bocce ball set with wood containerpeople drinking while playing bocce ball

Tips And Tricks For Playing Bocce Ball

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By Johnny Bevers

Imagine two rich elderly noblemen standing out in the hot Italian sun with their servants while whispering in Latin to each other, gently sipping wine from their vineyards and enjoying the Mediterranean breeze as they try to out-match one other in a relaxing game of what much resembles modern-day Bocce.  Such an image of older seasoned gentlemen passing the time this way might very well be a clear visualization of what could have happened time and time again within the ancient Roman Empire.  No doubt, it was often used for a luxuriously relaxing time among friends and fellow senators.  The ball game of Bocce was modernized in Italy and is now widely played across Europe with a few other countries engaging in it across the globe as well.  It derived from the boules sports family which is also closely associated with petanque and bowls.  The actual Bocce balls are normally made from metal or other types of plastic and the game is typically played on asphalt or natural soil courts.  The game itself is said to require technique, expertise and just a little bit of good chance.

Bocce Ball Playing Instructions

Printable bocce ball instruction.

Printable bocce ball instruction.

* Before play begins, the perfect location to play on must be selected and agreed upon by all players.  It’s quite suitable to choose a grassy, gravel or nicely packed area of dirt that is flat.  In a standard game of Bocce, the court is approximately 76 feet in length by only 10 feet wide.

* Teams will have to be chosen and divided up next. There will always be just 2 teams but the number of players per team can vary.  There can be two teams of 1 (player throws all 4 balls), 2 (players throw 2 balls each) or as many as 4 players per team (2 of those players will act as alternates).  Players will be placed at each end of the court and will never be allowed to switch ends once the game has been under way.  Each team must select one person to be the team captain and their job will be to participate in the upcoming coin toss and to designate which position each player will remain in for the match.  The team captain may also assign an end captain for their team on the opposite end of the court and when measurements for the game are needed, only captains are allowed to carry this out.  Note:  If there are only three people who want to play as individual teams then this is possible but only 2 balls can ever be thrown by each player.

* The coin toss is next and the two team captains will decide on who calls “heads or tails.”  The winning captain will decide on which color of balls their team will use and will also get the first toss of the pallino.

Petanque bocce game on beach

* Now is the long awaited pallino toss.  The pallino is the smallest ball and the first one to be put into play.  The coin toss winning team captain will toss it underhand from behind the pointing foul line (which is ten feet from the court’s end) and may decide to bounce it off of the sideboards.  The pallino ball must land at least 12 inches away from the side or backboards (without ever hitting the backboards) and across the center line.  If the team captain fails in his toss then the other team gets the opportunity to throw the pallino.  In order to speed up play, if by chance the 2nd team fails to throw the pallino correctly, then it will automatically be placed in the approximate center of the hitting foul line on the reverse end of the court.  If the wrong team threw the pallino, play has already begun and then the mistake was realized, all balls must be returned and the frame will begin again.  The pallino may be hit and moved anywhere around the court but never out of the court or over the center line.  If this occurs, the frame will be at an end and the game will resume at the opposite end of the court with the same team throwing the pallino.

* Now it’s time to get throwing the Bocce balls around.  The starting team that threw the pallino will also get to throw the first Bocce ball. All balls are thrown underhand and any balls hitting the backboard must be re-thrown until a ball is in play.  Unless there is hitting (to throw and spock other balls), all of the Bocce balls will be thrown behind the foul line (these balls are considered a point throw).  The goal of course is to get your ball closest to the pallino by the end of the frame.  Hitting another team’s ball is also called spocking and is permitted.  In order to do this however, a referee or the opposite team must be informed before the throwing player steps and throws past the pointing foul line.  If a hitting throw touches nothing on the court then it must be removed from play.  Balls that never touch the pallino yet hit the backboard must be removed from play and balls are permitted to be bounced off of sideboards.  In the event that a team throws the wrong colored ball, it is to be replaced with the correct ball after it stops rolling. Throwing a ball when it’s not your team’s turn will result in that ball being taken back, so the correct team may throw.  Any balls that go off of the court are considered to be dead balls and lofting balls through the air that pass the center line must be removed.

bocce ball 1

* The players are permitted to stand on the proper foul line before throwing any kind of ball but the toe of the foot may never surpass the width of the mark on the foul line.  Stepping over the line may be excused one time but after that, any balls that were thrown from breaking this rule will be invalidated.

* One frame’s recognized score will be decided when all of the 8 balls are already played and have been measured to the captains’ pleasure. One point will be awarded for every ball of a team that has one closer to the pallino than the opposing team’s closest ball (1 to 4 points). The scoring team throws the pallino in the next frame.  The team that first scores 12 points will be declared as the winner.

Bocce Ball Tips

* Lobbing balls high in the air (also known as a volo) is a convenient strategy to place balls in desired locations without hitting anything else on the court.  It is especially practical for playing on courts that consist of sand or crushed oyster shells.

Bocce Ball

* Throwing balls (also known as raffa) involves running up to the foul line and releasing the ball hard in order to hit the opposite team’s ball out of position.  It can be a very useful strategy when you need to move the opponent’s balls away from the pallino or to make way for you to get your other balls into better positions.

Quotes About Bocce Ball

  • “For them, it was a way to get away from the wife and the kids. Where they could drink and smoke and cuss and gamble, maybe,” says Tosi, who is based in San Francisco.
  • “They kept to themselves when they played bocce ball and it was a hard community for outsiders to crack.”
  • “It’s all inclusive,” says DC Bocce League co-founder Sarah DeLucas. “Men and women are good at it.  Even things like darts and pool, traditional bar games, a lot of women don’t feel comfortable playing those games against men because they think they’re not going to be good at it.  And with bocce, that’s never an issue.”

(Quotes are from:

Purchasing Bocce Ball Equipment

bocce ball set

For anyone interested in buying equipment for Bocce then they may visit such websites as Ebay, Amazon, Toys R Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Shopzilla for the latest in bocce equipment.

Below is just a fun video featuring Leann Rimes playing a great game of bocce ball.


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