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What is Bocce?

Bocce is both a competitive and recreational sport and easy to pick up for almost any beginner. While the sport of bocce is tied to Italy, the origins of the game actually go back thousands of years to the time of ancient Egypt. It is sometimes referred to as “lawn bowling” and shares similarities to bowling as well as sports such as shuffleboard or curling which involve tossing a ball or disc towards a target.

How to Play Bocce

Bocce can be played as a singles, doubles, or triples game. Backyard bocce can also be played recreationally and as a casual sport. It is a sport featured in the Special Olympics and has several competitive organizations as well.

A game of bocce begins by tossing a small white ball, known as the jack or pallino, across the court. Teams then take take turns alternating tosses of different colored balls towards the pallino. Players are allowed to try and knock an opponent’s ball out of the way. Points are awarded at the end of each round to the team that has a ball land closest to the pallino.

Where to Play Bocce

You may have first come across the sport of bocce at a summer barbecue or possibly even stumbled across an outdoor court in a public space. Backyard bocce can be played on any suitable lawn with enough space to comfortably play, or even on a sandy beach.

To dive deeper in the sport, consider searching for a local bocce league or club in a nearby location. Competitive or club bocce is usually played on a court with artificial turf.

How to play Bocce Ball on Grass

Playing the sport of bocce requires a few considerations. First, ensure that you are playing on a suitable lawn or surface that may incur slight damage to the grass. Also, players will need to think about the playing surface and level of friction provided. For instance, grass offers less friction than playing on the beach, but more friction than playing indoors or on a court. This will impact throwing technique and momentum.

Equipment Needed for Bocce

Bocce sets which include eight balls and the pallino are often available for purchase at a number of different locations. Outside of the basic equipment, bocce is often free to practice and play for anyone with access to a lawn or court. Some clubs may charge a court fee or membership fee to use the facilities

Other additional items to consider bringing for a bocce match include a scorecard and a device used to measure distances, since points are only awarded to the team which is discernibly closest to the pallino at the end of each round. While a tape measure or string could fulfill this purpose, some bocce players are innovative and have even used belts or shoelaces to calculate precise distances.

Bocce Resources

United States Bocce Federation

Special Olympics

Basic Rules of Backyard Bocce

How to Play Bocce