Basic Learning of Bocce
What is Bocce? ?
Bocce is a fast growing Italian bowling game that can be played in almost any setting, by people of all ages and abilities. It is inexpensive to play and can either be played for fun or for more serious competition.
What is the object of the game?
To quote the United States Bocce Federation: "The purpose of the game is to roll the bocce, a 4 ½ inch ball weighing about three pounds, as close as possible to the pallina, a 1 ¾ inch ball which is rolled down the alley first. The bocce coming closest to the pallina scores. Twelve points constitute a game".
What equipment is needed to play Bocce?
- A set of 8 Bocce Balls, 4 of one color and 4 of another color. Each ball has it's own distinctive color and/or striped pattern so that each player can identify their ball(s).
- 1 small ball called a pallina or jack.
- Measuring device is optional. It is rarely used since most players can judge the distances of competing balls in relation to the pallina. However, there are the rare occasions when competing balls are too close to measure with the naked eye, in which case it is helpful to have this device on hand to prevent arguments from breaking out.
Where can I play Bocce?
Bocce can be played on almost any surface. It can either be played on an official Bocce court surface or on non-court surfaces, such as grass, dirt, sand or gravel, etc. When Bocce is played on an official court surface, the game has rigid boundaries (the 4 sides of the court) and tends to follow stricter rules. When Bocce is played on non-court surfaces, it is often referred to as Backyard Bocce. This type of Bocce can be played any where in parks, at the beach, at a camp site, on the driveway, on the garden lawn etc. The rules tend to be more relaxed and flexible, since the game is often influenced by naturally occurring obstacles and uneven playing surfaces.
How many players are needed to play Bocce?
Typically, the game is played with two teams. Each team can have one, two or four players, as detailed below:
- One Player Team player throws all four balls from each end of the court
- Two Player Team each player throws two balls. Either both players can play 2 balls from each end of the court, or one person from each team can be stationed at each end of the court throwing all 4 balls from their end.
- Four Player Team each player throws one ball. 2 players are stationed at each end of the court throwing 2 balls each. At the end of each frame the game goes to the opposite end of the court.
Generally, Three Player Teams are not common; however, they can be played using one bocce ball per player if desired. Also, there are some alternative games that can be played with Bocce balls and these do incorporate situations where there are three players or teams of three player.
How is the game of Bocce played and scored?
Here are a number of different outlines on the rules of Bocce. They range from brief overviews of playing/scoring the game to very detailed explanations of the rules.
- For the most comprehensive description of Bocce rules, go to: boccestandardsassociation.org
What other games can I play with my Bocce Ball Set?
There are several other games that are favorites, particularly among the Backyard Bocce players. These are the basic rules for each game.
- Killer similar to the Darts game, this focuses on elimination. The game can be played with any number of players, as long as there are enough Bocce Balls to go around. If there is a small group of players, then each person can have 2 balls each. If there is a large group of players, then each person should have 1 ball each. One person is selected to throw the pallina and then each player throws their ball (s). If players are using 2 balls each, then wait for all players to throw their first ball, before throwing the second balls. The ball that is deemed furthest away from the pallina is eliminated. Continue this process until just one ball/player is left. That person is the winner.
- Bocce Golf this is a great game when playing Bocce in a large area (such as a park or a beach), where there are opportunities to play around obstacles and to play on uneven terrain. It is ideally suited to 2-4 players, in singles or in doubles. Each frame can be considered a 'hole'. Plan on playing 18 frames/holes. Whichever ball is closest to the pallina wins the frame/hole. Keep score of how many frames/holes each team wins.
- 3-point game This is an ideal Backyard Bocce game when you have odd numbers of individuals and are wondering how to play a game without leaving someone out. It is typically played when there are 3 or more individuals or 3 or more teams of two players. All aspects of the game are similar to the traditional Bocce game, except for a slight adjustment in the scoring. Each individual or team of two players has 2 balls. The closest 2 balls to the pallina get 1 point each, even if the balls are from different teams. If the closest 2 balls happen to be the same individual/team, then they get a bonus of 1 additional point. Hence, on each frame, a minimum of 2 points are always scored, up to a maximum of 3 points. Play up to 12 or 15 points.