Bocce ball is a fun backyard game that many people play casually. If you want to impress your fellow players with professional-level bocce ball skills, we have some tactics and techniques to help you throw like a pro.
To throw a bocce ball like a pro, you need to consider some things. You’ll want to have a strong grip and stance, decide which type of throw you want to execute, choose strategies and tactics for each turn, and identify the type of playing surface you are playing on.
Professional bocce ball players will consider which type of grip and throw they will use for each turn of their game. Casual bocce ball players might not worry about technique, but you should pay attention to these tips if you want to throw like a pro.
Form a Solid Grip and Stance
The goal in bocce ball is to get your colored ball closest to the target “pallino” ball, which is the small white ball.
This might require simply rolling the ball toward the pallino, knocking an opponent’s ball out of the way, or precisely aiming your ball between the other balls in play without moving them.
There are typically two ways to grip a bocce ball:
- Palm up
- Palm down
Both grips are accepted in the professional game of bocce ball, and it is up to the individual to determine which grip feels more comfortable or if they wish to change grip types throughout the game.
The two grip types are also associated with different throwing types, which will be discussed in the next section.
Of course, you want to be using quality bocce balls to play with. Check out What Makes A Quality Bocce Ball if you don’t have a nice set to play with yet.
Which Grip is Best for You?
Most bocce ball players use an underhand – or palm up – grip in most situations. This type of grip allows the ball to roll like a bowling ball toward the target pallino ball.
Overhand – or palm down – grips are less common in casual games but are still generally allowed. You will be considered a pro at bocce ball if you use these tips to throw an overhand bocce ball.
Overhand throws in bocce ball are not the same as in other sports. When you throw a bocce ball overhand, your arm still stays below the shoulder.
In both grip techniques:
- Your fingers should be spread across the ball to provide maximum stability and a strong grip.
- Your arm will move in the same way regardless of the grip style you choose: swing down and back from your side, then bring your arm forward and up to release the ball.
This video helps to show how to hold a bocce ball in action:
The Right Stance
No matter what grip you use for throwing a bocce ball, it is essential to have a strong stance with slightly bent knees. This will allow maximum control and force for your throw.
Now that you have a solid grip on your bocce ball and are ready to throw it, look at how different grips can produce different types of throws.
Here’s a helpful video to show some of this in action:
Know Your Throwing Types
There are two types of throws that can be made in bocce ball:
While a casual player might choose one throwing method and stick to it for their entire bocce ball game, a professional will generally switch up the throwing types throughout the game based on what they want to accomplish during each turn.
The Punto throwing style is generally a gentle underhand throw. This type of throw can be used to roll your bocce ball into place when there are no opponents’ bocce balls in the way.
Raffa throws are generally overhand and delivered with more force than the Punto throw. Since the Raffa is thrown overhand, there is usually a spin on the ball that causes it to stay in place once it hits an object, like an opponent’s bocce ball. You can use this technique to knock another ball out of the way and take its place.
Develop a Strategy for Your Turn
Now that you have a good grip on your bocce ball and you know which throwing type you would like to use, it is time to strategize for your turn.
Your primary goal in bocce ball is to get your ball as close to the pallino ball as possible. While this goal is fairly straightforward, there are several strategies used by professionals, much like in chess, to plan several turns in advance.
The three main tactics that professional bocce ball players use are:
Blocking is a defensive tactic intended to “block” your opponent from having access to the pallino by surrounding it with your bocce balls.
Banking is an offensive technique used to get your ball to the pallino while your opponent is working to block you. Banking involves hitting your ball against the court’s wall at an angle to bypass the bocce balls that are blocking the pallino and getting closer to your target.
Bumping is a strategy that involves bumping your ball into the pallino itself to move it to a more favorable position. This tactic is generally used on one of your last turns to move the target closer to your bocce balls at the end of the game.
You can use a mix of these techniques throughout your game to play like a pro.
You might start with a blocking technique but find that you need to adjust your game plan as you see what your opponent is doing. You can keep your opponents on their toes while optimizing your overall strategy by changing up your:
- Throwing type
- Turn tactics
Identify the Type of Surface You Are Playing On
Another tip for playing bocce ball like a professional is to know how your playing surface will impact your throw. Many casual bocce ball games are played on grass surfaces in backyards or parks.
Still, bocce ball courts can be found in many neighborhoods for both casual and more intense professional games.
Check out Where Can I Play Bocce Ball for more info.
Official courts can have all types of surfaces, including:
Each type of surface can create a different environment for throwing your bocce ball. It is important to know how the surface will affect your throw so that you can better predict where your ball will go.
Professional bocce ball games are always played on a court, which is generally 91 feet by 13 feet, and the surface can be made of any of the previously mentioned materials.
Casual games don’t need to be played on a court. If you’re playing for fun, you can use a local park or your backyard for gameplay.
Before selecting your throw type and taking aim, it will be helpful to assess the surface you are playing on and ask yourself some questions, like:
- Is this surface smooth enough that it won’t cause my ball to go in an unpredicted direction? (concrete, asphalt)
- Will this surface slow my ball enough to require some extra force? (grass, sand)
- Is it likely that my bocce ball will hit a bump and roll in a different direction from what I am intending? (grass, gravel)
If you are playing in a backyard, you might notice a patch of grass that always sends the ball in the wrong direction. If you are playing on the beach or a sand court, you might notice that the ball moves slowly and gets stuck.
In each situation, you will need to figure out how you should adjust your throw to accommodate the playing surface.
Wrapping Things Up
Depending on how your game is going, you can decide to use a variety of grips, throw types, and tactics to win the game. By using this information we’ve discussed, you can be sure to impress your friends and throw a bocce ball like a pro!