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The bowls have four main disciplines – Petanque, which is the most developed – Lyonnaise, Raffa, Lawn Bowl – and hundreds of local or regional games of bowls.

With 262 federations in 165 countries – 112 federations in 112 countries for Petanque alone on the five continents – with about 20 million members and hundreds of millions of casual practitioners or leisure, Boules Sport is among the sports with the most followers in the world .

The International Federation of Petanque, Raffa and Lyonnaise came together in 1985 to create the CMSB, the World Confederation of Ball Sports. This was recognized in 1986 by the IOC, recognition renewed every four years.

CMSB, so FIPJP, is thus a member of Sport Accord, IWGA (the World Games Association) and ARISF (the Association of International Federation recognized by the IOC). Claude Azema is chairman of both FIPJP and CMSB.


With 112 national federations, Petanque is universal, present on the five continents and in  the largest countries – Argentina, Australia, China, USA, India, Japan, Russia ..- but also in very small states: Brunei, Djibouti, Haiti, Monaco, Seychelles, Vanuatu ..

It’s present both in islands – Malta, Mauritius, Comoros -, on the foothills of the Himalaya – Bhutan, Nepal – in the warmer countries – Qatar, Polynesia – as in the colder regions: Canada, Mongolia…

This universality is not only geographical; it’s also reflected in the number of countries that won medals in various world championships. This inevitably increases from year to year, demonstrating that the quantitative development of Petanque and Boules Sport in a number of countries increasingly high, is accompanied by a qualitative increase in the level of national teams.

Now 67 countries have won medals in at least one world championship.


In addition to its world or continental championships (annual or every two years) – single, double, triple for women and men, triple for young people, mix double – Petanque is present – sometimes for a long time (1985 for the World Games), in the world’s largest multi-sport competitions :

  • – World Games
  • Mediterranean Games
  • Asian Indoor Games
  • Asian Beach Games
  • S.E.A. Games ( South East Asian Games )
  • African Games
  • Island Games (Indian Ocean)
  • Commonwealth Games (Lawn bowl)
  • Pacific Games
  • TAFISA Games
  • Games of Small States of Europe

We are also working to integrate Petanque in the Asian Games (2018 in Indonesia), and Olympic Games with the candidacy “Boules Sport 2024”.


Like many other sports, Pétanque has the advantage of being both a high level competition discipline and a practitioner of relaxation and leisure. There is as much difference between a casual cultivator and a top player, that between which is jogging and a marathon runner, or between one who rides his bicycle  and a professional runner.

Also the practice of this sport allows a mix in different areas – ages, sexes, origins: social, ethnic, religious, professional … – and socialization of individuals by offering a practical and places where he can multiply meetings and contacts.

We can list the benefits of its practice, which also change according to the age of practitioners:

Contributions for mobility : Petanque helps to develop the skill and precision qualities. It also promotes the coordination of movements of various members and improves the achievement of balance.

Sensory input: Petanque is excellent to improve the sense of touch, to learn objects manipulation, to maintain vision. Its practice in competition requires to have a greater self-control, otherwise it is to the detriment of the level of play.

Intellectual contributions: We have many intellectual qualities which Petanque promotes development. For example, among others : attention, concentration, working memory, sense of observation, use of calculation and projections on the probabilities, development of a strategy, of a tactic,  study of psychology of partners and opponents …

Affective input: Petanque provides the pleasure of playing relatively soon enough without constraints. The simple mastery of the game gives a sense of confidence to the practitioners even beginners. The joy is great to win a point, to hit a bowl, to have success, which helps to become more aware of its possibilities.

It also develops team spirit and awareness of success and failure notions: we also learn to lose.

Social contributions: Petanque favors human contacts abolishing, mostly, all barriers between individuals since it allows them to spend time together, to discuss and to exchange: on the ground you’ve only Petanque players. The sequences of the matches invites us to give advice, to dialogue, to express itself. The mind remains awoke..

Petanque helps avoid the isolation that is often the result of particular personal circumstances (for example shyness or retirement) and playing areas become places of gathering, chats, contacts, conviviality where everyone is sure to meet friends.

Even in specific competitions, Petanque is not an essentially physical discipline. It is mainly a sport of skill, of strategy, of concentration, but good physical condition is essential for success at the highest level due to the length and the difficulty of the competitions. Excellent resistance is essential in high level because when the physical condition is no more present, the address suffers. Shooters of firearm or bow know this problem very well.


La Petanque has a great interest in the medical field, both in prevention in rehabilitation.

Its leisure practice is, in particularly, a gentle but undeniable physical activity – displacements, deflections, movements … – perfect for keeping in good physical shape, especially the elderly.

Indeed it has been scientifically proven that physical activity protects against harmful effects of inactivity. Throwing bowls accentuates the benefits of these practices for the heart and, more generally, in the fight against all chronic non transmitted diseases.

