OFFICIAL RULES FOR THE SPORT OF PETANQUE
Applicable to all territories of the national federations, members of the FIPJP
Article 1, Composition of teams
Pétanque is a sport in which:
– 3 players play against 3 players (triples).
It can also be played by:
– 2 players against 2 players (doubles).
– 1 player against 1 player (singles).
In triples, each player uses 2 boules.
In doubles and singles, each player uses 3 boules.
No other formula is allowed.
Article 2, Characteristics of approved boules
Pétanque is played with boules approved by the F.I.P.J.P. and which conform to the
1) To be made of metal.
2) To have a diameter between 7.05cm (minimum) and 8cm (maximum).
3) To have a weight of between 650 grams (minimum) and 800 grams (maximum).
The trademark of the manufacturer and the weight must be engraved on the boules and
must always be legible.
For competitions reserved for players who are 11 years of age or less, they may use boules
that weigh 600 grams and are 65mm in diameter provided that they are made under one of
the approved labels.
4) They must not be lead or sand filled. As a general rule, the boules must not be
tampered with in any way, nor altered or modified after machining by the approved
manufacturer. Importantly, re-tempering of the boules in order to modify the hardness
applied by the manufacturer is forbidden.
However, the player’s name and forename (or initials) may be engraved on them, as well as
various logos, initials and acronyms, conforming to the manufacturer’s specification.
Article 2a, Penalties for irregular boules
Any player guilty of breaking the above condition 4) is immediately disqualified from the
competition together with his or her partners.
If a boule not “tampered with” but worn, or of defective manufacture, does not pass the
official examination successfully, or does not comply with the norms set out in paragraphs
1), 2) and 3) above, the player must change it. He or she may also change the set.
Complaints relating to these three paragraphs and made by players are admissible only
before the start of a game. It is in the interests of the players, therefore, to ensure that their
boules and those of their opponents comply with the above rules.
Complaints relating to 4) are admissible at any time during the game, but they must be made
between ends. However, from the third end onwards, if a complaint made about the boules
of an opponent is proved to be unfounded, 3 points will be added to the score of the
The Umpire or the Jury may, at any time, require examination of the boules of one or several
Article 3, Approved jacks
Jacks are made of wood, or of a synthetic material bearing the manufacturer’s mark and
having obtained the FIPJP’s approval in line with the precise specification relating to the
Their diameter must be 30mm (tolerance: + or –1mm).
Their weight must be between 10 and 18 grams.
Painted jacks are authorised, but at no time must they, nor the jacks made of wood, be
capable of being picked up with a magnet.
Article 4, Licences
To be registered in a competition each player must present their licence, or, in accordance
with the rules of their federation, a document proving their identity, and that they are a
member of that federation.
Article 5, Area of play and terrain rules
Pétanque is played on any surface. However, by the decision of the Organising Committee
or the Umpire, the teams may be asked to play on a marked and defined terrain. In this case,
the terrain for National Championships and International Competitions, must have the
following minimum dimensions: 15m long x 4m wide.
For other competitions, the Federations may permit variations relative to these minimum
dimensions, subject to them not being below 12m x 3m.
A playing area comprises of an indeterminate number of lanes defined by strings, the size
of which must not interfere with the course of play. These strings marking separate lanes
are not dead ball lines except for those marking the end of the lane and the exterior of the
When the lanes are placed end to end, the end lines connecting the lanes are dead ball
When the terrains of play are enclosed by barriers, these must be a minimum distance of 1
metre from the exterior line of the playing area.
Games are played to 13 points, with the possibility of leagues and qualifying heats being
played to 11 points.
Some competitions can be organised within time limits. These must always be played within
marked lanes and all the lines marking these lanes are dead ball lines.
Article 6, Start of play and rules regarding the circle
The players must draw lots (toss a coin) to decide which team will choose the terrain, if it
has not been allocated by the organisers, and to be the first to throw the jack.
If the lane has been designated by the organisers, the jack must be thrown on this lane. The
teams concerned must not go to a different lane without the Umpire’s permission.
Any member of the team winning the draw chooses the starting point and traces or places
a circle on the ground. However, a drawn circle may not measure less than 35cm or more
than 50cm in diameter and be of a size that the feet of each player can fit entirely inside it.
