Bocce Ball Rules [ Court, Scoring, Skills, Fouls ] An Expert Guide

Ever wondered how the bocce ball game is played with eight large balls and another smaller one? Like all other sports rules, bocce ball has wonderfully detailed rules & regulations.

These rules of bocce ball precisely define its rules, fouls, penalties, skills & necessary equipment to play a bocce ball game.

Scroll down and take advantage of the full free step-by-step bocce ball rules players Guide.

Bocce Ball Rules | How to Play Bocce ball, Court Makeup, Team Composition, Scoring & Skills [ Players Guide 2021]


Bocce ball is one of the oldest bowls games. It emerged in Ancient Rome and was popularized in other parts of the world by Italian immigrants.  It is played between two teams on a court that is smaller than that of lawn bowls.

Bocce (ba-chee ) is an old ball sport that was played by soldiers during the time of the Roman Empire. However, the modern version of the Bocce ball is highly indebted to Italian immigrants who played it wherever they migrated.

Bocce ball Rules, how to play bocce ball rules, skills and strategies

This game requires 9 balls (1 small Pallino, 8 large balls) and two teams of 2 to 8 players who play on any smoothly leveled court.

Being one of the bowls games, Bocce ball resembles lawn bowls, shuffleboard, and French pétanque. You can play as singles or as teams.

Each team can have either two players or four players. The court of Bocce is generally less bouncy and of varying sizes.

Its standardized size is 90 ft long and 13 ft wide with small sidewalls/boards to prevent the ball from going out. Its court can be of clay, grass, cement, asphalt, artificial turf, sand, or granite.

However, it is played on streets, lawns, alleys, and beaches as a recreational activity. The balls used in Bocce look similar to those of billiards or bowling balls with different sizes.

These balls are made of hard plastic, wood, stone, or any other substance.

Out of 9 balls, 1 ball, with white or yellow color, is smaller in size and known as “Pallino.” While the other 8 balls are uniform in size but have two different colors.

As per rule, 4 balls are allotted to 1 player or team, and the remaining 4 balls are given to other players or teams.

If a team has 2 players, each player has 2 balls to throw. In case a team has 4 players, every player has 1 ball to throw.

In Bocce ball, the aim of players is to target Pallino on the surface with 8 large balls (each player/ team has 4 balls).

The players, by turns, attempt to toss their balls to the motionless “Pallino” , that lies in the middle of the court so as to make them (their balls) approach the Pallino and stop as near as possible to it.

Once both the players/teams have thrown their 4-4 balls, they count their points with the help of a distance marker to avoid dispute.

The points are counted by the nearest balls to the Pallino. The player or team scores the targeted number of points (12 to 16) before the opponent/s wins the match.

Object of  Playing

The prime object in this game is to score more points than the opposite side. To get points, players of both teams have to target “Pallino,” a small ball in the middle of the court, with their 4-4 large balls by throwing or tossing carefully.

The large balls, after being thrown to the targeted ball (Pallino), have to reach as near as possible to Pallino or touch it to get points.

As soon as all 8 balls have been thrown, the points are counted with the balls that are nearest to the Pallino.

If team A’s balls are nearer to Pallino, but team B’s balls are away, team A gets points as per the number of its balls. If team A has 1 ball and team B has 3 balls near the Pallino, team A gets 1 point, and team B gets 3 points.

Equipment Needed For Bocce Ball

For playing Bocce ball, you need 9 round balls in total. These balls are identical to those of lawn bowls but without inbuilt bias.

They are made of different materials such as wood, plastic, stone, baked clay, marble or any such strong-cum-heavy substance.

Among these 9 balls, 1 ball is of white or yellow color and is smaller in size than the rest of the balls. This little target ball is known as Pallino in Italian and Jack in English.

While the other 8 balls are in uniformly large size and are called “Boccia”.

Among these 8 balls, 4 balls are of one color, and the other 4 balls are of another color. For instance, 4 balls have a green color, and 4 balls have a red color. Each player or team possesses 4 balls of the same color.

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Bocce Ball Rules [ Comprehensive Guide  ]

Bocce ball is considerably simple and less demanding. All you need is to hold the balls and toss them properly.

It follows the playing pattern of other bowls games but has different rules. The rules of Bocce ball are as follows:

Rule #1. Bocce Ball Court; Prepare the Court to the Right Dimension

The court of recreational Bocce game can be your compound, street, alleys, beach, lawn or any other smooth surface that doesn’t cause obstruction for the balls.

