There are many rules for bocce ball.  As with everything else, people can adjust their rules based on their current standards, situations, and abilities of the players.

How to Play

Outdoor bocce ball is played with one small target ball called the pallino (or jack) and up to eight larger balls, each called a bocce.   The object of the game is to get your bocce ball closest to the pallino.  The total number of bocci (bocce plural) used depends on the amount of teams playing in the game.  For example, if there were only two teams, each team could play with 1-4 bocce balls.  If 4 teams were playing, then each team can only play with 1-2 bocce balls.

Flip a coin or choose someone to throw the pallino first.  The pallino can be thrown at any distance, however, keep in mind that the team that throws the pallino will not be the last team that throws the bocce ball.  So, there is some strategy to the placement of the pallino.  After the pallino is thrown, that same player will throw their first bocce ball.  Each team will rotate turns until all bocce balls are thrown, which is called a frame.


Technically, you could play with 8 teams with each team using one ball for game play.  For best results, you will need to use two different bocce ball sets to be able to distinguish each team’s balls.  Here is a simple run down of possible options.

  • 2 Teams (2 players) | 4 balls each player
  • 3 Teams (3 players) | 2 balls each player
  • 2 Teams (4 players) | 2 balls each player
  • 4 Teams (4 players) | 2 balls each player

It’s recommended setting up a tournament if you have more than 4 players that show an interest in playing.


Once all of the balls have been thrown, the team with the balls closets to the jack are considered “inside”. Only the team with the most balls “inside” will be awarded points. If teams are unable to “eye” which balls are “inside”, please use an outdoor measuring device (“a stick”) or some type of formal measurement tool. If for some reason there is a tie, no points shall be awarded. The team that scores the points will also throw the pallino at the start of the next frame.

  • 1 point is awarded to all “inside” balls that are not touching the pallino or within a bocce ball’s distance of a pallino.
  • 3 points are awarded if the bocce ball is within bocce ball’s diameter of the pallino or jack.
  • 5 points are awarded if the bocce ball is resting on or touching the pallino.


Boundaries (optional rule)

If a bocce ball touches any man-made object, that bocce ball will be considered “out of bounds” and will not be awarded any points.  If the pallino touches any man-made object, then the pallino must be thrown again.  If the pallino is thrown twice in a row into a man-made object, the team throwing the pallino looses one turn and it becomes the next team’s turn to throw the pallino.

Game Types

  • Short Game (Play to 11 points)
  • Long Game (Play to 21 points – win by 2)
  • Skunk or Slaughter Rule is in effect if one team reaches the 11 point mark before the other team reaches 1 point (11-0).
  • Tournaments (…more to follow)