What is Bocce?
Bocce is traditionally played on natural soil and asphalt courts up to 27.5 meters (90 ft) in length and 2.5 to 4 meters (8.2 to 13.1 ft) wide. While the court walls are traditionally made of wood or stone, many social leagues and Special Olympics programs now use inflatable ‘Packabocce’ PVC courts due to their portability and ease of storage. Bocce balls can be made of wood (traditional), metal, baked clay, or various kinds of plastic. Unlike lawn bowls, 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 boccino (‘little bocce’) or pallino (‘bullet’ or ‘little ball’) in Italian, depending on local custom), from one end of the court into a zone 5 meters (16 ft) in length, ending 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) from the far end of the court. If the first team misses twice, the other team is awarded the opportunity to place the jack anywhere they choose within the prescribed zone. Casual play is common in reasonably flat areas of parks and yards lacking a Bocce court, but players should agree to the minimum and maximum distance the jack may be thrown before play begins.
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 does not 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 balls. The object of the game is for a team to get as many of its balls as possible closer to the target ball (jack, boccino, pallino) than the opposing team. The team with the closest 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. Tactics can get quite complex when players have sufficient control over the ball to throw or roll it accurately.
Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to 5 million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries. Special Olympics competitions are held every day, all around the world—including local, national and regional competitions, adding up to more than 100,000 events a year. Like the International Paralympic Committee, the Special Olympics organization is recognized by the International Olympic Committee; however, unlike the Paralympic Games, Special Olympics World Games are not held in the same year nor in conjunction with the Olympic Games.