Bocce Match Play

For Leagues and Tournaments

Bocce Match Play is a contest where the number of frames won not the points scored determines the winner.  [?]

Sometimes it is desirable to involve a large number of players or teams in bocce play on a limited number of courts in a limited time period. Many have participated in a 'Bocce Shootout' where a single frame is played, the loser is eliminated and the winner continues on until there is a single winner left. However, winning a single frame can involve more luck than skill. The purpose of defining Match play is to provide a time controlled, speedier game than a normal 12 point game but with more bocce play than a single frame and with more dependence on skill for the outcome. The 'Bocce Shootout', a one frame match, fits within the Match play description.




1.      A Match consists playing an odd number of frames per Match. (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 frames depending on the number of players, team size, number of courts available, and time available for the matches.) A standard Match is 11 frames.

2.   Score is kept by who won the frame, not by points scored. Play in the frame stops when one team has played all their balls and does not have the point.

3.   Measurements are made only to determine the 'In' ball.

4.   The Match winner is determined by who won over half the frames (1 out of 1, 2 out of 3, 3 out of 5, etc.) Play in the match stops when one team has won over half the frames in the match.

5.   Teams consist of 1 to 4 players and play head to head (not split to each end).

A 1-player team rolls 4 balls.

A 2-player team rolls 2 balls each.

A 3-player team rolls 1 ball each and rotate throwing the 4th ball.

A 4-player team rolls 1 ball each.

6.   To speed up play, two matches can be played simultaneously on a single bocce court by assigning a match to each end of the court. (This also provides players at the opposite end to determine which ball is 'In' and declare the frame winner.)

7.   Applicable Standard Court Bocce Rules, apply to Match play.


Example : one on one play in a single elimination tournament

Similarly, a double elimination tournament can be set up. For forming teams of more than one player from a group of people, it is best to try to balance the skill level of each team before the initial draw. The number of frames in a match in the tournament can be adjusted for speed of play.


  1. Names of all players are placed in a draw cup.
  2. Names are drawn out in pairs to determine who will play each other. First name drawn is Red and throws first. Second name drawn is Green and throws second.
  3. The drawn pair goes to their assigned end of the court.
  4. The Red ball player throws the pallino and the first ball.
  5. Play in a frame continues as normal. The player that has the point (the 'In' ball) after the other player has thrown all 4 balls, wins that frame and throws the pallina and first ball for the next frame.
  6. Up to 11 frames is played for each match. Play stops when one player has won 6 frames.
  7. The winner of 6 frames is the match winner and places their name card into the next round winnerís cup to be drawn later to compete in the next round. The loser is retired from competition.
  8. After the last name is drawn from the draw cup, the names in the winnerís cup are placed in the draw cup and the same procedure is repeated for the next round.

The matches are repeated as described above until there is a single name card in the winnerís cup. The tournament champion has not lost a match and all others have lost one match.


Considerations in Setting Up A Match Play Tournament

(A method to estimate how many frames to play in a match.)

  • Allow about 2.5 minutes per frame.
  • Let 2 matches per court play simultaneously.
  • The total number of matches to be played in a single elimination tournament is the total number of teams in the tournament minus one.
  • For the number of matches per court, divide the total number of matches by the number of courts available and round to nearest whole number.
  • Determine the number of minutes of playing time allowed. (example: 9:00 am to noon is 180 minutes)
  • Divide the number of minutes by the total number of matches per court to determine the minutes available per match.
  • Divide the minutes available per match by 2.5 to determine the number of frames per match. Round this number to the nearest odd number.
  • The tournament should complete in the allotted time or less if play is kept moving smoothly.

EXAMPLE: You have 32 people to play singles matches from 9:00am to noon on 2 courts.

-This puts 16 people on each court.

-This will make 8 matches in Round 1 on each court.

-Round 2 will have 4 matches on each court.

-Round 3 will have 2 matches on each court.

-Round 4 will have 1 match on each court.

-Round 5 will be 1 match on one court to determine the final winner.

-This adds up to 16 total matches to be played in 180 minutes. (Note that this is 32 minus1 divided by 2 rounded up to 16)

-This is 11.25 minutes per match.

-Dividing this by 2.5 minutes per frame yields 4.5 frames per match - rounded up to give 5 frames per match.

-Setting the tournament up with 5 frames per match should complete the tournament close to the 3 hours allotted.


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