Pétanque Union Bois le Duc, 's-Hertogenbosch - The Netherlands





Pétanque Union Bois le Duc




‘s-Hertogenbosch - The Netherlands


Founded on July 6, 2016

Member of the Dutch Pétanque Association (NJBB)




































Game rules

























Connected by sport

in 2020 with














Table of contents


·       The history of the sport 'pétanque'.

·       Material.

·       Choosing the right boules.

·       Throwing positions and throwing types.

·       Build your own pétanque court.

·       Terminologies.



The history of the sport ‘pétanque’

The term ‘jeu de boules’ is a collective term for ball games. Our game is called ‘pétanque’ and is part of these ball games. The history of the sport ‘pétanque’, nevertheless popularly called ‘jeu de boules’, starts in a distant past.


There are various stories about the origin of the game of boules. What is certain is that archaeologists have found a few larger balls and a small ball in the sarcophagus of an Egyptian pharaoh. The origin of this is estimated to be the 52nd century BC. Unfortunately, it is unknown whether these balls were actually used for a ball game. However, something that is known is that in a later period, the Greeks were the ones who took ball throwing in their gymnasia (gyms) and effectively turned it into a kind of sport. Then the Romans came and took possession of large parts of Europe with their conquests. Consequently, they adopted a lot of habits from the Greeks, including this ball game. However, the Romans added a goal ball to it and an early form of the jeu de boules game was created.

The Romans exported this game to all of Western Europe and North Africa, after which all kinds of variants of this game were devised in various regions over time.


The principle of throwing a ball to a goal is therefore a primeval sport, however, it cannot be exclusively attributed to the Greeks and the Romans. It is known that the Incas also had a similar ball game. It still appears to be played by North American Indian tribes to this day.

Around the 13th century the game resurfaced in Flanders and England. This ball game then took off to southern Europe, especially Italy and France. It is here that the boules games we know under the names as ‘La Lyonnaise’ (originally Italian), ‘La Provençale’ and ‘La Longue’ (in the South of France) were developed. La Lyonnaise and La Provençale are still played in Central France (Provence and Midi) and are very popular there.


The ball game subsequently fell into obscurity for all sorts of reasons and was as good as extinct for a very long period. It is much later in history when there are, once again, traces to be found of the ball game.


The boules that used to be played with were made of a certain type of hard wood. It should also be mentioned, for the sake of clarity, that the boules used for La Lyonnaise were much larger in size than those used for La Provençale.


At that time there were already some rules to the game, but they not worth much. There were all kinds of tricks you could come up with to win a match with impunity.


In the early 20th century, a famous player from La Provençale named Jules de Noir became disabled due to a severe form of rheumatism. Partly because of this, he could no longer practice his so beloved sport. At La Provençale one had to stand on one leg when placing a boule. Additionally, one had to make three quick steps when shooting. Unfortunately, Jules de Noir was no longer able to do that due to his condition. He started looking for ways to adapt the existing rules in such a way that he could continue to play the game, even if only in small form. A number of ideas sprang from his mind in 1910 in the southern French seaside resort of La Coitat. Therefore, It is no coincidence that the oldest boulodrome (playground) as we know it is located in La Coitat. The sport ‘Pétanque’ was born and quickly became very popular and spread rapidly across the South of France. It proceeded to spread like an oil slick all over the country.



Les boules cloutées.


Pétanque was first called ‘avoir les pieds tanqués’ (read: ‘having both feet next to each other’) which was then shortened to ‘pieds tanqués’ (‘closed feet’) and later merged into the modern name ‘pétanque’. The same wooden boules used in La Provençale were used again for this game. The boules, which were subject to wear and tear because they played on all kinds of terrains, were provided with nails by a few players. This was called ‘les boules cloutées’. The reason for this was to prevent rapid wear and to make the boules heavier. This method quickly spread among more players and they started to apply it as well. This lasted until about 1920. A certain Jean Blanc then developed metal boules by welding two hemispheres together. This happened in a small factory in Saint-Bonnet-le-Château, a commune in the French department of the Loire (Rhône-Alpes region). The boules that are made there bear the name of their designer Jean Blanc to this day: ‘Les boules JB’. Much later, other manufacturers followed suit and other brands also entered the market. They also used the production process developed by Jean Blanc with the two hemispheres.



The contemporary production process of a boule.