Similarly the impact on maintaining good joint flexibility is certain, because the bowls, forcing people to move, ensures joint maintenance and maintaining good muscle tone.

All this also explains that the practice of Petanque has many benefits for rehabilitation, especially after muscle or bone injuries. It is frequently used in functional rehabilitation centers.

Medically it serves primarily to avoid introversion for reasons either to the vagaries of the life – loss of a spouse, family isolation, remoteness … – either to a change in status or situation that are likely to cause depression or psychic ruptures attitudes. In this case salvation can come from the others, those that are found, around you and give you a life interest.

In some countries the practice of Petanque as a leisure for the elderly is a real public health policy, for example in the Czech Republic where rallies are held each week; or Japan where senior citizens associations “forced” hundreds of thousands of their members to practice a physical activity listed, with inscriptions on a supporting book, which Pétanque.

If physical and physiological appearance is obviously important, the psychological aspect is equally reflected, for it allows everyone to continue to live in community avoiding harmful isolation to good mental health.

More generally this is also true for the activity of the mentally disabled. Petanque is perfectly adapted to the persons concerned. Because their disability is, usually, only mental, they have all the physical qualities and skill required to be good players. The main problem residing in the difficulty to conceptualize the rules and develop a tactical game or a strategy – also varies depending on the disability category – just follow the practice by the presence of specialized educators. We then see the players with a remarkable level.

This is also the case for physical disabled, but, with some adapted rules, they can practice with valid players. However, in several countries, specific competitions are organized which don’t require the establishment of many different categories based on disability. The ground is generally flat and located in fully accessible sites, there is no need to lay down special provisions.


The practice of Petanque on leisure needs only very little special arrangements. So you can install a playing place everywhere: parks, alleys, stabilized land, beach edges, village square … which makes the choice of such interesting facilities for cities that can thus have, with little expenses, spaces of gathering, friendliness and entertainment.

It’s a little differently for the establishment of permanent spaces or competition, which can be external or in covered buildings, such equipment being rendered virtually indispensable in most of the countries if we want to have an permanent practice and to keep a high level for the competitors.

Even in this case the costs are lower than those of installations or buildings required for most other sports. Indeed we must build a covered establishment, lit and heated, then there is almost no layout constraints, except those related to compliance with regulations, including the availability and health of the construction, and the realization of some offices. The difference is even more marked for maintenance and operating expenses while everywhere, buildings for Petanque are the busiest sports facilities both in terms of timetables and number of attendees.

They are in fact large, covered and almost empty spaces with lines delimited in variable manners and with an uniform ground and possibility to put a synthetic coating or a removable carpet for some competitions. On sunny days these building can also be used for non-sport activities without risk, especially in the morning for the schools.

These benefits are also interesting when we have to organize Petanque competitions during multi-sport events, for it’s possible, certainly to realize a specific building, but also to use any hall, either by adding some gravel on a hard ground, either, after having protected it, to built a specific surface on a wooden or synthetic floor.

The assembly and disassembly are very quick; so it’s not necessary to book a hall for only one activity or competition.


Major national and international competitions attract a large audience and world championships often are sold out. For the last, in Marseille in 2012, the 5 500 places in the Sports Palace were booked during the four days of competition, without beating the record set in Grenoble Sports Palace with 7,500 seats filled for the finals, which led the organizer to organize three consecutive editions: 2002, 2004, 2006, the last year by combining the world championships of Women and Men.

Places are also diversified across the five continents. World Championships and World Cups confederations (continental) have occurred in some thirty countries, such as Thailand, Turkey, Madagascar, Malaysia, Canada, Senegal, Sweden, Tahiti, Tunisia .. .

This obviously leads medias to be interested by Petanque. In all countries the Petanque events are the subject of newspaper articles, radio and television reports, and are often accompanied or preceded by tournaments personalities or types of pro-am where VIPs are associated with top players.

For some twenty years Petanque made a spectacular breakthrough on television. In France, for example, the kickoff was given by Canal Plus Trophy, a competition organized to be filmed in optimal conditions. Its circulation has shown the high level of discipline to millions of people and this TV has developed special technical means and new filming process, now chosen by all broadcasters.

Petanque is now in France, after the Tour of France, the sport having more hours of broadcast in July. In Benin it became a national sport whose competitions are covered by  press and audiovisual medias. In Thailand it is both the sport of the elite, a common practice in schools and, in the army, hours spent practicing are considered as hours of military exercises.

In television audience ratings are more than respectable and often they exceed the 40% market shares, be it live or deferred broadcasts. Even encrypted channels and those of numeric channels have their better rates among their audience with the release of  Petanque competitions.

Petanque makes it possible to achieve high-quality images perfectly reflecting both the intensity of the concentration of the players, the beauty of gestures, the development of the strategy of the teams, the suspense in the final matches. In short there is a bright future for the filming and distribution of national and international competitions and no doubt that this will allow Petanque to be even better known and recognized.