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All About BOULES

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Throwing the jack Advantage and inversion rules
Throwing the boules Out of play
Types of shot Disturbances and other conditions
Points Fouls and misconduct
Tirs Equipment


Objective: The jack (the target ball) is thrown to a spot within the playing area, then both players or teams try to get their boules as close to it as possible.

Boules can be played one against one (with three or four boules per player) two against two, three against three, or four against four (all with two boules per player).

When both players or teams have played all their boules, one point is scored for each boule closer to the jack than the closest boule of the opponents. A team wins when they have 6 points.

Notes: In the text, the word 'team' is used to describe both single players and teams. Boules is pronounced boo-ls. Boccie is pronounced boch-ee.


Throwing the jack

At the beginning of the game, the right to throw the jack first is decided by lot or a coin toss. After that the team who scored last throw it. The jack is thrown from behind the footline. It must stop in the 5 metre rectangle at the far end. The entire jack must be within the lines.

If the first throw fails, the team may throw it again, as long as no foul has taken place. After two bad throws, the other team can place it anywhere they like within the 5 metre rectangle, as long as it is at least 50 centimetres (1.5 feet) from all the lines.

When the jack is thrown, all other players must stand behind the same footline as the thrower. If a team member on the throwers side is out of position, the throw is not valid and the second throw does not count. The other team then place the jack.

If an opposing player is out of position, the umpire can give the throwing team and extra throw. This also applies if an opposing player stops or interferes with the jack.

The team that throws the jack also throws the first boule, although the player who throws the jack does not have to throw the first boule (unless it is a one on one game). The first opponent then throws. The team whose boule(s) are not closest to the jack throws next. However, if the boule goes out of play, the next throw goes to the other team.

Throwing the boules

If two opposing boules are the same distance away from the jack, the team that threw last throws again. After all boules have been delivered by both sides, they all change ends, and the jack is thrown into the other 5 metre rectangle, and play starts again, in the other direction.

If there is a tie between two boules being closest to the jack, no points are scored and it is replayed in the other direction with the same team delivering the jack.

There is a 50 centimetre area (1.5 feet) behind the out of play line, ended by the endline, then the 2 metre rectangle, the 5 metre rectangle (together called the 7 metre rectangle), then a 12.5 metre (41 feet) long section, then the same rectangles on the other side. The total width is between 2.5 and 4 metres (8 to 13 feet).

Types of shot

Boule pointée is a boule thrown from a standing position to travel along the ground and stop as near as possible to the jack.

Boule portée is a boule thrown into the air so that it will arc down and stop as near as possible to the jack.

Boule tirée is a boule thrown from a run into the air so that it will arc down and land as near as possible to the jack.


A regular point is when a boule pointée or boule portée
- does not go out of play
- does not run on more than 1 metre (3.3 feet) after displacing a boule or jack
- does not displace one of those items by 1 metre (3 feet)
- goes to within 2 metres (6 feet 6 inches) of the front edge of the 5 metre rectangle.

An irregular point is scored when the boule does not fulfil the regular conditions as above, or a foul has been signalled. After an irregular point, the opponents follow the advantage rule, unless the only irregularity is that the boule pointée has run on more than 1 metre (3.3 feet), in which case, it stays where it is and all other positions may be kept or changed.

A sideline point is regular if the boule has landed at least halfway inside the line. If not, all object are replaced by the opponent and the boule is invalid.


Before making a tir, the player must specify which target object (either the jack or an opponents boule) they are aiming for within in the 5 metre rectangle. If this is not done, the opposition boule nearest the jack becomes the target by default.

Before the tir is made, the opposing team traces arcs with a baguette (a pointed stick used for tracing marks):
- 50 centimetres (1.5 feet) in front of the designated target
- 50 centimetres in front of any objects within 50 centimetres of the target

Arcs are normally 15 to 20 centimetres (6 to 8 inches) long, but an arc in front or a designated target may be extended. Any object that prevents tracing may be removed temporarily.

A regular tir must fulfil three conditions:
- the point where the boule lands must be within 50 centimetres (1.5 feet) of the designated target
- the point where the boule lands must be within 50 centimetres of the first object to be struck
- the object first struck must be within 50 centimetres of the designated target

A tir is irregular when it does not fulfil the conditions as above, or there has been a foul. After an irregular tir, the opponents follow the advantage rule. If the tirée is still in play, it may be accepted or rejected.

If a tir is regular and an object is displaced indirectly, the position is accepted even if it is in front of the landing mark. A tir is regular if it touches an object before landing near a line. If it touches the ground before or at the same time as it strikes the object, it is regular if the landing mark is within the line (otherwise it is invalid and all object are replaced by the opposition). A tir becomes invalid if it comes to rest on the pitch without having touched any object.