After many difficulties, the game was further regulated in 1945 and the Fédération Internationale de Pétanque et Jeu Provençal (F.I.P.J.P.) was founded. One tournament after another soon followed, eventually leading to the gigantic tournament in the pétanque mecca par excellence: the ‘Parc Borely’ in the southern French port city of Marseille. The name of this annual spectacle: ‘Le Mondial la Marseillaise à Pétanque’. Today, more than 4,500 teams participate in this tournament. A total of about 13,500 players! It is played according to a system of direct elimination where huge amounts of money can be made.



The winners of ‘Le Mondial la Marseillaise à Pétanque’ of 2023.

F.l.t.r.: David Riviera, Mickaël Bonetto en Mayron Baudino.


During the playing season there are many who, by playing tournaments on a daily basis, earn their living with the pétanque. In the post-war years, famous and infamous pétanque players were given very colorful nicknames. Some examples of this are Robert Trovatelli nicknamed ‘Otello’, Jean Tricon nicknamed ‘Le Japonaise’, not to mention the notorious pre-war player Donato nicknamed ‘Bimbo’.


The spread of pétanque in the Netherlands is probably the result of an introduction to this game by holidaymakers in France. It is also possible that French residents living in the Netherlands have contributed to the introduction of the game. The game soon became so popular in the Netherlands that a number of associations were founded to practice pétanque. As a logical consequence, the Dutch Pétanque Association (NJBB) was established in 1972.


The great flight that pétanque has taken in the Netherlands is evident from the number of players with a NJBB license: this is growing steadily every year. In 2023, the NJBB knows more than 15.000 licensees. It is certain that outside the organised context of the NJBB at least more than an equal number of players is affiliated with associations that are not members of the NJBB making the number of practitioners of the pétanque much larger than officially known.


The Netherlands is divided into 8 NJBB districts, each with its own board.



On an international level, it is hoped that pétanque will expand to more countries so that it can potentially grow into an Olympic sport in the future. In 2003 the sport ‘pétanque’ was officially recognised as a top sport in France.





To be able to play the sport ‘pétanque’ properly, you need official competition boules, not so-called ‘camping boules’ which you buy in the construction or supermarket and that shine as if someone has just polished them for hours. Playing with camping boules results in a kind of game falsification for the following reasons:


·       Camping boules are made of very soft inferior types of metal, and often do not meet the weight requirements.

Suppose: a player with competition boules executes the perfect shot on a camping boule (this is a so-called ‘carreau sur place’ where the boule with which is shot remains in exactly the same place as the boule that was shot) then the result will be however, far from perfect. Because the camping boule is extremely soft, it will not absorb the power of the shot with the hard competition boule to the same extent. By way of illustration: it is a bit like the idea of shooting a ping-pong ball with a basketball. The ping-pong ball flies away but the basketball flies just as fast (or even faster).

·       A competition boule is made with care, is balanced and certified as such by the manufacturer. If you divide a competition boule exactly in two, one half is just as heavy as the other and you see that the walls of the boule also have an even thickness. You will also not see air bubbles in the metal or loose pieces of metal in the core of the boule (read: a boule is hollow). If you divide a camping boule in half, it could be that one part is 60% of the total weight and the other part 40%. You will also see that the wall of the camping boule is not uniform in thickness and it is likely that you will see air bubbles and loose pieces of metal.

In summary: camping boules are unbalanced but above all not certified, which means that you are not allowed to play official or internal tournaments at Pétanque Union Bois le Duc!



Camping boules.


An official competition boule.


A competition boule has a minimum weight of 650 grams and a maximum weight of 800 grams. The minimum diameter is 70.5 millimeters and the maximum 80.0 millimeters.


Each competition boule has a serial number, weight and brand engraved. Without this data it is a ‘boule loisir’: a recreational boule. With a ‘boule loisir’ you are not allowed to play in official tournaments and competitions! The serial number must not be illegible, otherwise an umpire may reject the boule after which you are not allowed to continue playing (unless you have another set of boules that are in accordance with the rules).



A smooth boule

without ring decoration.


A smooth boule

with ring decoration.


There are smooth boules, which are usually used by tireurs (shooters), and boules with different types of ring decoration. These are used by the pointeurs (pointers).


A pointer often plays with smaller boules than a shooter and uses boules with many ring decorations to get a better grip on the terrain. With slightly smaller boules it is also easier for the pointer to play with effect.


A shooter usually plays with larger, soft boules. Soft boules ensure that the boules have more cushioning so that they jump less far after the shot.


You can buy official competition boules in the better, often larger sports store or online via www.obut.com/en, in any case not from a construction or supermarket (unless you are in France! 😉).


The jack is made of wood, usually boxwood, or plastic. The permitted diameter is 30 millimeters with an allowable deviation of +/- 1 millimetre. It can have different colors and it is round.



The jack is relatively smaller than the boules.


