1)    Teams:

  1. Each team will have 6 or more players on their roster, to assure that at least four players will be at each match.  Rosters can be updated, as necessary, through the end of the regular season updates need to be submitted to the league commissioner writing by the team captain (or “capo”) or counselor (or “consigliere”)  before a new player is allowed to play in a league game.
  2. Teams will need to name themselves.  Uniforms, gimmicks, schtick, and cheerleaders are strongly encouraged, to go along with this wonderful “sport” that allows you to hold a beverage the entire time you play!
  3. Teams must field 4 players at all times, with two players on each end of the court.  Each frame, two and only two players will roll two and exactly two balls per team.  All players present should play in each game.  Players arriving late may join a game in progress but only at the beginning of a frame.  Teams may substitute as many times as they like, but if a player has begun a frame, that player must complete the frame before being substituted for.  Also, an individual player may only roll from one end of court during a single game.
  4. For teams that do not have four roster players to start a game, alternates can be recruited, with only one alternate being a player on the roster of another league team.  If there are multiple alternates interested in playing, the alternate(s) will be randomly assigned by the league commissioner to round out the team for a specific game.  Alternates can sign up with the league in advance or can be drawn from spectators attending games.  If teams know in advance that they will not be able to field a team of four for a particular week, they should communicate this to the league commissioner who will try to secure an alternate in advance.  If this is not possible, the commissioner will try to assign an alternate at the court site at the time the game is to be played.  Teams are ultimately responsible for securing any alternates they might need.  An alternate for the playoff or championships must be approved by a unanimous vote of the commissioners.

2)    Games:

  1. All games are scheduled to be played at the bocce courts at 69 Spruce Street in Providence, RI, at the intersection of Dean Street.
  2. A game will conclude when either has scored enough points or the time limit has been reached.  The first team to score 21 points at the end of a frame will be the winner of each game.
  3. The time limit for matches is 40 minutes.  If a game is still in progress when the time limit has been reached, the score at that time will determine the winner of the game.  If teams are in the middle of a frame, they will complete the frame and the score at the end of that frame will be the final score, unless there is a tie.  If there is a tie after this frame, the teams will roll one more frame with the team scoring points in this frame being determined the winner.
  4. Toward the end of each match, a league commissioner or designee will announce to the players when the time is approximately at the 20-minute mark, 10-minute mark, the 5-minute mark, etc..  If the court referee or a commissioner determines that a team is stalling after the 10-minute mark has been announced, the referee may determine to penalize the stalling team by awarding points to the other team and may determine that (an) additional frame(s) should be played.

3)    Playoffs / Championship:

  1. At the end of the season, the eight teams who have the best records will enter a single-elimination playoff.   In the case of ties, the position of teams in the standings will be determined in the following order: head-to-head competition; win-loss record against all tied teams; point differential for all games played; total points; coin toss.
  2. In the quarter-final matches, the first place team will play the eighth place team, and the second and seventh place team will play one another, and so on.  Matches will be to 21 points (with winners needing to win by at least 2 points).  There will be no time limit for these games.
  3. In the semi-final matches, teams will be re-seeded and play single games to 21 points, using the same scoring format.
  4. The team with the best record (or best point differential, if tied) that advances to the championship will choose on which court the championship match will be played.
  5. The two teams advancing to the championship will play in a best-of-three series, with the first team winning two games named the champion.  The first two games will be to 21 points, using the same scoring format.  If a third game is required, the teams will play to 15 points, using the same scoring format above.


1)     Object of the game:

  1. Bocce is played with 8 large balls called bocce balls and one smaller target ball, called the “pallino” (also known as the “point” or the “jack”). The object of the game is to roll your bocce balls closer to the pallino than your opponent. The placement of the pallino is determined at the beginning of each frame by one team throwing it between the center line (line C below) of the court and the far boundary line (line A below). Each team then takes alternating turns to throw their balls toward the pallino in hopes of (1) placing their ball closest, (2) moving the pallino closer to their ball, or (3) moving the opponent’s ball away from the pallino.

