Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil or asphalt courts approximately 60 to 90 feet in length and 8 to 13 feet wide, sometimes with wooden boards of approximately 4-12” in height surrounding the court. Bocce balls can be made of metal or various kind of plastic unlike lawn bowling 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, the jack (called a pallino, or a boccino in some areas), from one end of the court into a zone about 15 feet in length, ending 6 feet 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 doesn’t have 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 bocce balls. The team with the closest bocce 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, or to soften the ball and encourage it to stop quicker. Tactics can get quite complex when players have sufficient control over the bocce ball to throw or roll it accurately
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