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Last update:

10 Mar 2006

General background: How to play Pétanque

Playing and Scoring


1. A coin is tossed to decide who starts.

2. A member of the team winning the toss must draw a circle on the terrain of between 35cm and 50cm diameter and at least 1 metre from the edge of the terrain or any obstacle and, standing with both feet inside the circle, then throws the cochonnet to land between 6m and 10m from the circle (or up to two metres shorter for teams of very young players).  The cochonnet, when thrown, should not be closer than one metre from the boundary of the terrain or an obstacle. 

3. Each player must stand with both feet on the ground within this circle when playing their boules, and with no part of their body touching the ground outside the circle, and must stay like that until the boule they have thrown first touches the ground.  There are special rules for people in wheelchairs or with only one lower limb.

4. A player from the team winning the toss (not necessarily the same one who threw the cochonnet) throws the first boule and (usually) tries to place it as close as possible to the cochonnet.

5. A player from the opposing team then throws a boule, generally trying to establish the "lead boule"  either by getting theirs nearer to the cochonnet (pointing) or by knocking away the opponents' leading boule (shooting).  It is also permissible to try to throw the boule to move the cochonnet in order to gain the “lead boule”.  Any boule thrown or shot beyond the terrain boundary is out of play, does not count in the scoring, and cannot be thrown again until the next "end".

6. After these first two boules of an "end", each subsequent boule must be thrown by a player from the team not having the "lead boule", and this team must then continue to throw either until their team has the "lead boule", or until all their team's boules are played.  If they succeed in gaining the " lead boule", the other team takes over and carries on in the same way, until either they have the lead or they have played all of their boules, etc.  When one team has played all its boules, the other team may continue to throw theirs, trying either to “point” them closer to the cochonnet than the opposing boules or “shoot” out any opposing boules that prevent any of their own from scoring (or they can try to move the cochonnet to a more advantageous position).  If they consider that the risk of losing their " lead boule(s)" is too high if they continue to play, they do not have to play all of their remaining boules.

7. If the two nearest boules from the opposing sides are an equal distance from the cochonnet, the team that played most recently must play the next boule, but then play alternates between the two teams until either the situation changes (in which case normal play resumes) or until both teams are out of boules.  If the nearest boule from each of the teams are still equal after all boules have been played, the end is “void” with no score to either team, and the team that started that end also starts the next one.

8. If the cochonnet is moved beyond the terrain boundary during play, and both teams still have boules to play, this also creates a “void end” as in point 7. above.   



9. After all boules have been played, or the leading team decides not to play any remaining boules and the opposing team is out of boules, the team with one or more boules nearest the cochonnet wins the end.  They score points equal to the number of boules they have closer to the cochonnet than the nearest one of the opposing team.

10. If the cochonnet goes out of play and only one team has boules left to play, the end is finished and the team still holding boules score points equal to the number of boules in hand.

11. A player in the team winning the end draws a new circle around the cochonnet, or as close to it as possible to meet the requirements of point 1. above, and play then continues as above until the first team reaches 13 points (usually, although for "non-competitive" play you can agree a different winning score), to win the game.


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