Bocce Sport Info Special Olympics

Bocce (sometimes anglicized as bocci or boccie) is a ball sport belonging to theboules sport family, closely related to bowls and pétanque with a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire. Developed into its present form in Italy (where it is called Bocce, the plural of the Italian word boccia which means “ball”), it is played aroundEurope and also in overseas areas that have received Italian migrants, including Australia,North America and South America (where it is known as bochasbolas criollas in Venezuela, bocha (the sport) in Brazil), initially amongst the migrants themselves but slowly becoming more popular with their descendants and the wider community. The sport is also very popular in Slovenia (known as balinanje). In Southern France the sport is also popular and known as Boule Lyonnaise.

Rules and play

Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts 27 meters in length and 2.5 to 4 meters wide Bocce balls can be made of metal or various kinds of plastic. Unlike lawn bowls, bocce balls are spherical and have no inbuilt bias.


A game can be conducted between two players, or two teams of two, three, or four. A match is started by a randomly chosen side being given the opportunity to throw a smaller ball, thejack (called a boccino, or a pallino in some areas), from one end of the court into a zone 5 meters in length, ending 2.5 meters from the far end of the court. If they miss twice, the other team is awarded the opportunity to place the jack anywhere they choose within the prescribed zone.

The side that first attempted to place the jack is given the opportunity to bowl first. Once the first bowl has taken place, the other side has the opportunity to bowl. From then on, the side which does nothave the ball closest to the jack has a chance to bowl, up until one side or the other has used their four balls. At that point, the other side bowls its remaining balls. The team with the closest ball to the jack is the only team that can score points in any frame. The scoring team receives one point for each of their balls that is closer to the jack than the closest ball of the other team. The length of a game varies by region, but is typically from 7 to 13 points.

Players are permitted to throw the ball in the air using an underarm action. This is generally used to knock either the jack or another ball away to attain a more favorable position. Tactics can get quite complex when players have sufficient control over the ball to throw or roll it accurately.

Info :

Teaching Bocce Rules

The best time to teach the rules of bocce is during practice. For example, athletes should know what each of the lines on the court means. Please refer to Official Special Olympics Sports Rules Book for the complete listing of bocce rules. As a coach, teaching the basic rules of bocce is critical to the success of the athletes. For example, athletes should know what each of the lines on the court means, etc. Your athlete:
  • Shows an understanding of the game.
  • Understands that game consists of playing to a certain number of points.
  • Knows what each of the lines on the court means.
  • Knows to watch for direction from Flag and Court Official as to turn to play.
  • Knows that points scored as a result of a possible foul may not be counted as points scored.
  • Knows to roll four balls in a singles competition.
  • Knows to roll two balls in a doubles competition.
  • Knows to roll only one ball in a fours competition.
  • Adheres to the rules of the bocce court and training area.
  • Follows official Special Olympics bocce rules.

Basic Rules for a Bocce Competition

  1. Divisioning scores will be used to determine divisions for establishing sections.
  2. The format for the competition can vary from a single elimination, double elimination or a round robin.
  3. “Full tournament sized” balls, usually green and red, are used for the tournament.
  4. Flags/bats/paddles of the same color as the balls are used.
  5. In singles, players will play four balls each and the winning score will be first to 12 points.
  6. In pairs/doubles, players will play two balls each and the winning score will be first to 12 points.
  7. In fours/teams players will play one ball each and the winning score will be first to 16 points.
  8. Athletes will follow the direction of the court officials at all times.
  9. Ten-foot foul line, thirty-foot halfway lines are to be used during a competition.
  10. All foul line violations are to be called as violations and penalties imposed.
  11. All incorrect numbers of balls played or incorrect order of play are called as violations and penalties imposed.
  12. Once all bocce balls have been rolled from both teams points will be awarded based on number of balls closer to the pallina than the opposing teams. (Only one team can be awarded points per end played.)
  13. Games will be completed at the completion of the end in which a team scores the appropriate total number of points.
If for any reason coaches are unsure on any of the above rules, please contact the Tournament Director for bocce before the tournament starts.
Key Words
  • No food or drink in the court area.
  • Remember to follow direction of the court officials.
  • Do not cross the foul line.
  • Do not deliver more than the allotted number of balls.
Coaching Tips
Rules of the bocce court area are the rules you make for your program. These would include such things as:
  • Athletes will remain outside the court area ready to play as soon as indicated by the court official.
  • No food or drink, except water, when training and playing.
  • Individuals should be designated to assist the lower ability players into and out of the court.

Unified Sports® Rules

There are few differences in the rules for Unified Sports® competition and the rules as stipulated in the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules Book and modifications outlined in the rules book. The additions are highlighted below:
Unified Sports Team
  1. Each Unified Sports doubles team shall consist of one athlete and one partner.
  2. Each Unified Sports team event shall consist of two athletes and two partners.
  3. Each game shall commence with a coin toss. Either member of the team that wins the toss starts the game by throwing the pallina and the first ball. The second ball is thrown by either member of the opposing team.

Protest Procedures

Protest procedures are governed by the rules of competition. The role of the competition management team is to enforce the rules. As coach, your duty to your athletes and team is to protest any action or event while your athlete is competing that you think violated the official Special Olympics bocce rules. It is extremely important that you do not make protests because you and your athlete did not get your desired outcome of an event. Making a protest is a serious matter that impacts a competition’s schedule. Check with the competition management team prior to competition to learn the protest procedures for that competition.

This guide is designed to help you become a better Bocce coach

These links lead you to detailed information on Bocce, including illustrations and video clips. Downloadable resources are also available at right.

Special Olympics wishes to thank the professionals, volunteers, coaches and athletes who helped in the production of the Bocce Coaching Guide. They have helped fulfill the mission of Special Olympics: to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for people eight years of age and older with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Special Olympics welcomes your ideas and comments for future revisions of this guide. We apologize if, for any reason, an acknowledgement has been inadvertently omitted.

Contributing Authors
Marie Bedard, Special Olympics Florida
Art Bjork, Special Olympics Florida
Richard Calvanese, Special Olympics Massachusetts
Mary Greig, Special Olympics Australia
Dave Lenox, Special Olympics, Inc.
Roger Lord, Special Olympics Connecticut
Maureen Murphy, Special Olympics Connecticut
Ryan Murphy, Special Olympics, Inc.
Mike Ryan, Special Olympics New Zealand
Roy Savage, Special Olympics Ireland

Special Thanks To the Following
for Your Support

Floyd Croxton, Special Olympics, Inc., athlete
Kellie Walls, Special Olympics, Inc.
Paul Whichard, Special Olympics, Inc.
Special Olympics Asia Pacific
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia
Special Olympics Florida, for hosting the video filming
Special Olympics North America
Starring Athletes from Special Olympics Florida — Broward County


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