FAQ

1. What is bocce ball? 

Bocce ball is typically an outdoor sport, like lawn bowling but much simpler, with young and old alike being able to play. Bocce ball can be played at family events and is not limited to having a bocce ball court. Just an agreed upon throwing / playing area will do.

The simple premise of bocce ball is to take turns making underhand throws or rolls of the bocce ball towards a target ball called a pallino. The closer to the pallino the better, because the final score of a round of bocce ball is determined by how close your ball is to the pallino. If you have 1 or more balls closer to the pallino then you can get 1 or more points in a round. You can play as many rounds as you like or you can set a final score to something like 10 to determine the winner.

2. How is bocce ball played officially? What are the bocce ball rules? (Source: Wikipedia)

Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts up to 27.5 metres (90 ft) in length and 2.5 to 4 metres (8.2 to 13.1 ft) wide.[14] While the court walls are traditionally made of wood or stone, many social leagues and Special Olympics programs now use inflatable 'Packabocce' PVC courts due to their portability and ease of storage.[15][16] Bocce balls can be made of wood (traditional), metal,[14] baked clay, 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 (called a boccino ('little bocce') or pallino ('bullet' or 'little ball') in Italian, depending on local custom), from one end of the court into a zone 5 metres (16 ft) in length, ending 2.5 metres (8.2 ft) 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.[6] Casual play is common in reasonably flat areas of parks and yards lacking a Bocce court, but players should agree to the minimum and maximum distance the jack may be thrown before play begins.

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 object of the game is for a team to get as many of its balls as possible closer to the target ball (jack, boccino, pallino) than the opposing team. 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.[17][6]

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.[6]

3. Who invented bocce ball? (Source: World Bocce League)

Bocce Ball was first documented in a 5200 B.C. painting of two boys playing, which was discovered by an English scientist, Sir Francis Petrial, in an Egyptian tomb. Bocce Ball spread throughout Palestine and into Asia Minor. In 600 B.C., Bocce was picked up by the Greeks and passed to the Romans.

4. Where is bocce ball from? (Source: World Bocce League)

Greek colonists brought Bocce with them to what is now modern Italy. It became so popular that it was once again threatened with prohibition, as people who were playing Bocce in the streets were hitting the knees of passing noblemen with the Bocce balls. Although unfortunate for the humbler people who played Bocce, this problem brought widespread attention to the sport among Italian noblemen and Bocce immediately became a favorite pastime.

It was Giussepi Garibaldi, who, while unifying and nationalizing Italy, popularized the sport as it is known today. Bocce frequently lost and gained popularity throughout the ages. In 1896, during a resurgence of popularity, the first Bocce Olympiad was held in Athens, Greece. Bocce has been a part of international sports ever since.

5. How to win at bocce ball?

There are a few good strategies. Here are some:

  • Roll your bocce ball in front of the pallino to block the opponents balls. This is called blocking.
  • Roll your bocce ball to hit the pallino further back so that it is no longer closer to your opponents bocce balls that have already been played and is now closer to your bocce balls. I think this is called pointing. You can even throw all your balls into one area and then throw this kind of shot near the end, to move the pallino into your bocce balls.
  • You can do a bank shot if your court has side rails. That way you can get to the pallino and around the opponents bocce balls.
  • You can also knock your opponents balls out of the way to set up a block or get closer to the pallino (called pointing).
  • You can also do a high arching throw called a volo which speedily knocks your opponents bocce balls out or moves the pallino back. This requires practice and skill.
  • You can learn how to do forehand, backhand and push throws, all of which have different advantages and disadvantages. A forehand throw is just like bowling and gives more control over the direction and less bouncing when released onto the court. The only challenge with this type of throw is that it often has too much power and goes further than desired. Backhand throws on the other hand control the speed but require more skill to accomplish. A push throw allows for much less spin but requires great timing to perform.
  • I think you must win by 2 points to win a game of bocce ball.

6. What does bocce / boccia mean? (Source: Bocce Club Pizza)

The name “bocce” actually comes from the Latin word meaning boss. However, it also is the plural form of the Italian word boccia, which means bowl in the sporting sense (like bowling). If someone asks you what bocce is, you can tell them it's the best pizza in Western New York. You can also say it's lawn bowling!

7. Can your bocce ball touch the pallino ball?

If you throw and the bocce ball touches the pallino, that is awesome! This type of throw is known as a "baci" or "kiss" and sometimes is rewarded with 2 points if they remain touching at the end of the round (frame).

8. How many players can play bocce ball?

You can play one on one. If you have a set with 4 colors, just choose two colors for each player and go at it!

You can also play two on two. If you have a set with 4 colors, each person plays 2 balls of one color. If you have a 2 color set just split the balls between players.

Bocce can be played in singles, doubles, triples or even teams of four.

9. What are bocce ball courts made of?

Typically, bocce ball courts are made of grass, artificial grass / turf, or dirt / clay.

10. What are bocce ball court dimensions?

The dimensions of home courts can be whatever size fits into your backyard. Regulation courts are around 91 by 13 feet.

11. Do you need a bocce ball court for casual play?

No, you do not need a court at all. In fact, my family plays on a large lawn or at parks and throws the pallino wherever they want. It is much more exciting that way, without the limitations of the rails. If you do want to play professionaly though, you may want to mark off a court with spray paint or a simple wood or plastic rail.

12. Where is bocce ball played now?

It originally was played a lot in Italy. Now it has found its way to the rest of Europe and is becoming popular in the United States and the rest of North America including Canada.

13. Where to buy bocce ball in Canada?

You can purchase kids, adult, or tournament bocce balls sets from Bocce Ball Canada.