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How to Play Bocce Ball on Grass

By Nidhi Nangia. Updated: June 5, 2018
How to Play Bocce Ball on Grass

Bocce ball is a one of many similar ball games whereby players have to hit a small ball with larger ones. The team with large balls closest to the small scores more points. This can take many various forms. In the UK, lawn bowls are popular. These use large balls which are weighted or curved to one side, making the throwing technique a little trickier. French boules, pétanque more specifically, uses similar balls to bocce, but involves throwing rather than rolling. It is a favored pastime by Sicilians, but has grown worldwide. It is played on a special squared off asphalt court, but oneHOWTO shows you how to play bocce ball on grass as a grass lawn might be more common to find.

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Where you can play Bocce Ball

As we have stated, bocce ball is traditionally played on an asphalt court which is long and narrow. Official bocce ball courts need to be 90 ft (27.5 m) long by 8.2 - 13.1 ft (2.5 - 4 m) wide. What is more important than exact measurements is finding a court or field which is level. This may be a sidewalk, deck, patio, gravel drive or even a grass lawn. Each one of these playing surfaces might have their own unique terrain issues. A patio will have little dips between paving stones. Gravel will provide more resistance to the roll of the ball, as will a ridged wood deck. The sidewalk is a public place, so the biggest issue there is probably other pedestrians getting in the way.

If you want to play bocce ball on grass, this will have its own concerns. Unless you have a perfectly landscaped lawn which has been made to certain specifications, it will be difficult to find one which is perfectly level. There may be divots or bumps in the lawn which will make playing bocce ball harder. There might also be obstacles such as clotheslines, planters or even a Wendy house. You will need to have a space as close to the size specified above. If it is smaller than this the bocce ball game might be too easy and if larger, too hard. You can have a smaller bocce ball lawn if you are playing with small children as the professional size might be too big.

Getting started playing bocce ball on grass

To play bocce ball on grass, the first thing you need to do is organize the playing field. Find the most level part of your garden, i.e. one that is flat and not on an incline or hill. It should have as little obstacles as possible. Clear the area of any objects such as balls, gnomes or gardening equipment. Then take a look at the grass. Are there any weeds or large dandelions which should be removed? If so, take them out, but be careful not to make the lawn worse by making a divot. Once the grass has been cleared and weeded as best as possible, mow the lawn fresh. Cut the grass as tight as you can to the ground without damaging it. Once you have mowed the lawn, rake up the leftover grass so that the bocce ball court is now as smooth as you can get.

You need a 2 person minimum to play bocce ball, but it is ideal as a team sport. Official rules state that you can't have more than 4 players in a team, but it's up to you. The equipment you need if you want to play bocce ball on grass are as follows:

  • 1 pallino (also known as boccino): this is the small ball at which you roll the larger balls. In boules and lawn bowls it is known as a jack.
  • 8 bocce balls: these are the larger balls which you roll to play. There are 8 in total consisting of two sets of 4 balls. These are a different color or have a different pattern so that you can see whose balls are whose.
  • 1 measuring tape: this is not a necessity, but can be very useful if you have a close call. Many people measure the distance of balls by using their feet, but this way is fairer and more accurate.
How to Play Bocce Ball on Grass - Getting started playing bocce ball on grass

Playing the game

To play bocce ball on grass, follow these rules:

  • Each team needs to appoint a captain. This person participates in the coin toss to determine which team goes first. The winner gets to pitch the pallino on the court. The pallino can hit the sides (if you have them, you may not on a grass lawn), but cannot hit to backboard at the end. It must cross the center of the court and be at least 12 inches away from the sides. If this does not happen, the other team gets an attempt. If they fail to throw the pallino properly, it is placed approximately in the center at the far end.
  • Next, a player from the opposite team rolls a ball with an aim to land close to the pallino. Differentiating bocce from boules, the bocce ball must be thrown underarm. It is thrown from the pointing foul line and there are two of these on a court, one at each side. If the bocce ball hits the backboard without hitting the pallino, the ball is thrown again until in play.
  • The object is to get the bocce ball as close to the pallino as possible. However, players also try to knock the last player’s bocce ball out of his way. If successful, the opponent team goes again and tries to throw or roll another bocce ball closer to the pallino than before.
  • Scoring happens at the end of every round with only the winning team scoring points. The winning the team is the one that rolls the bocce ball closest to the pallino. Each ball closer to the pallno than the other team's ball gets a point, meaning you can get points from between 1-4 for each round. The end of the match is determined when the winning team reaches a predetermined number. This is usually somewhere between 7 and 13 points. If you are playing on grass, you may have some difficult time rolling the balls and throwing them might seem like a better idea. But if you still want to roll them, you will need some practice to get an idea of how the ball rolls on grass.

These are the standard rules, but you are also supposed to enjoy the game. If you want to change some rules or be a little more lenient that is your prerogative.

How to Play Bocce Ball on Grass - Playing the game

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Tips
  • To play bocce ball on grass it is best if you fling your arm to throw your ball as close to the pallina as possible instead of making the ball roll towards the aim, as grass will stop your ball much sooner than on other surfaces.

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