Petanque – How to play the game.

How to play the game

Petanque (from ‘pieds tanque’ – feet tied together, or Boules-they’re the same) is usually played outdoors on any reasonably firm, flat surface, about 13m long and a couple of meters or more wide. The ideal surface is hard-packed earth with a covering of course sand, gravel or chippings. At Bedouin, we play on a compacted hard-core, undulating, terrain covered with small granite chippings.

Anyone who can hold and throw a boule; male or female, young or old, novice or pro. Divide up into two teams. You can play Singles with one player on each side, Doubles with two players on each side, or Triples with three players on each side (or even two against 3, with 6 boule a side).

How to Start
Toss a coin to see which side goes first.

Throw the Jack
The team that wins the coin toss chooses the starting location and selects one of their players to throw the jack (or coche from the French cochonnet or ‘little Pig’). The starting location is indicated by a circle or ring 50cm inside diameter and at least 1m from any obstacle. The circle can be drawn in the dirt with a stick or use a plastic ring. The player then stands with both feet inside the circle and throws the jack between 6 and 10m in any direction.

How do you throw the Boule?
There is no rule on how to hold or throw the boule, but most throw underarm, with the palm facing down and the boule held in the palm by your fingers.

Starting the game
All boules must be thrown from within the circle with both feet on the ground. The player throws the boule so that it lands as close to the jack as possible; it is okay to hit the jack. A player from the opposing team then steps into the circle and attempts to land their boule closer to the jack, even if it means knocking his opponents out of the way. The boule closest to the coche then leads; it’s known as “holding the point.” The other team must continue throwing boules until they take the lead or run out of boules. If they take the lead, the other team then tries to recover by landing a closer boule.

Winning the ‘End’
Once a team has used all its boules, the other side is allowed to throw the rest of theirs. When all boules are thrown, the points are counted. The team with the boule closest to the jack wins a point for each boule closer to the jack than their opponents’ best boule. Only one team scores points during a round.

Beginning a New Round
Once the points are counted, the next end begins with the previous round’s winners drawing a new starting circle from where the coche ended up last time, and you start again

Winning the Game
The first team to earn a total of 13 points wins the game, irrespective of how many ends it takes.

Is it really that simple?
In essence yes. There are finer points and detailed rules are published by Petanque England. You might like to watch a brief coaching video.



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