Games of gain-ground/History

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Chapter 2
Lesson : Games of gain-ground
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Next chapter : Longue paume
Games of gain-ground

Longue paume[edit]

Longue paume was very practised by the Middle Ages to the XVIII century in France and in Europe.

The name comes from the Middle Ages where the game was played with the palm of the hand. Then, the players put a glove, then they used a wooden battledore. These battledores were then stretched out by skin then these battledores became rackets with crossed ropes. Originally, the sieve of rackets was made by ropes of hemp. Towards half of XVII century, we used ropes in intestines of sheep which are very successful. At present, the racket weighs from 275 to 300 g for a maximum 72 cm length.

Balls also evolved because at the beginning balls were made by pressed rags on which we wound into a ball sons, the whole was covered with leather. We then used a rubber pit(core) then finally we arrive at the ball of cork covered with flannelette of a diameter from 5,5 to 6 cm and which weighs from 16 to 20 g. The ideal weight is 18 g for the been in hiding parts(parties) and of 16 g for the removed parts. Now, balls consist of three pieces of cork (a central part and two skullcaps) and of a flannelette in two pieces sewn with a single sewing.

Pierre de Coubertin adhered in 1890 to the Society of Longue paume of Paris. In 1892, the Bouclier de Brennus (Shield of Brennus) is realized by the Parisian engraver Charles Brennus further to a proposal of Pierre de Coubertin to reward the winners of the championships of Longue paume in "parties terrées" and the winners of Rugby. The champions of France both federations thus receive different shield but with the same name.

partie de Longue paume au Jardin du Luxembourg (Paris) en juin 1889
Bouclier de Brennus

ciselé in 1892 - Charles Brennus (1859-1943)

During the Olympics of 1900 in Paris, a test of Long outdoor palm took place with the sporting status of demonstration. The competition took place in the Garden of the Luxembourg but there were only French teams. We played parts to be in hiding and parts to be removed. The participants were classified in two categories of levels. A competition in Courte paume was also planned in the Jeu de paume of the Tuileries but it did not take place for lack of participants.

In 1908 in London, the Longue Paume was Olympic sport: the American Jay Gould takes away(gains) the tournament by beating in finale Eustace Miles (6-5, 6-4, 6-4).

At the moment, the longue paume is still practised in Picardy, more particularly in the east of the Somme and the North of the Oise as well as in Paris, in the Garden of the Luxembourg.

ballon au poing[edit]

  • 1935 = la Fédération française de ballon au poing was established in 1935.

Balle à la main[edit]

It is a very older picard sport. Before the 2d world war, there were about fifty societies of paume at naked hand in Picardy.

In 2008, the Fédération Française de Balle à la Main had approximately 200 graduates in Picardy distributed in about fifteen societies.

Balle à la Main à Denain
  • May 5, 1908, création à Amiens of the Fédération des Sociétés de Pelote de la Somme et des départements limitrophes
  • The name of the federation will be afterwards = Fédération des Sociétés de Balle à la Main, then Fédération Française de Balle à la Main.
the tamis

Balle au tamis[edit]

Documents of the XV century point out that this game was practiced in Île-de-France, in Normandy and in Picardie.

La Fédération Internationale du jeu de Petite Balle (FIPB) was created in 1900.

Balle pelote[edit]

Balle pelote à Valenciennes (5 players by team)
News of 1953 on the balle pelote
( in (nl) )


Llargues is the oldest Valencian pilota modality.

International game[edit]

The International game was created so that players from similar sports could play with some minimal changes in their respective rules by the International Ball game Confederation.

In first instance, it was made by European federations of different and until then isolated sports:

  • Belgium: Balle pelote
  • France: Longue paume
  • Italy: Pallone
  • Valencian Community: Llargues
  • Netherlands: Frisian handball

Later on, some countries from the Americas joined:

  • Argentina:
  • Colombia: Chazas
  • Ecuador:
  • Mexico: Pelota tarasca
  • Uruguay:

Old Balle au tambourin[edit]

It is a ball game practised in Languedoc since the middle of the XVIth century. At that time, this game was played with wooden armbands ( brassards en bois in French ).

In 1861, the first tambourines (wooden circle on which is stretched out a given a parchment finish skin) were used.

Before 1955 in France, the Ball with tambourine ( Balle au tambourin in French ) was a game of gain-ground but in 1955, the French players adopt the Italian rules says of " open game " ( Gioco del tamburello in Italian ). This was done to allow meetings between France and Italy. With this new rules, the Balle au tambourin abandoned the notion of "chasse" and is not any more at the moment a game of gain-ground as previously.

Match in 4 on 4 à Pézenas (Hérault - France) before the Great War
Old tambourins


  • Luc Collard, Longue paume et ballon au poing, revue EPS, n° 274, p. 72-75 , nov-déc 1998
  • M. LAZURE, Les jeux de balle et ballon picards, Amiens, (Sports de France), p. 96. , (1981)
  • Gaston Vasseur, La Balle au tamis , Editeu : Société d'émulation historique et littéraire, 31 pages, ASIN: B001BN7EQS (1945)
  • Internacional Ball Sport Federation
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