Bocce Ball Rules (Complete Guide)

Bocce ball is a popular outdoor game that has been enjoyed for centuries.

It is a simple yet strategic game that can be played by people of all ages and skill levels.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned player, understanding the rules of bocce ball is essential to fully enjoy the game.

Below we look at the rules of bocce ball in detail, providing valuable insights and examples to help you become a better player.

The Objective of Bocce Ball

Before diving into the rules, it is important to understand the objective of bocce ball.

The game is played between two teams, each consisting of one, two, or four players.

The objective is to score points by throwing or rolling bocce balls as close as possible to the target ball, known as the pallino.

The team that scores the most points at the end of the game wins.

Setting Up the Game

Before starting a game of bocce ball, you need to set up the playing area.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Find a flat and level playing surface, preferably made of grass or sand.
  • Mark the boundaries of the playing area using chalk or string. The standard size of a bocce court is 13 feet wide and 91 feet long.
  • Divide the playing area into two halves, known as the throwing half and the target half.
  • Place the pallino at the center of the court. It should be thrown by a member of the team that won the coin toss.

The Rules of Bocce Ball

1. Throwing Order

The team that wins the coin toss gets to throw the pallino and the first bocce ball.

The opposing team then throws their bocce balls, trying to get as close to the pallino as possible.

The team that is farthest from the pallino continues throwing until they have a ball closer to the pallino than the opposing team.

2. Throwing Technique

When throwing a bocce ball, players must keep both feet behind the throwing line.

They can use any throwing technique they prefer, such as rolling the ball or throwing it in the air.

However, the ball must be thrown underhand and cannot touch any part of the body or clothing before leaving the hand.

3. Scoring Points

After all the bocce balls have been thrown, the team with the closest ball to the pallino scores points.

Only one team can score points in each round.

The scoring is determined by measuring the distance between the pallino and each team’s closest ball.

The team with the closest ball scores one point for each ball that is closer to the pallino than the opposing team’s closest ball.

4. Subsequent Rounds

After scoring, the round ends, and a new round begins.

The team that scored in the previous round throws the pallino and starts throwing their bocce balls.

The game continues until one team reaches a predetermined number of points, typically 12 or 16.

5. Fouls and Penalties

There are certain fouls and penalties in bocce ball that players should be aware of:

  • If a player steps on or over the throwing line while throwing a ball, it is considered a foul, and the ball is removed from play.
  • If a player throws a ball out of bounds, it is also considered a foul, and the ball is removed from play.
  • If a player touches the pallino with their foot or any part of their body, it is a penalty, and the opposing team has the option to move the pallino to a new location.

How To Play Bocce Ball (Backyard Rules)

FAQs – Bocce Ball Rules

1. Can you move the pallino during the game?

No, once the pallino has been thrown and the round has started, it cannot be moved until the round is over.

2. What happens if two balls are equidistant from the pallino?

If two balls from different teams are equidistant from the pallino, no points are awarded to either team, and the round is considered a tie.

3. Can you hit your opponent’s ball out of play?

Yes, you can strategically throw your ball to hit your opponent’s ball and move it away from the pallino.

This is known as “knocking” or “spocking” in bocce ball.

4. Is there a time limit for throwing a ball?

There is no specific time limit for throwing a ball in bocce ball.

However, players are expected to throw their balls within a reasonable amount of time to keep the game moving.

5. Can you step on the throwing line after releasing the ball?

No, players must keep both feet behind the throwing line until the ball has been released.

Stepping on or over the line is considered a foul.

6. Can you touch the pallino with your hand?

No, players are not allowed to touch the pallino with their hand or any part of their body.

Doing so results in a penalty.

7. Can you throw the pallino directly into the target half?

No, the pallino must be thrown into the throwing half of the court.

If it lands in the target half, it is rethrown by the same team.

8. Can you move the bocce balls after they have been thrown?

No, once a bocce ball has come to a stop, it cannot be moved or touched by any player until the round is over.

9. Can you use any bocce ball in your hand to hit the pallino?

Yes, players can use any of their team’s bocce balls to hit the pallino and change its position on the court.

10. Can you play bocce ball on a different surface, such as concrete?

While bocce ball is traditionally played on grass or sand, it can also be played on other surfaces, including concrete.

However, the playing surface may affect the way the balls roll and bounce.


Bocce ball is a game that combines strategy, skill, and precision.

By understanding and following the rules of bocce ball, players can fully enjoy the game and compete at their best.

From setting up the playing area to scoring points, each aspect of the game contributes to its overall excitement.

So gather your friends and family, head to a bocce court, and have a great time playing this timeless game.


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