if it had struck a target ball? It is when you want to knock a target ball (usually your poor throw) forwards closer to the jack. In this case, you grip the ball more (hooking your wrist, like Diego Rizzi) and lob the ball with height without opening your palm much.

Top Thai player uses the "Crane School" method of holding. It gives very good line and control. 
Diego Rizzi with his "Crane School" hook also.
The follow-through is also useful when you want the ball to roll the ball on the ground in a straight line for a short distance. This is useful for striking a target ball or even the jack. To effect this, do not lob the ball, but hook grip it and release with spin at a 45 degree angle to the ground. Practice to get the ball running in the direction that you want.

In any case, Diego Rizzi isn't truly using what I call the "Asian Hook". For him it is just a setup to get his line. He then pulls back his arm and cocks his wrist and throw in the usual way. Because of his maybe tighter grip, he ends up with a Tiger Claw palm and lots of backspin to his released boule. Here's a compilation video of his throws.

2c. The Backspin

The backspin hit is impressive. You hit a target ball and your ball spins back. Usually with force. And for good reason. You ball remains in front protecting the jack.

By giving the ball more spin or roll, you get more backspin back. Those of you who play table tennis often will understand this.

To give your throw more spin or roll, a good grip is essential. An Asian Hook hold is best, but it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Some still prefer the traditional French way of throwing, i.e. the wrist is cocked only past the pant leg, not before.

In the Asian Hook, the wrist is cocked in front and used as an aiming aid as well. It is not unlike a bird pecking! The "beak" leads the arm back for the swing and forward again. With the beak "dragging" the release. In this way, the ball gets more spin.

The other way to get more spin is to do the usual pull back, cock the wrist more with fingers closely wrapping the ball. Have a quick forward motion and "half-way" release, the base of your palm jerking forward.You'll end up like doing a Nike Swoosh with the arm at about a 60 degree angle.

3. Your Line

As we all know, having the right technique of throwing is not enough. The ball has to go towards the target. This is where finding your "line" to the target is important.

Just as in golf, you have the in-swinger, the out-swinger, and the straight swinger.

Whether you are an in-swinger or out-swinger, always bring your arm back at point 'a' (figure above) and release it in a straight line to the target. Dylan Rocher is an exaggerated out-to-in swinger (watch a video of him in action) and you will see why. Just to repeat, players swing their arms more to get more momentum for their ball. You can always slow your swing down to lessen the force, enabling you to gently lob the ball.

How to get a consistent line?

Well, you can literally pull a string on the petanque court and practice throwing in parallel to that. But I think with practice, you will finally find your own natural line. It is usually the release that trips you up.

Two other ways to get a consistent line is adopting a way to throw without too much variation.

One way is to throw like Diego Rizzi. The other way is to lock your arm like Henri Lacroix. You can also be more precise like Gilles from Youtube channel Sougil85. He has what you'll call an "aiming" throw.

You can also have a line and be accurate with a short swingback. Watch this video here. It involves more wrist work and a "lifting" motion. I find it tiring after a while. A relaxed long swing back is less so.

Developing a "prep" action before your throw can help you aim in a good line. Some folks hold the ball out, others do it a bit more discretely by just slying aiming the ball arm in a lead 30 degree angle. Philippe Suchaud pauses in mid-backswing to get his line. Interesting, no? I think he does it to ensure a properly locked arm. It's like pausing and saying "this is where I want my ball/arm to follow-through with". 

4. The Release

So, how do you release the ball from your hand. As Marco Foyot demonstrated in his Dutch video (around the 7 min mark), simply let the ball roll off your hand. Keeping your hand level will give the release consistency. Don't follow any player's style just because it looks cool. In the end, being accurate is way cooler!!!

The release is quite important. Most beginners are rather stiff as they have yet to trust their swing or have not mastered the fast swipe past the legline. Once the swing speed picks up, you'll find you have to release the ball quick, ending with a flick of the wrist. This usually happens on long throws as more force (i.e. swing speed) is needed to get the ball further. You will end up with a "Buddha's Palm" as illustrated in the pix below (arm outstretched.)

The half-release requires a good grip and a "palm jerking up" movement. Your arm will not end up parallel to the ground but in a kind of Nike Swoosh. ;-)

The Throw Down: This is what happens when the ball is released or slipped out early from your grip. The thrown down can be accidental, or it can be purposely done to make the ball roll with force on the ground. It is applicable but seldom used in competition as most players prefer to either point or hit directly. I've only seen it used once in a Marseillaise competition (video later).