Where a prefabricated circle is used, it must be rigid and have an internal diameter of 50cms
(tolerance: + or – 2mm).
Folding circles are permitted but on condition they are of a model and the rigidity approved
by the FIPJP.
The players are required to use the regulation circles provided by the organisers.
They must also accept the regulation circles, rigid or folding and approved by the FIPJP,
provided by their opponent. If both teams have these circles the choice will be decided by
the team that won the draw.
In all cases the circles must be marked before the jack is thrown.
The circle must be drawn (or placed) more than one metre from any obstacle and at least
two metres from another throwing circle in use.
The team winning the toss or the previous end will have one attempt to throw a valid jack. If
this jack is not valid it is handed to the opponent who may place it at any valid position on
the designated terrain.
The team that is going to throw the jack must erase all throwing circles near the one it is
going to use.
The interior of the circle can be completely cleared of grit/pebbles etc. during the end but
must be put back in good order when the end is over.
The circle is not considered to be an out of bounds area.
The players’ feet must be entirely on the inside of the circle and not encroach on its perimeter
and they must not leave it or be lifted completely off the ground until the thrown boule has
touched the ground. No part of the body may touch the ground outside the circle. Any player
not respecting this rule shall incur the penalties as provided in Article 35.
As an exception, those disabled in the lower limbs are permitted to place only one foot inside
the circle. For players throwing from a wheelchair, at least one wheel (that on the side of the
throwing arm) must rest inside the circle.
The throwing of the jack by one member of the team does not imply that he or she is obliged
to be the first to play.
If a player picks up the circle when there are boules still to be played, the circle is replaced
but only the opponents are allowed to play their boules.
Article 7, Valid distances for the thrown jack
For the thrown jack to be valid, the following conditions apply:
1) That the distance separating it from the internal edge of the circle must be:
– 6 metres minimum and 10 metres maximum for Juniors and Seniors.
– For competitions intended for younger players, shorter distances may be applied.
2) That the throwing circle must be a minimum of 1 metre from any obstacle and 2
metres from another circle in use.
3) That the jack must be a minimum of 1 metre from any obstacle and from the nearest
boundary of an out-of-bounds area. For timed limited games this distance is reduced
to 50cm except for the end lines of the lane.
4) That the jack must be visible to the player whose feet are placed astride the extreme
limits of the interior of the circle and whose body is absolutely upright. In case of
dispute on this point, the Umpire decides, without appeal, if the jack is visible.
At the following end the jack is thrown from a circle drawn or placed around the point where
it finished at the previous end, except in the following cases:
– The circle would be less than 1 metre from an obstacle.
– The throwing of the jack could not be made to all regulation distances.
In the first case the player draws or places the circle at the regulation distance from the
In the second case, the player may step back, in line with the previous end’s play, without
exceeding the maximum distance authorised for the throwing of the jack. This opportunity is
offered only if the jack cannot be thrown to the maximum distance in any other direction.
If the jack has not been thrown in accordance with the rules defined above, the opposing
team will place the jack in a valid position on the terrain. They can also move the circle
back, in accordance with the conditions defined in these rules, if the first teams positioning
of the circle did not allow the jack to be thrown the maximum distance.
In any case, the team which lost the jack after the invalid throw must play the first boule.
The team that won the right to throw the jack have a maximum of one minute to do so. The
team that won the right to place the jack after the unsuccessful throw of the opponent must
do so immediately.
Article 8, For the thrown jack to be valid
If the thrown jack is stopped by the Umpire, an opponent, a spectator, an animal or any
moving object, it is not valid and must be thrown again.
If the thrown jack is stopped by a member of the team the opponent will place the jack in a
If after the throwing of the jack, a first boule is played, the opponent still has the right to
contest the validity of its position except in the case when the jack has been placed by the
Before the jack is given to the opponent to place, both teams must have recognised that the
throw was not valid or the Umpire must have decided it to be so. If any team proceeds
differently, it loses the benefit of the throwing of the jack.
If the opponent has also played a boule, the jack is definitely deemed valid and no objection
Article 9, Dead Jack during an end
The jack is dead in the following 7 cases:
1) When the jack is displaced into an out of bounds area, even if it comes back on to
the authorised playing area. A jack straddling the boundary of an authorised terrain
is valid. It becomes dead only after having completely crossed the boundary of the
authorised terrain or the dead ball line, that is to say, when it is entirely beyond the
boundary when viewed from directly above. A puddle, on which a jack floats freely,
is considered to be an out of bounds area.
