How Bocce Ball Works

Bocce Ball Rules

One big score in the plus column for the game of bocce ball is how little space and how few sporting goods or equipment are needed to play. According to Bocce Standards Association and Encyclopaedia Britannica, typical court and equipment follow these guidelines:

  • bocce court (or campo): about 75 feet (23 meters) long by 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.7 meters) wide with an 18-inch (45 centimeter) border at the end and 12-inch (30-centimeter) tall borders on the sides; length and width can vary per venue or competition and some play recreationally without any court at all
  • court surface: level; clay, sand or dirt, asphalt
  • bocce balls (the larger balls): eight bocce balls (four per team or side) measuring 4 to 5 inches (10- to 13-centimeters) in diameter, though a standard tournament ball is 4.2 inches (10.67 centimeters) in diameter; can be wood or composition resin balls for tournament play; metal and ceramic balls are options outside of competition
  • a pallino ball (the smaller ball): also called a boccino, jack, beebee or cue, measuring between 1.57 inches and 2.36 inches (40 to 60 millimeters) in diameter, with the international standard size set at 1.57 inches (40 millimeters) but not strictly required for tournament play; a 1.97-inch (50-millimeter) pallino is commonly used for play in the U.S.; typically made from very hard plastics or composite resin similar to a billiard ball
  • measuring devices: tape measures or specialized bocce cup measuring systems with a cup fitting over the balls and a measuring tape extending out
  • referee signals: flags, paddle boards or other visual markers to let players know which side is in play or can start play
  • court scrapers and brushes: must be used to distribute the loose dirt or sand and keep the playing area level

According to the rules of the game, bocce ball is played between individuals, with one player pitted against another, or between two teams, with two, three or four players on each team. Each player or team gets four bocce balls, and often one side will have red ones and the other green, though colors vary. A team of four players may have each of their colored balls marked with lines so each player can recognize his or her own ball.

Once the court, equipment and players are in place, it's time to get rolling, or throwing, but what's the point of the game? Getting really close and scoring points, next.