Standard Bocce Court

2)    Start of Match:

  1. The match shall begin with a game of “Rock, Paper, Scissors” (not a coin toss, for heavens sake) between the capos (captains) or designee from each team. The winner may have the first toss of the pallino or choose the color of the balls his or her team will use.
  2. A player may toss the pallino any distance so long as the pallino passes the center line of the court and does not hit the back wall. If a player fails to validly toss the pallino after one attempt, the opposing team will have a chance to toss the pallino and put it in play. If the opposing team fails to toss the pallino past the center line, the pallino toss reverts to the original team, and so on. In any case, when the pallino has been properly put in play, the first bocce ball will be thrown by the team which successfully tossed the pallino.

3)    Playing the Game:

  1. Again, the team which successfully tosses the pallino throws the first bocce ball. If the first bocce ball thrown hits the back board, the ball will be removed from the court and that team must roll again. Otherwise the team steps aside and does not roll again until the opposing team has either gotten one of its bocce balls closer to the pallino or has thrown all of its balls.
  2. A team has the option of rolling, throwing, bouncing, banking, etc. its ball down the court provided it does not go out-of-bounds or the player does not violate the foul markers. A player also has the option of “spocking” or hitting out any ball in play in trying to obtain a point, or decreasing the opposing team’s points.
  3. The team whose bocce balls are closest to the pallino is called “inside” and the opposing team “outside.” Whenever a team gets inside, it steps aside and lets the outside team roll. The team outside throws until it beats (not ties) the opposing ball.
  4. This continues until the end of the frame (when both teams have exhausted 4 balls each), at which time a designated referee under the scrutiny of one and only one member of each team, will determine the points scored. Scoring points are all those balls of one team closer to the pallino than the closest ball of the opposing team, which can be determined by viewing or by mechanical measurement.
  5. In the event that the two balls closest to the pallino belong to opposing teams and are tied at the end of the frame, no points will be awarded, and the pallino returns to the team which delivered it. Only balls which are distinguishably closer to the pallino than any opponent’s balls may be awarded points.  If two balls are “tied” during the frame, the team that was last “in” will remain “in.”
  6. The team which scored last, throws the pallino to begin the next frame.
  7. If a player rolls the wrong colored ball, simply replace it with the correct color when the ball comes to rest.
  8. If a player rolls out of turn the opposing team may choose to leave everything, including the thrown ball, exactly where it is or may return any moved balls to their approximate original positions and remove the thrown ball from play.
  9. If a ball is accidentally moved before all 8 balls are played, the opposing team replaces the ball to the approximate original position. This is to be done in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
  10. In the championships, when a team wins a game, players may exchange ends of the court and substitutions may be made. The team winning the previous game will toss the pallino to start the next game.
  11. Practice between games is limited to rolling up the court and back one time.

4)    Scoring:

  1. Only the “inside” team scores. One point is given for each ball of the inside team that is closer to the pallino than any ball of the opposing team. If at the end of any frame the closest ball of each team is equidistant from the pallino, the frame ends in a tie and no points are awarded to either team.
  2. The game will resume from the opposite end of the court with the same team tossing the pallino.  Players switch ends of the court at the end of each game.

5)    Measurements:

  1. All measurements should be made from the inside dimensions of the bocce ball to the inside dimension of the pallino. Only the referee and one representative from each team may be present for the measurement.
  2. If a team is determined to be “inside” and then it is determined later in the frame that a mistake has been made, all balls played are valid. If both teams have balls remaining, the team that is “outside” rolls again. If all balls have been played, points are awarded based on the balls that are actually closest to the pallino in accord with the “Scoring” rule.

