There are a multitude of ways to play bocce (bocci) ball. It's a game in which the rules can be changed according to the abilities of the players, especially when you play the Open Bocce version of play. Open Bocce is probably more popular, as it is the informal version of play. The formal version, best suited for tournaments, is called Court Bocce and can be played indoors or outdoors.
There may be up to eight players who are divided equally into two teams of 1, 2, or 4 people. Each side chooses one color of bocce ball, and if applicable, each player chooses a different design or color of bocce ball.
Typically a coin toss is used to determine who will be the first team to throw. A "foul line" should be determined, which the players must stay behind when they throw.
In open bocce, a player may either toss or "bowl" the ball.
The pallino, the smaller target ball, is the first to be thrown. The distance and direction that it is thrown can be determined by this first player. The same player then throws a bocce ball, aiming to land it as close to the pallino as possible.
The second team then gets a chance to land a bocce ball closer to the pallino than the first team's ball. Once this is accomplished, the team with the closer ball is considered "inside."
Once a team is "inside," they will then step aside so that the "outside" team can attempt to become "inside." Each team will continue a turn until they successfully land a bocce ball "inside" or until they run out of balls to throw.
When all of the bocce balls have been thrown, one point is awarded for each ball that is closer to the pallino than the opposing team's balls. Only the team with the most "inside" bocce balls will receive points.
No points will be awarded in the case of a tie.
The team who wins will be the first to throw in the next match. Strict bocce ball rules say that a goal score is typically thirteen points, but that can easily be changed for players' convenience.
Bocce can be played on a variety of surfaces: a smooth lawn, rough grass, a dirt road or a grassy meadow. Typically a smooth clay surface with a layer of limestone underneath (for water drainage) is used for tournaments. The general length of the field is 76 feet long and 10 to 13 feet wide but can be adapted to fit any playing surface. The court should have a center line with rectangular outer boundaries.
In official courts there will be backboards and sideboards constructed of treated lumber that rise above the ground 6-12 inches. Vertical foul lines should be painted on the sideboards.
L - Length - 76 feet
W - Width - 10-13 feet
FL - Pointing Foul Line - 6 feet
SL - Spock/Hitting Foul Line - 10 feet
CL - Center Line - 1/2 of Length
Each team has four players; two players on each team are to be stationed on either end of the court. Players do not switch ends during a game, but they can switch ends between games if they play the same team again.
Each team will have a captain who will participate in the coin toss and assign players to their positions on the court.
The match begins with a coin toss between the two captains. The winner of the coin flip is the first to throw the pallino and chooses the color of the team's bocce balls.
A player may toss the pallino any distance as long as the ball passes the center line of the court and does not hit the back wall, although it may be bounced off the sideboards. If the thrower fails to toss the ball properly, the pallino toss is left to the other team captain. If the second captain fails, the pallino is placed approximately in the center of the hitting foul line at the opposite end of the court in order to speed up play.
The pallino may be knocked anywhere on the court except back over the center line or out of the court, in which case the frame would end and restart.
The first bocce ball will be thrown by the player who originally tossed the pallino. All balls are thrown underhand.
For a bocce ball to score points, it must be thrown from behind the pointing foul line. Any ball thrown between the pointing foul line and the hitting foul line is considered a throw to hit other balls. A player may walk up to the center line in order to view the position of the balls before throwing.
If the thrown bocce ball hits the back wall, that team must roll again. Otherwise they will step aside and that team does not roll again until the opposing team has either gotten one of its bocce balls closer to the pallino or has thrown all of its balls. A team whose ball ties the opponent's closest ball must throw again. Team members can throw in any order.
A player must first inform the other players (or the referee, if there is one) that he/she intends to throw from the hitting foul line to hit (spock) another team's bocce ball. The thrown ball will be removed from the court if it does not hit the pallino or another ball.
Once a bocce ball leaves the court, it is considered a dead ball and is removed from play for that frame.
Shooting (lofting the ball in the air beyond the center line of the court) is not allowed. This is sometimes called "volo shooting.
Players may step on but not over the proper foul line before releasing the pallino or a bocce ball. A player's toe may not go beyond the width of the foul line before a ball is released. After one warning, this action will result in a voided pallino throw or a thrown bocce ball will be removed from the court.
Balls may be bounced off or played against sideboards. If a player, at any time during the game, rolls the wrong color of ball, simply replace it with the correct color when it comes to rest. If a player rolls out of turn, the other team has the option to return the thrown ball and replace any moved balls to their original position or leave all balls as thrown.
Only one team scores in a frame. The official score of the frame is determined after all 8 balls have been played and measured to the captains' satisfaction. One point is awarded for each ball of a team that is closer to the pallino than the opponent's closest ball (1 to 4 points). All measurements should be made from the center of the pallino to the edge of the bocce ball.
The team that scores in the last frame throws the pallino in the next frame. If no team scores, then the team who scored in the last frame will throw the pallino again.
The team that first scores 13 points wins the game.