Petanque game

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In a narrower sense, is the term Boule ? / i (from French la boule “the ball”) or boule game only briefly for the ball sport Boule Lyonnaise , the so-called “sport boule”. Audio file / audio sample

In Germany, however, “Boule” (like the word “Boccia”) is used more colloquially as a collective term for all ball sports , as is the case in this article. In addition to the aforementioned Boule Lyonnaise, the ball sports also include the Jeu Provençal derived from it , its offshoot of pétanque , British bowls and Italian boccia (also known as "Raffa"). In addition to these five "official" ball sports, there are other regional sports or ball games that have similar rules, such as: B. Boule-en-Bois, Boule-de-Fort, Boule-des-Berges and Boule bretonne .

Many Germans also associate “boules” with the recreational ball game played by the French in public places. The correct name for this, however, is pétanque. With around 600,000 license players in 76 (national) pétanque associations, it is the most widespread ball sport.

Public Boulodrome in the resort of La Palmyre on the Atlantic
British bowls are played on grass
Player at the throw
Boules player at the port of Bonifacio


As early as 460 BC Christ is a recommendation of Greek doctors (including Hippocrates ) for playing with stone balls. In the 2nd century AD, Iulius Pollux described a game in which balls were thrown at a brick; the loser of the game had to carry the winner to the finish line on his shoulders. Boccia and Boule Lyonnaise have their common roots in this game that was widespread in the Roman Empire. The roots of bowls can be traced back to London in the 12th and 13th centuries. Century.

From the Middle Ages, boules in France can be proven primarily through its prohibitions:


The international umbrella organization for the boules sports pétanque, Jeu Provençal, Boule Lyonnaise, boccia and bowls is the Confédération Mondiale des Sports de Boules (CMSB).

In Germany there is the German Pétanque Association (DPV), the Boccia Bund Deutschland (BBD) and the German Boule Association Section Lyonnaise (DBLV), which have merged to form the umbrella organization of the German Boccia, Boule and Pétanque Association .

In Austria , pétanque and boccia are played organized within the framework of the Austrian Pétanque Association .

In Switzerland, pétanque (Fédération Suisse de Pétanque), Boule Lyonnaise (Fédération Suisse de Boules) and boccia are organized.


Delimitation "ball" - "ball"

Originating from the English-speaking sports like bowling and snooker use the word for their ball-round sports equipment ball (dt .: Ball, ball ), although the use of the words is not uniform in the rules to some extent.


Ball sports in the narrower sense are the sports organized in the Confédération Mondiale des Sports de Boules (CMSB). Quote: "The CMSB was recognized by the IOC (Comité International Olympique) on October 15, 1986 in Lausanne as a representative of all ball sports." (For details see below under: Organizations )

In France at least there are some regional ball sports organized in associations, the rules of which are very similar to the basic rules of the game (see below) of the CMSB sports. These are also covered here.

Sports such as curling and stick sports are tactical and similar to ball sports.

There are also ball sports, especially in the traditional and leisure areas. If they are similar to the CMSB sports in the playground, they are also dealt with here. Other ball sports are more of a long throw discipline (e.g. Boßeln ).

Bowling is a sport of skittles , snooker is not a sport of billiards . The shot put is part of athletics .

Delimitation leisure game - sport

Boccia and boules are the most popular leisure options in Germany.


Boccia became particularly popular in Germany thanks to the former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer , who was shown in newsreels while playing boccia while on vacation in Italy . In the period that followed, a recreational game with water-filled plastic balls came on the market, which has little in common with the actual boccia game (Punto-Raffa-Volo).


Petanque balls

Many Germans associate boules with the recreational ball game played by the French in public places. However, the correct name is pétanque . The French use pétanque to distinguish it from other French boule (ball) sports.

The game in public places is the leisure variant, the sport variant is played on or in club facilities (boules pitch (French: Boulodrome ) or boules halls).

One type of boule is crossboule , in which the venue is not fixed, but moves dynamically in the general public space (similar to a variant of Boßeln ).

In Germany, the leisure variant was "imported" mainly by tourists in France and was mostly called boules. In the rules of the game, recreational players follow the pétanque rules.

The sport of pétanque was initially practiced in Germany near the French border and / or in the French occupation zones . So z. B. in Berlin in the former French settlement at Tegel Airport a boulodrome created by the French, which after the departure of the French from the Club Bouliste de Berlin e. V. was bought up.

Basic rules

In all of the sports mentioned, two teams or formations consisting of one to three players play against each other. The possible team strengths are different in the individual sports.

The aim is to get as close as possible to a target ball with your own balls. The target ball and the opposing balls can also be pushed out or shot away. In France the target ball is called cochonnet (German: piggy ).

Sometimes it's just a matter of shooting as precisely as possible. For this, there is precision shooting, a kind of special shooting competition, in pétanque and boule Lyonnaise.

