Shooters vs pointers

shooters_vs_pointersHere is an interesting video of what happens when you pit a team of expert pointers against a team of expert shooters.

I first saw this clip a few weeks ago, and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I found it very thought-provoking and just a little bit shocking. It is 8 minutes long, but it is important to watch every second to understand exactly what you are seeing.

I was reminded of it again yesterday when I discovered Colin Stewart’s petanque blog and read his post on Shooting is Fundamental in which he writes “All too often we see players elect to point (because they think it is easier or safer to) when a shoot would make things a lot better.”

And I keep wondering what the Thai team should have done. Thailand never changed its strategy. Every time Madagascar shot the Thai boule, and every time Thailand chose to point again.

The Thai team is an excellent team. They can shoot too. Surely, I think, there must have been something that the Thais could have done to turn the tables on Madagascar’s shooters. But I don’t know what it could have been.

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3 thoughts on “Shooters vs pointers

  1. Hi!

    Firstly thank you for the reference to my own blog. This is certainly an interesting video.

    I thought it might be helpful to provide some insight on what I might do in this situation. Firstly I would caveat this by saying I am a coach but by no means a master tactician. Neither do I know how the players have played in the lead up to this end (either in this game or previously in the competition) – this could have an influence on shot selection as this is so often a confidence and mind game.

    The Thai first point appears to be around 50 cms from the jack but behind. Not bad you might think…. Madagascar shoot and carreau. Maybe that first boule was a bit too close…..

    The Thai’s immediately have a decision to make about their second boule – MAD are about 70 cms away, THAI have the disadvantage of having to play next. There looks like a lot of room to point in closer, but equally its close enough to raise a little eyebrow about shooting too (if the terrain was difficult a point closer might be tricky). Faced with this I would have probably tried to point close to MAD’s lead boule to try and protect mine from being subsequently shot away. Whether THAI tried to do this or not is unclear but their boule ended up on the opposite side of the head, holding shot but nowhere near MAD’s boule. This leaves MAD with a clear decision to defend their boule by shooting. Guess what, another carreau. In hindsight the THAI’s may have been better off shooting the lead boule – we all have tales of ifs, buts and maybes. But a miss would have placed them at a bigger disadvantage and more pressure…

    The THAI next (3rd) point is better, it holds the shot and is quite close to MAD’s nearest boule. You might think this would put MAD off shooting…..nope – with a boule in hand advantage (4 vs 3) they go for it. Out it goes leaving the rest of the head intact – 3 shots to MAD. MAD are really in the driving seat now and THAI at the disadvantage again (boules in hand are 3 vs 3 but THAI have to play again).

    Faced with this position if I were THAI I would again try to point close to MAD’s boule (ideally rest on it while also taking the point to protect it from further violence). In reality the THAI fourth point rested quite close to the jack – not a bad result but difficult to achieve – the jack might go dead if MAD shoot again…..Bang – a shoot on the side of the boule by MAD and carreau. 4 points to MAD and THAIs in knots.

    To me, the THAIs now have a big decision – keep trying to point to the ideal position (resting on MAD’s nearest) or ‘kill’ the end by shooting the jack – the last resort and often warranted in these circumstances after all the odds of winning this end are minute, and MAD are on course to take a very heavy score with their tails up. THAI elected to point – by pointing they are hoping to get (very close) to the jack or closest MAD boule (i.e. no change in objective). The point is not bad for a point but is neither protected nor is it very near the jack. Now the THAIs have to hope that the MAD pointer misses his shoots…..nope – the MAD pointer can shoot too. 5 points on the ground.

    THAI are now facing the worst but still have options – point again to rest on the MAD closest boule or very close to the jack (which as we have seen with previous boules is proving to be a very tall order indeed) – or shoot the jack and give away one point only (not bad result given the circumstances). If it were me I’d shoot the jack – yes I might miss and give MAD an easy chance to score six but at least I’d get a moral victory in that all those amazing shoots by MAD bore only a little fruit which might change the momentum of the game. THAI point again, and again get the lead praying for a miss from MAD, but again the boule is exposed….. carreau – 6 points.

    Clearly the Thai’s are excellent pointers (but I know they can also shoot). If it were me, by the time I’d got to playing the 5th boule I would have tried to kill the end with a shoot on the jack. If that failed I would have reverted to trying to place the last boule in the ideal position (resting on Madagascar’s lead boule). But when your opponents simply cannot miss and you are under siege like this you can often find your confidence wilt away very quickly.

    As I mentioned in my dialogue, hindsight would also suggest the THAI’s second boule should have been a shoot but they were seduced by a point into what probably looked like quite a good target.

    But in my opinion the whole complexion of this end stems from the first Thai boule being too close to the jack – the ideal scenario when playing against shooters is to get them to point – put the first boule further away and you are then playing a pointing cat and mouse game “how far away from the jack can we each point but still gain the shot without encouraging a shoot” – first one to blink (i.e. get too close to the jack) gets shot. For me, that’s what the real problem was.

    What could the Thai’s have done differently? In short and with the benefit of hindsight, first boule pointed further away. Failing that the second THAI boule should have been a shoot. Failing that the 5th (and possibly 6th) shots should have been a shoot on the jack. But that is only my humble opinion!

  2. Absolutely agree with all Colin says. I could not believe the last boule from the Thai team, when he lowered himself to take the shot, I thought that he was going to nestle-up against Madagascar’s nearest boule for protection against another firing shot, maybe he was trying for that but it did not look like it, Personally, I would have gone for taking out the cochonnet. Neither choice was easy and I would have probably missed but then that is why I am not in the national team 😦

  3. My thoughts (before seeing Colin’s comments) were that the Thai team should have fired with their third. Failing that they could have fired with their fifth at the two closest to the coche AND each other with the prospect of taking out one or both and a possible carreau. Another option would have been with their third to point short (to be second) and then fire

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