Are you looking for a safe, challenging and timeless family outdoor game? Look no further than bocce ball! Add a set to your backyard or your family vacay bag, and you’ll join millennia of bocce players – from children in the streets of Palestine to Greek clergy and Roman soldiers.
Why Is Bocce Ball So Popular?
Bocce ball is accessible to all ages and abilities, as it’s low impact, no contact and doesn’t require endurance. However, don’t be fooled, because while almost anyone can enjoy tossing a bocce ball, mastery is a satisfying feat. The mechanics are interesting, and the strategy is devilishly fun.
How To Play Bocce Ball
Fancy bocce players take to crushed oyster courts, but any flat dirt, grass or sand is excellent for family fun. Below, we’ve also listed uniquely designed bocce ball sets that make playing bocce possible indoors and on uneven ground.
Two to eight players can join in the game, although 2 or 4 players is most common.
The rules of bocce are simple:
- The game begins by tossing (also known as” bowling”) a special, small white ball called the “pallino”, (also known as the “Jack”). Ally-oop!
- Players then take turns throwing 1 of their colored “bocce” balls to get closest to the prized pallino ball. It’s proper form to throw underhand. Some players prefer a soft underhand lob for accurate placement and others bowl low and hard, especially when trying to knock another player’s bocce.
- The team with the initial ball furthest away then throws their remaining balls (4 bocce balls per team). The other team follows, with the option to try to knock the other team’s balls away from the pallino.
- The team with the closest bocce ball to the pallino wins. The winning team gets 1 point for every bocce ball closer to the pallino than the other team’s closest bocce ball.
- Players decide ahead of time on the number of rounds or “frames” they will play – Twelve is standard, but if you’re at home you can always just play until lunch is ready.
Pro tip: Be strategic! Take into consideration every option – you can try to get close to the pallino, knock another player’s bocce away from it, or knock the pallino itself—strategy, strategy, and strategy.
What To Look For In A Bocce Ball Set
So, you and your family want to get in on the action. But what kind of investment should you make in a bocce ball set? Luckily, with the rising popularity of bocce all over the world, you have options. Which set is best for your yard depends on who wants to play, where you want to play and how highly you value authenticity. Here are some key considerations when selecting the best set for you:
Regulation size bocce balls are 107mm in diameter, but there are several sizes on the market. The average backyard player uses smaller balls, as 107mm is a pretty hefty handful for kids or people with smaller hands. Kids and elderly folks may appreciate a ball as small as 74mm (we’ve included a smaller, lightweight option below). Even without kids to consider, if becoming a pro with the standardized size isn’t your priority, a 90mm or 100mm set might be a good middle-ground for a range of guests and slightly easier portability.
Regulation weight bocce balls are 920g or less. The heavier the ball, the more control you have. However, a lighter ball is easier to use for those with less strength (i.e. kids). While even ultra-lightweight options can be a good time, the game’s strategy changes with balls less than about 500g, as it becomes more challenging to knock each other’s bocce balls.
Professional bocce sets typically have 8 balls, with 4 balls of 1 colour and 4 balls of another. Each color of ball also has 2 balls with 1 engraved pattern and 2 balls with another (for teams of 2). This allows for 4 players to differentiate between their balls and can also be used to the advantage of the color blind. Sets designed for backyard fun often skip the engraving step and simply use 4 different colors. If you plan to play with 4 people, especially if those people are smaller humans who like colors and might not notice detailed designs, a cheaper set with 4 colours might be a good call. If you plan to play as a duo most of the time or keep it classy, 2 colors keep it simple.
Bocce balls come in a range of materials. Historically, bocce balls were carved of wood, which isn’t necessarily evenly weighted and are susceptible to rot and wear. More modern high-end sets are made of solid resin composites, which are both resilient and perfectly evenly weighted, but expensive. However, most common bocce sets, including those on our best value list below, are made with a rubber core with a resin exterior. The feel of a rubber core, resin-coated bocce is more than sufficient to the ordinary, amateur bocce player. While some bocce sets in this category use cheap resin pr1 to cracking, you’ll find some durable budget options on our list.
