Rules of Play

These rules shall govern all events, League play and tournaments, sanctioned by the Southernmost Bocce League.
Object of the Game:

​The game of “open” bocce is played with eight bocce balls and one small target ball called a pallina. The object of the game is to roll the bocce ball closest to the pallina. In regular play, there are two balls per person, with four people making up a playing team. Two players from each team are permanently stationed at each end of the court for each game. Games are played to 16 points. Unless otherwise noted, League play matches consist of three games.

​Starting the Game:

All League matches begin at 6:30 PM. A team not present within 15 minutes of this scheduled starting time forfeits the match unless the opposing team chooses to waive the starting time. If both teams are present prior to 6:30 PM, the match may begin.

The match begins with the flip of a coin between team captains. The winner of the coin flip has first toss of the pallina and chooses the color of the balls. A player must toss the pallina from behind the 4′ foul line and it must cross the center line but may not pass the opposite 4′ line. The pallina may not be banked off the sidewalls and it may not stop within 12 inches off the sidewall. If a player fails to position the pallina after three tries, the pallina is tossed by the opposing team once. If that team fails, the pallina toss reverts back to the original team and tossing is alternated until the placement is successful.

Once the pallina has been tossed an is in play, it remains in play even if it hits the backboard. If the pallina is knocked out in front of the center line or if it is knocked off the court, that frame is considered dead and play resumes from the other end of the court with the same team tossing the pallina.


Playing the Game:

The player who originally tosses the pallina, whether successful or not, throws the first bocce ball to set the point. That team, then considered “inside”, does not throw again until the opposing “outside” team beats (not ties) the roll. Play continues until both teams have thrown their bocce balls. Players need not throw alternate throws.
Players may proceed full court before delivering the ball. In a one-on-one game, players may go the full length of the court to observe each throw.

Should a player’s ball make contact with the backboard without first hitting another ball, that ball is dead on impact and removed from play until the end of the frame. If a bocce ball in play leaves the court due to impact, that one ball is dead and play continues.

Only players of the game in progress shall be allowed on the court during play. If a League member or spectator who is not playing the game in progress comes onto the court, that person is ejected.

The team scoring in the previous frame shall throw the pallina and set the point. During a match, the team winning the previous game shall start the next game from either end.

​Scoring the Game:

All measurements should be made from the inside dimension of the bocce ball to the center of the pallina. Only the scorekeeper, one player from each team and the team captains may be present during measurement.

Only the inside team scores. One point is given for each ball of the inside team that is closer that any ball of the opposing team. If, at the end of the frame, the closest balls of each team are equidistant from the pallina, the frame ends in a tie and no points are awarded. The team that tossed the pallina to begin the tie frame again tosses the pallina.

It is not the responsibility of the scorekeeper to call for a measurement; the scorekeeper calls the point, to the best of his ability, and it is up to either team to call for a measurement. If a point is accepted without measurement and later, upon measurement, determined not to be a point, the results of the measurement shall stand.

The Scorekeeper shall consider the following:

  • – Be fair in decisions, rendering them without regard to score.
  • – Be firm but not overbearing; courteous but never ingratiating; positive but never rude; dignified but not arrogant; and calm but always alert.
  • – Be prepared, physically and mentally, to administer the game.

​​Team Penalties:

If a member of one team, whether as a player spectator or scorekeeper, moves any ball considered to be in play before all balls have been thrown or before points are determined, the opposing team is awarded four points and the frame is over.

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. If a spectator, animal or object interferes with a ball in motion and the ball touches another ball already in play, the frame is dead; play resumes from the other end with the same team tossing the pallina.

If a player delivers a wrong color ball, the ball must be allowed to come to rest and then replaced with the proper ball by the scorekeeper. If a player delivers a wrong color ball which cannot be identified by the scorekeeper as a result of hitting or scattering of balls, the frame will be considered dead and play will resume from the other end with the same team tossing the pallina.

If a team wrongly delivers the pallina and its first ball, the scorekeeper will return both pallina and ball and begin the frame over again from the same end.

If a player delivers his ball when his team has the point and the other team still has balls left, the ball in question remains where it comes to rest, is considered live and play continues. This ruling holds true regardless of who indicated which ball was “inside” since it is the responsibility of each team to request a measurement when a point is questionable.

Any team that forfeits two matches during a season is considered forfeiting out of the League; all games against that team are null and void and will be removed from the standings. If a team forfeits out during a season, that team shall not be allowed to compete in the League during the following season.



Team captains shall be responsible for the conduct of their players. If a team captain fails to support the enforcement of League rules, that team will forfeit the game in progress.

Any League member considered to be disturbing play may be immediately suspended for the remainder of the season as follows: a) by a vote of team captains present OR b) by League officials upon receipt of a valid protest.
Any League member, whether playing or a spectator, who physically or verbally assaults the scorekeeper, another player or a spectator shall be immediately ejected from the League. Assault is defined as an unlawful threat of physical violence or harm to somebody or an attempt to do so.

Any League member, whether playing or a spectator, who taunts another player, spectator or the scorekeeper shall be immediately ejected from the match in progress. Taunting is defined as the use or word or act to incite or degrade or to provoke, ridicule or tease in a hurtful or mocking way, including those of a sexual nature.
Team members, other than the team captain, who are not playing in the game in progress, are not allowed on the court and if so found, will be ejected from the match in progress.

A team roster shall be due before the established deadline. After that deadline, in extenuating circumstances, additional players may be added to the roster upon approval of a written request submitted to League officials. A team will forfeit any game in which a non-roster player competes. A person can play on only one team during any League season.

