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bocce ball facts

28 June . 2018

10 Fun Facts About Bocce Ball, The World's Third-most Popular Sport

Bocce ball and pickleball will be among the activities offered at Elyson’s newest park, opening this fall. We recently blogged about the popularity of pickleball, and for equal time, here are 10 fun facts about bocce ball.

Like pickleball, bocce ball has simple rules, making it a fun and easy game for residents of all ages to learn and play. There are two teams, each with four larger balls, the bocci. There is also one small ball, the pallino. Play begins when a member of one team throws the pallino across the court. The teams then switch off throwing the bocci at the pallino where it has landed. After all the bocci have been thrown, the team with the bocci closest to the pallino wins the point.

With these fun facts, you can be the most bocce-savvy player on the court:

  • Bocce is the third most popular sport in the world, after soccer and golf.
  • Bocce in its current form was played as early as 264 B.C. in Rome. No one really knows how old bocce is, but stone balls dating back to 9000 B.C. have been found in Turkey.
  • 25 million people in the U.S. alone play bocce.
  • Notable bocce players have included the Roman Emperor Augustus, the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates and the astronomer Galileo.
  • George Washington built a bocce court at Mount Vernon in the 1780s.
  • The pallino must cross the middle of the court in order for the game to start. If not, it must be rethrown, or given to the other team to throw.
  • A bocci is considered dead (or “morte” in Italian) when it hits the back wall. The bocci is removed from play and not allowed to be rethrown.
  • A game is typically played to 12 points in the U.S., though some games can go to 15 or 21 points.
  • The surface of a bocce court can be composed of stone dust, dirt, clay, grass or an artificial material.
  • Regulation bocce courts are 91 feet long by 13 feet long, and variations are acceptable if foul lines, mid-court lines and inbound markers are designated.

Learn more about Elyson's other amenities.