Outdoor Games Party Games

How to Play Bocce Ball

Bocce ball is a classic outdoor game popular in many parts of the world, known for its simple rules and enjoyable gameplay. It can be played on a variety of surfaces, such as grass, sand, or a dedicated bocce court, making it versatile for backyard fun, beach outings, or more competitive environments. The objective of bocce ball is to throw your balls closer to the smaller target ball, called the “pallino,” than your opponents. Here’s how to set up and play a standard game of bocce ball:

how to play bocce ball


  • Bocce Balls: A standard set includes eight large balls, typically in two different colors (four of each color) to distinguish the teams, and one smaller ball called the pallino.
  • Playing Area: While an official bocce court measures 76 feet long and 12 feet wide, you can adjust the size based on your available space. Just ensure the playing area is flat.


  1. Divide Players: Bocce ball can be played individually or in teams of two, three, or four. In team play, each player has fewer balls to throw.
  2. Throw the Pallino: Start the game by having a player throw the pallino from one end of the court to the other. The pallino must pass the center line of the court and stay within the boundaries.

Playing the Game

  1. First Throw: The team that throws the pallino gets to throw the first bocce ball, aiming to get it as close to the pallino as possible.
  2. Taking Turns: Teams alternate throws, with the team furthest from the pallino throwing until they get a ball closer to the pallino than their opponents, or until they run out of balls.
  3. Strategy: Players can aim to place their ball closer to the pallino, knock the opponent’s ball away, or even move the pallino closer to their balls.


  • At the end of each round (frame), once all balls have been thrown, scores are calculated. Only one team scores per frame, earning points for each of their balls that is closer to the pallino than any of the opponent’s balls.
  • A common way to play is to score one point for each ball closer to the pallino than the closest ball of the opposing team.
  • Games are typically played to a set number of points, such as 12, 15, or 21.

Tips and Strategies

  • Accuracy Over Power: Focus on gently rolling your bocce balls to get them close to the pallino rather than throwing with force.
  • Block and Bump: Use your balls to block your opponent’s path to the pallino or gently bump the pallino towards your other balls.
  • Practice Different Throws: Experiment with different throwing techniques, such as lobbing the ball over an opponent’s ball or rolling it for precision.


  • Open Bocce: The most casual version of the game, played without a court. Players can throw the pallino any distance, in any direction.
  • Backyard Bocce: Similar to open bocce but typically played in a more defined area, like a backyard, with natural obstacles.

Bocce ball is an excellent game for gatherings, offering a mix of strategic play, physical activity, and social interaction. Whether you’re playing a casual game with friends or a more structured match, bocce ball’s blend of competitive and leisurely play makes it suitable for all ages and skill levels.

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