6)    Dead Balls:

  1. Should a player’s bocce make contact with the back board the bocce is considered a dead ball on impact and is removed from play until the end of the frame.  Balls that go out of the court or hit the top of the court boards are also considered dead balls.
  2. If the thrown ball comes to rest on the pallino or another ball that is touching the back wall, that thrown ball remains in play. The ball touching the back wall is removed from play. If the pallino is touching the back wall, it remains in play.
  3. If a bocce after hitting the backboard strikes a stationary bocce, that stationary bocce shall be replaced in its original position. The thrown ball is removed from play.
  4. If a bocce hitting the backboard is not removed quickly enough and, as a result, strikes a moving ball that likely would have hit the backboard, allowing the moving ball to remain in play, that moving ball remains in play where it comes to rest.

7)    Pallino:

  1. Once the pallino has been validly put into play, it remains in play even if it hits the backboard. However, if the pallino is knocked out of the court, it should be replaced next to the outside wall at the point that it left the court.  If it is knocked in the front of the center line, the frame will end, no points are awarded, and the game will resume from the opposite end of the court with the same team tossing the pallino.

8)    Foul Line:

  1. Player’s movements are limited to the foul line (B in the diagram above). The player may not step on or over the foul line before releasing the pallino or bocce ball. When a player releases the pallino or bocce, both feet must be on the court unless the player has a significant physical impairment.  One official warning will be granted each team per match for a foot foul; penalties will be prescribed on any subsequent foul by that team.
  2. The penalty for a team committing a 2nd (and subsequent) foul-line infraction will be as follows:
    1. the team fouled against will be awarded points as they were immediately preceding the foul and the frame will end, with the team committing the foul awarded no points for the frame, or;
    2. the team fouled against will have the option of declining the penalty and completing the frame.

9)    Shooting:

      1. Shooting is lofting the ball in the air beyond the center of the court. Shooting is allowed if the thrown ball hits the ground before hitting another ball. If the thrown ball does not hit the ground first, balls are replaced to the approximate original position and the thrown ball is moved out of play.

10)    Refereeing and Disputes:

  1. Teams will be assigned to have one or more of their members referee games in which they are not participating.  The referee for the match will make all decisions about scoring, fouls, and other issues.
  2. If there is no referee available, the teams playing will referee their own game.
  3. Any dispute which cannot be resolved by the referee or the team capos shall be decided by one of the league commissioners or a designee. Upon the decision of the commissioner or designee, the game shall continue.

11)    Protests:

  1. A protest will be considered valid only if the opposing capo is notified at the time of the dispute (before the next frame begins) and the game is officially recognized as being played under protest. All protests must be submitted in writing to one of the league commissioners on the same day as the game in protest.  A $5.00 fee must accompany all written protests. The fee will be returned if the protest is valid.

12)    Forfeits:

  1. If a team does not have four players at the start of the game and there are not enough alternates to be randomly assigned to round out a team’s squad, the team forfeits the game.
  2. Teams may use alternates, as outlined above.  If there are not enough alternates and a team is unable to field a team during the first 20 minutes of the game, the game will be considered a forfeit with the opposing team granted a victory with a score of 10-0.
  3. If a team forfeits games on any two weeks of the season, they will be dropped from league play and the team capo will be notified. All games previously played will be null and void.

13)    Rescheduled Games:

  1. If matches are cancelled due to rain, they will be rescheduled for the same time on the following Monday.  If both capos from a team agree, they can schedule the match at another convenient time and must inform a league commissioner before the following Monday.  All rescheduled games must be completed before 6:00 p.m. the Wednesday following the originally scheduled date.

14)    Conduct and Courtesy:

  1. Team capos and consiglieres are responsible for the actions of their players.
  2. If a player is standing in the playing half of the court and the opposing team requests that the player step aside, that request should be honored.
  3. Only participating players should be on the court while the game is in progress. Spectators are not allowed on the courts at any time during regulation play.
  4. Courtesy and respect should be displayed at all times. Profanity directed at others and unsportsmanlike conduct is not permitted. Violations may result in a warning by a referee or a league commissioner to the player and team captain; repeated violations may result in the issuing of points to the opposing team, at the judgment of the official. Severe violations or a violation after a warning may result in the players expulsion by the official from the game or from the league.
  5. All trash is to be discarded in appropriate containers.  Recycling is strongly encouraged.

(August 25, 2008)


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