Go to Facebook - Novar Gardens Pétanque Club - for the latest news



Basic Playing Techniques

Holding The Ball

Whether pointing or shooting, the ball is best held in the palm of the hand facing the ground. This method can create a lot of backspin to the ball.

Ground conditions

When throwing the ball, it is very important to examine the ground condition before you step into the circle. Most experienced players try to determine an appropriate landing spot for their ball, and visualise the actual path that the latter will take in an attempt to get it as close as possible to the jack.

Backspin on the ball may be necessary to achieve this. Depending on ground condition, you determine if you want to point in a standing position or in a squat position. You may also consider if the condition is appropriate or best suited for rolling the ball, or throwing a low-lob or a high lob. One must look out for uneven terrain, stones and tree roots and know how to counter them. A ball in front of the jack is much better than balls that are behind. This acts as your defense and the possibility of a mistake by your opponents to knock your ball closer in their attempt to point. If the opponent's ball is in front or too close to the jack, it is best to get your shooter to clear away that ball before you point.

Pointing in a standing position

In a standing position, you must ensure that you are comfortable with your balance. It is recommended that you keep the foot that is on the same side as your throwing hand slightly in front of the other foot. Also determine the landing spot before you release the ball. You must also ensure that you do not lift your foot completely off the ground. It is commonly known as a foot fault and in competition you could be penalized by the Umpire.

To counter balance the throwing arm, you may hold another ball with the non throwing arm or to swing it in the opposite direction or holding it out to the side.

One must not leave the circle before the ball lands.

Pointing in a squat position

This position is particularly suitable when you have to point short distance of 6 to 8 metres. In this position, you can actually judge the ground better and determine the point of landing of your ball. Balance plays a big part in this position as some players may find it more difficult to squat. Avoid this position if the jack is too far away and if the ground is uneven. It is unusual to shoot from this position but on the other hand, you may want to push your own ball nearer to the jack or want to move the jack behind towards your ball(s).

Pointing in a half squat position

Similar to the standing position but with knees bent and body position bent slightly forward. For some players it can provide a certain amount of accuracy higher than in other positions.

                                             The High Lob (La Plombee)

This pointing technique requires a lot of practice. It is probably the most difficult throw to be executed, while very effective if the path to the jack is obstructed by your opponent's ball(s). Feet are spaced apart in order to obatin a good balance. Hold the ball with your hand by the side of your body, and determine the spot where you want to drop the ball (landing spot). Then you must be able to throw the ball to a substantial height in order for it to drop down practically to the vertical. A lot of backspin is required to stop the ball from rolling upon impact. Good judgment is required to drop the ball on a predetermined spot. This method is very effective on uneven rough ground, soft ground and grass.

Shooting (Le Tir)

Normally shooting is best done in a standing position. For good balance, it is essential to keep the foot on the side of the throwing hand slightly in front of the other foot. There are different types of shooting. One is to shoot by throwing your ball a few feet in front of the opponent's ball in order that it may slide and hit it. The other is what the French call "Tir Au Fer" which is to shoot straight and cleanly at the opponent's ball. The ultimate shot, a "carreau" so called, is when your ball pratically replaces the opponent's ball on a shot.



Pétanque (pronounced: " petonk" is a form of boules where the goal is to throw metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (piglet). The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on other surfaces. The name petanque is a derivation of the provençal word ped tanco and it means the feet together on the ground. 

The player, while playing, should keep his feet together and on the ground. The boules can be delivered either from an erect position, a bending or a squatting position. Petanque is unique in that it is the only game of bowls that is practiced in a squatting position!

Key Benefits of the game of Petanque

  • Petanque can be played by people of all ages and fitness levels.
  • No great strength required.
  • Rules are easy to learn.
  • Can be played virtually anywhere.
  • Equipment is inexpensive.
  • No special clothing or footwear required.
  • Social & competition play available year round.


Pétanque is reputed to have been invented in 1907 in the village of La Ciotat near Marseille as a less physically-demanding form of Petanque. Physical effort was reduced by shortening the length of the pitch by roughly half and replacing a moving delivery with a stationary one. The name is derived from the term pieds tanqués, which in the Marseilles dialect of French means "stuck feet", because in Pétanque the feet have to remain fixed together within a (small) circle. It is of interest that this also means that handicapped people in wheelchairs can compete without any disadvantage. Pétanque has become so popular that the term Jeu de Boules (game of balls) is often used to refer to it, even though Pétanque is only one of several variants of boules. Many French villages have a special stadium for the game called a Boulodrome.

The international Pétanque federation Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal was founded in 1958 in Marseille and has about 600,000 members in 52 countries (2002).

The first World Championships were organized in 1959. The most recent championships were held in Faro, Portugal (2000), Monaco (2001), Grenoble (2002), Geneva (2003), Grenoble (2004), Brussels (2005), and Grenoble will host 2006. Fifty-three countries participated in 2004 and the number is growing every year.

Glossary of special terms

Like any sport, petanque has its own special vocabulary. The following are a list of common phrases with explanations.

  • To have the point: to have one or more boules placed closer to the jack than those of the opponent(s).
  • Pointing: to throw one's boule with the intent of stopping near the jack (also know as placing).
  • Shooting: to throw one's boule at one of the opponent's boules to knock it out of play. This is often done when the opponent has pointed his/her boule very close to the jack.
  • Lob: to throw one's boule in a high arc so that when it lands it only rolls minimally.
  • A carreau: a special feat in which the shooter knocks the opponent's boule out while leaving his boule at or very near the point of impact (pronounced car-o).
  • To fanny: to beat one's opponents 13 to 0.
  • To do the bec: intending to stop the boule near the jack by targeting another boule and hitting it.
  • Game on the Ground: meaning one team is lying in a match-winning position while an end is still in progress and will win unless their opponents change the situation.

For more Petanque resources & information see Petanque Australia:


and the online Petanque community.


Pétanque equipment


The beauty of pétanque is that very little equipment is required and the game can be played almost anywhere.

Essential item for pétanque are:

  • The boules (the balls), made of steel, can last indefinitely if looked after with a little care. They have a diameter of 70.5mm to 80mm and weigh between 520g and 800g. Competition boules weigh between 650 and 800g. 
    [To get good advice for the correct competition boule to purchase, contact an experienced player at our Club.
  • Cochonnet (Jack) 
    Article 3 – Approved jacks
    Jacks are made of wood, or of a synthetic material bearing the manufacturer’s mark and having obtained the FIPJP’s approval in line with the precise specification relating to the
    required standards. Painted jacks are authorised.
    Their diameter must be 30mm (tolerance: + or – 1mm).

There are a few useful accessories for pétanque.

  • A measurer. A tape measure or other measuring device is used to measure the distance between a boule and cochonnet. Pétanque measures can be bought, but in a friendly game a piece of string or a straight stick works just as well.
  • A cloth; to wipe off dirt or moisture.
  • A Scorer. A device to register the score of the two teams as the game progresses.
  • A magnetic lifter; handy for those who find it difficult to stoop to pick up the metal boules after each end.

Recommended reading:
‘PÉTANQUE-Boules Down Under by Egon Pozniak.

Click here for current rules of Petanque