Last updated: August 10, 2021

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The game of boules is becoming increasingly popular. No wonder, the trendy sport not only offers a relaxed pastime for young and old, but also demands maximum concentration and skill from every player. But be careful: if you get caught up in boules fever and the ball starts rolling, it's hard to stop playing again.

Our big boules ball test 2021 will help you choose your perfect game. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a complete beginner, we show you what to look for when buying a boules ball and explain the advantages and disadvantages of the different boules balls.




Summary

  • Boule is not only the French word for ball, but also refers to a popular ball game in which you have to place your boule balls as close as possible to a target ball with a lot of skill and feeling.
  • Have you caught boules fever and are you ready to give everything to emerge victorious in the duel of the balls? Then you should take part in petanque competitions: Petanque is the name for the professional sport and, unlike boules, is played according to strict rules.
  • When buying petanque balls, you should therefore pay particular attention to whether you are only a recreational player or already have ambitions to take part in competitions. Once this question has been answered, there is nothing to stop you from having fun!

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Advisor: Questions you should ask yourself before buying boules balls

What should you look for when buying pétanque balls?

You just want to have a good time, but you don't know which pétanque ball is the best for you?

There are two kinds of men. One type chases the ball on the lawn like maniacs, the other prefers to play a quiet game. (cit. Papazian, French philosopher)

We explain to you what you should look for when buying boules balls. Before you buy a boules ball set, you should ask yourself 3 questions:

  • 1. Do I play like God in France? Are you already a petanque pro and dominate your competitors? Then you should definitely buy the competition version of petanque balls.
  • 2. How many balls do I need? Your wife has been infected by Petanque fever and your children can't keep their hands off the balls? Then you should buy a large set with several petanque balls. Otherwise, a small petanque set is perfectly adequate.
  • 3. How much money do I want to spend? Are you a Petanque beginner or do you only want to try out the game for a short time? Then it makes little sense to buy an expensive competition set.

Which pétanque balls suit me?

Bowling balls differ in size, weight and material. But only once you have developed your own style of play will you be able to adjust the dimensions of your bowls to suit you.

The choice of your boules balls does not only depend on your playing style. Your personal feeling also plays an important role. The boules ball should sit well in your hand.

In the sections on size, weight and material, we explain in detail which petanque ball best suits your playing style.

Especially at the beginning of your petanque career, you should not worry too much about the exact weight and size of your petanque balls: Trust your instincts!

How much do Petanque balls cost?

The price differences between different sets of petanque balls can be very big. Especially the material plays an important role. For example, boules made of stainless steel are much more expensive than a children's boules set made of plastic or wood.

You should also consider the size of the petanque set: Of course, the price increases with the number of boules. Accessories such as a carrying bag also influence the price.

Last but not least, the decision is up to you: As a professional, expensive competition balls are certainly a good investment. As a beginner, however, you can also expect a great boules set in the price range of 40 € (depending on the number of balls).

Boule Kugeln-1

While a boules set for children often costs no more than €10, you can also find boules balls for €170 on Amazon.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Jürgen Sieber)

Decision: What types of boules balls are there and which is the right one for you?

When buying boules, you can basically distinguish between two different types:

  • Recreational boules balls
  • Competition Boule Balls

While the leisure balls are primarily intended for beginners, competition boules comply with the official regulations and are therefore also approved for tournaments.

Both types of boules have their advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your requirements and skills as a player, you should choose one of the two variants.

We explain the differences you should pay attention to and have made the ultimate comparison for you.

The following section should make your purchase decision easier.

Boule Kugeln-2

As a professional, you should opt for competition balls.
(Image source: pixabay.com / idee-scheibe)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of recreational boules?

You just want to enjoy your holiday and relax on the beach with a round of petanque? Then you are already well advised to buy leisure boules.

Boule is a game for the soul. (cit.Papazian, French philosopher)

Recreational boules balls do not have to comply with the official competition regulations and can therefore also be made of plastic. But beware! Leisure balls are often filled with water or sand: This can have a negative effect on their rolling behaviour.

