Bocce ball is one of the oldest ball games known to man. It is a cross between bowling and shooting pool. Its charm is its extreme adaptability. Many wonder, where exactly are all the places you can play bocce ball though.
Bocce ball can be played on:
- The grass
- The beach
Basically, any level surface is fair game for a bocce ball court. Traditionally, bocce ball is played on a crushed stone and oyster shell blend, but this game easily adapts itself to many different settings.
Bocce ball’s enduring legacy is due to its incredible flexibility. Having undergone countless versions and adaptations through the centuries, bocce ball is probably the most customizable ball game of all time. Let’s look at all the ways bocce ball can be improvised.
Playing Bocce Ball on Grass Requires A Little Work
Bocce ball can be played on a grass-covered lawn, but it may require a bit of work. To play on grass, you will need to:
- Find the most level spot without holes or bumps
- Remove any lawn decorations or obstacles
- Deep cut the section of grass where you will be playing
- Remove all grass clippings for a clean playing surface
- Mark the perimeters of your court
Rolling the balls on grass will require some practice to counter the resistance that the balls will encounter. It may be easier to just throw them instead.
To gain maximum distance with your throws you will want to fling the ball with your arm, not just your hand. This will give it enough momentum to overcome the resistance presented by the grass.
Most casual players will play Bocce on the grass in their backyard. Here’s a quick video on that:
For more in depth info, check out our How To Play Bocce Ball article.
Playing Bocce Ball On The Beach Requires Careful Attention
To play bocce ball on the beach, you’ll need to:
- Find the smoothest, most level spot.
- If possible, find a place where the sand is compact, not loose.
- Make sure you are far enough away from the tide mark that you won’t be playing in the surf.
- You may need to sweep away debris and clean the area a bit.
- With a stick or sharp stone draw the boundaries of your court.
Sand and Seaweed Are Enemies of Beach Bocce Ball
Soft sand will make it even harder to roll the balls than grass does. So, if the sand is soft, you’ll have to throw the ball with laser accuracy.
Also, soft sand may try to swallow your pallina ball. You are allowed by the rules to raise the ball to the surface where it can easily be seen.
Seaweed may bounce your ball off course. So, it’s probably a good idea to remove as much seaweed as possible from your court.
Actually, hard sand closely resembles crushed stone and oyster shell surfaces that bocce is traditionally played on.
Playing Bocce Ball on Concrete Is A Cinch
Concrete is the best surface for playing bocce ball. Of course, you want to be sure that it has been finished well so there are no dips or bumps on the surface.
If it is not one solid slab of concrete, you may need to negotiate around breaks in the surface which can cause your ball to get stuck.
In these cases, it may be helpful to overlay the playing surface with artificial turf. This will cover the breaks, making the playing surface smooth and continuous.
Playing Bocce Ball Indoors Requires Innovation
If you aren’t afraid of two-pound balls whizzing around inside your house, you absolutely can play bocce ball indoors.
Some people build a traditional court indoors. More recently, bars and other places of social gatherings are starting to add a traditional bocce ball court to the inside of their facilities.
Even without a court, you can still enjoy a game of mini-bocce in the family room. You will need a special set of balls that are much smaller than traditional bocce balls, minimizing the risk of damage from flying balls.
These balls are stainless steel which presents a challenge in identifying each player’s ball. The only difference marking one set from the other is the design etched onto each ball. There are two of each design.
These balls are also feather light, so you can easily overthrow. This version of the game will likely present a learning curve for even experienced players.
The pallina is so tiny and neutral-colored that it will be extremely difficult to keep track of on carpet; especially carpet that is:
- Neutral or dark colored
- Thick and plush
Also available is a Mini Bocce Tabletop Game (link to Amazon) set for game room fun. This is a severely scaled-down version of the game, but it is still large enough to accommodate four players.
The balls are more like oversized marbles, but they are color-coded so it’s easier to keep track of who’s ball is where.
Color-coded markers attach to the frame for easier scorekeeping. It is easy to assemble and sets up in mere seconds.
The frame is sturdy and attractive. Overall, it’s a desirable alternative to having all your china shattered by a renegade bocce ball.
You Need to Know Several Throws To Win At Bocce Ball
The goal of bocce ball is to get your ball closest to the pallina. To do that, you will need to know how to adjust your throwing patterns so that you don’t accidentally help your opponent win.
The eight primary techniques used in bocce ball are:
- Forehand roll
- Backhand roll
Each of these are used in specific situations to increase your chances of winning.
Pointing Is A Gentle Roll
Usually your first throw will be a pointing throw. Whenever you have clear access to the pallina, this shot is usually the best.
You keep your arm straight and move it forward as you release the ball. The momentum of the forward movement will propel the ball from your hand and hopefully send it rolling into the pallina.
If other balls are in your path, you don’t want to use this technique. You could push one of the other balls closer to the pallina.
This shot is best used on smooth surfaces such as concrete or asphalt.
Spocking Is A Gamble
When you spock, you might win, or you might lose. A spock hits another ball. This can be a good thing if it knocks your former shot closer to the pallina. But it can be a bad thing if it knocks an opponent’s ball closer to the goal.
You need to be good at bocce ball before you try this technique because often, you’ll miss. Missed spocks can cost you the game.
Banking Bypasses Opponent Balls
A bank shot can get you around an opponent’s ball that is between you and the pallina.
To bank, you bounce your ball of the edge of the court, using the court edge to redirect your ball inward toward the pallina.
As with the spocking throw, you’d better be good at bocce before you try this.
Blocking Aborts The Opponent’s Success
You can block you opponent’s ball with your own ball so that he/she can’t get any closer to the pallina. Essentially, you place your ball where your opponent will help you win if they try for a closer ball. This takes skill and excellent strategy planning.
Forehand Roll Is Basic Technique
The forehand roll is the beginner throw. It is almost identical to the grip used in bowling. This type of throw reduces bounce when your ball hits the court, and it makes your balls trajectory fairly predictable. But it often sends the ball much farther than the player intended which can cost points.
Backhand Roll Reverses Forehand Roll
The backhand roll is more of an underhand lob.
You grip the ball from the front and toss. This reduces speed, effectively controlling how far the ball will go.
The Push Is Dependable
This technique helps you improve your accuracy when developing consistency. You allow your palm to arch, pushing the ball from your hand.
The trick is knowing when to let go. If you release the ball to soon, the shot falls flat. If you hold the ball too long it bounces instead of rolling.
Always practice is the only way to master these techniques.
Playing Surfaces Affect Your Throwing Technique
You will need to adjust your throwing technique to match the challenges of your playing surface.
On the beach, a backhand roll controls your ball better, keeping it out of the surf. In grass, you may want to use the forehand roll. On concrete and indoors, the push is probably sufficient.