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A Summary Of Bocce Rules

To the uninitiated, bocce may look confusing. In reality, it's incredibly simple. And its simplicity makes the game more fun. Each player (or team) is given a set of 4 colored bocce balls. A target ball (known as a Pallino) is tossed into a target zone. From that point, the players take turns tossing their bocce balls as close to the Pallino as possible. Once all 8 balls have been tossed by the players, points are tallied and the frame ends. Below, you'll learn the specifics behind the game including how bocce begins, how the scoring works and how penalties and fouls are treated.

How The Game Begins

The game begins when the Pallino is tossed into the court. The team who tosses the Pallino is decided with a coin toss. As long as the Pallino passes the center of the court without making contact with the back wall on the opposite side of the court, it's considered a legal toss. The player (or team) who tossed the Pallino then tosses the first bocce ball, trying to place it as close to the Pallino as possible. Once the first bocce ball is tossed (and assuming the toss is legal), the other player (or team) can toss their first bocce ball. The other team continues tossing their balls until one of them is placed closer to the Pallino than the first team's ball.

How Scoring Works

At the end of each frame, only one player (or team) is awarded points. Points are given based upon the number of a player's balls that are placed closer to the Pallino than the opponent's closest-placed ball. For example, assume one player tosses all 4 balls. The closest of those 4 balls is placed 1 foot away from the Pallino. Then, his opponent tosses all 4 balls. 2 of the 4 balls are placed closer than 1 foot from the Pallino (with the other 2 balls placed further). In this case, 2 points would be awarded the latter player. Games typically last until 1 player has reached 13 points.

Penalties And Fouls

There are many reasons why a penalty or a foul can be called during a bocce game. They can range from disorderly conduct to a player exceeding their alloted throwing time (usually 30 seconds). Penalties are also given for foot faults (crossing the fault line before a bocce ball or Pallino is tossed), failure to mark a bocce or Pallino before a toss and disturbing a player during a toss (either physically or psychologically). If a bocce ball is thrown out of order, the ball can often be disqualified and removed. Most penalties and fouls are at the discretion of a referee.

Playing By The Rules

As long as all bocce players adhere to the rules and rulings of a referee, the game can proceed smoothly. Bocce is similar to other competitive games in that breaking the rules or acting overly-aggressive during the game makes the game less enjoyable for other players. One of the reasons that people are attracted to bocce is the spirit of friendly competition amongst the players and teams. If you decide to participate in bocce, learn to play by the rules. You're practically guaranteed to have a fun time socializing and competing with others.