How To Play Bocce Ball (For Dummies)

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We want to cover the game of bocce ball because it has become one of, if not, our favourite during the warmer months. What makes bocce great, and it’s something we harp on here regularly, is that it’s inclusive, easy to play, and fun for all ages. We want to go a bit more in-depth today and discuss some of the rules, some of the finer points of the pieces used to play, and how the scoring works.

Bocce ball is a simple lawn game that requires a lot of skill to be good at, which is what makes it so fun. A deft touch will outpace you from your friends, but that’s easier said than done. With that in mind, let’s cover all of these ideas to help understand the game better and use the rules to your advantage.

The Rules of Bocce Ball

Bocce is traditionally played in courts of natural soil and asphalt that are 90 feet in length and eight to 13 feet wide. Who throws the jack initially is randomly determined (coin flip is probably easiest) and whoever is determined to throw does so (traditionally, there is a zone in which the jack must be throw into. If the initial thrower cannot put the jack in this zone with two throws, the competition is allowed to place the jack wherever they would like).

Once the jack has been set, teams throw one ball at a time rotating teams until all the balls are thrown. Whichever team or player has their ball(s) closest to the jack wins. Players are required to throw using an underhand technique.

Like we said, it’s a pretty simple game when you get down to brass tacks. There should never be any confusion about the rules when it comes to a game of bocce ball.

Basic Bocce Ball Rules

Bocce Ball Scoring Rules

Scoring is determined by whose ball(s) end up closest to the jack once everyone has thrown. Games typically are scored from 7-13, but any score will do really. Find one that’s best suited to your group. If there’s a large group of people and some may not be able to play in the initial game, keep the scoring low as that will give everyone a chance to take a turn.

Points are awarded to those who have their balls closest to the jack and the score is cumulated round by round. The two closest balls to the jack mean you score two points, and only have one closest means you score one point. In some circles, if a ball that has been thrown is touching the jack you are awarded a bonus point.

This means that, theoretically, you can score a maximum of four points in a round if you’re playing solo and eight if you’re on a team throwing two balls each (the eight point round is probably a unicorn, but I suppose it could happen).

Bocce Balls and Bocce Equipment

Bocce balls are made in a variety of materials, ranging from wood and metal to plastic and composites. Unlike lawn balls, bocce balls are built without a bias and are perfectly spherical. The official size of a bocce ball is 4.2 inches (107 mm) and 920 grams (2 lbs.). The official size of the jack is 1.6 inches (40 mm).

Size of the jack varies as well (it appears as thought the most popular size is the 1.97 inch (50 mm)) ball and is less important in the grand scheme of things than the size of the bocce balls that come with your set.

Now, depending where you buy your set these numbers can vary. At the end of the day it won’t make a huge difference unless the size of balls purchased radically differ from the standard sizing.

Buy balls in whatever material suits you as well, but know that finding a set that’s weather resistant will make your life easier. This is a game played outdoors, often by kids, and can be forgotten and left outside for long periods of time. Finding a set that won’t be marred by the weather will serve you best in the long run.

Finally, now that you’ve been able to digest all of that information it’s time to get out and play. Bocce is an easy game to play, and a hard get to become proficient at. The challenge to become better is what makes the game fun for a lot of people. The best part about bocce, however, is the opportunity to enjoy time with those close to you. Simple games like bocce are a great way to get together with your friends and share a few laughs. Enjoy, and play responsibly.

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