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Playing klootschieten

Playing klootschieten

Klootschieten is a Frisian sport associated with the Netherlands and the part of Germany known as Ostfriesland.

Each player throws a ball (called kloot) as far as possible. A skilled klootschieten player will utilize a rather complex throwing style that requires both power and speed. The current record is held by Stefan Albarus, who manged to throw his ball 106.20 meters.

Casual games of klottschieten typically involves two teams playing against each other. Zetten klootschieten, which is a more formal version of the game, is played as an individual endevour where two persons challenge each other.

More formal games are organized by the Nederlandse Klottschietbond, an umbrella organization comprised of over 40,000 players of klootschieten and the related game boßeln. The are also organizations persent in North Rhine-Westphalia and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, as well as one in Ireland.

European Championships have been held since 1969. The main participants are the Netherlands, Germany and Ireland.

The three styles of klootschieten

There are three styles of klootschieten: veld (field), straat (street) and zetten (standing).

Veld klootschieten

When you play veld klootschieten, your aim is to reach a particular patch of grass or sand in as few throws as possible. In this sense, it is a bit similar to golf. Also, the veld klootschieten course typically includes obstacles, such as curves and height differences. Therefore, strenght is not the only factor necessary to prevail.

Veld klootschieten is played between individuals or between teams.

The kloot (ball) is round. It is made from wood or a synthetic material, and lead is added to make it heavier. The diamater is usually between 7 cm and 8 cm, but it is up the participants to decide what is permitted, as long as the diameter is at least 5 cm.

Straat klootschieten

Stratt klootschieten is a version of klootschieten played in the street, in a country lane, or similar. The goal is still to get your kloot to a particular area using as few throws as possible, but the tactics differ since the course is different. There might for instance bee ditches and gutters that the players need to take into account. If there are uphill stretches along the course, a player could deliberately aim for “obstacles” such as a spot of tall grass to prevent the ball from rolling back downhill.

Straat klootschieten is played with a kloot that is heavier than the ones used for veld klootschieten.

Zetten klootschieten

This is a more formal version of klootschieten. The goal is to make the ball travel as far as possible in the air. In this respect, the game is similar to hammer throwing.

You throw your ball, and the distance between you and the point where it hits the ground is measured.



A long time ago, Frisian fighters were feared for their ability to throw harmful objects at their opponents and even damaging ships with their missiles. It is possible that klootschieten developed out of this tradition.

As early as 1659, Kloot werpen is mentioned in a text. It was the Dutch reformer Jacobus van Oudenhoven who included the game in his list of things that good Christians should not do on a Sunday.

Early versions of klootschieten involved two-pound iron balls and heavy flint balls. Later, Frisians started making fist-sized balls from applewood, pierce the wood and fill the cavities with lead.

The rowdy klootschieters

Today, klootschieten might seem like a harmless passtime, but if we look at history, it had strong associations with rowdyness and it has even been banned by the authorities. Klootschieten competitions often involved both heavy alcohol consumption and gambling for money and other valuables.

Some anti-klootscheiten voices even blamed klootschieten for causing pneumonia deaths, when it was practised outdoors in the winter with participants wearing light sportswear.

A competitive leage for klootschieten

The first competition league for klootschieten was formed on May 25, 1902, by klootschieten groups in Oldenburg och East Frisia. A driving force was Hinrich Dunkhase (1857-1905).

Playing boules

Playing boules

Boules is a group of similar games where the objective is to throw or roll heavy balles as close as possible to a small target ball. The heavy balls are called boules and while the target ball is named jack.

Boules-type games are usually played on a rectangular court consisting of flattened earth, gravel or crushed stone.

Boules-type games can broadly be divided into two groups:

  • Games where the balls are rolled. Bocce is one example of a game belonging to this group.
  • Games where the balls are thrown. Bocco volo and pétanque are examples of games in this group.

Bocce – one of the most popular versions of boules

One example of a very popular boules-type game is bocce, which is an Italian boules game with ancient roots. It is rather similiar to the French game pétanque and the British bowls. Italian immigrants have spread the game to several parts of Europe, and also to other regions around the world, including Australian and the Americas.

Object of the game bocce

The object of the game is for your team to get as many of its four balls as possible closer to the target ball than the opposing teams four balls.

Scoring points

Only the team whose ball is closest to the target ball can score any points. This team gets 1 point for each of their balls that is close to the target ball than the closets ball of the opposing team.

Decide in advance how many points a team needs to accumulate to be crowned winner of the session. The standards vary by region; in som places a session only lasts until a team has reached 7 points. In other regions, it is as much as 13 points.

The court

Bocce is traditionally played on soil courts, but playing on asphalt became common in the 20th century.

Casual bocce games can take place on almost any reasonably flat area, as long as it is big enough. Just make sure you aggree beforehand on how large the court is, and the exact start and end of the special area in which the small ball must be at the start of the game.

The balls

Traditionally, the balls were made from wood. Today, metal balls and plastic balls are also available in the trade.

The balls are spherical and have no inbuilt bias.

Each team has four balls to bowl (throw).

The small ball (the target ball) is called boccino or pallino in Italian, depending on which Italian dialect you speak.

How many players?

A game can be conducted either between just two players, or between two teams. Each team can have up to four members.

Am I allowed to throw the ball using underarm action?



Playing a game of bocce

One of the teams is randomly chosen to throw the boccino.

The boccino must be thrown from one end of the court into a special zone that is 5 meters in lenght and ends 2.5 meters from the far end of the court. If the team fails twice, the other team is allowed to place the boccino whereever they want within the special zone.

The team that first attempted to place the boccino bowls first.

Once the first bowl has taken place, it is time for the other team to bowl.

From then on, the position of the balls in the court in relation to the boccino determines which team bowls next. It is always the team that does not have the ball closest to the boccino that makes the next bowl.

When one team has bowled all their four balls, the other side bowls their remaining balls.


It is permissable to throw your ball in a way that knocks away either the target ball or another ball. This can be used as a tactic to obtain a more favorable position for the team.