Pétanque Rules of Play

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Pétanque (French pronunciation: [petɑ̃k]; Occitan: Petanca [peˈtaŋkɔ]) is a form of boules where the goal is, while standing inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground, to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally "piglet") or jack.
The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on grass, sand or other surfaces. Similar games are bocce and bowls.


  • Play ends, and points may be scored when both teams have no more boules, or when the jack is knocked out of play.
  • The winning team receives one point for each boule that it has closer to the jack than the best-placed boule of the opposition.
  • If the jack is knocked out of play, no team scores unless only one team has boules left to play. In this case the team with boules receives one point for each that they have to play.
  • The first team to reach 13 points (11 in qualifying rounds) wins.

Playing the game:

  • Pétanque is played by two, four or six people in two teams, or players can compete as individuals in casual play. 
  • In the singles and doubles games each player has three boules; in triples they have only two.
  • A coin is tossed to decide which side goes first.
  • The starting team draws a circle on the ground 1 ft – 2ft in diameter: all players must throw their boules from within this circle, with both feet remaining on the ground.
  • The first player throws the jack 18–30 ft away; it must be at least 3 ft from the boundary.

Order of play:

  • The player who threw the jack then throws their first boule. A player from the opposing team then makes a throw.
  • Play continues with the team that is not closest to the jack having to continue throwing until they either land a boule closer to the jack than their opponents or run out of boules.
  • If the closest boules from each team are an equal distance from the jack, then the team that played last plays again.
  • If the boules are still equidistant then the teams play alternately until the position changes.
  • If the boules are still equidistant at the end of the game then no points are scored by either team.
  • The game continues with a player from the team that won the previous end drawing a new circle around where the jack finished and throwing the jack for a new end.