2) When, still on the authorised terrain, the moved jack is not visible from the circle, as
defined in Article 7. However, a jack masked by a boule is not dead. The Umpire is
authorised to temporarily remove a boule to declare whether the jack is visible.
3) When the jack is displaced to more than 20 metres (for Juniors and Seniors) or 15
metres (for the younger players) or less than 3 metres from the throwing circle.
4) When on marked out playing areas, the jack crosses more than one lane immediately
to the side of the lane in use and when it crosses the end line of the lane.
5) When the displaced jack cannot be found, the search time being limited to 5 minutes.
6) When an out of bounds area is situated between the jack and the throwing circle.
7) When, in time limited games, the jack leaves the designated playing area
Article 10, Displacement of obstacles
It is strictly forbidden for players to press down, displace or crush any obstacle whatever on
the playing area. However, the player about to throw the jack is authorised to test the landing
point with one of his or her boules by tapping the ground no more than three times.
Furthermore, the player who is about to play, or one of his partners, may fill in a hole which
would have been made by one boule played previously.
For not complying with this rule, especially in the case of sweeping in front of a boule to be
shot, the players incur the penalties outlined in article 35.
Article 11, Changing of jack or boule
Players are forbidden to change the jack or a boule during a game except in the following
1) The one or the other cannot be found, the search time being limited to 5 minutes.
2) The one or the other is broken: in this case the largest part is taken into consideration.
If boules remain to be played, it is immediately replaced, after measuring, if
necessary, by a boule or a jack of identical or similar diameter. At the next end the
player concerned can take a new complete set.
Article 12, Jack masked or displaced
If, during an end, a leaf or a piece of paper accidentally masks the jack these objects are
If the jack comes to be moved by the wind or the slope of the terrain, for example or by the
Umpire, a player or spectator accidentally treading on it, a boule or a jack coming from
another game, an animal or any other mobile object, it is returned to its original position,
provided this was marked.
To avoid any argument, the players must mark the jack’s position. No claim can be accepted
regarding boules or jack whose positions have not been marked.
If the jack is moved by a boule played in this game, it is valid.
Article 13, Jack moved into another game
If, during an end, the jack is displaced onto another terrain of play, marked out or not, the
jack is valid subject to the conditions outlined in Article 9.
The players using this jack will wait, if there is room, for the players in the other game to
complete their end, before completing their own.
The players concerned by the application of this rule must show patience and courtesy.
At the following end the teams continue on the terrain which had been allotted to them and
the jack is thrown again from the place it occupied when it was displaced, subject to the
conditions of Article 7.
Article 14, Rules to apply if the jack is dead
If, during an end, the jack is dead, one of three cases can apply:
1) Both teams have boules to play, the end is void and the jack is thrown by the team
that scored the points in the previous end or who won the toss.
2) Only one team has boules left to play, this team scores as many points as boules that
remain to be played.
3) The two teams have no more boules in hand, the end is void and the jack is thrown
by the team that scored the points in the previous end or who won the toss.
Article 15, Positioning the jack after it has been stopped
1) If the jack, having been hit, is stopped or deviated by a spectator or by the Umpire, it
remains in this position.
2) If the jack, having been hit, is stopped or deviated by a player in the authorised playing
area, his opponent has the choice of:
a). leaving the jack in its new position;
b). putting it back in its original position;
c). placing it anywhere on the extension of a line going from its original position to
the place that it is found, up to a maximum distance of 20 metres from the circle
(15 metres for the younger players) and such that it is visible.
Paragraphs b) and c) can only be applied if the position of the jack was previously marked.
If this was not the case, the jack will remain where it is found.
If, after having been struck, the jack travels into an out of bounds area before returning,
finally, on to the playing area, it is classed as dead and the actions defined in Article 14
Article 16, Throwing of the first and following boules
The first boule of an end is thrown by a player belonging to the team that has won the draw
or has been the last to score. After that, it is the team that does not hold the point that plays.