Players may not be substituted during a game already underway. If, for any reason, a player is unable to complete a game, his team will finish that game with one less player and two bocce balls will be removed from play. If the team losing a player was already competing with three players, the loss of a player will result in that game being a forfeit.

During regular season play, a team with only three players shall be considered a team and shall play with only three players, each rolling two bocce balls. If a fourth player arrives after the game has started, that player can enter the game as soon as his turn comes up. The team playing with three players shall position its players. There is no additional penalty of games lost or forfeited because of three players.



Teams may referee their own games; any disputes which cannot be settled by team captains shall be decided by the night captain or league official present.

Should it be necessary, a protest will be considered valid only if both team captains understand (before the next frame begins) that the game is being played under protest. All protests must be submitted in writing to any league official within 72 hours of the disputed game. A $5.00 fee must accompany all protests and will be returned if the protest is valid. The decision of league officials is final.

Should it be necessary to obtain a night captain’s assistance with the clarifying of rules or in the mediation of a dispute, players will show courtesy and not interrupt or distract the night captains while they are in the midst of rolling. Players will wait until said roll is completed.

In incidents caused by weather, acts of God, civil disorder or other unforeseen reason, the ruling of the night captain and/or any League officials present will stand with regard to the calling of a game.

​League Business:

Members wishing to discuss League business with any League officials are asked to do so when the official is not involved in playing a game.


Make-up Games:

A League official or the League scorekeeper must be notified by BOTH TEAM CAPTAINS in advance when a make-up game or match is scheduled. All make-up games/matches shall be played on the assigned court at Indigenous Park and must be completed by the established deadline each season. The rules of the League shall apply during all make-up games and a score sheet must be completed and signed by both captains.

If one team captain can document, in writing, that three reasonable attempts were made to reschedule a make-up game or match, the make-up date shall be set by League officials.

Matches not played by the date determined by League officials shall be counted as losses for both teams.

​Interrupted Games:

In incidents caused by weather, acts of God, civil disorder or other unforeseen reason, the ruling of the night captain and/or any League officials present will stand with regard to the calling of a game. If a game is so interrupted, it must be completed by the same number of players as participating in the original game. Whenever possible, the original players shall finish the game.

​Rescheduled Games:

Games not interrupted or canceled by the League may only be rescheduled if requested in advance by one team captain and agreed to by the other team captain. It is a courtesy to agree to reschedule and is not required.  If, by the end of the season, the match has not been played, the team requesting the rescheduling shall lose the games.


For League play, the team registration fee established by the membership and shall be due prior to the start of the season. Only teams with paid registration fees shall be considered voting members of the League.

The player fee is also established prior to the start of a season. No player may participate in a League match until that player’s fee is paid. Any game in which a player who has not paid this fee competes is considered a forfeit.

The League considers the team captain to be the “owner” of the team and shall have exclusive rights to change sponsorship, nights, etc. Should the captain leave the position, team members may keep control of the team and position with the League.  There are still some long term sponsors who are considered owners and any one and if one of these sponsors is interested in retaining control of the spot, that sponsor should communicate that to the League in writing. Existing teams requesting a change in nights shall be given consideration over new teams  No sponsor shall have more than one team playing on the same night without the approval of League officials.


At the end of each season, a designated number of teams from each night shall advance to the playoffs. In the event of a three-way tie for one of the top positions, the team scoring the most points against the other two teams shall advance; if there is still a tie, a single game playoff shall occur that night to determine which team advances.

If a qualifying team on any night is unable to compete in the playoffs and that team notifies League officials before the end of the season, the next place team from that night will move up for purposes of the playoffs, and all other qualifying teams shall advance accordingly. If a playoff team fails to show at the time of the playoff match, that team forfeits and an alternate team may be substituted. The alternate team will be chosen first from that night; if a team from that night is not available, the team present with the best League record will be allowed to compete. Alternate teams must report to the scorekeeper or official running the playoffs 30 minutes before the playoffs begin. The original eligible team not competing in the playoffs is still considered to hold the title for finishing the season, i.e. Second Place – Tuesday.

The format for League playoffs is a best-of-three match, single elimination tournament. The only exception to this is the match to decide third and fourth place overall. The losing teams of the semi-final matches will play a one-game match with the winner taking third place overall and the loser coming in fourth. The match will be played just before or simultaneously with the finals match. On the last Monday night of regular season play, the playoff schedule will be announced by League officials. The schedule will include dates and times through the final match. There will be NO grace period for playoff matches and a playoff team must consist of at least four players.

Welfare of the League:

Night captains shall be selected by League officials and shall voluntarily serve, acting as league officials in their absence. Night captains will insure that the facilities are unlocked, lights are on and that score sheets are provided for each match. At the end of the night, they will lock up and turn off the lights. The role of the night captains is not park maintenance. All teams must insure that individual court areas are free of trash and belongings before leaving the park.

The benches at both ends of each court are intended for use by players of the match in progress. It is understood that each team will be afforded half of the bench space at each end during each match.

In any League match, including make up games, the losing team is responsible for dragging the court. Teams not dragging may be assessed a $10 fine which must be paid prior to the start of the following season. The winning team is responsible for returning the bocce balls to the shed and for putting the score sheet into the night book.

Spectators, even if League members, are not allowed on the court at any time during League play. No person, either as a player or spectator, is allowed to bounce bocce balls on the concrete walkways.