Good arm extension ending with "Buddha's Palm"!
Right release, haha. But does policeman (ASP) Ryan Koh petanque? (A popular cut-out found all over Singapore to remind (mostly) that shoplifting is a crime. No, not all Singapore policemen are made of cardboard).

5. Grip and Ball Size

When you start, you think you need to curl your wrist and ball hand as much as possible. After all, most the pros seem to do it. But watch closely. Do they? Many players recommend sitting the ball square in your hand. And then bringing the thumb down by the side (see pix below).

The next think to wonder is how much curl to give your wrist. I suggest playing with that to see how much deviation it causes your throw. Here's a good video of two guys in a precision contest where both seem to prefer using outsized balls. I find that when targeting near balls, the less curl of the wrist the better. Kind of like just grip the ball and drop bomb it. I have also employed a curl-spin shot - where the middle and 2nd-last finger act as guides. It gets good results but can be tiring in the long run. I do it when I really need precision in a tight contest. Using your fingers as guide is a great way to point-roll you ball straight and to a certain direction. Not everything can be achieved by "feel" alone. (We often see pros throw or point, but what we do not get to see is how they employ their finger-grip to effect the ball.) We typically use our fingers more to spin the ball left or right. And some pros are so fixed in their way of pointing that they impart an inherent curl to their throw. In critical times, this can be disastrous especially when you need to squeeze your ball between two boules to the jack.


There are two main actions in petanque: 1) Pointing; 2) Shooting.

Shooting is the more aggressive part of the game. In pointing you try, by 1) Rolling or 2) Lobbing the ball near the jack or piglet.

Petanque players often ask: Do I roll or lob?

Well, another aspect of petanque is to master the ground you play on. So it doesn't matter. It depends on the play and risk you are willing to take. The same goes for deciding whether to point or shoot.

You can stand or squat when pointing. You can lob or roll the ball. Depending on the ground and play.

1. Rolling

Rolling the ball is easy. Even a kid can do it. But a kid will always roll the ball with palm open. Petanque players do the reverse. Accuracy: Even when rolling, you want you ball to go straight. How to do that?

Well, in petanque grip, usually the thumb and little finger play little or no part in your grip. More so the little finger. The thumb helps to align your palm to the wrist.

Again, on accuracy: Instead of the three, use two fingers to guide your ball's direction. It is more consistent and accurate. With three fingers, you can sometimes incur spin to your ball. make sure the ball sit evenly on the two fingers for a straight line roll.

When rolling, always try to end in front or close to the jack. Keeping your boules in front act as a barrier of defence to your opponent's throw. It is very effective. Physically, and more so psychologically. Most players are not consistent shooters or can make their boule go left or right. They will panic when they see a wall of boules in front of the jack. What we Sgrens say "gabra" or "panic".

Semi-circle in front of jack where you should point-land your boule as a defence.

You can make your ball go right or left. See Marco Foyot training above for tutorial. Turning right to left is more difficult to master.

Using two fingers to guide the ball is more effective than three. Use set "a" or "b" - it is up to you.

2. Lobbing

Lobbing is the best form of pointing to overcome any kind of ground, even gravel. The ball will land and not roll or spin away, even when hitting small stones. It will just drop bomb.

When lobbing, the ball should land and move forward 6 to 12 inches. Practice to achieve the distance you want.

Practice lobbing to achieve the shortest travel. Getting the ball to travel straight is also a challenge. Manage your grip so the ball goes high and when it lands, travels straight. You want to do this so the ball may "carry" the jack with it when it travels or push an opponent's ball away. Another name for it is Push Lob or "gatchi" in Singlish. 

Check out this video Best End in Masters 2011 from 10:50 onwards. One of the best winning points in competition Petanque. Dylan Rocher is a good shooter as well as a winning pointer! 

2a. Backswing: When lobbing, the backswing is important. Remember: You need backswing to make the ball go forward. It is just basic physics. Your fingertips come in handy when trying to do a decent lob. Curl and lift.

Practice and practice to get the technique and "feel" right. An accurate lob is a pretty thing to see.

Again, this indoor game video shows very good high lob pointing.

Check out this lady player in this Cup of France 2017 video (at 1:15:11). She's has a very good standing lob throw that's consistent. But as we all know, petanque is unpredictable also. At any time, you can be sabo-ed by uneven ground. (See same video at: 45:30).

Ms Vanessa Jacquet of Siant Florent Petanque Club, a player with very good standing lob.

2b. Types of Lobbing: Lobbing has a semi-lob (demi portee) and a high lob (haut portee). Here's a Marco Foyot video on training lobbing methods. The other excellent video has been mentioned before. Here it is again (Miln Methode Door Marco Foyot). Start at 10:50.

