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How to Play Bocce Ball

Active adult living involves more than simply taking a walk around the neighborhood or going fishing with friends. Maintaining an active lifestyle in retirement often means learning fun new games, such as bocce ball.

The best thing about bocce ball is its simplicity – the game’s rules are easy to follow, and many surfaces in your neighborhood or retirement community can double as a court. All you need are bocce balls and a level patch of soil, grass, or asphalt that measures 90 feet by about 10 feet.

Bocce Ball History

Once a game of emperors and kings, bocce ball today is among the world’s most-played games. Also called “Italian lawn bowling,” bocce ball is thought to have originated in Egypt before it spread to Greece and Rome. Famous bocce players throughout history include George Washington, Galileo, and Queen Elizabeth, and you can include yourself among their ranks in just a few simple steps.

Bocce Ball Basics

Bocce balls are the cornerstone of the game, and they’re typically made from sturdy plastic. A total of nine balls are required when playing bocce: Eight balls of identical size and the smaller target ball, or “pallina.” The eight larger balls are actually two different colored sets of four, with one color per team.

Bocce ball teams can consist of only one player, or up to four individuals. The number of players should be equal for both teams. Once you have located your ideal court, mark each end with a line. The pallina is pitched from that line.

Bocce ball games traditionally begin with a coin toss. The first team up then throws the pallina into mid-court, or about 30 feet from the line. Then, the same player throws a larger bocce ball. You can also roll the ball. The goal is to get the bocce ball as close to the pallina as possible.

Next, the second team gets their chance to throw or roll a bocce ball towards the pallina. You can aim for the pallina itself or the opposite team’s ball, in an effort to knock it away.

Bocce Ball Scoring

If your ball is closer to the pallina after both teams have taken a turn, your team scores a point. You earn two points if your bocce ball touches the pallina. Neither team scores if the larger bocce balls are equidistant from the pallina.

The winner of the game is the team that reaches the set point goal first. While you can choose any number, 12 points is a typical goal in backyard bocce ball games.

Meet New People and Have Fun with Bocce Ball

Along with exercise and improving your overall stamina, playing bocce ball gives you the opportunity to meet new people and forge deeper bonds with those in your retirement community. Consider starting a bocce ball league within your social circle or scheduling regular games on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.


Kissing Tree is a distinctly Texan community built for those 55 and better. Set on the banks of the Hill Country, we are located between Austin and San Antonio in the charming town of San Marcos. Here’s to living life on your own terms.

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