Bocce Rules 101

bocce balls


Historical Information

The word "bocce" is plural for the word "boccia" meaning ball in Italian. It is believed that ancient Phoenician, Egyptian, Greek and Roman soldiers played a similar game with rocks between battles to pass the time away.

Modern Bocce is believed to have its origins near Torino, Italy and Lyon, France and stems from the House of Savoy dynasty which ruled from 1003 to 1860.



While regulation courts are 91 feet X 13 feet your backyard court can be whatever size fits into your yard. The common size is illustratrd above, 12 feet X 60 feet. The court should be surrounded with sides and backboards, at least as high as the Bocce balls and solid enough to not move when hit by the balls when playing banked or rebound shots.

The surface may be stone dust, dirt, clay, grass or artificial turf, free of obstructions that would block a direct line delivery of a ball in any direction.


Bocce is played with eight large balls and one smaller target or object ball called a pallina. There are four balls per team of a different color or pattern to distinguish the balls of one team from those of the other team.

Teams may have one, two, or four players. With four player teams, each player throws one ball, two player teams, each throw two balls, one player teams, each throws four balls. With multiple players on a team, a playing rotation is determined at the start of a game that is maintained throughout the entire game.

A game begins with the toss of a coin, the winning team can choose to either have first toss of the pallina or the color of the balls they will use.

To start a game, the pallina is rolled or tossed by a member of the team determined by the coin toss. A player can toss the pallina any distance as long as it passes the center line of the court and stays within the boundaries of the court. If the player fails to toss the ball properly into play, a member of the opposing team will toss the ball into play. If the opposing team fails to properly toss the pallina into play, the toss reverts to a member of the original team.

The player tossing the pallina must deliver the first ball. If the ball lands outside of the boundaries of the court, that team must roll again until the first ball is put into play. Otherwise, that player steps aside and the opposing team will then deliver their balls until one of its Bocce balls is closer to the pallina or has thrown all its balls. The "nearest ball" rule governs the sequence of thrown balls. The side whose ball is closest to the pallina is called the "in" ball and the opposing side the "out" ball.

Whenever a team gets "in", it steps aside and allows the "out" team to throw. The other team throws until it gets its ball closer to the pallina. This continues until both teams have thrown all their balls. After both teams have exhausted all their balls, a frame is over and points are awarded. The game continues by teams throwing from the opposite end of the court. The team that was awarded points in the previous frame begins the next frame by tossing the pallina into play.

Balls must be thrown underhanded, a team has the option of rolling, tossing, bouncing, etc. its ball down the court provided it does not go outdide the boundaries of the court or the player does not violate the foul line. The foul line is used to deliver all balls down the court with the intent of getting a ball closer to the pallina, knocking the opponent's ball away from the pallina, or hitting the pallina so that it ends up closer to your team's ball.

A player may not step on or over the foul line before releasing any ball. If a player steps over the foul line, the player will receive one warning. For a player that commits a second foul line infraction, the team fouled against will be awarded points as they were immediately proceeding the foul and the frame will end. The team committing the foul will be awarded no points for the frame. Or, the fouled against team may have the option of declining the penalty and completing the frame.

Any ball that goes outside the boundaries of the court is considered a dead ball and is removed immediately from play until the end of a frame.

At the end of each frame, points are awarded, only one team scores in a frame. One point is awarded for each ball that is closer to the pallina than the closest ball of the opposing team. In the event that the closest ball of each team is the same distance from the pallina, no points will be awarded and the pallina returns to the team that delivered it. Only balls which are distinguishably closer to the pallina than any of the opponent's balls are awarded points. All measurements should be made from the center of the pallina to the edge of a Bocce ball. Games are played to 16 points with the first team reaching 16 points being the winner of a game.

Colt "Peacemaker" 1875

Frame for Illustration Only

This page sponsored by:

Patent Print Art

Introducing "Combined Prints"
We are using the first page of the written description as a base printed in lighter type to include assignor information on select patent drawings.

Large 25 X 33 cm prints fit in a 10" X 13" frame

Available from:




Back To Index