The player must not use any object or draw a line on the ground to guide him/her in playing
a boule or mark its landing point. Whilst playing his or her last boule, it is forbidden to carry
a boule in the other hand.
The boules must be played one at a time.
Any boule thrown cannot be replayed. However, boules must be replayed if they have been
stopped or deviated accidentally from their course between the throwing circle and the jack
by a boule or jack coming from another game, or by an animal or any moving object (football,
etc.) and in the case defined in Article 8, third paragraph.
It is forbidden to moisten the boules or the jack.
Before throwing his/her boule, the player must remove from it any trace of mud or whatever
deposit, under threat of penalties outlined in Article 35.
If the first boule played goes out-of-bounds, it is for the opponent to play first then alternately
so long as there are no boules on the designated terrain.
If after shooting or pointing no boules are left on the designated playing area, the
arrangements concerning a dead end as defined in Article 29 apply.
Article 17, Behaviour of players and spectators during a game
During the regulation time allowed for a player to throw a boule the spectators and players
must observe total silence.
The opponents must not walk, nor gesticulate nor do anything that could disturb the player
about to play. Only his or her team-mate/s may remain between the throwing circle and the
The opponents must remain beyond the jack or behind the player and, in both cases, to the
side with regard to the direction of play and at a distance of at least 2 metres the one from
The players who do not observe these regulations could be excluded from the competition
if, after a warning from the Umpire, they persist in their conduct.
Article 18, Throwing of the boules and boules going outside the terrain
Absolutely no-one may, as a test, throw his/her boule during the game. Players who do not
observe this rule could be penalised as set out in the chapter “Discipline”, Article 35.
During an end, boules going outside the marked terrain are valid except as in the application
of Article 19.
Article 19, Dead boules
Any boule is dead from the moment that it enters an out of bounds area. A boule straddling
the boundary line of the authorised playing area is valid. The boule is dead only after having
completely crossed the boundary of the allotted playing area, that is to say, when it is
situated entirely beyond the boundary when viewed from directly above. The same applies
when, on marked lanes, the boule completely crosses more than one of the lanes alongside
the lane in use or when it crosses the end line of the lane.
In timed games played on a marked lane a boule is considered dead when it completely
crosses the line of the designated lane.
If the boule comes back into the playing area, either because of the slope of the ground or
by having rebounded from an obstacle, moving or stationary, it is immediately taken out of
the game and anything that it has displaced after its passage into an out of bounds area is
put back in place provided these objects have been marked.
Any dead boule must immediately be removed from the game. By default, it will be
considered live the moment another boule is played by the opposing team.
Article 20, Stopped boules
Any boule played that is stopped or deviated by a spectator or the Umpire, will remain where
it comes to rest.
Any boule played, that is stopped or deviated accidentally by a player to whose team it
belongs, is dead.
Any boule pointed that is stopped or deviated accidentally by an opponent, can, according
to the wishes of the player, be replayed or left where it comes to rest.
When a boule shot, or hit is stopped or deviated accidentally by a player, the opponent may:
1) leave it where it stopped;
2) place it on the extension of a line which starts from the original position it occupied to
its stopping point, but only on the playable area and only on condition that it had been
The player purposely stopping a moving boule is immediately disqualified, along with his or
her team, for the game in progress.
Article 21, Time allowed to play
Once the jack is thrown each player has the maximum duration of one minute to play his or
her boule. This short period starts from the moment when the previous boule or jack stops
or, if it is necessary to measure a point, from the moment the latter has been effected.
The same requirements apply to the throwing of the jack.
All players not respecting this rule, incur the penalties outlined in Article 35 “Discipline”.
Article 22, Displaced boules
If a stationary boule is moved by the wind or slope of the ground, for example, it is put back
in its place. The same applies to any boule accidentally displaced by a player, an Umpire, a
spectator, an animal or any moving object.
To avoid any dispute, the players must mark the boules. No claim will be admissible for an
unmarked boule, and the Umpire will give a decision only in terms of the position the boules
hold on the terrain.
However, if a boule is moved by a boule played in this game it is valid.
Article 23, A player throwing a boule other than his own
The player who plays a boule other than his own receives a warning. The boule played is
nevertheless valid but it must immediately be replaced, possibly after measuring has been
In the event of it occurring again during the game, the guilty player’s boule is disqualified
and anything it displaced is put back in place.