Competition balls

Game scene with boules balls

The following table shows the dimensions and materials of the competition balls.

Sport and ball style material Weight [grams] Diameter [mm] particularities
Balls in the boules sports
Boule Lyonnaise
ball target ball



ball target ball




Hole for thumb
ball target ball

Wood with
plastic steel jacket



ball target ball



> 50
Jeu Provençal
ball target ball



ball target ball

wood, plastic


ball target ball

Wood / plastic


ball target ball




flattened on one side
For comparison “balls” in non-boule sports
cone billiards [a]
carom [a]
pool billiards
Russian billiards
snooker [b]
Phenolic resin

142 ± 0.3

60.3 ± 0.5
61.5 ± 0.1
52.5 ± 0.05
Bowling [a] Plastic
shell coverstock
filling material
2724-7264 218.3 with 3 holes
for fingers
Bowling homogeneous
plastic mass
2818-2871 160 ± 0.5 ---
  • [a] the term "ball" is only used colloquially, the rules of the respective sport use the term " ball "
  • [b] Name unclear, colloquially called "ball" or "ball", in the material standards of the rules of the German Billiard Union , "balls" is used.

Explosion Risks

In 2009 a bullet exploded in Switzerland. Subsequent investigations by EMPA found that the balls sold by Coop were filled with mortar in order to save metal for the shell. The filling corroded the metal and formed an explosive gas mixture.

In September 2016 another bullet exploded at a neighborhood festival in Nettetal . As a result, the remaining bullets were blown up in a controlled manner by the emergency services. The boules and pétanque association in North Rhine-Westphalia then advised looking for quality marks when buying balls. Tested balls would show the company name, a serial number and the weight.

Forms of competition

There are different forms of competition:

  • Tournaments and championships in formations
  • Tournaments, league competitions and championships with teams

Teams and formations

A team consists of several formations.


In boccia there are formations

  • Individuals
  • Coppia (double)
  • Terna (threesome)

Boule Lyonnaise

The following formations exist at Boule Lyonnaise

  • Simple (single)
  • Double
  • Triplet (team of three)
  • Quadrette (team of four)


The following formations are played in bowls

  • Singles game (singles)
  • Pairs game (doubles)
  • Triples game (team of three)
  • Fours game (team of four)

Similar to tennis, bowls are predominantly played singles. There are also side games, series of singles games, team games or side games and tournament forms (tournament of games)

Jeu Provençal

Jeu Provençal is mainly played as a triplet (3 players), there are also the formations Doublette (2 players) and Tête à tête (1 player)


The following formations are played in pétanque :

From the doublette onwards, a distinction is made between the pointeur (the “leger”) and the shooter (the “shooter”, French tir “shot”), in the triplet there is also the milieu (French for “middle”).

In Germany, national and German championships in Tête-à-Tête are held. Internationally, triplets are usually played. In contrast to bowls, where mostly singles are played, there are fewer tournaments for individual formation in pétanque.

In addition, international and national tournaments as well as championships for teams composed of several formations are organized. There are different rules about the formations belonging to a team.

Precision shooting

In pétanque and boule Lyonnaise there is precision shooting.

The Lyonnaise disciplines Tir progresif and Tir de précision are on the program at the World Games and the Mediterranean Games .

In pétanque there are world championships , European championships and German championships in the tir de précision .

Regional sports


Boule-en-Bois (also Boule de bois or La Vendéenne) is a ball game that in Belgium in the regions of Chimay , Momignies , Sivry-Rance and Couvin , as well as four small towns in Sud-Hainaut and Sud-Namurois is played .


A lane for Boule-de-fort Pontigné .

Boule de fort is a traditional ball game in Anjou and Touraine .

There are the following special features: asymmetrical balls and a kind of channel as a track that is 20 meters long and 7 meters wide. See also Boulodrome .

Boules of the mountain

The rules of Boule des Berges (also: Boule parisienne) were developed around 1865. Boule des Berg was an unofficial Olympic sport in 1900 .

Boule bretonne

Boule bretonne is a popular sport in Brittany , related to Boule Lyonnaise and Pétanque .

Similar sports

The aim of the game is similar to that of boules in the following sports, albeit with different sports equipment:

When Boßeln balls are thrown far.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. see: " Timeline for the history of the ball games ( Memento from October 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive )"
  2. Quote from article on the DPV website
  3. see: Chronicle on the website of Club Bouliste de Berlin e. V. ( Memento from August 27, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  4. The physical material properties of natural ivory cannot be fully achieved by plastics
  5. Boule ball explodes in Nettetal. (Not available online.) In: . WDR , September 5, 2016, archived from the original on July 31, 2017 ; accessed on July 31, 2017 .

Source: DPV website GFDL approval: Ticket #: 2006111710003577

Web links