Less often, bocce craftsman and manufacturers use a range of other materials. Bocce volo is a variant of the game involving metal balls and overhand throws. These balls are difficult to source, and the game is less accessible to new players, with very few North American adopters.
If you plan to play bocce on a bocce court – a very flat surface – it is worthwhile to make evenly weighted bocce balls a priority. If you plan to play on uneven grass or beach sand anyways, the quality of the bocce ball matters less, as the bumps in the ground will thwart your precise maneuvers anyways. You can still have a great time, but a value pick is likely to do the trick.
A standard bocce ball set (including all those listed here) typically includes 8 bocce balls, 1 distinct pallino ball, a measuring tape or string and a carrying case. However, the included carrying cases aren’t exactly the highest quality. Even high-end bocce sets often have flimsy, frustrating cases. If you plan to keep your bocce set in 1 location, this likely isn’t a big factor. If you want to travel, you can either suffer with fiddly zippers and jiggling balls or simply replace the bag with a milk crate or similar bin. We will note the case quality on the below bocce ball best-of list, but we selected the sets assuming that the bocce ball quality and value were prioritised over case construction.
A Note on Weight
Bocce Ball sets are typically measured using grams and millimeters. A standard set is 920g and 107mm in diameter. For reference that’s just over 2lbs and 4.2 inches in diameter.
The Best Bocce Ball Sets You Can Buy On Amazon
BEST VALUE REGULATION SET: Rally and Roar Bocce Ball Set
This bocce set is a great value entry-level set into the real world of regulation bocce. These balls will feel substantial and are great for playing with adults and even practicing for recreational tournaments.
Specs: 90mm, 100mm or 107mm diameter bocce balls (107mm ball are 920g)
Features: Includes 8 bocce balls, 1 pallino ball, basic zippered case, tape measure
- Rally and Roar is an American company with a reputation for great customer service and quality design, reportedly offering generous replacements in case of breakage or chipping
- 107mm ball is regulation size and weight, at a lower cost than full resin regulation balls it is a great ball as an entry-level to the official sport
- Standard dark green and maroon colors are classy and professional-looking
- Not particularly resilient when used on gravel surfaces, perfect for grass or sand
- Carrying case is tedious to use and requires users to leave the cardboard insert inside the bag
BEST VALUE BACKYARD FUN (NOT REGULATION): GameLand Bocce Ball Set
Material: Poly-resin with a rubber core (bocce balls)
Specs: Choose between 90mm or 100mm bocce balls (approximately 680g)
Features: Includes 8 bocce balls, 1 pallino ball, basic zippered canvas case, measuring rope
- 4 balls colors is fun for kids and ideal for 4 players
- Excellent value for a durable resin-coated set
- Choose between 90mm and 100mm balls – both sizes are perfect for use by most middle-aged and older children and adults
- Not as precisely constructed as higher-end sets
- The case is adequately durable but has little structure (keeping the cardboard inside is a helpful solution as long as it stays dry).
BEST VALUE FULL RESIN SET: Baden Champions Bocce Ball Set
This bocce set is a step above most economy sets available. For the extra m1y, you’ll get a well-crafted, high-quality product that you can use for decades to come. Great for serious players or simply backyard bocce enthusiasts who want the best.
Material: Solid resin
Specs: 107mm, 920g (regulation size and weight)
Features: Includes 8 bocce balls, 1 pallino ball, supportive canvas case, measuring tape
- High-quality construction, made with full resin and no rubber core for optimal weight distribution and strength.
- Baden has a history of quality, well-designed sports products and has upgraded this set to incorporate customer feedback and create product superior to similar-looking budget options.
- It has the best case out of the bocce ball sets listed here – with more support and durability; it is feasible to comfortably transport this set in its original case.
- Color gets scuffed when used on hard surfaces, while this won’t affect the quality of gameplay, it is a common issue for bocce balls that use quality resins which are more difficult to color.
