Boules, or petanque, is a sport popular mainly among the older part of the French, Italian and British society, although it is played by people all over the world. During holiday trips to western countries it is very common to see elderly people spending their time playing boules. What are the rules and what are the health benefits of playing this sport?
Petanka came to Poland after many years and thanks to its uncomplicated rules it has become a very popular sport among seniors. The game of boules does not require using a lot of strength nor does it require an excellent physical condition. It allows for undemanding activity outdoors and is an interesting way to spend free time. You don’t need anything special for this game except sport clothes and shoes, balls and a suitable place. Of course, it is best played on a specially prepared pitch, but a square of sand or a football pitch without grass will work just as well.
Petanka was first played in the 20th century. It is derived from another sport discipline, which is played on similar principles and is called the game of Provence. Some consider the prototype of the game of boules to be the game of balls, which was practiced by legionaries in antiquity. The first inter-state petanque tournament was held in 1959, while the first world championship was organized in 2004.
In order to start playing boules you first of all need… boules. Special sets can be bought on the Internet or in sports stores. Usually it consists of eight metal balls and small wooden or plastic ball which size resembles the one for ping-pong. Metal balls have a diameter of up to 80 mm and weigh about half a kilogram. The small ball, usually orange in color, is peculiarly called a piglet and has a diameter of three centimeters. The game balls are also sold in a set with a string for taking measurements.
A bulodrome, or professional boule pitch, measures 15 meters long and 4 meters wide. It is built of hardened sand or gravel, but for amateur games a larger or smaller area, which will not be overgrown with grass, will suffice. The rules of boule play are not very complicated. It is all about getting the metal balls as close to the piglet as possible. Matches can be played in the system:
– singles – only two players compete against each other,
– doubles – four players in two teams compete against each other,
– triples – six players compete in two teams.
Each game consists of smaller sub-games. They begin with the throwing of a piglet and end with the last metal ball thrown by a player. During the game, you can either throw the balls in such a way that they are as close as possible to the small ball or knock out the opponent’s ball.
The result of each game is determined by counting the points. After all the players have used their boules, the judges in each game check which ones were closest to the piglet. Points are awarded to those players who are closer to the ball than the opponent. The entire game, on the other hand, is won by the team that first wins thirteen individual games. Although these rules seem complicated at first glance, they can be mastered very quickly. In fact, the game of boules (or petanka if you prefer) is simple and enjoyable to learn as well as practice. For those who want to try something different, this sport is recommended.
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