Bocce Ball Rules

By Lisa Roberts
Bocce Balls
Bocce colorate image by Paolo Pizzimenti from

Bocce is a bowling game popular throughout Europe that can be played on any flat surface, such as a grassy yard, the beach or even a parking lot. Bocce can be played with two, four or eight people. The object of the game is to throw as many of your team's balls closer to the pallino (a small white ball) than the other team's balls.

Bocce Teams

Divide the players into two teams. If there are four players per team, each person will throw one ball during each frame. Two players per team allow each person to throw two balls, while teams with only one person throw all four balls. During a four-player game, two people from each team stand at opposite ends of the court. This allows bowling from each direction.

Opening the Frame

Determine which team will begin. The starting team throws the pallino to open the playing field. A player may not step over the throwing line while rolling either the pallino or a bocce ball. The pallino must pass the center line of the bocce court and may not roll out of the back of the court. If the starting team fails to place the pallino correctly, the opposing team receives a chance to put the pallino into play.

Rule of Play

The starting team rolls its first bocce ball as close to the pallino as possible. Play then moves to the opposing team. Rolling its first ball, the opposing team attempts to get its ball closer to the pallino. If successful, that team steps aside and the starting team must throw again trying to get its next ball even closer. If a team's ball does not roll closer than its opponents, the team continues rolling its remaining balls until all have been thrown. Once all of a team's balls have been thrown, the other side throws its remaining balls attempting to place them closer than the opponent's closest ball, thus scoring additional points.


A player may hit or "spock" an opponent's ball or the pallino. The intent of spocking is to roll a ball underhanded either directly at an opponent's ball in order to move it out of the way or at the pallino to alter its position on the field. The player must inform their opponent of an intent to spock. If the ball does not strike the pallino or an opponent's ball, it is considered a dead ball and is removed from play. Balls used to spock are not counted for points.

Throwing Rules

Players may roll their balls using an underhand throw. If a ball is thrown out of turn, the opposing team may leave the balls as played or reset any moved balls to their original positions. If the field is reset, the thrown ball is considered dead and is removed from play for that frame. If a ball rolls out of the court, it is considered dead. Remove the ball from play until the end of the frame.


If the pallino is knocked out of the court, the frame is over and no points are awarded. The team with the closest ball will be awarded points. For every ball that is closer to the pallino than the nearest opponent's ball, the team receives one point. Four is the maximum number of points that may be awarded each frame. If both teams' closest ball are equal distance from the pallino, no points are awarded for that frame.


The winner of each frame throws out the pallino and the first ball to begin the next round. Continue scoring frames until a team reaches the appointed winning amount. Winning point totals range from seven to 16 points depending on time constraints and regions of the country.

About the Author

Lisa Roberts embarked on a writing career after 10 years in human resources. She holds a bachelor's degree in human resources and marketing from Baylor University and has worked in the education field for more than 12 years.