The Ultimate Bocce Ball Rules

Bocce is a sport that’s enjoyed by millions of people all over the world. It’s easy to learn, and easy to play. But it’s also easy to mess up. That’s why we’ve put together “The Ultimate Bocce Ball Rules”, so there’s no excuse for bad form.

Bocce ball game with red and green balls.
How to play bocce balls.

This article covers equipment, setting up your play space, options for gameplay depending on how many players you have, and how to score in bocce ball.

Scroll down for a printable bocce ball rules sheet, or read on for all the details.


A set of bocce balls: consisting of eight large bocce balls (half of which are of a different color or pattern) and a smaller “object ball” (sometimes called a “pallina” or a “jack”).

Bocce balls are around 4ΒΌ inches/ 107mm in diameter. They are often made of wood or resin, but cheaper ones may be made of plastic.

Bocce Court

Playing Surface

The playing surface should be reasonably flat and level and can consist of packed dirt, fine gravel or short grass.

While some prefer to play on a manufactured court, the beach or backyard make great playing surfaces.

Bocce ball court size

A backyard bocce court can be any size you’d like. There are no out of bounds rules, so you dont need to mark out a playing court.

All you need is a clear space where there is nothing near by that a stray ball could damage (don’t set up next to your greenhouse!).

Official regulation-size bocce ball courts are 13 feet by 91 feet.


The game is played with two teams. Each team can have one, two, or four players. The gameplay is slightly different depending on how many players you have.

  • Four Player Team – each player throws one ball
  • Two Player Team – each player throws two balls
  • One Player Team – player throws all four balls

For variations to the bocce rules that will let you play with 3, 5 or 6 players, see the FAQ & Tips sections below.


The object of the game of bocce is for one team to roll as many of their balls closer to the pallina than the opposing team’s closest ball.

You will need to determine which team will start (flipping of a coin is a good way). The starting team chooses which color (or pattern) ball they will play with.

The first team member throws the pallina and then rolls his/her first ball as close to the pallina as possible.

It is now up to the opposing team to roll a ball closer to the pallina than the starting team. The teams will alternate rolling their ball trying to get closer to the pallina than the opposing team.

While the object is to get close to the pallina, it is permissible for a player to roll his/her ball as to knock an opponent’s ball away from the pallina. Likewise, a player may knock or move the pallina toward his/her own team’s balls. The pallina is playable anywhere on the playing surface.

Bocce ball scoring rules

When all balls have been played, this concludes the frame and the score can be determined.

Bocce ball scoring rules are:

  • ONE team is awarded one point for each of its balls which is closer to the pallina than the closest opposing team’s ball.
  • The winning team can score up to four points in a frame.
  • If it is determined that the closest ball of each team is equal in distance from the pallina, NO points are awarded.
  • The team that scores in a frame starts the next frame by throwing out the pallina and playing their first ball.
  • Play continues until a team wins by reaching the amount of points determined at the start of play.
  • Official bocce ball tournaments use Rounds of 9, 11 or 15 points.

FAQ & Tips

How to play bocce ball with 3 players

Each player has two balls throws

How to play bocce ball with 6 players

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