FANCIEST PROFESSIONAL SET: Perfetta Club Pro Solid Bocce Set
This bocce set is next level to any North American designed set. It comes with both incredibly precise Italian design and clout.
Material: Solid resin
Specs: precisely 107mm, 920g (regulation size)
Features: Includes 8 bocce balls, 1 pallino ball, canvas case
- Perfetta is a top-notch, world-class bocce ball manufacturer based in Italy
- Bocce ball sets come with a ten-year warranty (although this warranty does not include damage due to hitting a sharp rock or another similar object – the most common cause of bocce ball damage)
- Precise craftsmanship superior to other manufacturers, including other full resin sets
- No resin is entirely immune to scratches, so although this set is incredibly durable, the paint still sustains scratches on rough terrain
- The carrying case is usable but not great, with little support
BEST SOFT RUBBER CORE SET: GoSports Backyard Bocce Set
This is an affordable and versatile choice for families who want to use their bocce set in all different environments from a brand name for outdoor goods. Lightweight and easy-to-grip, this set is perfect for kids. However, the durability and substantial enough weight keep the game fun for adults as well.
Material: Soft rubber exterior with weighted comp1nts inside
Specs: 90mm diameter, 780g, each
Features: Includes 8 bocce balls, 1 pallino ball, drawstring backpack carrying case, measuring tape
- Great for use on hard surfaces such as concrete and gym floors but also workable on grass, sand and traditional bocce courts
- Tacky rubber, which can be squeezed slightly which is great for small hands or players who need extra help getting a good grip
- Ultra-durable rubber, resilient against scratches and thick enough that it’s incredibly unlikely to break
- 4 bright colors are great for kids and for more than 2 players
- Balls don’t bounce like other rubber balls might, but rather behave similarly to standard bocce balls
- Must be inflated before use using a ball pump (not included) and re-inflated each season or after significant use
- The backpack case’s drawstrings are not strong enough to lift the bocce balls’ weight and are very uncomfortable if strong enough.
- Paint scratches off after several uses on rough ground
BEST VALUE LIGHTWEIGHT RESIN SET: Baden Champions 90mm Bocce Ball Set
The second Baden set on this list, this set boasts the quality and material of excellent regulation sets at an accessible size and weight. It is perfect for maintaining class and quality at a lighter weight.
Material: Premium Poly-resin Coating
Specs: 90mm, “lightweight” (approximately 680g)
Features: Includes 8 bocce balls, 1 pallino ball, canvas carrying case, measuring tape
- Baden has a history of quality, well-designed sports products and has upgraded this set to incorporate customer feedback and create product superior to similar-looking budget options
- Padded, supportive carrying case
- Excellent material quality compared to budget equivalents
- Ideal for travel due to smaller size and weight
- Great for children or elderly players
- Rare reports of cracking after hitting rocks
- Not a standardized weight-size combo so it could be difficult to transition to another set
BEST INDOOR BOCCE BALL GAME: Crazy Bocce Ball Set
While technically this game may not be “bocce ball” in the traditional sense, this fun play-anywhere game is well crafted and uniquely fun. Many bocce ball style games include foam balls or hacky sacks at exorbitant prices considering their value. This game, however, is reasonably priced, well-constructed and a fun option for young kids and indoor play. With cubes instead of balls, this version is also a fun option if you do not have access to flat ground as it can even be played on a hill.
Material: Wooden blocks
Specs: 2 inches (50mm) wide, 2.2oz each (a fraction of real bocce ball weight)
Features: 8 “bocce” blocks, 1 “pallino” block, drawstring carrying case
- Incredibly lightweight and easily portable, even by small children
- Usable on uneven ground
- Appropriate on all surfaces including indoors – flooring, carpet, rock, gravel, sand, grass, even on top of a bed or a durable table
- 4 paint colors are shiny and fun for kids
- Small blocks are easy to store and can even be used for other block-related games
- Of course, this is not truly the sport of bocce ball, but a game modelled after the concept
Enjoyed this post? Be sure to check out our other easy favourite outdoor games here.
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