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Bocce Ball Game Strategy - How to Win

by Frederic Rohner
August 2008

Bocce ball is a very entertaining and easy game which can be played by nearly everyone and enjoyed by the entire family. But, as with most games, it is always more fun to win than to lose, so here are a few tips to maximize your potential for victory against Grandma and Grandpa at your next barbecue.

Strategy based on type of bocce court
One of the most important things to consider in Bocce ball is the condition of the playing field. On hard surfaces like asphalt, a player must be very careful not to overthrow and miss the jack entirely. The danger of this is less so on a grass field, but there is still the potential to overthrow even on grass. A good strategy to combat this is putting backspin on the Bocce ball when it is thrown, so that when it lands it either stops completely or has only a minimal roll.

However, when playing on a softer surface, like sand or oyster shells, it is important to remember that the ball will not roll as much. A good tactic for playing on a softer surface is to throw the ball with a higher arc, so that when it lands it "digs" itself into the surface slightly. This will make it more difficult for your opponent to knock the ball out. However, on a softer surface aim becomes very important, as it is harder to knock balls out of position once they are in place.

2 Strategies: Blocking and Knocking
Once a Bocce ball game has commenced, two strategies become of utmost importance: blocking and knocking. A good block can make it very difficult for your opponents to get their Bocce balls anywhere near the jack and can result in more points for your team. The best way to block is by putting your Bocce ball close to the jack, but in front of it, so that your opponents will have a harder time knocking your ball out without knocking it closer to the jack. Knocking is an important strategy, but one that is difficult to master. The purpose of knocking is to push the opponent's ball away from the jack while simultaneously landing your ball closer to the jack. This requires a little knowledge of geometry and physics, as both angles and Newton's laws come into play when knocking.

As with most games, the official rules of Bocce ball are a bit more complicated than those of a simple backyard game, making some of the strategies above a bit more difficult to execute. But, when matched against Grandma and Grandpa, mastery of these strategies will all but guarantee success for you and your team.

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