Beginner's Guide to Bocce Ball

October 12, 2022

Beginner's Guide to Bocce Ball

Never played bocce ball? Here's a beginner's guide so that when you play for the first time at our new court at Inspirata Pointe, you’ll look like a pro!

Origins of Bocce Ball

According to the World Bocce League, bocce ball was first documented in 5200 B.C. in an Egyptian tomb in a painting of two boys playing.The game spread throughout Palestine and into Asia Minor, and around 600 B.C.,Bocce was picked up by the Greeks and passed to the Romans. Bocce saw many changes throughout the ages. They say it was Giuseppi Garibaldi, who, while unifying Italy in 1861, popularized the sport as we know it today.

Bocce has been known under many names and played for centuries, but only reached the US when the game swept up enthusiasts inCalifornia in 1989. It’s been gaining popularity in this country ever since.Today, there’s an estimated 25,000,000 people in the USA who call themselves bocce enthusiasts and who play recreationally or play on structured courts.

Bocce Ball and the Benefits for Physical Activity

Believe it or not, you’ll even enjoy health benefits from playing bocce ball! It’s alight cardio activity that also improves your flexibility. You’re up and down on the court and flexing and moving your joints without causing too much strain. Plus, bocce improves your hand eye coordination and sharpens your brain with the physics of distance and velocity. It also helps to relieve stress by being outside in natural surroundings while socializing with friends and family. Consider bocce ball therapeutic recreation and part of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. You’ll love it!

What is Bocce Ball?

Today’s bocce (pronunciation: baa-chee) ball can be played on bocce ball courts, beach sand and backyards or grassy parks. It’s played with eight balls and a smaller white ball. The smaller white ball in bocce ball is called a Pallino or Jack. Bocce means “bowl” in Italian, and it’s similar toBritish lawn bowling. Over the years, bocce ball has been called many different names including lawn bowling, nine pins, skittles and pétanque to name a few.

How Many Players on a Bocce Ball Team?

Games are typically played between 2 teams —with 4 balls each per team. Each team gets 4 balls divided equally among the players. Teams can consist of 1 player (4 balls each), 2 players (2 balls each)or 4 players (1 ball each).

The Simple Bocce Ball Rules

Step 1: The Pallino Toss: A coin flip decides which team throws the Pallino first. Whoever wins the coin flip throws the small white ball underhand from behind the foul line. The Pallino can be bounced off the sideboards, and it must end up across the centerline without hitting the backboard. *If the thrower fails to do this, the other team gets to throw the Pallino. If the second thrower fails to place it into play, the Pallino is placed around the center of the foul line at the opposite end of the court in order to speed up play.  

Step 2: The same person who tossed the Pallino then throws the one bocce ball trying to get it as close to the Pallino as possible without touching it. The next team then throws one ball trying to get closer than the first team. If team two gets closer, then it isTeam one's turn. If Team Two's ball does not come closer, then they continue to throw until they get a ball closer to the Pallino or until they are out of balls. ThenTeam One throws the reminder of their bocce balls. *REMEMBER: you can knock your opponent's balls away from the Pallino to increase your score.

How to Score in Bocce Ball

The team with the closest ball gets one point for each of its balls that are closer to the Pallino than the other team's closest ball. Keep in mind that if the two teams' closest balls are an equal distance from the Pallino, no points are awarded.

End the frame after all eight balls have been thrown and appropriate points have been awarded. The scoring team begins the next frame. If no team previously scored, the team that threw the Pallino last begins the next frame.

When all balls have been thrown, the teams measure the distance of the balls from the Pallino. Each team’s ball that is closer to the Pallino ball than the nearest ball of the opposing team, scores 1 point (1 to 4points per frame). If a bocce ball is touching the Pallino, it's often known as a “baci” or “kiss” and can be rewarded 2 points if they remain touching at the end of the frame.

Games are played to a set point total usually 12, 15 or 21.

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