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Basic Rules for Bocce

Tournament Rules of the Bocce Classic will supercede any of the following rules


I. The Game
A. Equipment – Bocce is played with eight large balls and one smaller target or object ball called the pallina. There are four balls to a side or team, and they are generally made in two colors to distinguish the balls of one team from those of the opposing team. The tournament will provide official tournament balls.

B. Pallina and Color – A coin toss by the referee will determine which team has the pallina and choice of ball color.

C. Sequence of Play – The pallina is rolled or tossed by a member of the team having won the coin toss to start the game. The player tossing the pallina must deliver the first ball. The opposing team will then deliver their bocce balls until the point is taken or they have exhausted their four balls. This “nearest ball” rule governs the sequence of played balls. The side whose ball is the closest to the pallina is called the “in” ball and the opposing side the “out” ball. Whenever a team gets “in,” it steps aside and allows the “out” team to deliver.

D. Two Attempt Rule – The team possessing the pallina will have two attempts at placing the pallina within the acceptable playing area described above. If they are unsuccessful within these two attempts, the opposing team will have one opportunity to place the pallina. If this attempt is unsuccessful, the referee will place the pallina in the center of the court midway between the foul line and mid-court line. However, at no time does a team lose its earned pallina advantage of being able to deliver the first ball.

E. Initial Point – It is always incumbent upon the team with the pallina advantage to establish the initial point. EXAMPLE: Team A tosses the pallina and delivers their first ball. Team B elects to hit Team A's ball out of position. In doing so, both balls, team A's and Team B's fly out of the court, leaving only the pallina in the court. It is incumbent upon Team A to re-establish the initial point.

F. Ball Delivery – A team has the option of rolling, tossing, 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 hitting out any ball in play in trying to obtain a point, or decreasing the opposing team's points. All ball delivery must be of an underhand style. A tossed ball must touch the court before crossing the center line.

G. Scoring – At the end of each frame (when both teams have exhausted all balls), points will be determined as follows: Scoring points are all those balls of one team closer to the pallina than the closest ball of the opposing team, which can be determined by viewing or by mechanical measurement. The scoring team for each frame will also win the pallina advantage for the subsequent frame. Referee will be responsible for validity of scoreboard. It is incumbent upon the team captain to verify the accuracy of the posted score at all times.

H. Ties During Frame – In the event that two opposing balls are equidistant from the pallina (tied), the team that rolled last will continue to roll until the tie is broken. EXAMPLE: If Team A rolls a ball for the pallina, then Team B rolls its ball for the pallina and the referee determines that they are both exactly 13” away from the pallina. Team B must roll until it has a point closer than 13” from the pallina. If Team B does roll up to the point and Team A hits that ball out re-establishing a tie, Team A must continue to roll until the tie is broken.

I. Ties at the End of Frame – In the event that the two balls closest to the pallina belong to opposing teams and are tied, no points will be awarded, and the pallina returns to the team which delivered it.

J. Player Designation – The captain of the team must be designated and made known to the officials before play begins. The captain may not be changed during the course of the game, but may be changed during the course of a tournament or league.

Rotation of players-the players of any given team may elect to play their ball in any rotation provided the player who tosses the pallina delivers the first bocce ball. The rotation may vary from frame to frame; however, no player may deliver more than two balls per frame.

K. Substitution of players – Only one substitute may be allowed per team per game. That substitute may take the place of any player on the team and may substitute for different players on the same team during different games. Limitations are such that once a player has registered to substitute for one team during a tournament, they may not substitute for any other team during that tournament.

L. Substitution During Game – Substitutions may be made in the case of an emergency-only in the event of medical or other verified emergencies may a player be substituted during the process of a game. Emergency substitutions will only be made at the end of a frame. It this is not possible, the frame will be considered dead. However, once the substitution has been made, the substitute must complete the game.

With regards to forfeiture, teams with less than four players will forfeit the match.


II. Circumstances

A. Time-out – The official may grant a time-out whenever the circumstances explained appear to be of sufficient validity to do so. This time-out will be limited to one minute per team. No time-outs are permitted in the last 5 minutes of a game.

B. Intentional Delay of Game – If, in the opinion of the official, the game is intentionally delayed without sufficient or valid reason, the official must give a warning. If play is not resumed immediately, the delaying team will forfeit the match.

C. Delays Caused by Weather, Acts of God, Civil Disorder or Other Unforeseen Reasons – In such delays, the ruling of the Tournament Director will be decisive and final.

D. Checking Position of Points – One team member is permitted to proceed to mid-court to determine the position of balls. Keep in mind the 30 second delivery rule. When one team has exhausted all of its balls, the referee may declare, by measurement or viewing, which team is “in.” The referee may express the total points by viewing but may not measure for points until the last ball is delivered.


III. Enforcement of Penalities

A. Determination – Immediately upon determination by the official that a foul has been committed, he will notify the captains of both teams and inform them of the penalty imposed. The ruling of the official is final, except as otherwise provided for hereafter.

B. Conditions Not Covered – For conditions not specifically covered in these rules, the Tournament Director's ruling shall be decisive and final.

IV. Specific Fouls

A. Foul-Line Fouls – The foul-line will not be surpassed by any part of the foot before the ball leaves the player's hand. All fouls must be called by a referee as a result of witnessing the foul. One official warning may be granted each team after which penalties will be prescribed. The penalty for a team committing a second foul-line infraction will consist of the following: the team fouled against will be awarded points as they were immediately preceding the foul, and the frame will end. The referee will make the final judgment as to how many points were actually “in” at the time. The team committing the foul will be awarded no points for the frame.

