Bocce ball can trace its lineage as far back as the ancient Egyptians in 5000 B.C. While the rules may have changed quite a bit over the past seven millennia, the same basic principle of throwing an object as close as possible to another object remains the same. Recently, bocce ball has seen a surge of popularity at wineries and restaurants because it is a game that can be played by just about anyone. If you are interested in playing bocce ball by the rules, here are a few pointers:

  • The sport is played with nine balls. The single smaller ball is called the pallino. The larger eight balls are called bocce (plural bocci).
  • The playing surface can vary in texture from grass, sand or gravel. For the best game, the surface should be reasonably flat and level.
  • Four bocce are given to two teams consisting of one, two or four players.
  • The goal is to see which team gets as many of their bocci closest to the pallino than the opposing team’s closest bocce.
  • To start, toss a coin, play rock-paper-scissors or choose a way to decide who tosses the pallino and throws, or rolls, their bocce first.
  • The opposing team then throws their first bocce, attempting to either knock away the other team’s bocce or roll their ball closer to the pallino.
  • If that team cannot roll their bocce closer than the starting team, they continue to throw the remaining bocci balls until one lands closer than the starting team’s bocce.
  • If the second team does get their first bocce closer than the starting team’s, the teams must alternate tosses as each one gets closer than the other.
  • To count the score after all bocci have been tossed, give one point to only one team for each of the bocce balls that are closer to the pallino than the opposing team’s closest bocce.
  • Up to four points may be awarded to the winning team, and no points are given to the losing team. The winning team starts the next round by throwing the pallino and the first bocce.
  • The first team to reach 16 points wins!

For more information, and a more in depth look at the rules, visit bocce.org/rules.