Bocce is a very simple game to understand, and because of the many strategies there are to win, it can be simple to master as well. To explain the game, I will take the beginning-to-end approach, explaining everything that happens in the flow of a bocce match. After the match is over, you can play another match and do a tournament-style point system, where each match counts toward a point and whoever racks up the most wins in a tournament wins it. This is especially fun to do alongside some people you see often, as matches can be scheduled on any given day and the tournament can still continue days or weeks after the last match.

 

Playing field

We start off with the playing field. The field is this rectangle-shaped area. It is tough to find specific areas that fit the dimensions, but you should make do with whatever you have access to. For those interested, the typically played-on dimensions are as follows:

  • At least 10 feet wide. Typically, play fields are no wider than 13 or 14 feet.
  • Tournament-style fields are 76 feet to 100 feet long.

Those are basic dimensions. The width and length vary depending on where and who you play with officially. But if you are just playing for fun and/or cannot find the space needed for a real game of bocce, my advice is to try to emphasize as best as possible. A small game of bocce, for example, can be played on your front yard, provided you have grass or some other sturdy material that won't crack the balls. Your dimensions in this example can be a 5 foot wide by 30 foot long area. Even that seems large, so if you need to downsize it a little bit more, by all means go for it. The point is to get a decently wide area with a large length, so that there is more room for you to throw it across to the target ball.

 

Target ball

The target ball is often called the Jack or the Pallino, but I will refer to it as the Jack. Usually, the two teams roll a dice or play Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who throws the Jack, much like how two teams in football toss a coin to see who gets to decide what the first play of the game will be (eg. Team A wins the toss and gets to choose if they'd like to defend and which side to defend or attack and which side to attack). One member of the winning team tosses the Jack anywhere on the playing field. That ball now becomes the target ball.

 

Aiming at the Jack

The whole goal at this point is to toss your team's balls as close to the target ball as possible, wherever it may have landed and rolled over to. The person that threw the Jack now gets to throw his team's balls. It is up to the players to decide how the player turns works. 

Here are some popular variations to the turn system:

  • Team A toss all 4 balls toward the Pallino, and then Team B goes.
  • Team A and Team B alternate each toss until finally both teams are out of balls.
  • Team A tosses 2 balls toward the Pallino, then Team B tosses 2 balls, and so forth until both teams are out of balls.
  • Team A tosses 2 balls, then Team B tosses all 4 balls, then Team A tosses the last 2 balls.

All options are played quite frequently. The most commonly used turn system is alternating one toss per team, but you will have to clarify with the people you are playing with beforehand, as there are numerous strategies to each system.

 

Winning

Once all balls, from both teams, are tossed, we get to judge who wins the game. We look at where all the balls landed and their relation in terms of proximity to the Jack. Again, there are some discrepancies in the scoring system as there are different types of rules depending on what the players decide. This is one of the best parts about bocce, because you can play how you like and what is most fun for you and your friends.

 

The below are the different types of scoring systems used. They are the most commonly used, but are certainly not the only ones:

  • The ball closest to the Jack gets the first point. If the next closest ball is from the same team, that team gets another point for a total of 2. If the next closest ball is from the opposing team, they receive one point. The goal in this system is to get as many in a row as close to the Jack as possible. If Team A gets the 1st closest ball, then Team B gets the next closest ball, and so on, the teams will have the same amount of points, so Team A having the closest will not have had any effect on the score.
  • A tiered point system. In this system, having the ball closest to the Jack is going to yield the most points, usually 4 total for that round. The next closest ball, whoever's team owns that ball, gets 3 points, and so on. Whoever has the most points at the end of the round wins that round.

You can look up different ways to score. People even actively make new scoring systems based on what they like. Again in bocce, there is no strict way you should play, unless you are in a tournament.