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!
Young or old, tennis is good for you
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.
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!
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 http://www.thelocalbuzzmag.com/read-online
First published in the May/June 2019 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Shutterstock and John Cook