8 Best Bocce Ball Sets | March 2017
- foam-lined case for extra protection
- engraved signature logo
- only two turns per player
- smooth rolls on any surface
- all accessories fit well in case
- case tears easily
- distance marker for accurate scoring
- includes 60 mm pallino target
- compact for a professional grade set
|Brand||Park & Sun|
- includes a rules card
- sized to the french standard
- durable canvas carrying case
|Brand||Sea Turtle Sports|
- beautiful vintage etchings
- each ball weighs 920 grams
- housed in a sturdy wooden box
Classic Outdoor Enjoyment With A Bocce Ball Set
The game of bocce enjoys a long history, tracing it roots back to the days of the Ancient Roman Empire, and it has remained popular, in one form or another, throughout the many centuries from that era to today. We'll cover the history of bocce and similar early boules games -- those in which a heavy sphere is rolled or thrown toward a distant target of a smaller size -- later. Our first concern is to educate the modern consumer about some of the many fine bocce sets available today.
To begin with, you must appreciate the vast price range to be found among bocce sets. You can get a set for as little as twenty dollars; you can also spend more than one hundred and twenty dollars on a set that would be suitable for top level competition. The differences among sets of varied price are worth discussing individually. But first, let's take a moment to discuss what you will find common in all bocce sets.
In every bocce set, you can expect to find at least four heavy spheres of at least three inches in diameter and one smaller "target" ball (often referred to as the jack) that may measure closer to one and a half inches in diameter. As you move up the price scale, you can expect a set to have a minimum of six bocce balls (and still one jack) and, in top level sets, you will always find a total of eight balls.
Premier quality bocce sets almost always feature balls of two traditional colors: green and red. Balls in these sets usually measure around four inches in diameter, are usually made from solid resin, and usually weigh a little more than two pounds each. If you are a serious player, you need a gift for a bocce devotee, or you want to look the part of the competitor regardless of your skill and expedience, these are the sets to choose among.
Lower down on the price scale you can find many bocce sets that feature balls in much more playful, pastel colors. While bright yellow, red, and blue (and orange and purple and so forth) bocce balls might be a turn off to a purist, they will catch the attention of younger players. And if you are playing a non traditional game of bocce on a grassy field or on a sandy beach, the bright colors of these balls may be necessary to help you spot the balls in the first place.
For younger players or for adults who don't want darkness to spoil the fun, there are even illuminated bocce sets with balls featuring built-in LED lights. Again these are a far cry from the spheres you would see rolling down a bocce court in Naples or Montenegro, but are nonetheless popular with many players.
If you are having trouble deciding between two similar bocce sets, don't overlook the importance of carrying case design. Those eight bocce balls and that jack can add up to more than eighteen pounds of gear to tote, so choose a bag that will make carrying all that weight as comfortable as possible for you.
The Rules Of Bocce
Bocce can be played in many ways, and is a great game for making up your own "house rules" (or for putting a spin on the traditional regulations). But it's always a good idea to have an understanding of the actual rules of this and any game before you begin to alter them.
Assuming you are playing with four balls per team, you may play with two teams consisting of one, two, or four players. As logic dictates, a single player will role all four balls, doubles will each get two, and in teams of four, each player gets one roll per turn (or frame as it is often known).
A standard bocce court measures sixty feet in length; each end of the court is marked at both the four foot line and the fourteen foot line, thus defining an area ten feet in length that is slightly offset from the end of the court. Into this area the first team (selected randomly) pitches the target ball, known as the jack (and, in some countries, the pallino) from the far side of the court. If the team fails to land the jack in this area in two tries, the jack switches to the other team.
Once the jack is placed, the same team that placed it first rolls a bocce ball at the jack. Teams then alternate rolls, jockeying to get their balls as close as possible to the jack and to knock opponents' balls away (or to move the jack through a strike).
At the end of the turn, only the team with a bocce ball closest to the jack scores points. They score a point for each of their balls that is the closest to the jack; any balls lying farther away than the closest ball of an opponent is not counted.
Bocce games usually go to a score of twelve.
The History Of Bocce
As noted, the game of bocce as we know it today traces its roots to Ancient Rome. But indeed even the Romans were relatively late adopters of the pastime. Archeologists have uncovered graphics that seem to depict a bowling game quite like bocce being played in Egypt as far back as 5000 years before the common era (or well over 7000 years ago, for clarity).
It seems this truly ancient Egyptian game was adopted by Ancient Greeks sometime in the early centuries of the 1st Millennium BCE, and from there, several hundred years later, it made its way to Rome, as did so many aspects of Grecian life during the Hellenization of the Roman civilization. The mighty spread of the Roman Empire (not to mention its centuries of primacy in the ancient world) introduced bowling games to countless peoples of antiquity.
Lawn bowling games were popular throughout much of the Medieval Period and the Renaissance, though the sport was also often banned by various ecclesiastical authorities and secular nobles who saw it as, by turns, blasphemous gambling and a waste of time that could be devoted to labor. A 16th Century British passion for lawn games helped keep them in vogue, though, and by the Early Modern Period, bocce and similar games were widely accepted and popular.