Article 24, Boules thrown contrary to the rules
Except for cases in which these rules provide specific and graduated penalties as outlined
in Article 35, any boule thrown contrary to the rules is dead and if marked, anything that it
has displaced in its travel is put back in place.
However, the opponent has the right to apply the advantage rule and declare it to be valid.
In this case, the boule pointed or shot, is valid and anything it has displaced remains in its
POINTS AND MEASURING
Article 25, Temporary removal of boules
In order to measure a point, it is permitted, after having marked their positions, to temporarily
remove the boules and obstacles situated between the jack and the boules to be measured.
After measuring, the boules and the obstacles which were removed are put back in place. If
the objects cannot be removed, the measuring is done with the aid of callipers.
Article 26, Measuring of points
The measuring of a point is the responsibility of the player who last played or by one of his
or her team-mates. The opponents always have the right to measure after one of these
Measuring must be done with appropriate instruments, which each team must possess.
Notably, it is forbidden to effect measurements with the feet. The players who do not observe
this rule will incur the penalties outlined in Article 35.
Whatever positions the boules to be measured may hold, and at whatever stage the end
may be, the Umpire can be consulted and his or her decision is final. During the time that
the umpire is measuring the players must be at least 2 metres away.
By decision of the organising committee, especially in case of televised games, it may be
decided that only the umpire is empowered to measure.
Article 27, Removed Boules
It is forbidden for players to pick up played boules before the completion of an end.
At the completion of an end, all boules picked up before the agreement of points are dead.
No claim is admissible on this subject.
If a player picks up his boules from the playing area while his partners have boules
remaining, they will not be allowed to play them.
Article 28, Displacement of the boules or the jack
The team, whose player displaces the jack or one of the contested boules, while effecting a
measurement, loses the point.
If, during the measurement of a point, the Umpire disturbs or displaces the jack or a boule
he or she will make a decision in an equitable way.
Article 29, Boules equidistant from the jack
When the two closest boules to the jack belong to opposing teams, and are at an equal
distance from it, 3 cases can apply:
1) If the two teams have no more boules to play the end is dead and the jack belongs
to the team which had scored the points in the previous end or who had won the
2) If only one team has boules at its disposition, it plays them and scores as many points
as it has boules closer to the jack than the nearest opponent’s boule.
3) If both teams have boules at their disposition, it is for the team which played the last
boule to play again, then the opposing team, and so on alternately until the point
belongs to one of them. When only one team possesses boules, the arrangements
set out in the preceding paragraph apply.
If, after completion of the end, no boules remain within the boundary of the authorised
playing area, the end is null and void.
Article 30, Foreign bodies adhering to the boules or jack
Any foreign bodies adhering to the boules or the jack must be removed before measuring a
Article 31, Complaints
To be considered, any complaint must be made to the Umpire. As soon as the game is
finished, no complaint can be accepted.
Article 32, Penalties for absent teams or players
At the time of the draw and the announcement of its result, the players must be present at
the control table. A quarter of an hour after the announcement of these results, the team
which is absent from the terrain will be penalised one point which is awarded to their
opponents. This time limit is reduced to 5 minutes in games that are timed.
After this time limit, the penalty accrues by one point for each five minutes of the delay.
The same penalties apply throughout the competition, after each random draw and in the
case of a re-start of games after a break for any reason whatsoever.
The team which does not present itself on the playing area within the hour of the start or
restart of games is declared to be eliminated from the competition.
An incomplete team has the right to start a game without waiting for its absent player;
nevertheless, it does not use the boules of that player.
No player may be absent from a game or leave the playing area without the authorisation of
the Umpire. In any case this absence will not interrupt the course of the game, nor the
obligation for the partners to play their boules in the specified minute. If the player has not
returned by the moment they are to play their boules, they are cancelled at the rate of one
boule per minute.
If permission has not been granted the penalties outlined in article 35 shall apply.
In the case of an accident or medical problem officially recognised by a doctor, the player
may be granted a maximum absence of fifteen minutes. If using this option should prove
fraudulent, the player and his team will be immediately excluded from the competition.
Article 33, Late arrival of players
If, after an end has started, the missing player arrives, he or she does not take part in this
end. He or she is accepted into the game only as from the following end.
