Welcome to the Ancient Sport of Bocce

Bocce is the kissing cousin of other games like petanque and lawn bowling, and it's pretty simple. Grab as few as two and as many as eight people, and divide into two even teams, Team A and Team B.

All you need is a set of bocce balls.

There are lots of variations, but the easiest way to play is called "open" bocce. A member of Team A throws out the smallest ball -- known as the "pallino" or "jack" -- which acts as a marker. A member of Team A pitches the pallino and his or her bocca. Team B then bowls, and tries to get closer to the pallino. If Team B lands a ball closer, Team A bowls again. If Team B uses all their balls and doesn't get closer, Team A wins.
The same person gets the first chance to throw one of their bocce as close to the pallino as possible.

 

ERIC Bocce

Rules and play

Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts 27.5 metres in length and 2.5 to 4 metres wide. Bocce balls can be made of metal or various kinds of plastic. Unlike lawn bowls, bocce balls are spherical and have no inbuilt bias. A game can be conducted between two players, or two teams of two, three, or four. A match is started by a randomly chosen side being given the opportunity to throw a smaller ball, the jack, from one end of the court into a zone 5 metres in length, ending 2.5 metres from the far end of the court. If the first team misses twice, the other team is awarded the opportunity to place the jack anywhere they choose within the prescribed zone.

The side that first attempted to place the jack is given the opportunity to bowl first. Once the first bowl has taken place, the other side has the opportunity to bowl. From then on, the side which does not have the ball closest to the jack has a chance to bowl, up until one side or the other has used their four balls. At that point, the other side bowls its remaining balls. The team with the closest ball to the jack is the only team that can score points in any frame. The scoring team receives one point for each of their balls that is closer to the jack than the closest ball of the other team. The length of a game varies by region but is typically from 7 to 13 points.

Players are permitted to throw the ball in the air using an underarm action. This is generally used to knock either the jack or another ball away to attain a more favorable position. Tactics can get quite complex when players have sufficient control over the ball to throw or roll it accurately.

Tip

Use an underarm throw or roll the bocce balls.

Now, Team B gets their chance to throw a ball as close to the pallino as they can. The play alternates until all the larger balls are gone. Whoever lands closest to the pallino wins that set, making them the "in" team.

After all the balls have been thrown, the "in" team scores one point for every ball that's closer to the pallino than the other team's best ball, meaning the one they got nearest to the pallino. After the score is counted, the balls are gathered up and the "out" team throws the pallino to start another round. Play continues until one team scores a set number of points, usually about 13.

Did You Know?

The Italian military leader Giuseppe Garibaldi is widely credited with reintroducing bocce into popular culture in the 1800s.

Bocce is a ball sport belonging to the boules sport family, closely related to bowls and pétanque, with a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire. Developed into its present form in Italy (where it is called bocce, the plural of the Italian word boccia which means "bowl"). Bocce was initially played among the Italian migrants but has slowly become more popular with their descendants and the wider community.

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