However, for the official Bocce game, it is recommended to choose wooden, asphalt, cemented, artificial turf, or grassy court that includes small borders or boards (sideboards and backboard) to prevent the balls from going out.

Its regulation court is rectangular with 90 ft length and 13 ft width for official games,76 ft length and 13 ft width for club level games, and 60 ft length and 12 or 10 ft width for domestic or residential games.

There is one designated line (foul line or point line)that is 10 ft from each throwing end of the court for players to throw their balls while being inside this line.

They cannot step ahead before throwing boccia to the Pallino.

There is another line known as the “shooting line” that is designated for the throws when players attempt to knock or spock their opponents’ boccia. In addition to these lines, there is a center line that is halfway between the court.

The Pallinoas, well as boccia, should cross this center line to be legal. It’s considered foul when large balls fail to cross the center line or cross the Pallino without touching it and go ahead to hit the backboard or go out of the court.

Rule #2. Team Composition: Number of Players

You can play Bocce with your only friend, or you can even involve up to 8 players. In a game of 1 vs 1, each player has 4 balls in his possession. Whereas, in a game of 2 vs. 2, each player has 2 balls to throw.

And in case each team has 4 players, every player has only one ball to throw towards the Pallino.

The players have to throw their balls turn-wise. Once all the balls have been thrown to the targeted Pallino, points are counted with the nearest balls to the Pallino.

Rule #3. Game duration

There is no specific time frame for a Bocce Ball match to end. It can last for an hour.

A match of Bocce ball depends on scoring a targeted number of points that is either 12 to 16. Generally, players, organizations, or officials determine the winning target.

Some of them follow 12 points method, and some even extend it to 16 points. However, to reach either of the targets take a fair amount of time.

A player/team can score a maximum of 4 points in one frame, and a match may comprise at least three frames when a player/team manages to score 4 points in each frame.

The number of frames may also increase until either player/team reaches the winning target. As the number of frames increases, so does time.

Rule #4. Scoring System

To score points, the players of both sides have to throw their balls so as make them reach close to the Pallino. They also try to knock their opponents’ bocce balls or the Pallino to turn the tide in their favor.

Because the score is counted after all the balls have been thrown and taken their final position.

After throwing all the balls, the player/team whose balls are closer to the Pallino scores more points than the player/team whose balls are farther.

To determine accurate distance, the referee uses a distance marker in the presence of 2 opposing players/captains. Generally, the first 4 nearest balls to the Pallino are taken into account for the scoring.

Each bocce ball offers 1 point to its owner. In case the ball is touching the Pallino, it offers 2 points (known asbaci or kiss).

After one frame ends with the finalization of points, a fresh frame starts in the same fashion. The one who leads the first frame starts the second frame by throwing the Pallino first and then his bocce ball.

To win a match, a player or team has to score 12 or 16 points and lead the opponent/s by two clear points. To reach this target, players/teams may play as many frames as needed to declare the winner.

In case both the players or teams have scored equal points, the one scoring 2 extra points win the match.

Rule #5. Fouls & Penalties

Let’s check certain fouls and penalties in Bocce ball.

  • Players should throw balls underhand.
  • Players should not cross the pointing or foul line while throwing their boccia to target the Pallino. However, they can cross this line while their aim is to Spock or hit opponents’ boccia and knock them off.
  • The Pallino should cross the center line, that is, in the middle of the court, for being legal. If it fails to cross this line, it is thrown again.
  • The Pallino should not be in contact with the backboard or sideboards. It should be at least at a 1 ft distance from them.
  • Boccia or balls should also cross the center line as Pallino. They should not touch the backboard directly. If they do, they are considered dead and are simply removed from the court.
  • However, they remain part of the game if they touch Pallino or boccia before touching the backboard.
  • If any of the large balls goes out of the court, it is deemed dead and removed from the play.
  • If a player throws his opponent’s ball (wrong color), this ball is replaced with his ball (correct color) once it takes the final position.
  • If a player mistakenly plays his opponent’s turn, his ball is removed from the court, and his opponent throws the ball.
  • A player is not allowed to disturb or confuse his opponent while throwing the ball.
  • No player is allowed to reposition his balls with his hands.
  • If any ball goes out of the court by any means, is dead.
  • Volo shot is not permitted in Bocce ball. It means to directly loft his ball to hit the Pallino or boccia without letting it ground before the center line.
  • Every ball must land before the center line, and it should not fly all the way beyond the center line to hit the Pallino or boccia.

