Bocce Ball: How to Play and Win

Bocce Ball, often called simply "Bocce", is a sport in the bowling family of games. In fact, the name is derived from the Italian word for bowling, boccia. The game has been played in Italy for milenia. It is thought to have originated in the Roman Empire. Today it is popular in most of the countries which have seen significant Italian immigration, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. It is also often played in Serbia and Croatia where it is called bocanje. France has its own version, where it is known as Boules Lyonnaise. It is related to bowls and pétanque.

Two to eight players can participate in the game. Each side has four colored Bocce Balls. The game can be played on any relatively level piece of ground (grassy, bare, or sandy) where there is scope for tossing the balls. However, tournament play does have specific requirement for Bocce Ball courts and equipment.

The game can be played using Tournament Bocce Rules or less formally using the guidelines below:

Bocce Ball begins by one of the players tossing the jack, or pallino. In informal games there is no minimum or maximum distance set for the toss, but it should be within reason and conform to the terrain. The jack is a target ball. The same player who tossed the jack, must then toss a bocce ball. The opposing team then tosses a bocce ball with the object of getting it closer to the jack than the opponent's bocce ball. The team with the closer ball is said to be "in". The team with the farther ball is said to be "out". The "out" team continues to toss balls until it gets a ball closer to the jack to become "in". Play proceeds until all the balls are tossed. One point is then awarded to the team for every bocce ball closer to the jack than the nearest opponent's ball. When both teams have balls equally close, no points are awarded.

A player may hit any other ball on the court to improve his position (or not improve his position). Play continues to eleven, thirteen or any other agreed upon mark, usually an odd number.

There are some bocce strategies that can be employed as an aid to scoring more consistently such as playing a long as opposed to a short game, or taking advantage of variations of terrain, or using ball positioning to confound the other player's throws.

Tournament Bocce Ball Rules >>


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