If a missing player arrives more than one hour after the start of a game, he or she loses all
rights to participate in that game.
If his or her team-mates win this game, he or she will be able to participate in the following
game provided they were originally registered with that team.
If the competition is played in leagues, he or she will be able to take part in the second game
whatever the result of the first.
An end is considered as having started as soon as the jack has been thrown regardless of
its validity. Special arrangements can be made for time limited games.
Article 34, Replacement of a player
The replacement of a player in Doubles, or of one or two players in Triples, is permitted only
up to the official announcement of the commencement of the competition (gun, whistle,
announcement, etc.), on condition that the replacement/s was/were not previously
registered in the competition as belonging to another team.
Article 35, Penalties
For non-observation of the rules of the game the players incur the following penalties:
1) Warning; which is officially marked by the umpire presenting a yellow card to the
player at fault.
However, a yellow card for exceeding the time limit will be imposed on all the players
of the offending team. If one of these players has already been given a yellow card,
they will be penalised by disqualification of the boule played or to be played.
2) Disqualification of the boule played or to be played; which is officially marked by the
umpire presenting an orange card to the player at fault.
3) Exclusion of the responsible player for the game; which is officially marked by the
umpire presenting a red card to the player at fault.
4) Disqualification of the team responsible;
5) Disqualification of the two teams in case of complicity.
The warning is a sanction and can only be given after an infringement of the rules.
Giving information to players or requesting they should respect the rules at the start of a
competition or of a match is not to be considered as a warning.
Article 36, Bad weather
In the case of rain, any end started must be completed, unless a contrary decision is made
by the Umpire, who alone is qualified, with the Jury, to decide on its suspension or
cancellation in the case of a “force majeure”.
Article 37, New phase of play
If, after the announcement of a new phase of the competition (2nd round, 3rd round, etc.)
certain games have not ended, the Umpire, after advice from the Organising Committee,
may make any arrangements or decisions that he judges necessary for the good running of
Article 38, Lack of Sportsmanship
The teams that argue during a game, who show lack of sportsmanship and respect towards
the public, the organisers or the Umpires, will be excluded from the competition. This
exclusion can incur non-acceptance of the results, as well as the application of penalties set
out in Article 39.
Article 39, Bad behaviour
The player who is guilty of bad behaviour, or worse, violence towards an official, an Umpire,
another player or a spectator incurs one or several of the following penalties, depending on
the seriousness of the offence.
1) Exclusion from the competition.
2) Withdrawal of licence or of the official document.
3) Confiscation or restitution of expenses and prizes.
The penalty imposed on the guilty player can also be imposed on his or her team-mates.
Penalty 1 is imposed by the Umpire.
Penalty 2 is imposed by the Jury.
Penalty 3 is imposed by the Organising Committee which, within 48 hours, sends a report
with the expenses and prizes retained to the Federation’s Organisation which will decide on
In all cases, the Chairman of the Committee for the Federation concerned will make the final
Correct dress is required of the players, specifically it is forbidden to play without a top and
for safety reasons, the players must wear fully enclosed shoes protecting the toes and heels.
It’s forbidden to smoke during play, including electronic cigarettes. It is also forbidden to
use mobile phones during the games.
Any player who does not observe these rules, will be excluded from the competition if they
persist after a warning from the umpire.
Article 40, Duties of the Umpires
The Umpires designated to control the competitions are charged to be on the watch for strict
application of the rules of play and the administration rules which complete them.
They have the authority to disqualify from the competition any player or any team who
refuses to comply with their decision.
The spectators with valid or suspended licences, who, by their behaviour, are the origin of
incidents on the terrain of play, will be the subject of an Umpire’s report to the Federal
executive. The latter will summon the guilty party or parties before a competent Disciplinary
Committee who will decide on the penalties to apply.
Article 41, Composition and decisions of the Jury
Any case not provided for in the rules is submitted to the Umpire who can refer it to the
competition’s Jury. This Jury comprises at least 3 people and at the most 5 people. The
decisions taken by the Jury in applying this paragraph are without appeal. In the case of a
split vote, the President of the Jury has the casting vote.
Note: These regulations, adopted by the FIPJP Executive Committee on the 4th December 2016, are applicable
from the 1st January 2017.