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Rule #6. Skills, Strategies & Techniques to Play Bocce Ball

Players should apply various tactics to outdo their rivals. These tactics are the basic ingredients of players’ strategies and skills. Let’s find out various ways to outplay opposing players.

1. Throwing Skills

Bocce ball largely depends on throwing skills, be it Pallino or boccia. Players have to throw their balls underhand carefully and gently so as to make them reach Pallino.

A wild throw may miss the target and go astray or out of bound. While a fine throw goes straight to the target and positions near the Pallino, which results in points.

Therefore, players should be aware of the distance of Pallino and the required force to make their balls reach the target.

2. Aiming Target

Aiming the target is equally important in Bocce ball. The players should gently toss their balls so that they should reach the Pallino or spock their opponents’ balls.

It is easy to target the Pallino that is in the middle of the court, but to aim at an awkwardly positioned Pallino requires awesome aiming skills.

If you really want to outperform your opponent, you must improve your aiming skills. Because these skills can bring seemingly lost game in your favor.

3. Maintaining balance while throwing

When you are properly balanced and in the ideal throwing position, your throw goes wherever you target it to.

On the other hand, if you are awkwardly balanced, your boccia may not go wherever you want them to. Hence, taking a proper position is of vital significance.

8. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who invented the modern Bocce ball?

The modern Bocce wall is the invention of Italians. It was spread by Italian immigrants globally.

2. What is the meaning of bocce?

The word bocce literally means “bowls”. Because it belongs to the family of boules games.

3. How many balls are used in Bocce ball?

In total, 9 balls are used in the Bocce ball. One small ball is called “Pallino”, while the remaining 8 balls are called “Boccia”.

4. What is the color of Pallino?

Pallino generally comes in white or yellow color.

5. What is the color of boccia?

These 8 balls come in two contrasting colors. 4 balls have red color, and the other 4 balls have a green color. They can also be in yellow and blue colors.

6. How many boccia/balls can a team have?

In Bocce ball, each side/team has 4 four boccia/balls.

7. What is Pétanque?

This is the name of the game that is played in the same fashion as other boules games such as: lawn bowls, bocce, and Raffa.

8. What is the pronunciation of Bocce?

The pronunciation of Bocce is ba-chee

9. How to throw a bocce ball?

A bocce ball is thrown underhand.

10. Which ball is considered a baci or kiss in Bocce ball?

When a ball is in contact with the Pallino, it becomes a baci or kiss.

11. How many points do you get as a result of baci?

You get 2 points as a result of baci.

12. Can I hit the backwall or backboard in the bocce ball?

Yes, you can provide that your ball touches either Pallino or boccia before hitting the back wall.

If your ball hits the back wall without touching any other ball, it becomes dead and hence removed.

13. How many players are allowed per team in bocce ball?

You can play with a team of 2 to 4 players. The balls are divided equally between teammates.

14. What is the major difference between bowls and bocce ball balls?

Both the games use similar balls. However, the major difference is inbuilt bias. The balls used in bowls have an inbuilt bias that allows the balls to turn while traveling to the jack.

Whereas the balls used in Bocce ball have no bias or curve. They travel in a straight direction towards the Pallino.

15. What is the difference between Pallino and Jack?

Both these balls serve the same purpose in two similar boules games. The Pallino is an Italian word for the target ball used in Bocce ball, and the Jack is an English word for the target ball used in Bowls.

Brief History of Bocce Ball

Bocce ball has a rich history behind it. As per historical proof, the early forms of this game were played in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. However, Italy is credited with the development of the modern-day Bocce ball.

This game, as per one story, was a pass time activity of the soldiers of the Roman Empire. The soldiers of the Roman Empire used to play it during the breaks of tiresome wars.

This game spread far and wide with the efforts of Italian immigrants. Those immigrants would play Bocce ball wherever they traveled.

Thus, this game got impetus and became popular in many parts of the world, such as European, North American, South American, and Australian countries.

Bocce ball became part of Paralympics with the efforts of its governing body Fédération Internationale de Boules.


The bocce ball game is played between two teams of equal players on a smoothly even court.

It uses 9 balls. 1 target ball known as “Pallino” is thrown in the middle of the court first, then both the teams, on the alternate turns, toss their large balls known as ”Boccia” to the small ball with the aim of reaching closer to it as possible.

Once all the balls are thrown, the balls that lie close to the Pallino earn points for the team that owns the balls. Thus, it ends in one frame.

Players/teams play new frames in the same way and keep on playing until one team reaches 12 or 16 points, the winning target.

We hope that this article must have assisted you to a great extent.