Advantage rule

The opposing team may accept the position of all objects, or have all objects repositioned. In either case the fouling boule may be left in place, or removed from the pitch.

The inversion rule

This is applied when a fouling boule is entirely or partly occupying the former position of an object (if it has moved a fairly placed boule away, for example). Under the advantage rule, the non-offending team can ask to have the displaced boules repositioned and the fouling boule left in position. With this rule, the positions are swapped (inverted). If the fouling boule takes up the position of more than one object, the team with advantage can choose which object will be moved.

Out of play

A boule is out of play if it crosses a sideline or out of play line. These boules are removed from play for that end. The jack is out of play if it crosses any boundary or the 7 metre rectangle.

An object is out of play if
- after a regular or irregular point, it touches an object that is out of play
- if a boule pointée joins a group of objects that are touching
- if a still object is moved by an out of play boule returning to the pitch, it is put back in position and remains in play. If a moving object is affected in this way, it is out of play
- if a boule meets an obstacle hanging onto the pitch, it remains in play, a jack would be out of play

Chance disturbance

By a non-player, animal or other event. If a disturbed object alters the path of a boule pointée, the object is repositioned and the point retaken.

If at a tir the designated object, or any object within 50 centimetres (1.5 feet) of it, is disturbed, all objects are repositioned and the tir is retaken.

Boule and jack conditions

If the jack is broken, the umpire will decide if it is serious enough to replace it. If a boule is broken, the umpire will again decide whether it can be replaced.

If the jack is more than half buried after a regular tir, the advantage rule applies (the opposition can accept the tir and have the jack annulled, or reject the tir and have all objects unburied.

If the jack is less than half buried after a regular tir or is at all buried after a point, it can be unburied by either team at any time providing they do not have to permanently move a boule.

After a regular point any boule that is more than half buried is unburied and remains in play. Any boule that is less than half buried is left in position. If after a regular tir the boule tirée is more than half buried it is unburied and left in position, any other boule more than half buried is annulled. A boule that is less than half buried is left in position.

After an unaccepted irregular point or tir, any buried boule is unburied and left in position.

Fouls and misconduct

Misuse of boules

The first time a player accidentally plays another's boule, the opposing team puts the correct boule in the position of the one played in error. After the first time, the advantage rule applies.

The opposition wins if a player delivers too many boules. Boules cannot be deliberately exchanged, except with the umpire's agreement. If the jack is in the 7 metre rectangle and a player enters the rectangle carrying a boule, that boule becomes invalid.

Playing while boules are moving

This is a foul and the advantage rule applies. If the last played boule touches a moving boule of the same team, the opponents may annul both boules. If it touches an opponents boule, the opponents may accept the new position or replay the boule. In either case they may accept or annul the last played boule.

Objects stopped or displaced

If this happens, the opponents may reposition or accept the new position of all objects. In either case the thrown boule may be annulled or accepted. If the thrown boule was impeded by the opposition, the throwing team may retake the throw.

If during an irregular throw, the procedure is the same as for a regular throw except that if both teams fouls, all objects must be repositioned and the thrown boule is invalid.

A boule impeded by a non-player, animal, or other event is replayed if within the 7 metre rectangle, otherwise it is left where it is.

Disturbance by a player

If a boule is accidentally disturbed by a team member of the throwing team, the opposition follows the advantage rule. If the disturbance is by an opponent, the thrower may accept the situation or have all objects replaced, then re throw the boule.

Repositioning objects

An object irregularly displaced by a tir or point is repositioned by the opposition. An object moved accidentally is repositioned by the opposition. A boule which moves without a clear reason or by chance (like the wind) is repositioned by the team it belongs to. The jack is repositioned by the team currently winning the end (the team whose boule(s) are at that point closer to the jack).

If a team has applied the advantage rule and moved an object, they cannot revert to the original positions. Unmarked or badly marked objects must not be repositioned by the team that marked them.

Major fouls

- unsporting conduct
- not making the most of opportunities
- deliberately prolonging a match
- deliberately stopping or moving an object against the rules
- stopping an object on a line but not out of play
- not observing a decision made by the umpire
- protesting to an opponent instead of the umpire
- positioning an obstacle to affect a throw


These are imposed at the discretion of the umpire. Increased penalties are given for repeated offences.

- warning
- temporary or permanent exclusion of players from the game
- loss of the game
- awarding of points to the non-offending team, or reducing points of the offending team

A team with one or more players excluded may continue with other players.



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