Bocce ball is a fairly simple game and fun backyard game that is widely played and loved, but it does have its fair share of rules and ways to become a pro at playing. From showing you how to play bocce ball to taking a deep dive into throwing methods, this guide covers everything you need to know about bocce ball.
What Is Bocce Ball?
If you’re unfamiliar with the game, bocce ball is a sport very similar to lawn bowling. It has been around for 5,000 years, and ancient Egyptians and early Romans used to play an equivalent of the game where polished stones were tossed.
Rules Of Playing Bocce Ball
Bocce ball can be played by two people against each other or in teams of two, three, or four players, and it’s ideally played in two teams. To play, you’ll need a Pallino ball, a small white ball the size of your palm, and a court with a surface of sand.
You’ll also need 8 bocce balls. Bocce ball sets come in two sets of four balls that have two different colors.
You can start the game with a coin toss, and the winning team will decide who goes first. The winning team will throw the Pallino ball from behind the foul line.
The Pallino must go beyond the center line, but not the court. The teams will take turns until the Pallino is correctly positioned.
Once the Pallino ball is in play, the toss-winning team throws their bocce ball from behind the foul line, bearing in mind the aim to get as close to the Pallino as possible. Then the opposing team gets to throw their ball.
You can knock out an opponent’s ball or your own to a closer position. This keeps repeating until all 8 balls are thrown.
The closer your ball is to the Pallino, the more points you’ll get. The game is usually played to 12 points, but you can bend the rules here and there.
Bocce ball courts are quite long, and throwing a ball precisely isn’t always easy when under pressure.
But once you get the basics of bocce ball throwing down, you’ll find the game to be rather fun.
How To Throw A Bocce Ball Like Professional Bocce Ball Players
Throwing a ball seems like a straightforward thing that doesn’t require much thought or effort. But you’ll be surprised to know just how much influence good techniques and stances can have on your ball’s trajectory. This guide will go through the anatomy of bocce ball, from the different grips to various throw types.
The whole point of bocce ball is to get your ball as close to the Pallino as possible. To do this, you can either throw your ball precisely or aim at your balls to push them closer to the Pallino. Knocking away other balls is also a useful tactic.
There are two main grips that will help with achieving these goals: palm up and down. These grips are widely used in professional games. With more play, you’ll find a grip that works for you or will begin to alternate between multiple grips.
Grip styles are also associated with certain throwing types, which we will get to a bit later in this guide. Your grip is also largely affected by the type of ball you use. High-quality bocce balls will provide better grip and are much more durable.
Types Of Grip Style
Most bocce ball players use the palm up or underhand grip. With this grip, you can throw the ball such that it will roll towards the Pallino like a bowling ball.
Then there is the palm down overhand grip, which is used comparatively less. Unlike in other sports, an overhand throw requires you to keep your throwing arm below your shoulder.
Both grips require you to splay your fingers across the ball for added stability and hold. Your arm will move with the same motions irrespective of the grip style.
All you need to do is swing it down and back from your side, then bring your arm forward to let go of the ball. You can watch a helpful video online to get a visual demonstration of the description.
A good stance means lightly bent knees that allow for maximum control and force when you throw. Different grips produce different throws, and the main types of bocce ball throws are Punto and Raffa.
A pro player always switches between the two throws during the game. In the Punto throw, the ball is gently thrown underhanded to make it roll into place. This is useful for when there aren’t many opponents’ balls in the way.
If you’re new to the game, you might find that the court’s surface makes it difficult to roll. But you’ll get better with practice!
The Raffa style is a more forceful throw compared to Punto and is thrown overhanded. There is a spin to the ball, which keeps it in place when the ball comes in contact with another object. This is a good technique to knock the opposing team’s balls out of the court.
For both stances, you need to angle your feet a certain way, with the front foot perpendicular to the back one. If your feet aren’t positioned correctly, your swing won’t be right, and there won’t be enough momentum to propel forward your ball. Shoulder width is another significant factor that determines how wide your stance is.
Develop A Good Strategy
Once you are familiar with the throwing types and have a good grip, you can experiment with different strategies. Bocce is one of those games that is all about strategizing.
Whether you’re rolling a ball or hitting another, there should be calculated intent behind each move. The main tactics used on the court by professional players are blocking, banking, and bumping.
Blocking is a defensive technique where you block your opponent from gaining access to the Pallino by encompassing it with your bocce balls. Roll all your bocce balls to form a shield around the Pallino.
Banking is an offensive tactic that involves hitting your ball against the court at an angle such that it bounces and bypasses opponent balls blocking your path to the Pallino.
In bumping, you use your ball to move the Pallino from one point to another where it is more accessible for you.
On the surface, playing bocce ball seems like a simple backyard game that isn’t complicated. But playing with skill makes the game all the more fun. The next time you play bocce ball, keep the tips we’ve given you in mind so that you know how to throw a bocce ball perfectly.