If, during a match, you are in doubt about the validity of the jack, consult the umpire or use this flowchart to get closure.



Note: always consult the international game rules for the very latest regulations!



Choosing the right boules

Choosing the right boules depends on a number of things:


·       The size of your hand.

·       The role you want to fullfil in the team.

·       ‘The feeling’.


It is important that you choose boules that fit well in your hand. It should fit the way that is shown in the picture below, with about half the ball in your hand and the other half out of your hand.



A good grip is essential for a good throw.


To test this, grab the boule with both hands. Then enclose the boule. It should now be completely enclosed by both hands, thumb against index finger. This test does not offer any guarantee that you will actually purchase the most suitable boules for you. It is just a guideline that makes it a bit easier to, so to speak, ‘see the forest for its trees’.


Beginners should certainly not take extreme measurements: the dimensions of an intermediary (milieu) are most suitable in this case: 710 or 720 grams, 1 or 2 grooves, 73 or 74 mm, 125 kg/mm2.


A pointer (pointeur) chooses a ball with which he can point well. The boules suitable for this are somewhat heavier (> 720 grams) and are grooved so that they have a better grip on the terrain. A pointer's boules are usually smaller as well (around 72 millimeters) making them harder to hit by a shooter (tireur). The boules are also harder (125 kg/mm2) because they need less damping (after all, they are almost never fired). An additional advantage is that they wear out less quickly.


A shooter (tireur) chooses a ball with which he can shoot well (through the air). The suitable ball is easy to throw and usually lighter (< 720 grams). The boules of a shooter are often smooth, without grooves, so that they suffer less from (air) resistance and eddies. A shooter's boules are usually larger (around 76 millimeters), which increases the chance of hitting the oponent’s boules. The boules of a shooter are also softer (110 kg/mm2) so that they absorb shocks better and therefore stay in place better.


For those who don't believe it: boules wear out considerably when playing, especially with intensive use! The disappearance of the inscriptions already indicates that the weight of the boule no longer corresponds to what it says, apart from its balance and as far as the brand is concerned. The brand must appear on the list of approved brands of the Dutch Pétanque Association (NJBB).



As with any sport, training is very important: practice makes perfect!



Throwing positions and throwing types

A good throw is one where the body is in balance and the movement the body makes is controlled yet smooth, without interruption.



It is also very important to throw the boule the right way, with the fingers closed together and the flat hand pointing in the direction (read: trajectory) that the boule has to travel to the jack or for the boule to be shot.



Pétanque only knows two ways in which to play the boules: seated (crouched) or standing. In both cases, the feet remain on the ground.



Playing sitting or crouched.


Playing while standing.


There are several ways to play a boule in both the crouched and standing position. A player can point (pointer) to score a point, but a player can also shoot (tirer) to score the point or to remove one or more boules (and thus points!) from the opponent.


There are several ways to do this with pointing and shooting.


Pointing (pointer)


Rolling a boule (point à roulant)

The boule is played crouched or bent half over for this throw. When using this technique, the boule touches the ground (on the donnée) within 2 to 5 meters of the throwing circle, after which it rolls further towards the jack. Before this throw it is important that the trajectory is regarded carefully, as there can be many irregularities on the track.


Throwing at half-height (point en ½ portée, glissé)

In the half-high throw, the boule is played with a bow so that it hits the ground (on the donnée) halfway between the throwing circle and the jack. The higher you throw the boule, the shorter the boule will roll out. Rolling out is also determined by the soil conditions. With this throw, the degree of counter-effect, in which the boule wants to roll back or does not roll on, is also important, especially on hard surfaces.


Throwing a high boule (point au portée ou plombé)

With a high throw, the boule is thrown very high in the air so that it falls almost vertically. The boule hits the ground (on the donnée) less than 1 meter from the jack. With this throw, the degree of counter-effect, in which the boule wants to roll back or does not roll on, is also important, especially on hard surfaces.


Shooting (tirer)


Shooting by rolling (tir à la rafle)

With this shot, the boule is played as powerfully as possible, with the boule touching the ground (on the donnée) 3 to 4 meters in front of the goal. The big disadvantage of this shot is that the boule played encounters all the irregularities of the terrain, resulting in less control. The result of the shot is very unpredictable.


Half-rolling shooting (tir devant)

One of the most common reasons that a shooter misses the opponent's boule is that the boule played jumps over the boule to be shot (especially on hard courts). To prevent this, it is best for a shooter to shoot a little short. Let the played boule land 20 to 30 centimeters in front of the boule to be shot. The attacking boule continues to roll and bounces off the opponent's. This throw is only suitable for sandy and flat terrain. Even the smallest stone can cause the shooter to miss his target.


