Sunday, July 14, 2013

Playing Together Builds Community


Pétanque, similar to bocce, is one of the world's fastest growing outdoor sports. Simple to learn; challenging to master.

  • What is Pétanque ?
  • Why is Pétanque the Ultimate Social Sport ?
  • What are the Rules of the Game ?
What is Pétanque ?

A distant relative of horseshoes and a cousin to the Italian game of bocce, pétanque developed in France in the early 1900’s. It is one of Europe’s most popular outdoor games and is growing fast in the US, Canada, Australia, and Asia. It is also a professional sport.

The aim is to toss a number of hollow steel balls (boules) as close as possible to a small target ball, called a jack or cochonnet (meaning "piglet" in French). Players take turns and the team that ends up nearest to the target ball, once all balls are played, wins.

While in horseshoes the aim stake is fixed, pétanque’s target ball may be hit at any time, which can completely turn around the score at the last second. And whereas bocce calls for a smooth court, pétanque is played on a rougher, more informal surface.

Why is Pétanque the Ultimate Social Sport ?
  • Way to meet neighbors and make new friends
  • Plenty of time for chat
  • No special athletic ability need
  • Good sport for grandparents and grandchildren
  • Ideal pick-up sport: come alone, with partner, or with family
  • All ages and abilities, play from a wheelchair
  • Teams informally formed and reformed
  • Free, no club or game fees

What are the Rules of the Game ? (from Pétanque America)




1The game is played by 2 teams of 1, 2, 3 or 4 players.
Teams of 1 or 2 players use 3 boules per player. Teams of 3 or 4 use 2 boules per player.
2Toss a coin to choose which team will start. A player on this team chooses the starting point by drawing a circle of about 20 inches in diameter.
3This player tosses the little target ball between 18 and 30 ft away, but not closer than 20" from any obstacle or boundary. The thrower's feet must stay inside the circle until the target ball has reached the ground.
4Any player from this team then throws the first boule, trying to place it as close as possible to the target ball. Again, both feet must remain inside the circle when throwing.
5A player of the second team comes into the circle and tries to throw a boule even closer to the target ball. Or knocks away the first team's leading boule. The boule nearest to the target ball leads.
6It's up to the team not leading to throw until they get a leading boule. Then it's up to the other team again.
When a team has no boules left the other team throws their remaining boules and tries to place them as close as possible to the target ball.
7When neither team has any boules left the points are counted.
Only the leading team scores: as many points as it has boules that are closer to the target than the best one of the losing team.
In the example on the left, the "blue" team has 3 boules closer to the target ball than the nearest boule from the "green" team, and thus gets 3 points.
8An "end" is over when each team has thrown all its boules. The winning team starts a new end, by drawing a circle where the previous end finished, and tossing the target ball again.
The game continues until one of the teams has accumulated 13 points.