Pétanque is a form of boules where the objective is to toss metal balls (boules) and get them as close as you can to a target (a “jack”). This classic French game is fun if you’re looking for a game to play with family and friends. It is easy to learn and fun for people of all ages and skill levels. With the right gear and a little bit of practice, you can be enjoying the game before you know it.
The game is played with two teams, so divide up the balls between the players on a team evenly. (E.g. two on each team: two balls each; one on each team: three balls each.)
Draw a half-meter (approx.) circle on the ground at one end of the court. When players are playing, they must stand within that circle with both of their feet planted on the ground. (A Hoola-Hoop or similar may be handy for this purpose.)
Having tossed a coin to see which team goes first, one member from the first team stands in the circle and tosses the jack (a small ball, usually about 3cms wide). They can toss the jack as they wish, but it must remain in the court and land between 6-10 meters away from the circle and one metre from the end of the court. (For younger players, the jack may be placed rather than thrown and, where appropriate, be closer to the circle.)
Another member of the first time (if more than one player, otherwise the same player) will toss the first boule (ball), with the aim of coming to rest as close as possible to the jack. Thereafter, a member of the second team throws their boule with the same objective and this continues, alternatating between the two teams for as many team members there are on each of the two teams until all boules have been thrown.
Boules MUST be thrown underarm, not least for safety reasons. The wrist may face forward or backwards. In JHBR, persons under 18 playing boules must be supervised by an adult, as a boule is heavy enough to cause injury if thrown in a risky manner. (Lighter boules are available for younger children.)
When all the boules of each team have been thrown, the winning team is that which has the ball closest to the jack and this boule earns that team 1 point. 1 additional point is scored for each other boule the winning team has closer to the jack than the opposition.
The winner of the last game throws the jack for the next game. Play continues until one team scores 13 points. Enjoy!
In JHBR, the Boules area is down near the Playground.