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Bocce Ball Rules & How To Play & Keep Score

Bocce Ball Rules

One of the reasons this game is so fun is because the basic rules are minimal and it is easy to pick up from the first ball! This game has been played all over the world for hundreds of years and hasn’t changed much. To be played individually or in teams, there is some strategy involved that experienced players can employ to increase competitiveness. At the end of the day, only one team can win but everyone will enjoy themselves. Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned veteran you will see why this game is so popular. Learn what the main bocce ball rules are and remember this one for your next picnic or BBQ – it’s a real crowd-pleaser!

Let us introduce you to the wonderful world of bocce ball…

Starting Bocce Ball

What Is It?

This game was made most popular by Italian people. It’s a very accessible game as there is minimal equipment and does not require a lot of space in which to play. It is also great for all age groups since games require minimal physical effort, the rules are quite simple and multiple players can play in teams.

How Do You Set Up The Court?

Setting up a bocce court is very simple. First, you will need a rectangular area that is preferably on grass. Since the balls will be rolling, this surface provides the best response. The size of the area doesn’t have to be exact if you are playing recreationally. Aim for a space that is 60 feet long and about 12 feet wide. Establish a center line and a foul line at each end and then you are ready to play bocce ball!

How Do You Score?

To score, one of your bocce balls must be the closest to the pallino (the little white target ball). You can only score if one or more of your bocce balls are the closest to the pallino compared to your opponent’s closest ball. Only one team can score per frame but that team can score more than one point if any or even all their balls are closer than any opponent’s one ball.

The Rules Of Bocce Ball

Before you start on your winning team, we will help with the basic rules.

The Basics For Beginners

Beginners will have an easy time getting into this game since the bocce ball rules are nice and simple. There are eight balls in total to be thrown underhand to a target ball known as the pallino. Here are our reviews of the best bocce ball set.

Steps For Playing

  1. Whether playing individually or in teams it starts with a coin toss to determine who goes first.
  2. The first player or team throws to the pallino and if it’s in play, then it is the next player or team’s turn.
  3. If that player fails to get the ball closer to the pallino than the first ball, then the same player or team throws again and keeps throwing until they are closer or run out of balls.
  4. Play continues like this until all the balls have been thrown.

How To Score

Once all the balls have been thrown, to calculate player or team scores each player or team will add up the total of their four balls. The bocce ball closest to the pallino is the only one that counts, assuming no opponent’s ball is closer to the pallino. If you have two balls that are close to the pallino and the third closest is one of the opponent’s balls then you would score two points and any remaining balls outside your opponent’s balls would be considered a dead ball.

Only one team can score per frame, and they can score more than one point – whichever of the teams throw one ball closer is the team that will score that frame.

Playing Bocce Ball

How To Throw A Bocce Ball

How To Throw A Bocce Ball

When you play, each ball is to be thrown underhanded. The underhand throw is very useful to control distance and spin. When throwing your first bocce ball ensure your foot is behind the foul line. Aim for a landing spot that is well before the pallino to allow for some roll. Hold the ball in your palm to support the weight and maintain control of your throw.

As you throw, take a small step forward and release the ball off your fingertips. As you get better you can control the spin and height a lot better. This will allow you to work around other bocce balls and throw your ball as close to the pallino as possible.

Bocce Ball Strategies

While this game may seem simple it is far from it once play begins. Strategizing and positioning your bocce balls are just as important as having proper throwing technique. If executed correctly your throw can block the opposing team from scoring.

When throwing, release the ball as close to the foul line as possible to get it rolling right away. This will make it easier to control the weight. As you improve you can use your ball to move any ball of an opposing team by hitting it with your own. This requires a skilled hand but is very useful at times.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you hit the pallino ball in a bocce ball, nothing happens unless you knock it out of play. Should that occur then the frame is over and no points are awarded; a new frame starts. If your ball is touching the pallino at the end of the frame, then more points are awarded; the rules can vary but it’s usually one extra point.

Bocce ball can be played on either grass or sand. The grass is more popular as it is more common. It also provides a better roll and therefore adds more excitement. Grass is also easier to play on if you are a new player and still learning how to throw

Yes, you can hit the side walls on a bocce ball court. Sometimes it can work to your advantage if you are trying to get around other balls. You can strategically control the bounce and angle off the side wall and hopefully you and your team end up in a better position than if you had to come straight down the court.


Now you are caught up on the main bocce ball rules, you are ready to go! Anyone can play bocce as it is easy to learn from the first frame, and easy on the body. After the coin toss, two teams made up of various players can spend the whole afternoon enjoying themselves as it’s a great way to get outside and enjoy a few laughs. There is still some competitive spirit as everyone tries to be the closest ball to win a point or two for their team, but camaraderie reigns supreme in this game and that’s why it’s been around for hundreds of years.

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