Bocce (pronounced "botchy") originated in 5200 BC
, but is most commonly played in Italy
today. Bocce also goes under the names "boules
" or "pétanque
" in France
, and "bowls
" or "lawn bowling
" in England
. It is usually played by two players, or two teams of up to four players each.
Bocce is traditionally played on a sand court, but can be played on any surface (smooth lawn, rough grass), and on any kind of terrain, be it smooth and level or rough and hilly. Variations in playing surface make the game more challenging. Two 12' wide, 4 1/2" high backstops with 4' sides are placed 60' apart, facing each other, like this:
A foul line
is also marked 10' from each backstop
Two sizes of balls are used to play Bocce. The target ball, also known as the "pallina" or "pallino", is approximately 2.25" in diameter. The 8 team balls (called "bocces") are 4.25" in diameter. Each team has four bocces, and the bocces are colour-coded by team. The pallina is usually white, cream, or yellow, and contrasts with the bocces.
To play, the pallina is thrown out by a member of one team. It can be thrown at any distance, and in any direction that the player chooses. The same player who threw the pallina then throws or rolls both of his or her bocces, trying to get them as close to the pallina as possible. One of the members of the opposing team then throws both of their bocces. The second player on the first team then throws both their balls, and so on until all the balls are thrown.
Scoring is done after all the balls are thrown. One point is awarded to the team with the closest bocce for each bocce inside of the other team's closest bocce. The court is then cleared, and the pallina is thrown again.
One strategy in bocce is known as "bombing" or "spocking". It involves intentionally knocking your opponents balls away from the pallina. If you're good, you can knock your opponents ball away while leaving your ball close to the pallina. You can also spock the pallina away from your opponents balls.