Shooting at the iron (tir plein fer)

This type of shot is mainly used on irregular terrain. The shooter must hit the opponent's boule right in the middle, thus, a shot at the iron. Hitting the opponent's boule without touching the ground is the most difficult shot that can be made and requires a lot of accuracy. The perfect shot is called a ‘carreau’ or a ‘stayer’. If the boule with which is shot remains in exactly the same place as the boule shot, then this is called a ‘carreau sur place’.


Playing with effect


Pointing with effect (pointer)

It is also possible to place a boule with effect to avoid boules (whether or not of the opponent) or irregularities on the ground. By letting go of the boule in different ways you create an effect to the left or to the right. You do this as follows:


·      Hand neutral: the boule moves straight ahead.

·      Hand turned out: anti-clockwise effect.

·      Hand turned inward: clockwise effect.


Shooting with effect (tirer)

You can also shoot a boule with a counter-effect by giving a sort of pulling movement (counter-effect) to the boule to be thrown. This is also called a ‘drawn boule’. The moment the played boule touches the boule to be shot, it will come back in the direction of the throwing circle. By throwing the played boule slightly obliquely, it is possible to make the played boule go to the left or to the right in relation to the boule just shot.


Instructional video Marco Foyot

One of the best instructional videos ever made is the ‘Ma méthode' starring multiple (world) champion Marco Foyot from France. The instruction video may be somewhat outdated due to the test of time, but it shows in a formidable way how to play a boule. Click here to watch the instructional video on YouTube (Dutch language).



Marco Foyot, nicknamed ‘Monsieur Pétanque’, in action.


Warming up

As with any sport, it is wise to keep a short warm-up with pétanque. After all, a ‘warm’ body is usually also a flexible body. However, it does not offer any guarantees ...




Build your own pétanque court

Pétanque can be played on very different terrains but the best surface is formed by loose and lightly rolled fine gravel or a fine stone layer. Gravel or finely broken shells are also used but make the game less interesting due to too much regularity. The terrain does not have to be perfectly smooth. The irregularity of the terrain is an essential part of what makes the game interesting. However, good drainage is desirable.

The construction of the playground is highly dependent on the local soil conditions. It is best to ask the municipal park service how to construct a gravel-covered park path on site.


Officially an area of 4 by 15 meters is required per playground, but 3 by 13 meters is usually sufficient in practice. Laying out courts is only necessary if there are a lot of players in an open area and there is a chance of the games getting mixed up. Thin rope (for example: orange nylon wire) with a thickness of 1 to 3 millimeters is very suitable for the separation of the courts. A terrain boundary is not immediately necessary, but it can prevent boules from coming through or getting onto the roadway. To this end, an edge of stone or wooden sleepers can be placed. Stone has the disadvantage that it is smashed faster. If line marking is used, it must be placed at least 10 centimeters from the lines.


Finally, a summary of the structure of a pétanque court as it should be according to the Dutch Pétanque Association (NJBB). In general, the structure from the top (top layer) to the bottom (substrate and foundation) is as follows:


·       Top layer: 3 to 4 millimeters.

·       Foundation: +/- 10 centimeter.

·       Water-draining layer: +/- 20 centimeters.


Top layer

Having a top layer that is leveled should be avoided, natural curves make the game more attractive. The top layer can consist of:


·       2 to 3 centimeters of loam, rolled in with 1 centimeter of gravel (0-8 millimeters): split can also be used for this or …

·       Coarse sand with crushed marl (not easily available) or …

·       Semi-paved top layer material, the disadvantage of this can be that the court becomes too smooth and therefore too easy.



The foundation can be the same as that of semi-pavements:


·       Lava (0-15/25 millimeters) or …

·       Embers (0-15/25 millimeters).


When the top layer has concrete or anything similar as a substrate, the described top layer will suffice, but with a thickness of 20 centimeters.


Water-draining layer

Coarse sand or broken rubble, with a thickness of 20 centimeters, can be used as a water-draining layer. This layer can of course already be present locally. Whether or not to drain depends on the local situation.


And if you think these instructions are too complicated: grab a shovel and a few wheelbarrows with sand, find a parking space, throw a thin layer of sand on it ... Et voila, your own pétanque court is a fact!



A pétanque court should be a challenge. A pétanque court that is too flat or a pétanque court with a top layer that is too thick will be detrimental to the game. Finally, the thicker the top layer, the more impure a boule can be played. Due to a too thick top layer, a boule slows down very strongly, which makes it appear to have been played well, while in fact it was played much too hard/too low. A top layer that is too thick also makes it difficult or even impossible to play another boule or shoot a boule out of the game.