B. Illegal Movement of a Ball Belonging to Your Own Team – If a player moves one or more of his/her team's balls “in contention,” they are removed from the court and considered dead and play continues. Balls not immediately “in contention” may be replaced as close as possible to their original position. “In contention” is herein defined as a ball(s) close enough to the pallina to require measurement to determine whether a point may be awarded.

C. Illegal Movement of an Opponent's Ball – If a player moves one or more of his/her opponent's balls “in contention,” those balls will be awarded one point each and play continues. Only the team fouled against can be awarded points for that frame unless the penalty is declined.

D. Illegal Movement of the Pallina by a Player – If the pallina is moved by a player, the team fouled against may be awarded as many points as the number of live balls that were “in contention” plus the number of balls yet unplayed by that team during the frame in which the foul occurred.

E. Declination of Penalties – The team fouled against shall retain the privilege of declining any of the prescribed penalties and completing the game.

V. Accidental or Premature Movement of Balls or Pallina by Referee

A. Accidental Movement of a Ball or Pallina during Play (when more balls are yet to be played) – If a referee, either in the course of measuring or otherwise moves a ball “in contention” or pallina, the frame is considered dead and started over at the same end.

B. Accidental or Premature Movement of a Ball or Pallina by a Referee After All Balls are Played – If the point or points were obvious to the referee, they will be awarded. All uncertain points will not be awarded.

VI. Interference with a Ball in Motion

A. By One's Own Team – If a player interferes with his/her team's ball in motion, team automatically forfeits the ball and play continues.

B. By Opponent's Team – If a player interferes with an opponent's ball in motion, the team fouled against has the option of :

playing the ball over
declaring the frame dead or
declining the penalty, accept the lie of the touched ball and continue play
C. With No Disruption of Position – If a spectator, animal, or object interferes with a ball in motion and it does not touch another ball already in play, it must be played over by the same player,

D. With Disruption of Position – If a spectator, animal, or object interferes with a ball in motion and that ball touched another ball already in play and “in contention,” the frame is dead.

E. Other Disruption of Play – Any action which interferes with the position of the pallina or the ball of each team closest to the pallina, renders the frame dead. In the event balls other than the pallina or the two opposing balls closest to it are moved, they may be replaced as close as possible to their original position by the two captains or referee. Such disruptive action may be the result of e.g., a dead ball from another court, foreign objects, spectators or animals entering the court and changing the position of a ball(s) in play.

VII. Wrong Color Delivery

A. Replaceable – If a player delivers a wrong color ball, the ball may not be stopped by another player or the referee. The ball must be allowed to come to rest and replaced with the proper ball by the referee.

B. Not Replaceable – If a player delivers a wrong color ball which cannot be replaced without disturbing another ball already in play, the points of the play will be recorded at that time, wrong color ball counting for team which rolled or delivered it, and play will continue. It will be the responsibility of the two team captains and the referee to maintain identity of the “wrong color” ball(s).

C. Unidentifiable – If a player delivers a wrong color ball which cannot be identified by the referee as a result of hitting or scattering of ball, the frame will be considered dead and no points awarded.

VIII. Wrong Rotation of Play

A. Initial Roll – If a team wrongly delivers the pallina and its first ball, the referee will return both pallina and ball and begin frame over from same end.

B. Subsequent Rolls of Proper Color in Improper Sequence – If a player delivers his/her ball when his team is “in” and the other team still has balls left, the ball in question remains where it come to rest, is considered “live,” and play continues. This ruling holds true regardless of who indicated which ball was “in” since it is the responsibility of each team to request a measurement when an “in” point is questionable.


IX. Objections

A. Objections to Officials – Each team has the right to object to a designated official for any reason prior to the start of a game. This objection will be considered and decided upon by the Tournament Directors.

B. Participant Officials – No member of a team or registered substitute of a team will be allowed to assist in officiating a game in which that team is also playing.

X. Substitute Officials

A. During a Game – Substitutions of officials may occur during a game only with the permission of the Tournament Directors.

B. Additional Officials – Additional officials may be assigned to any games during the course of play if sufficient cause is presented to the Tournament Directors.

C. Team Requests – Officials may be changed during the course of a game if either team presents sufficient cause to Tournament Directors.

D. Official's Uniform – Referees should be clearly distinguishable from players.


XI. Broken Ball

A. During Play – If during the course of a frame, a ball or pallina should break, the frame will considered dead. Replacement of ball or pallina will be the responsibility of Tournament Directors.

XII. Court Grooming

A. Prior to Play – All courts must be groomed to the satisfaction of Tournament Directors before the start of each game.

B. Court Grooming During Play – Courts may not be re-groomed during the course of the game. Obstacles or objects such as stones, cups, etc. may be removed during the course of a game.

C. Unusual Court Conditions – If in the opinion of the Tournament Directors, the court conditions are such that play is impractical, the game can be stopped and resumed on another court or at another designated time.

XIII. Moving Objects

A. Moving Ball or Pallina – No player may play their ball until a pallina or another ball has come to a complete rest.


XIV. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

A. Disqualification – Players shall act in a sportsmanlike manner at all times. Any act which is deemed as poor sportsmanship; e.g., insulting language or gestures or actions or words which engender ill-will, if flagrant, may result in disqualification.

XV. Attire

A. Proper Attire – Players will dress in a manner which will serve to bring credit to them and the sport of bocce.

B. Footwear – Players will not be permitted to wear shoes which may damage or disrupt the court surface. Also, players will not be permitted to play without shoes.

C. Objectionable Attire – Players wearing objectionable or offensive clothing, or improperly attired, may not be allowed to participate in a tournament