How To Get Better At Petanque | A Beginner’s Guide To Improving

  • By: Reece Williams
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Petanque is a game that originated in the south of France but has since grown to be played by millions around the globe. It is a game that may seem confusing initially but can be quickly picked up.

For those who are totally new to the game, it can feel overwhelming to grasp the game. Thankfully, there are more than a few tips that beginners can follow to get the hang of it and become petanque experts.

Know The Basics Inside-out

The Game

The game itself is quite simple: it is a two-team game where each team can be comprised of anywhere between one and three players. It is a game that can be played by anyone at any level, from casuals to competitors.

Depending on where you live, there are different governing bodies to the game. There are also programs for club, national, regional, and international competitions, all of which culminate in the annual World Championship.

Just like any sport, it is something that you can learn from both a “classic” perspective as well as a more laid-back point of view. The game does not take long to pick up and develop different styles.

The Equipment

Any player should invest in a decent set of boules. Boules are generally made of stainless steel and are hollowed out as well to make them lighter to throw. You can find cheaper sets in gift shops and the like, but if you plan to play in a competitive sense, then it is a must to find a quality set of boules.

Make sure to choose one that is not only of a suitable weight, but that properly fits your hands. It may take a little bit of playing before you get a sense of what works for you, but it can make the difference between a good player and a great player.

The Terrain

One of the great things about petanque is that you can play it just about anywhere. There are no hard rules about the terrain so long as it is a flat surface. Petanque is generally played on uneven surfaces so that there is some resistance for the boules.

In a traditional French version of the game, there will be stones, gullies, and roots that offer obstacles and resistance. This makes the terrain have some “character” and also makes it so that reading the terrain is a huge part of the game.

Petanque can be played on grass, but it is generally considered to be far tougher to do so given the lack of rolling that grass allows for. Any new players should be practicing on different terrain in order to get familiar with all the different variations out there.

A Guide to Pointing

Players can use either a standing or squatting stance when they make their play, so long as their feet are firmly on the ground. Squatting allows for a better terrain view and is considered to be the preferred stance.

There are three shots in general that are worth learning to be effective at gaining the point. The first is rolling. Considering that the boule will mostly roll to the jack, this is a great method to learn on smoother, harder terrains like concrete.

There is also the half-lob, where the boule will land somewhere around halfway between the jack and the circle. When it lands, it begins to roll the rest of the way to the jack. This is perhaps the most common shot, and it is a great way to avoid any obstructions like stones or blocking boules.

The final shot is the high lob. For this type of throw, the player would throw the boule high, utilizing a lot of backspin so that it descends at a near vertical plane, landing right near the jack. This is a tough shot to learn, especially for beginners, but it can be highly effective when there are blocking boules or the terrain doesn’t allow for much in the way of rolling.

There is also the matter of choosing the landing spot. It is arguably the most important part of pointing. Being able to read the terrain allows for players to choose the proper landing spot. The landing spot should be flat and free of obstructions that could block or deflect the boule.

Tips for Shooting

Using a boule-to-boule hit is the most common and sometimes most difficult shot. That said, it is a shot that isn’t impacted by the terrain. The alternative would be to use the rolling shot, where the boule would roll along the ground before it hits its target boule. That said, the latter is extremely frowned upon by purists of the game.

Practice shooting into a tyre so that you can learn the best way to correct your arc. Not only that, but you should also practice shooting the middle of three boules so that you can correct properly. Practice all distances to become the most well-rounded player that you can be. Don’t just play the long or short jack as it can make other shots that much more difficult.

Shooting doesn’t require a lot of strength, but it does require refinement in the same way that pointing does. Some think that shooting is easier but that can depend on your familiarity with the different terrains as well as your ability to play different ranges.

The thing to keep in mind is to keep your body still and move your arm backwards to forwards like a pendulum, keeping your arm straight the entire way.


Petanque can seem confusing initially, but it doesn’t take long to pick the game up for good. Playing with friends and family at events or just for some random fun can be done at any time in any place.

Before long, you will feel comfortable with the rules and be ready to become a petanque expert. It just takes a little time and practice to get the hang of it. You will soon be ready to start a game anywhere you feel like it.

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Perfect for beginners and improving players looking to be more consistent and win more games!