Bocce, a Sport the Elderly Can Play

Bocce can be one of the most exciting, easy and relaxing sports an older person can do. The rules are very basic and once you learn them you will be able to start right away (after you buy a Bocce set of course). You will be able to play the game in your yard or your neighbor’s yard, as long as the grass is not too long. It is playable on dirt as well.

Open Bocce is the most popular form for those playing casually. Open Bocce can be played anywhere there is open space. Use your imagination and play in some unique spots or settings. You can use grassy or dirt surfaces, packed sand and paved areas. Use slopes, hills, dips, and bumpy surfaces for an even bigger challenge and to add strategy. Don’t be afraid to start the game in your front yard and end it in the back! Just be careful the hills are not so steep that you stand the chance of a ball rolling far away!

Bocce is played with 8 large balls and 1 small ball called a Pallino. 2, 4 or 8 players can play. Divide the balls evenly among the players. Ideally 4 or 8 players is best. A traditional Bocce ball set usually has 4 balls of one color and 4 of a different color. The Pallino is yet a third color. You need these colors to tell your teams apart. Modern sets may have all different colored balls. The balls may also have a different design on them, to further help in distinguishing them.

The purpose of the game is to get your Bocce ball as close as you can to the Pallino, which will be thrown by different players throughout the game. However you decide to start is fine. But one player from one team must be chosen to throw the Pallino to start. After that player throws the Pallino either close by or a considerable distance (be the judge of how strong your players are), he or she then throws his larger ball. They must try to get as close to the Pallino as possible. Bocce balls are usually thrown underhand, as if bowling. Of course this first player will immediately have the closest ball to the Pallino. He or she is considered “inside” because they are the closest. All other players are “outside”. When a player is “inside” they must forfeit their next turn (in games with less than 8 players), unless they become an “outsider”. Continue the game by alternating teams and players, with each trying to get the closest. Everyone’s goal is to get closer to the Pallino than the current “insider”. Occasionally balls will bump together and cause exciting results!

After a round is complete and all players have thrown their Bocce balls, the team, or player, with Bocce balls closest to the Pallino are awarded one point per ball (a round is called a frame). So, if you have 8 players, only one person will be the closest, and they get one point. A team may have more than one ball closer than the competing team. That team gets one point for each ball that is closer! Use what ever measuring device you want to use if several balls are close and it is hard to tell. Many people use their feet. Remember, this is the casual game of Bocce, not the tournament game!

A game is won when a player or team reaches 13 points. However, you can play to 15 or even 21 if you are enjoying the game! Have fun!


About The Author

Mark Jordan is a researcher and freelance writer living near Harrisburg Pennsylvania. More healthy information can be found at and

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