2) Shooting Techniques
4) Practice Techniques
– Make the board level.
There are 3 rubber feet under the board. Place a bubble level directly over the twenty hole. Add rubber wedges, as needed, under any of the 3 rubber feet. If the board is tilted, you will not be able to play your best game.
– Wax the board and pucks.
Use Formby’s Almond Lustre or Guardsman Anytime spray. Never any silicone or paste waxes, which can damage the finish. If the board is clean and polished, the pucks will glide smoothly and predictably.
– Keep the board cool.
When it’s hot and humid, most polished surfaces will become a bit moist and ‘sticky’. This will slow down the action of the pucks, and they may seem to get ‘stuck’ in place, instead of gliding smoothly. When you play in a cooler room, with an overhead fan, for example, the coolness and hardness of the polished finish will allow for play to be consistent, true and crisp.
2) SHOOTING TECHNIQUES:
– A good beginner shot
First, as in Zen Archery, breathe and relax your whole body, and visualize the puck hitting your target as you launch it with a flick of the finger. For many folks, the index finger is the most natural shot. Other players, like myself, prefer using the middle finger. I prefer my middle finger because it has a wide flat fingernail and I shoot ‘sideways’ which gives me a better view of the puck. I have shot this way since my 5th birthday and it is now very intuitive. I occasionally experiment with other shots, such as the scissor shot, but the middle finger side flick works best for me. Your shot should feel natural, and it is helpful to to see the puck before and during your shot. It will take a lot of practice to get the puck to go exactly where you want it to go. Could be weeks, months or years ! Stay with it and it will happen !
– Strike the puck using a flicking motion, hitting only the side of the puck. Your hand or wrist must touch part of the board for a legal shot.
– No pushing or sliding the puck from the top. That is not allowed.
– The shooting hand must not move
– Only the shooting finger can move
– You may start with the finger actually touching the puck. It is a natural shot for folks who grew up playing Carroms or Skully.
– No coverings of any kind may be worn on the finger. Play is with bare fingers only.
– Stable Shooting Hand
When playing billiards or pool, everyone knows that using a stable hand to hold the cue stick is very important. Similarly, it is important to have a stable base for your flicking hand when playing pichenotte. If your hand is always moving around, always in a different position, your shots are going to be unpredictable.
– Finger Pain
Sometimes it causes finger pain when you flick very hard against a puck. This usually occurs when you want to ‘clear the board’ and remove many of your opponent’s pucks all at once. You can minimize the pain by starting with your finger closer to the puck. Think of the comparison in hockey between a slap shot and a wrist shot. A slap shot means a big wind-up and really striking the puck hard. It is a big jolt to the player, the stick and the puck. A wrist shot means the puck is already in contact with the stick, and the wrist ‘snap’ action is not a jolt to the player, puck or stick. It is just a fluid, smooth ‘swoosh’. If you shoot a pichenotte puck like a hockey wrist shot, it will not hurt your finger.
– Directing the Puck
– The distance between your finger and puck should always be the same at the start of the shot. If not, the puck will sometimes go to the right or left of where you intend.
– If your shot goes to the right: rotate your wrist to the left before shooting
– If your shot goes to the left: rotate your wrist to the right before shooting
– Sometimes you may need someone to watch your shot, give you feedback, and adjust accordingly.
– The Speed of the Puck
In general, it is best to hit the puck just hard enough to make my opponent’s pucks go off the board, and leave your pucks on the board. If you always hit the puck very hard, and never leave your pucks on the board, you will probably lose a lot of games. However, if you are very far behind in points, you may decide to go for a major “blast” and try to clear all my opponent’s pucks in a single shot. It is a ‘fun’, and unpredictable shot. You might even warn your opponents to shield their faces to avoid getting hit by all the flying pucks ! And they should do likewise when they shoot hard.
– There are three phases – opening, middle, and end
1) Opening-Game (pucks #1 thru #4) – Try to build an early lead by scoring 20’s, but defense should not be neglected. Hide your pucks behind posts when you can.
2) Mid-Game (pucks #5 thru #8) – Keep the exchanges even. Don’t let your opponent get too far ahead.
3) End-Game (pucks #9 thru #12) – If you are ahead in points, protect the lead by playing defensively, only going for high percentage shots, and maybe slowing the game down. If you are behind in points, it’s time to risk everything: shoot hard to clear your opponent’s pucks off the board, and maybe ‘go for a twenty’ every time you shoot.
– You need to make good choices early in the game, before the situation is beyond hope.
– Keeping the exchanges even is important, never letting the opponent get too far ahead.
– The person who shoots the last puck has a slight advantage. The last shot is called the hammer. The ‘hammer’ can change the outcome very quickly.
– A short pause before shooting will give you time to consider different possible scenarios and outcomes. In general it is a good idea to keep the pace slow.
– Choose the shot that gains the most points, by knocking off your opponent’s pucks, and leaving your pucks on the board, or by ‘going for a twenty’. If you don’t leave pucks on the board, you cannot win, unless you have a larger number of ‘twenties’.
– When possible, make shots that leave your own pucks in positions which are difficult for your opponent to hit. For example: behind a post, or near your own quadrant baseline. If your pucks always land near your opponent’s baseline, it will be very easy for them to knock your pucks off.
– Making Twenties
– There are some players who prefer to ‘Go For a Twenty’ on almost every shot. They can win a lot of games if they are successful. But it may make for a very boring game. You may decide to play some games that don’t allow for a player to shoot for twenties unless there are no opponent’s pucks on the board. But don’t lose a friend over it !
– Experienced, deliberate players, with a superior shot selection, will win most of the time.
– And of course, there is always an element of luck that changes everything very quickly.
4) PRACTICE ROUTINES:
Practicing By Yourself
– Shoot ‘twenties’ over and over again, from different angles in your quadrant – middle, right or left.
– Practice bank shots. Put several pucks randomly to the right and left on the board. With a puck on the baseline, try to bank off any of the pucks, and land your shooting puck into the center/twenty hole.
– Play pichenotte “solitaire”
Play as if you are both players. Put twelve pucks of one color on the table to your left. Twelve pucks of a different color on the table to your right. Shoot in rotation as in a real game. Pause to look at possible scenarios, and try for pinpoint accuracy. Since there is no pressure to win, you will probably find some interesting, new shots to try.
Practicing With Others
– Do a twenties “shootout”. Nothing but twenties. They’re either in or out. The player with the most twenties wins the round.
– Experiment – Try seemingly impossible shots to see if you can make them. You’ll surprise yourself at how many you can make.
– You have only 6 pucks, and your opponent has 12 pucks. Give your opponent 2 shots for every 1 of yours. This is a very good way to make every shot count. Lots of fun. You’ll probably win more games than you think!
– If there are four players, play 3 against one. See if you can beat all three opponents. They’re all on one team, playing against you. Very tough to win this match! But it can be done.
And always remember: “Have fun and pass it on!”