Marco Foyot and his lob training apparatus.


So, here is a summary of all of the above.

There are two major components to the game of petanque: Pointing and Shooting.

H1. How to Point Well.

Two methods:

a. Method One: Find a landing spot, launch so your boule will land and roll its way to the jack; this can be tricky on gravel (ie. stone-kicking).
b. Method Two: Impart some spin to your ball (so it can overcome stone-kicking) through grip or finger work cum height and let the ball land and roll a short distance. Train until you adjudge distance and do so blindly (naturally w/o thinking).

H2. How to Shoot Well. 

This can be summed up in a formula:

Equation 1: Grip-Roll-Forward-Unfurl

Equation 2: Grip-Roll-Forward-Snap

Missing Factors: BA (backline aim); FTG (finger-tip-grip); FG (full grip)

H2A. Equation 1: Grip-Roll-Forward-Unfurl

This is what Marco Foyot advocates. Let the ball roll off the tips of your fingers.

The great thing about this is that chances of getting a carreau is high. There is just enough spin on it to stay put.

Have a firm grip (a bigger boule helps), roll it back naturally (what i call the "swingback" in the above paras), and then unfurl your grip to release the boule without your arm reaching above level (else your boule will end up too far).

This is how those shooters in the "1000 Boule Shootouts" do it (video here). This is how they maintain their consistent throw. After a while, you get the hang of the "unfurling" and begin to trust your swing, as Damien Hureau says here: DH Clinic.

But you will also notice that there's this little thing called "accuracy", haha. How do those shooters hit 90 out of a 100 boules thrown? Or 99/100 as Dylan Rocher has shown once (video here).

The answer is your backswing draw or backswing line. Few people pay attention to this. Recall that muscle memory is very important in petanque. Drawback in a line to your target and you will find your release following the same path. This brings your boule better to your target. Folks like Giles in Sougil85 do it very well because their grip is very "vertical" (Crane School style; see above). Their drawback line is naturally more in-line to the target. Same with Diego Rizzi, same as Phusaat Thaloengkiat from Thailand.

The drawback to the Crane School style is that you have to work on your full extension or "unfurling". But you know. Without grip there is "no feel" and directing the boule. Just that the grip cannot be too tight or "suffocating" to the release of the boule.

H2B. Equation 2: Grip-Roll-Forward-Snap

Next, you have what is known as "The Snap". The only difference between this and the one above is the "snap" or the speed with which you bring your boule pass your legline.

That's it. This is THE big difference. How fast will determine how soon you release the boule to hit the target accurately. Note this pix of Philippe Suchaud. Note how low his arm is upon release. The faster you snap the ball forward, the more you have to "curl" your release.

If you get the swingback and snap right, you can have a very "stylish" way of throwing the boule. And like Marco Foyot, if you have more "snap speed" (more speed past the legline), you can afford a shorter swingback. And Foyot's grip is more fingertip than full palm.

Note that if you have a full swingback and your boule is average heavy, you have more momentum moving forward (that old physics' F=MA thingy). You would have a very natural snap and follow-through to release. Work on it. Dylan Rocher is a good example of a casual swing with full extension.

Dylan Rocher in his "full extended" shooting style. With this, he doesn't need a strong snap speed.
In Summary:

Where you unfurl your grip or ball release, i.e. level or lower, depends on your rollback (and downward momentum) and snap forward speed.

As mentioned in a section above, the easiest way for a beginner to throw (and get a carreau is this):

Cup the ball (perhaps same way as Claudy Weibel) and lift it to target ball height. Then bring it down in one downward movement - straight and slightly inward and swing it out the same height. This "cupping-throw" has little spin and when hit, will surely carreau. It's the easiest way of throwing for a beginner and gets results most of the time. There's a video here to illustrate: Easy Throwing and Carreau.

H3. Behaving Well

Remember, petanque is a social, friendly game. Don't let competitiveness get the better of you. Settle any dispute amicably. Give and take. Don't let "bougangnerism" creep into your neighbourhood game. And when teaching kids, the first thing to emphasize is safety. (I always knock their head with the metal ball (gently, of course) to show them that a boule is extremely hard and can crack their head if not careful!.) Here is an article on a death due to a boule. It's rare but can happen anytime. And death threats have been issued to prevent a team from qualifying in a regional tournament in Marseillaise. (ooh la la!)

In competition, when in doubt, always check with a referee.

The end (for now). This blog will be updated from time to time.. ;-)