However, if you just want to have some fun with your friends from time to time, then recreational balls are perfect for you.

Boule Kugeln-3

Leisure boules guarantee colourful fun for you and your friends.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Big Blue)

However, if you are already an experienced petanque player and would like to take part in competitions in the future, then you should decide against a recreational boules set: These types of boules are not allowed in tournaments and are often of inferior quality.

However, recreational boule balls are often much less expensive than competition balls, but they are just as much fun to play with.

Advantages
  • Uncomplicated fun
  • Low price
  • Numerous colours and designs
Disadvantages
  • Unsuitable for professionals
  • Does not meet tournament standards
  • Low quality

What are the advantages and disadvantages of competition Petanque balls?

You are already a petanque professional and now you want to participate in your first competitions? Then you should buy a boules set with competition balls.

Competition petanque balls comply with tournament standards and, according to the Petanque World Federation (F.I.P.J.P), must meet the following regulations:

  • Material: carbon steel or stainless steel
  • Diameter: 70.5 mm - 80 mm
  • Weight: 650 g - 800 g
  • Hardness: 110 kg/qmm - 140 kg/qmm
  • Marking: serial number, manufacturer's logo, weight indication

Petanque balls in the tournament or competition version are not only of higher quality than leisure balls, but are also made of stainless steel or carbon steel. This increases the durability of your petanque balls.

Of course, quality also has its price: competition pétanque balls are usually much more expensive than leisure balls. Furthermore, the switch from leisure balls to a competition pétanque set often takes a short time to get used to.

However, if you are no longer a beginner and can hardly wait to take part in your first petanque competitions, then you should also opt for the corresponding competition balls.

Advantages
  • Ideal for advanced players
  • Complies with competition regulations
  • High quality and durability
Disadvantages
  • Requires short familiarisation period
  • Dimensions are strictly specified
  • High price

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate boules balls

In the following section, we will show you which criteria you should pay particular attention to when buying a boules ball.

The criteria with which you can compare the colourful selection of boules sets include:

Size

Boule balls come in different sizes. The exact dimensions depend on your role on the court: Layers, for example, usually opt for smaller balls. The following table shows the distribution of roles in boules.

Shooter (Tireur) Leger (Pointer) Milieu
Clears opposing balls out of the way Places the boule ball as close as possible to the target ball Acts as shooter or leger as required
Requires precision and dexterity Requires a lot of swing and precision Requires tactics and skill with the boule balls

While the exact size is negligible for recreational balls, there are exact specifications for competition petanque balls: The diameter of the boules balls must be between 70.5 and 80 millimetres.

Role distribution: As a leger, you should tend to opt for a smaller boules ball.

The size of your boules balls should be individually tailored to you: This means that you should consider both your playing style and the size of your hand when choosing the right size.

The ball should feel good in your hand: If you can't handle small balls, it won't do you any good if they are harder for the shooter to hit.

Material

Boule balls are made of different materials and are therefore of different hardness or softness. While recreational balls are also made of plastic, the hardness and material of competition petanque balls is precisely specified.

Competition balls are either made of carbon steel or stainless steel. The hardness must be between 110 kg/qmm and 140 kg/qmm.

When buying, you should again pay attention to your playing style: Shooters prefer soft balls (110 kg/qmm - 120 kg/qmm), while players usually prefer harder petanque balls (130 kg/qmm - 150 kg/qmm).

Boule Kugeln-4

Competition balls are either made of carbon steel or stainless steel.
(Image source: pixabay.com / katharinakanns)

When it comes to the material, you can choose between carbon and stainless steel balls. While stainless steel balls remain rust-free, carbon balls may rust slightly.

In the best case, rust increases the "grip" of your boules ball, but it can also reduce its durability over time. So if you don't feel like removing rust from your boules balls every now and then, you should opt for Inox balls.

Weight

There are also differences in weight between the various boules balls. Again, as a casual player, you can disregard the exact ball weight.

However, according to the official rules of the Petanque World Federation (F.I.P.J.P), only balls with a weight of 650 to 800 grams meet the tournament standard.

