Tournament Rules for Bocce Ball

The game of Bocce Ball is played with eight large plastic resin balls 4 to 4.5 inches in diameter and weighing about 1.75 pounds each. In addition there is a smaller ball referred to as the pallino or "jack".

Teams and Court

Bocce Teams are made up of four players. Each team will have two players at each end of the court. A coin is tossed to determine the team which will have first throw of the pallino (jack). The team winning the toss will determine which player will toss the pallino, or will have first choice of ball color. The position of the pallino thrower determines on which end of the court play will begin. Each of the players on that end of the court will begin with two bocce balls.

Tossing the Pallino and Sequence of Play

A Bocce Scoreboard

The player tossing the pallino can use his discretion on where to throw the ball, only it must pass the center line, stay within the bounds of the court, and not hit the back wall. Failure to make the proper throw, turns the pallino over to the other team. If there is a second failure on their part the pallino is placed in the center of the spocking line at the opposite end of the court.

No player should be on the court while a pallino or bocce is being rolled. The player rolling the pallino should roll the first bocce. If the ball hits the backboard he or she must toss again. Once the bocce ball is in position, play reverts to the other team. Balls are rolled consecutively until that team gets a bocce closer to the pallino than the other team. Play alternates until all of the balls of both teams are used up. The team scoring in the last frame, throws the pallino at the beginning of the next frame. Whether players on the same team throw consecutively or alternately is left up to the team.

Special Rules on Throwing Bocce Balls

Bocce Ball Court Specs

Bocce balls should be tossed so that they hit the ground before the mid-court line (unless volo shooting is allowed). They may bounce off the side-walls. A ball which hits the backboard is out of play and removed from the court - unless it first hits another ball, in which case, it remains on the court and in play. Conversely, if the backboard is hit first and the ball bounces to hit another ball, the thrown ball is removed and the hit ball is placed in its former position. Any hit ball that hits the backboard (including the pallino) remains in play.

A player may declare his intention of hitting one of the balls on the court and if so may throw from the hitting line, which is slightly closer to the other side of the court. He must then say which ball he intends to strike, if he fails to hit his target, then his ball is removed from play.

If the pallino (jack), in the course of play, is knocked out of the court or in front of the center line, then the frame is ended without score and play resumes from the opposite end of the court.

If the wrong color ball is rolled accidently, it is simply replaced by a correct colored ball. If a single player rolls more than two bocce balls within a frame, the last offending ball is removed from play for that frame and any other balls which may have been affected are placed, as close as possible, to the position they held before the toss. Foul lines should be established at each end of the court. Players making a toss may step on, but not over the foul line.

Volo Shooting

Volo shooting is tossing the ball so that it flies through the air even over the center line. This is a rule that, for safety reasons, is often disallowed in Bocce tournament play. Nevertheless, some tournaments do allow it, so check the rules before play. It is a called shot used for spocking and thrown from the hitting line.

How to Score Bocce Ball

At the end of a frame only one team may score. A team scores one point for every ball closer to the pallino than the other team's closest ball. If the closest ball of both teams is an equal distance from the pallino then the frame results in no score. A measuring tape should be kept handy in order to settle any disputes. A single game of Bocce is normally set at 13 points, but may be adjusted to accommodate tournament play within brackets.

It is generally considered bad form for a team to show up late for a game. Teams should be penalized for late arrival, two points should be deducted from the late team's score after 10 minutes, and an additional 2 points lost for every additional 5 minutes. After thirty minutes, the late team will be considered to have forfeit the game. If a single player is late, then play may proceed without the player, however, his or her team will sacrifice two balls when the player would normally roll. When he arrives, he may play at the end of the frame upon which he arrives.1

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  1. These rules conform with those promulgated by the United States Bocce Federation

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