The game of petanque can be a difficult one to truly master, but getting the hang of the basics is relatively easy. There are some basic aspects to the game that anyone of any experience can get the gist of.
For starters, the boule is the most important piece of equipment that you need to play the game. But it comes down to a question of which boules are the best for playing with. Which brands stand above the rest? Here is your guide to finding the right boule for you.
The Biggest Brands
There are a few brands of boule manufacturers that stand above the rest. There are four in particular that you should be looking for when you are seeking out a quality boule. While it would take a whole other piece to talk about the different avenues in which you could buy boules, it is important to focus on the brands instead.
La Boule Obut
This is, without a doubt, the largest manufacturer of competition boules in the world. They have been around since 1955 and use fully-automated production machines to create their world-famous boules. They are so big that they control roughly 80% of the market share when it comes to competition boules.
They are also one of the largest companies in the world for petanque, employing roughly 130 workers and manufacturing more than 4 million boules per year. Though there are competitors emerging, they remain one of the largest names in the industry.
La Boule Bleu
Known as the “blue” ball from Marseille, the Rofritsch family has owned it since the company began to produce boules dating back to 1904. It has since become the last manufacturer located in Marseille, France.
La Franc Boule
Owned by FBT, a Thai sporting-goods manufacturer, these are arguably the most cost-effective boules on the market. There are some questions about the overall quality of the boules produced by FBT, but it is a great place for beginners to the game to grab boules that they can learn the game with.
Formerly known as VMS, this is another French brand of boule. It is perhaps most well-known for its Tortue and VMS-plot designs, great for mid-range players and those who are still learning the finer points of petanque.
Different Types of Boules
There are a few different types of boules. It helps to know this before making your choice as there are different styles and finishes available as a result. The most common boules available are competition and leisure.
These are generally the less expensive option of the two as they are meant for either casual or occasional play. You may also hear them referred to as leisure, weekend, generic, recreational, or even DOG boules. The latter is one of the earliest models of Obut leisure boules.
Leisure boules are typically only available in a singular size and weight. They also tend to come with a standard bright chrome finish. These boules are made with a thinner steel than you would find in competition boules and are usually fitted with dirt or sand in order to bring them up to the preferred weight.
This type of boule is designed with the most serious of players in mind. These are also boules that have been certified by the International Petanque Federation (FIPJP) to be used in sanctioned tournaments.
Competition boules must meet certain requirements and standards. They are also always hollow, but range in a wide array of weights, sizes, hardness, and even striation patterns. These boules are also carefully machined so that they are consistent in weight, size, and balance.
It is also worth noting that competition boules are also much more expensive than leisure boules. When starting out, using leisure boules is a better idea because it will cost substantially less as you get to learn the ins and outs of the game.
With time and practice, you can upgrade your boules to a more competitive set. You can expect a set of three competition boules to run anywhere from $100 to several hundred depending on what option you go with. There are also junior options for competitive junior players who can’t use full-size boules.
With so many boules to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. It comes down to finding a level of comfort so that you can grip and shoot properly. With time and repetition, each player will find their favorites.
There are a plethora of brands to choose from, each offering quality boules of all construction types. Try a few different vendors to find out which ones feel the best to you. Before long, you will have a boule of choice that you prefer playing with.