Heavy balls Light balls
For layers For shooters
Behaves identically on different surfaces Can "skip" on gravel or crushed stone
690g - 720g 680g - 700g

The weight of your boules ball should be comfortable for you: both your physical condition and your role on the court, play an important role in choosing your ball weight.

While players usually opt for a ball weight between 690 and 720 grams, the weight for shooters is between 680 and 700 grams.

Number of boules balls in a set

The number of boules balls in a boules set can vary greatly. So before buying, you should ask yourself how many balls you need for you and your friends.

Boule players are both the most peace-loving and the craziest people in the world. (cit. Honoré de Balzac, French writer)

Since there are always two parties facing each other in a game of boules, you should always have enough balls. The following table shows you how many balls you need for each type of game.

Type of game rules
Tête-à-Tête 1 vs 1 | 3 balls per player | Requires 6 balls
Doublette 2 vs 2 | 3 balls per player | Requires 12 balls
Triplette 3 vs 3 | 2 balls per player | Requires 12 balls

So if you are playing in a larger group, it is definitely worth digging a little deeper into your pocket and buying a set of 12 boules balls.

However, if you only want to play with your wife from time to time, then 6 balls are perfectly sufficient.

Facts worth knowing about the topic of boules balls

What useful accessories are there for my boules set?

If you buy a boules set, you should not do without certain accessories. The target ball (also called piggy) is particularly important.

You cannot play without this wooden ball. Fortunately, it is included in most boules sets.

For added comfort and precision, you should buy a distance meter. This is an essential item for any petanque player.

Boule Kugeln-3

Useful accessories increase comfort and fun.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Ajale)

If you don't want to bend down to pick up the boules balls, you can also buy a magnetic ball lifter. A comfortable carrying bag should also be part of your equipment.

Final pro tip: Never pack your boules set in your hand luggage. The bomb-like shape of your boules can cause you a lot of trouble at the security check.

Which ball fits the size of my hand?

The size of your boules balls should match the anatomy of your hand: women usually use smaller balls.

You should adjust the diameter of your boules balls to the size of your hand.

To get an idea of the right size of your petanque balls, measure the distance between the base of your hand and the tip of your middle finger.

Then you should use the following values as a guide:

Measured distance diameter of ball
from 135 mm 71 mm
from 150 mm 72 mm
from 165 mm 73 mm
from 180 mm 74 mm
from 195 mm 75 mm
from 210 mm 76 mm
from 225 mm 77 mm
from 240 mm 78 mm

Let's go! We explain the rules of the game

The rules of boules are easy to explain. We have listed the most important rules for you. However, if you would prefer to see the rules in the form of a video, you should watch this Youtube clip.

How to play

  • Measure the throwing circle (Ø = 50 cm). Throw your boules from here.
  • Determine (by drawing lots) which team will start the game.
  • One player of this team may now throw the target ball (also known as piggy or cochonnet) from the throwing circle about 6 - 10 metres away.
  • The team that started the game may now throw its first ball. The player throwing the ball should place it as close as possible to the target ball.
  • During the throw, both feet must be within the throwing circle: Only once the ball has touched the ground is it allowed to leave the throwing circle.
  • Then a player of the other team tries to place his ball as close as possible to the piggy.
  • It is also allowed to "shoot" opposing balls with one's own boules ball in order to remove them from the vicinity of the target ball.
  • From now on, it is always the turn of the team whose boules balls are furthest away from the target ball.
  • If one team has already "used up" all its balls, the other team may throw its remaining boules balls.

This is how you decide the winners

  • As soon as both teams have thrown all their balls, the score is counted.
  • Points are only awarded to the team whose ball(s) are closest to the target ball.
  • For example, if no ball of the opposing team is closer to the target ball than the furthest boules ball of your team, then your team receives three points (if you play with 3 balls).
  • Then the next round begins: The winning team of the previous round may throw out the target ball.
  • The team that reaches 13 points first wins the game.

Image source: Kurguzov/ 123rf.com

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