The rules of bocce are pretty simple. We keep it that way because we expect you to be drinking and having a good time, not worrying about how to play. So the less complicated the better, right?
- 2 players minimum to play
- Rock, paper scissors to start
- 1st: throw the pallino (little white ball)
- The pallino MUST pass the centerline of the court and CANNOT leave the court on the sides or end
- If the player fails 2 times, the opposing team throws the pallino
- 2nd: when the pallino is properly in play, the 1st bocce ball will be thrown by the team that tossed the pallino
- **If the pallino ever gets hit out of bounds, the ROUND starts over**
- Each game is to 15 (rounds are unlimited)
- You do NOT have to win by 2
- Non-glow games may be called early due to darkness
- If the ball touches the pallino, you do NOT get an extra point
- You can get 1, 2, 3, or 4 point(s) in a round
- ONLY 1 team can score points each round
- Points are based on who is CLOSEST to the pallino
- If you are closest, you get 1 point
- If you have the next 1, 2 or 3 balls that are closer than the opponent’s 1st closest ball, you receive the points
- The team that won the last round will throw the pallino and ball 1st in the next round
- Ex. The score is 10-1, then the team scores 2 points to make the score 10-3. The team with 3 points will throw the ball 1st (they won that round).
- *If the pallino gets hit out of bounce at any time during the round, that ROUND starts over
- Ex. The score is 6-4 and all balls have been thrown but 1. The team is about to score 3 points BUT their last ball hits the pallino out of bounds – the round starts over at 6-4 and NO ONE gets points for that round
- Boundaries ONLY apply to the pallino. Any balls hit or thrown outside of the court are still in play and those balls CAN score points if the balls are closest to the pallino.
- MUST start on time
- If you are LATE – it might result in losing points or having to forfeit
- Depending on the league, round 1 or 2 of playoffs may only go to 10-12 points as designated by the bocce host
**All teams make the playoffs at the end of the season (unless you forfeit 2x)*
Rules in Detail:
Start of Game
- The game shall begin with rock-paper-scissors between the captains or designated agent from each team. The winner of rock-paper-scissors may have the first toss of the pallino OR choose the color of the balls.
- A player may toss the pallino any distance so long as the pallino passes the center line of the court and does not leave the court on the sides or on the end.
- If a player fails to validly toss the pallino after two attempts, the opposing team will have a chance to toss the pallino and put it in play. If the opposing team fails to toss the pallino past the center line the pallino reverts to the original team.
- When the pallino has been properly put in play, the first bocce ball will be thrown by the team who tossed the pallino.
Play of the Game
- The team who tosses the pallino throws the first bocce ball, then steps aside and does not roll again until the opposing team has either gotten one of its bocce balls closer to the pallino or has thrown all of its balls. The team whose bocce balls are closest to the pallino is called “inside” and the opposing team “outside.”
- Whenever a team gets inside, it steps aside and lets the outside team roll. The team outside throws until it beats (not ties) the opposing ball. This continues until both teams have used all their bocce balls (a total of 8, 4 from each team).
- The team who scored last, throws the pallino to begin the next frame.
- If a player rolls the wrong colored ball, simply replace it with the correct color when the ball comes to rest.
- If a player rolls out of turn, the opposing team may leave everything, including the thrown ball, exactly where it is or may return any moved balls to their approximate original positions and remove the thrown ball from play.
- If a ball is moved before all 8 balls are played, the ball is replaced to the approximate original position and the frame continues.
- At the end of each frame, players switch to the opposite end of the court to begin the next frame.
- Only the “inside” team scores. One point is given for each ball of the inside team that is closer to the pallino than any ball of the opposing team.
- If at the end of any frame the closest ball of each team is equidistant from the pallino, the frame ends in a tie and no points are awarded to either team.
- The game will resume from the opposite end of the court with the same team tossing the pallino.
- Captains of each team are responsible for keeping the score sheet and for reporting the results of the game.
- The first team who scores at least 15 points wins the game.
If the pallino is knocked out of the court or it is knocked in the front of the center line, the frame will end, no points are awarded, and the game will resume from the opposite end of the court with the same team tossing the pallino.
Player’s movements are limited to one step over the end line onto the court while throwing.
The teams playing will referee their own game. Any dispute which cannot be resolved by the team captains shall be decided by the Baltimore Social Official Commissioner in attendance.
Tape measures will be provided to each game, and players are responsible for measuring in case of any disputes. All measurements should be made from the inside dimensions of the bocce ball to the inside dimension of the pallino. If both teams agree on which team has the point(s) and it is later determined that a mistake has been made, all balls played are valid. If both teams have balls remaining, the team that does not have the closest ball to the pallino rolls again. If all balls have been played, points are awarded based on the balls that are actually closest to the pallino in accord with the “Scoring” guidelines.
Teams are required to field a roster of 6+ members, but are not required to have more than 2 team members at each game. There are also no requirements that the team consist of more than one gender. However, if a team fails to provide fewer than 2 members to a game, the game will be considered a forfeit with a score of 15-0 in favor of the opposing team.
Games may be rescheduled due to weather or other events that present a reasonable challenge to player participation. Games will be rescheduled by the Baltimore Social Official Commissioner.
- A person can only play on one team per league.
- If a team fields less than 2 players, the game is a forfeit. A 2 or 3 member team may play throwing only 2 balls per player. A 3rd or 4th player arriving late may enter the game at any time.
Conduct and Courtesy
- Team captains are responsible for the actions of their players.
- If a player is standing in the playing half of the court while the opposing team requests that the player step aside, that request should be honored.
- Spectators are allowed to interact with the team, but are expected to be respectful of the players and other games in progress. Spectators associated with a specific team are the responsibility of the team captain, and if he or she violates the rules of the park, the team may be held accountable in the form of a warning, and then a forfeit as determined by the Baltimore Social Official Commissioner.
- Courtesy and respect for the other players and other park visitors should be displayed at all times. Excessive profanity and unsportsmanlike conduct is not permitted, and violations may result in a warning by the Baltimore Social Official Commissioner to the player and team captain. Severe violations or a violation after a warning may result in the player’s expulsion by the Baltimore Social Official Commissioner from the frame or match.
- All trash, including cigarette butts, plastic bottles, and other debris, is to be discarded in appropriate containers. Players should strive to ensure the field is in better condition when they leave, than it was when they arrive! We are stewards of our fields!