Lawn Games How To: Bocce Ball

On a lawn or on a beach: Bocce awaits!

Owners and guests at Timbers Resorts know the value of play as a part of their relaxation recipe. It's a key way to revive the body, the mind, and the spirit. Whether enjoying the sand on St. Thomas or the soaring vistas of Colorado, wherever you end up among our luxury fractional resorts, it's always a good time for a friendly game of Bocce Ball.

Bocce is a game designed to be accessible and versatile, with roots traceable as far back as ancient Egypt. These days, it's often found in backyards, along the shore, and in city parks everywhere. It's a simple game to learn and unfolds at just the right pace for your next gathering with friends.


Bocce requires very little other than a set of balls and a mostly flat surface.

You'll need eight balls to play, four of one color and four of another. You'll also need one pallina, which is a smaller sphere (sometimes also known as a jack), and it's a different color than all the rest.

For a playing field, you want something as flat as possible. If you intend to play the game in its purest form, you want the surface to allow for rolling. Think short grass, packed dirt, or fine gravel. If you want a beach game, you'll likely have to switch from rolling the balls to tossing them, which is a slightly different tradition, but acceptable.

The Bocce court is ideally around 60 feet long by 8 feet wide. You'll want to mark the center of the court with a stake, stick, or drawn line. Formal players mark foul lines at either end of the court, but you won't really need it if the game is casual.

Now you're ready to play.

Rules of the Game

Here's how to play Bocce. Rounds of play are called frames.

  1. Players form two even teams of either 1, 2, or 4 people each, and then the teams flip a coin to see who goes first. The winning team chooses their four Bocce balls of one color.
  2. A player on the first team throws the pallina in an underarm fashion into the center of the court. This begins the first frame.
  3. The same player then rolls or throws his or her Bocce ball, attempting to land it as close to the pallina as possible.
  4. A first player from the opposing team now rolls or throws his or her ball, attempting to get it closer to the pallina than the opposing player just did.
  5. All players from the second team now do the same with their Bocce balls.
  6. The first team then returns to the roll/throw, attempting to get even closer to the pallina than the second team was able.
  7. As an alternative to attempting to get one's Bocce ball as close to the pallina, a player may attempt to knock one of the opposing team's balls farther from the target.
  8. A player may also use his or her Bocce ball to attempt to knock the pallina closer to one of his or her team's already positioned balls.

Once all eight balls have been rolled or thrown, each team claims a point for every one of their balls that is closer to the pallina than the opposing team's. Bocce balls that are equally close to the pallina as that of the opposing team's result in zero points for both sides.

Once you've tallied up the first frame's scores, begin the second frame. Play continues until one teams gets to 16 points.

Ready for your own Bocce match? If you need equipment, just ask your concierge and soon you'll be playing your way through frames of one of the oldest games on Earth.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.963.4626 (direct) or via email at