Rules / How to Play Bocce
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How to Play Bocce

What is Bocce?

Bocce is played between two teams. Each team plays with four bocce balls that are differentiated by color. The goal of the game is to roll your team’s bocce balls closer to the pallino--the smaller target ball--than the other team’s bocce balls.

Each frame is played from one side of the court and begins with the pallino being rolled into play on the court. 

Basic Rules:

Every roll (including the pallino) must meet the following criteria to remain on the court:

  • Player’s feet must be behind the foot fault line.
  • Ball must be thrown underhand and roll beyond the half court line.
  • Ball cannot touch the back wall unless it makes contact with a ball in play first.
  • For safety reasons, no ball may be thrown higher than the overhead lights.

When throwing the pallino, if the pallino doesn't go beyond the half court line, or touches the back wall, the toss is invalid and is turned over to the other team to begin the round. 

The team closest to the pallino is “in” and the other team is “out.” The team that is “out” throws until they are “in” or out of bocce balls. Both teams must throw all of their bocce balls to complete a frame.

To become the team that is “in” you must roll a ball to be closer to the pallino than any of the other team's balls.

There are no rules against your ball striking any of the other balls in play, the pallino, or the side walls. 

There are no rules dictating player rotation or throws within a team. That is entirely up to the team to decide who plays.  During the playoffs, any player who throws must be listed on the initial team roster from the beginning of the season, and have played in at least half of the regular season matches.


Points are scored after all balls have been thrown. The team with a ball closest to the pallino is the only team scoring in that frame. Scoring team receives one point for each of their balls that are closer to the pallino than the other team’s closest ball.

If two balls are equidistant from the pallino at the end of the frame, then the next closest ball breaks the tie.

A ball that is touching the pallino ("kissing") is counted as two points.

The team that scores, controls the pallino to begin the next frame. They get to throw the pallino, followed by the first bocce ball.

The first team to reach 11 points--and win by 2 points--wins that game.  In league play, the team winning two (2) out of three (3) games will be the winner for that night. 

Fun Facts About Bocce...

Fun Facts About Bocce...

  • Bocce is the third most popular sport in the world, following soccer & golf.
  • In the United States alone, more than 25 million people play bocce.
  • Bocce in its current form was played as early as 264 B.C. in Rome. The exact beginning of Bocci is unknown, but archeologists have found stone balls dating back to 9000 B.C.
  • Roman Emperor Augustus, Hippocrates and Galileo played Bocci.
  • George Washington built a bocce court at Mount Vernon in the 1780s.