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Having a Ball in SW France


Having a Ball in SW France takes a look at tennis, pétanque and golf to help you keep your eye on the ball when it comes to fitness and fun.

Tennis for everyone

With so many tennis courts and clubs in towns and villages there is no excuse to not follow the first rule of the game which is practice, practice, practice.

Membership at a local club, where play is mostly on a clay court (terre battue) combines both physical and social aspects, and visitors can usually have temporary membership for a nominal fee.

The right size racket is about 26 or 27” for an adult, and you can find the correct grip size by measuring your ring finger from its crease to the tip. Ensure you wear proper tennis shoes which can withstand repetitive sideways movements and support your feet and ankles.

If you are new to the game, you might prefer a slower beginners tennis ball, giving you more time to concentrate on your swing, and more chance of hitting it back. Another good idea is for one person to toss 30 balls or so over the net whilst the other hits them back.

Private lessons are often the quickest way to learn how to play tennis and avoid bad habits. Once you have grasped the basics, practice with a ball machine is a great way to improve specific techniques.

If you want to join a tournament, your “classement”, otherwise known as your level of ability (ranking), will dictate your entry point. In theory, a beginner can win a championship but, practically speaking, beginners play first, being joined by more experienced players as the tournament progresses.

Watching Wimbledon and the French Open will give you inspiration and encouragement too so sit back and enjoy while you can!

Having a ball in SW France

Young or old, tennis is good for you

Having a Ball in SW France

Not every boule is the same weight or design

Know your boules

We see it being played everywhere by young children with their coloured balls, right through to the older generation with their tried and tested steel boules.   Pétanque, often referred to as Boules, is based on an underarm throw, with the back of the hand upwards and a backward flick of the wrist. It can be played virtually anywhere on grass, gravel and other hard ground areas.

Will you be having a ball in SW France?  If so you will need to know that not all boules are the same, and we are not just talking about the patterns of the grooves (stries) which provide easy identification. A boule can weigh between 650 to 800 grams and be 75 to 80mm in diameter. Why the difference? Women and young people may prefer to play with smaller versions for sure but there are other reasons to choose your boules carefully.

A player who is good at placing their boule will often prefer a small, heavy model which is more difficult to move when hit and, because it is smaller, presents less of a target to the opposition. The opponent, who is trying to knock a boule out of the game, will often choose a lighter boule. The lighter it is, the quicker it will lose momentum and stop. However, lighter does not mean smaller. The idea is to knock the other ball out and it is here that size really does matter. That extra 5mm could make the difference between a hit or a miss.

Having a Ball in SW France

Putting practice makes for perfect putts

Tips on Putting

Here are some great tips from John Cook, a renowned PGA golf coach and international player, about how to perfect your golf and putt the ball, in the hole, more often.  Then you will be having a ball in SW France!

  • The first thing is to remain relaxed. Standing over the putt for too long will make you tense. It’s best to decide on the line, address the ball, look at the hole twice and then putt. Don’t forget that the more you look at the hole, the more negative your thoughts will be.
  • Whilst practicing on the putting green, place four balls around the hole at a distance of two feet. When you have holed all four in a row, place them at three feet away, then four feet and so on. Record the best length and try to beat that next time, always starting from two feet.
  • If at home, place a coin on the carpet as a marker for where to putt from. Place another ball on the carpet about three feet away. Putt the first ball to strike the second, which will obviously move further away. Place the first ball back on the coin and try to strike the second ball again.
  • Stick a tee into the practice putting green and then practice putting to it. You will be setting your sights higher by trying to hit the tee with the ball. When you go onto the course, the hole will look like the size of a bucket! You can do this on the carpet at home by turning the tee upside down.


John Cook, golfer

John Cook

You can read more about golf in John’s book “The Greatest Guide to Golf” and in his articles in the bi-monthly July and September issues of this magazine at

First published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Local Buzz

Images: Shutterstock and John Cook

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