Bocce Ball Strategy

Although the rules of Bocce Ball are straightforward, they do leave considerable scope for strategy.

Basic Bocce Strategies

Getting points is dependent on getting balls closer to the jack (pallino) than the opponents. To do this requires a certain amount of accuracy. But it also requires discretion in placement. It is therefore better to toss the balls slightly short of the jack than slightly beyond or beside because this will aid in blocking opponent's shots.

Throwing the ball in the air past the center point is not legal in most games; so lobbing the ball over the opponent's blocking balls becomes problematic. Often the best way to improve the position of a side is to either hit an opponent's ball or to strike the jack. Displacing an opponent's ball with an effective strike can push it out of point range.

When both teams have a ball close to the pallino, but yours is slightly closer, it is sometimes wise to not risk hitting your own ball and losing the advantage. This can be accomplished simply by tossing the bocce considerably short. It should be noted that it is considered bad form by some to intentionally not try to improve the team's position, even if it risks losing a point. It is even considered illegal by the Collegium Cosmicum Ad Buxeas1, which is an official sanctioning body.

On a regular tournament court it will be possible to bounce balls off the sidewall. This can aid in getting a ball around blocking bocce balls. But rememember, tournament bocce ball rules stipulate that balls hitting the backboard first are removed from play and their effects are reversed.

Advanced Bocce Strategies

Placement of the pallino can make a big difference to the course of play. Placing the jack closer to the backboard can be to the advantage of more accurate bowlers. The added distance and the presence of the backboard creates more complicated situations. A closer pallino is easier to strike (or spock).

If a player bowls first, he should try to place his first ball as close as possible in front of the palino. This forces the opposing player to play around this bocce ball.

The next player may try for the same object if there is a clear run to the pallino. If the shot is not open then the player can try to get closer on either side of the jack. A spock shot may also be attempted to dislodge the opponent's blocking bocce ball, especially if it is particularly close. However, it is not wise to use all of the shots to attempt a spock, because this will leave the field wide open for the opponents to score with subsequent tosses.

Types of Bocce Ball Throws

The puntata is a standard bowl, where the ball is rolled with the greatest possible accuracy to get the ball to stop as close as possible to the pallino. The volo is a throw where the ball stays in the air for most of its movement. A backspin can be placed upon it to make it stop as soon as it hits the ground. Because it can be a dangerous throw, possibly hurting people or even damaging the court, it is generally illegal in tournament play. However, a similar throw called the raffa is not illegal because it is only thrown part of the distance, but generally with speed, the object of which is to spock the opponent's balls or the pallino.

Unlike in horseshoes where getting close to the stake is the most important factor, the bocce balls as well as the jack can be moved.

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  1. Collegium Cosmicum Ad Buxeas


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