Although it is believed that a form of bocce ball may have been played as early as 5000 B.C. in Eygpt, the game became popular with the ancient Romans and Greeks. Over the centuries the game spread throughout Europe. The standard bocce we know today is usually associated with Italy. Bocce literally translates to “bowls”. Bocce ball is an outdoor game which is played on a a level surface using wooden balls. Although there are “official” courts, it can also be played in your own backyard. To play the game, a small ball, the pallina, is tossed. This becomes the target. Each team takes turns throwing their 4 larger balls, trying to get the closest to the pallina. We have created an indoor bocce ball set from wool roving so you can enjoy the game year round!
How to Play Indoor Bocce Ball
Equipment needed – Directions for making a wool roving bocce ball set follows the directions for game play.
- 1, 2 or 4 players per team
- 4 – 8 large balls (3 inches)
- 1 pallina ball (2 inches)
- tape measure
- painter’s tape (optional)
Decide whether you want to create a “court” or play “cross country” bocce.
If you want to create a court, use a long hall or open space in a room. Set boundaries. You can use painter’s tape on the floor to create a starting line that you must stand behind when tossing the balls.
If you prefer, you can play “cross country” bocce. (Our family’s favorite.) The pallina can be tossed anywhere!
Use a coin toss to decide which team goes first. The winner can chose to be the team that tosses the pallina first or the color of balls they will use.
Balls can be rolled, tossed or bounced. All throws must be underhand.
Which ever team got the first pallina toss (Team A), throws, bounces or rolls the pallina as near or as far as they chose as long as it stays within boundaries, if boundaries were assigned.
The same person throws the first bocce ball, trying to get as close to the pallina as possible.
It is now Team B’s turn. The team take turns tossing their bocce balls until one of their balls gets closer to the pallina then Team A’s ball. Note: Players may opt to try to get close to the pallina or they can chose to hit any other bocce ball on the court. This can be used to push a team mate’s ball closer to the pallina or to push the opposing team’s ball away from the pallina. Team B continues tossing balls until they get a ball closer to the pallina than Team A or they run out of balls.
If Team B does get one of their balls closer to the pallina than Team A, it is Team A’s turn until they get a ball closer to the pallina than Team B.
This continues back and forth until all the balls have been tossed.
Scoring: Only one team gets points on any round. One point is given for each ball that is closer to the pallina than the closest ball of the opposing team. (The winner of the round can get 1 – 4 points.) If the distance between 2 balls is too close to call, measure from the center of the pallina to the outer edge of a bocce ball. If the 2 balls in question measure the same, no one is awarded points for that ball. (In the game pictured below, the orange team gets 1 point.)
The team that won the previous round tosses the pallina first in the next round.
Play continues until one team reaches 16 points.
Materials to Make the Indoor Bocce Ball Set
Note: There are 2 teams in bocce ball, with each team using 4 balls. There can be 1, 2 or 4 players on each team. We made 8 large balls and 1 pallina, but if you prefer you can make just 2 balls per team for indoor play.
- (4 or 8) 3 inch foam balls
- (1) 2 inch foam ball
- natural wool roving
- dyed wool roving
- few drops dish soap
- large bowl or sink
- hot water
Gather your materials together. We made 8 balls, four for each team, and 1 smaller pallina. Pick different colors of roving to create unique color schemes for each team. The finished balls do not need to be identical to each other but the colors should be the same. For one team we used natural, orange and yellow wool roving. For the other team we used natural, green and purple. We made our pallina using natural, black and brown roving.
Begin by ripping off a 12 – 18 inch of natural roving. Gently pull at the fibers on roving so it is smooth and thin. Begin covering the ball, adding more roving as necessary. As you add more pieces, overlap the previous pieces. You want good coverage but it does not need to be real thick. Add enough roving so you cannot see the ball through the roving. Cover your 4 or 8 balls and the pallina with the natural roving. (We used a base of natural roving because it is usually more inexpensive than the dyed roving.)
Once your balls are cover with the natural roving, add 2 additional colors of roving to each ball. You do not need as much dyed roving because you are just adding color to the balls.
When you are done covering your balls with roving, it is time to wet felt the roving. There are different methods of doing this. We like to felt by hand. To do this, fill a large bowl or sink with comfortably hot water. Add a very small amount of liquid dish soap to the bowl.
Submerge a roving covered ball into the water. Remove from the water. In the beginning, “squish” the roving against the ball, turning it in your hand until the wool loses its loftiness.
Continue “squishing” and rubbing the ball in your hands. You need friction so the scales of the wool fibers overlap one another. If your ball is drying out, redip it in water. This process takes around 5 minutes. Eventually, you will notice the wool feels different. It now hugs the ball and has lost its loftiness. It feels like a tennis ball. Now run the ball under cold water, removing all the soap. Squeeze out the water with your hands.
Wrap the ball in a towel to remove as much water as possible.
Allow the balls to dry completely. You are now ready to play!