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Playing Bocce: An Overview

Though most people have never heard of bocce (much less participated in the game), its history can be traced back to the Egyptian civilization and the Roman Empire. In fact, most enthusiasts will admit that the game's true origin is unknown. But, despite the uncertainty about how the game began, it has been enjoyed by people from all walks of life for thousands of years. Roman generals and soldiers played a version of the game to pass the time during the Punic Wars against Carthage. Since then, it has been enjoyed in the back alleys, fields and streets throughout Europe and America.

Today, the game's following is relatively small (when measured against sports such as baseball, basketball and soccer). But, fans and players of bocce are just as passionate about the sport. In this article, we'll describe how the game is played, a bit about the bocce court as well as basic strategy.

How To Play Bocce

Bocce is played in a couple of different ways. It has elements of soccer and bowling. The game can be played with 2 people or 2 teams (with each team consisting of 2, 3, or 4 players). Each team is given 4 balls to toss. Bocce begins with a small ball (called a Pallino) being thrown into a predetermined area across the court. Players then alternate turns, tossing balls with the goal of placing their bocce balls closer to the Pallino than their opponents' or hitting their opponents' bocce balls, displacing them. Once all 8 balls have been tossed, points are awarded based upon which player's (or team's) bocce balls are placed nearest the Pallino.

The Bocce Court

When bocce is played outside, it's referred to as "lawn bowling." Otherwise, it's called "closed court" bocce. Most bocce courts are 91 feet in length and 13 feet wide (though the length and width can vary). It's typically surrounded by a wall that stands approximately 6 inches to keep the bocce balls inside the court. Limestone or tennis clay is typically used to build the court. Over time (especially if the court is used often), additional tennis clay is applied to help preserve the surface of the court.

Basic Strategy

Since the object of the game is to place your bocce balls closer to the Pallino than your opponent's balls, accuracy is critical. If you can perfect your aim, you'll have more options to beat the other player. You'll be able to place your balls nearer the Pallino. Plus, you can displace your opponent's balls or the Pallino itself, gaining better position on the court. Once you play bocce and gain experience, there are plenty of advanced strategies that you can use. All of them require near-perfect accuracy.

Athletic And Social Appeal

Bocce offers an opportunity to stay fit and socialize with other players. It's a game that requires not only patience and accuracy, but also a level of stamina and strength. Each bocce ball weighs over 2 lbs. and the arm's swing and release of the toss requires the use of several muscles. Plus, because bocce is played by people of all ages and vocations, there's a spirit of camaraderie and rapport amongst the players. Bocce can be a fun, competitive and rewarding sport for anyone who is willing to get involved.