Is it OK to leave unplayed boules on the ground?

One of the questions that new players have is— What should I do with my unplayed boules? Is it OK for me to leave them on the ground? If so, where?

One of the unwritten rules of petanque is that you should NOT leave unplayed boules on the ground.

If your game is on a playing area that has marked boundary lines, it is OK to leave unplayed boules on the ground OUTSIDE of the out-of-bounds line (dead-ball line) for the playing area. If you leave unplayed boules on the ground INSIDE the boundary, the umpire (if there is one) may give you a warning.

MarcoFoyot_unplayed_boule_on_groundThe best practice is always to hold all of your unplayed boules in your hands. If you have extra boule(s) that you don’t want to hold in your off hand while you throw, then set down those extra boules on the ground beside the circle, step into the circle, throw, step out of the circle, and immediately pick up the extra boules … like Marco Foyot in this photo.

It may be acceptable in your local club or group to leave unplayed boules on the ground. If it is, be aware that you’re creating a safety hazard if you leave your boules on the ground. Make sure to leave them to the side of the circle (not BEHIND the circle) and far enough from the circle that other players aren’t likely to step on them while entering or leaving the circle.

Remember, a team always has the right to know how many unplayed boules are being held by the players on the opposing team. So it is always a good idea to hold unplayed boules in your hands, where they can easily be seen by the opposing team. You should never tuck an unplayed boule somewhere out of sight, like in a pocket.

On a related topic… When you need your hands to be free to measure a point, never set down your boules on the ground near the head while you measure. It is too easy for someone (you, probably) to get hurt by stepping on them, or for you to forget where you put them and to illegally pick up a played boule by mistake. While you measure, leave your unplayed boules somewhere well away from the head and (preferably) wrapped in your boule towel. That way there will be no question about where they are and what they’re doing there.

Finally, note that some clubs have a local custom in which everyone always leaves their unplayed boules on the ground beside the circle. One team’s boules are on one side of the circle, and the other team’s boules are on the other side. If you find yourself playing with such a club, go with the flow. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”


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4 thoughts on “Is it OK to leave unplayed boules on the ground?

  1. Mr Lenoir.  Thanks for your post. I think that common sense has to prevail.

    May I ask your advice about a problem which players from my club, the Xaghra Boci Club, in Gozo Malta, encounter.

    How do we solve the problem when in a game of 3 vs. 3 players, one of the players suddenly has to stop playing because he received an urgent mobile call. How are we to proceed when  
    1. the score is almost the same  
    2. the score is is 10 -2  and the player leaving is one of the  the losing team 
    3. the score is 10 even.  

    Always assume that the reason that player must leave is a genuine one.
    — Carmel Attard (sec)

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