To play at a club or in competitions you will need competition boules (clubs often have spare sets for new players to use when first starting).
Competition boules are sold in sets of three. They are of metal, usually steel or stainless steel, and (for adults) between 70.5mm and 80mm in diameter. They must weigh between 650 and 800 grams and be stamped with the manufacturer’s name, their weight (in grams) and a unique serial or batch number.
Boules may be plain – smooth – or have a surface pattern. This can be helpful in play – striped boules may give better grip when pointing, plain boules a smoother release for shooting – but the patterns also helps players to recognise their own boules during play!
(NB. The shiny, chromed leisure boules sold for beach and garden use are not suitable for competitive play and are not permitted in competitions.)
Buying your first set of boules can be a daunting task, with several makes to choose from and a variety of sizes, markings and weights. The most important thing is that the size – the diameter – is right for you. The boules should fit comfortably in your hand and you should be able to hold them between your closed fingers and palm (palm down) without needing to grip them with your thumb to stop them falling.
Special measuring charts are available to help with finding the right size but you and you alone will know when the boules feel right: it’s a good idea to try several different sizes and weights of boules before deciding what to buy.
Kernow Pétanque’s club coaches can advise on finding and buying boules. Contact them through one of the clubs or via the Contact us page on this website. Several suppliers of boules and pétanque accessories are listed on our Useful links page.
Jacks are made of wood or approved synthetic material; they must have a diameter of 30mm (± 1mm) and weigh 10-18 grams. Jacks can be painted but for competitive play it should not be possible to pick them up with a magnet.
Jacks can be purchased from the boules suppliers listed on the Useful links page.
Plastic throwing circles with an internal diameter of 50cm are available from boules suppliers but circles can also simply be ‘drawn’ on the playing surface with a foot or stick.
A non-magnetic tape measure marked in centimetres and millimetres is very useful for measuring between boules during play and when scoring. (Calipers and sliding measures are sometimes used when the measures are very close.)
A light absorbent cloth can be used to wipe boules and hands when playing in wet conditions or to absorb sweat when (if!) the sun shines
A magnet on a string makes picking up boules easier for those trying to avoid bending. Several commercial models are available from boules suppliers but extendable workshop magnets are effective and home-made versions are easy to produce.
Most dedicated pétanque areas will have methods of keeping track of scores during games, but small pocket scorers are also available.
Clothing and footwear
Light casual clothing is ideal for pétanque, with waterproof and windproof layers for when the weather is less favourable.
There are usually particular requirements for team kit for inter-regional and national competitions.
For safety reasons it is very important that only closed items of footwear such as trainers or sports shoes are worn when playing: sandals, flip-flops and similar open footwear are not advisable and play while wearing them is not permitted by most clubs or in competitions.