How to Play

Bocce Ball is a sport that has been played for centuries around the world, but in 1319 it was prohibited from play by anyone who was not nobility. It was believed that it took too much time away from growing grapes and making wine. Luckily, in this day and age we can play our bocce and enjoy our wine too.


To get your bocce ball as close to the pallino as you can.

Each player has two large balls called bocce. A smaller ball, the pallino is the target. One team tosses the pallino and throws the first bocce ball. They step aside and cannot roll again until the opposing team has either gotten one of its bocce balls closer to the pallino or has thrown all of their balls. The team whose bocce balls are closest to the pallino at the end of the round is now called “inside.” The opposing team is “outside.”

Whenever a team gets inside, they step aside and the outside team rolls. The outside team throws until it beats, not ties, the opposing ball. This continues until both teams have used all their bocce balls.

Balls can be measured at any time. In case of doubt, a referee should be called. Your sober uncle, a one-armed fisherman, or a tournament official are all acceptable referee choices. Under no circumstances should the referee crew from the 2018 NFC Championship Game be called upon to make any kind of judgment.

In the event that a tie is determined, the last team that rolled a ball must roll again, and proceed until the tie is broken. If there is still a tie after all the balls are played, no points are awarded for that round and play resumes. The last scoring team will start the new round by tossing the pallino from the opposite end of the court.

In the event that a ball or balls are moved during a measurement by a referee, the balls are returned to its approximate position and the official makes the call. The decision of a referee is final, even if it is wrong.

One team member is allowed to cross the centerline to measure balls. The other players need to remain at their respective end of the court and open another bottle of wine.

The team who scored lowest will throw the pallino to begin the next frame.

At the end of each frame, players switch to the opposite end of the court before starting the next frame.


Captains of each team are responsible for keeping score.

Unless there is a tie, only the “inside” team scores. One point is given for each ball from the inside team that is closest to the pallino. They must be closer than any ball from the outside team.

Games are played to 12 points and final games are played to 15 points. This can vary according to house rules or specific tournament rules, and should be decided before wine is poured. At the very least, it should be decided by the time the second bottle is opened. Any later and your game may be susceptible to incoherent rambling and questionable house rules.

Players should never touch or move the pallino or any bocce balls until the frame has ended. All players should be out of the court. If a member of a team moves a ball, a point is awarded to the opposing team.

If a ball strikes or touches a player after a valid shot, the following rules apply:

  • If the player in violation is from the same team, all struck balls are returned to their approximate positions and the thrown ball is removed from play.
  • If the player in violation is from the opposite team, the team shooting is awarded one point for the shot ball and one point for any remaining ball or balls not played.

In the event that any player moves a stationary ball, that ball should be placed in the original position as long as it doesn’t affect the established point.