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How Bocce Ball Works

Bocce Ball Scoring

Game play starts after a coin toss to determine who goes first. Team one starts by standing behind the foul line -- 10 feet (3.04 meters) from where the throwing end of the court starts -- and throwing the small pallino ball. This first player then throws again but with a bocce ball, trying to get it as close as possible to the pallino ball without hitting it. All throws are underhand.

Next, team two throws the bocce ball and, if they get it closer than team one's player, the next turn goes back to team one. If team two does not get as close to the pallino ball, the next player on that team throws, and then the next, until they either get closer than team one or they have thrown all four of their balls.

After all eight balls are on the court and play has ended, it's time to measure. Each individual's or team's ball that is closer to the pallino ball than its competitors earns one point. If there are two red balls closer to the small target ball than the four blue balls, the red side earns four points. No one scores if a ball from each team is at the same distance from the pallino ball; the equal distance cancels out the point [sources: Bocce Standards Association; Encyclopaedia Britannica; World Bocce League].

After tallying points another set starts. Sets repeat until a team or individual earns 12, 16 or 21 points. In tournament play, 12 or 16 points generally determine a winner, usually after three to five sets.

While all of this sounds easy enough, there are some tips to consider before blasting the opponent's ball away from the coveted pallino.