+/- 3 - 5 mm. sand (or gravel) = perfectly playable! 😊


Too thick sand (or gravel) = game spoilage.




When you play pétanque, you cannot escape being bombarded with French terms. To understand these terms a little faster, you can use the following list.


French term

English translation


Stop, lie still, don't roll any further.

Avoir l’avantage

Having the advantage situation. Here you have more boules than your opponent or with an equal number you have a point on the court.


The arm swing.


A point that is neither good nor bad. The opponent is hesitant whether to shoot or not.


In this situation, boule and but against each other.

Bien joué

Nice ball, well played. Especially saìd a lot in France.


A (good) shooter.


Another name for the jack.


Ball, sphere, bullet. The metal ball used to play pétanque.

Boule de fort

A variant of pétanque from the Maine-Loire region.

Boules collées

Sticky balls, boules that lie completely against each other.

Boules glissés

Smooth boules, boules that have no grooves.

Boules quadrillées

Raw boules, boules with many grooves.


A jeu de boules player.


Pétanque playing area.


A jeu de boules lover.


Target ball, the jack, the small wooden ball that serves as a target in pétanque.


A (good) shooter.


Stroke the other boule.


After shooting, the fired boule is still in play, however, not in the same place as the boule that was shot.

Carreau sur place

After shooting, the fired boule is in the exact same spot as the boule that was shot.


Just graze the other boule.


Another name for the jack.


The corridor formed by spectators.


Pointing a boule so that it lands halfway between the throwing circle and jack and continues to roll.


Place on the court where the boule lands.


A team consisting of 2 players (doublet). Each player plays with 3 boules.



Être court

A boule played too short.

Être long

A boule played too long.

Faire les mains

Two play against one.

Fanny, embrasser Fanny of faire Fanny

Expressions used when you lose a match 0-13 and have to kiss Fanny's buttocks.


A boule that rolls away after sliding over an obstacle.

Gagner le point

To win the point, placing a boule closer to the jack than the opponent's.


Exclamation of the team that makes the 13th point. Make sure not call too early!


Another name for the jack.


Pointing a sliding/rolling boule at 8 meters with a donnée at 3 meters from the throwing circle.

Jeu Provençal

A game that resembles petanque and is played on a 15 x 21 meter terrain. One points on one foot. Shooting takes three steps from the throwing circle.

Jouer ‘sur main’

Playing overhead, playing with the back of the hand to the ground.


Pointing a sliding/rolling boule at 6 meters with a donnée at 3 meters from the throwing circle.


Another name for the jack.


(Boule Lyonnaise)

Jeu de boules game with a run up when shooting.

Marquer les boules of Marquer le but

Marking the boules or the jack. Two lines that cross each other are drawn on the couyt under the boule or jack to indicate its location.


Throwing round, the period from throwing the jack until the last boule is thrown, after which the jack must be thrown again.


The middle player in a triplet, who can place or shoot.


Hitting a boule from above to the side, for instance to leave the jack in place.


Measuring with a twig or a straw.


What we call ‘a stayer’. The boule played remains approximately within 50 centimeters of the shot ball after it has been hit.

Pas droit

Not thrown straight.


Another name for the jack.


A pointer.


A very high throw of a boule that lands close to the jack.


To give another boule a little push.

Raclette, raffle, raspaille

The boule is shot rolling over the ground.


Shoot right past it (and almost shaving the boule as such).


Throwing circle, the circle that one draws on the court and in which one must stand when throwing a boule or jack.


Play rolling.


Shooting over another boule to hit at the iron.


A variant of jeu de boules from the area of the southern French city of Lyon.


Grooves, the lines engraved in the boule.

Sur la tête

Hitting a boule on top (as if it were in its face).


Another name for biberon.

Tête à tête

One against one. Each player plays with 3 boules.


Shooting, hitting a boule or jack with the intention of moving it to a different position (better yet: getting out of play).

Tirer à la rafle

Shooting by rolling (tir à la rafle).

Tirer au fer

Hitting the other boule directly on the iron.


A player who mainly shoots.


To touch.

Tourner une boule

Give effect left or right, so that the boule makes a turn to the left or right.


A team consisting of 3 players (triplet). Each player plays with 2 boules.

Une boule avant (et une boule d’argent)

A boule in front (is a boule of silver).


To aim.


































Dutch Pétanque Association (NJBB): 3035

Dutch Chamber of Commerce: 66425654

RegioBank: NL80 RBRB 0200 4914 82



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