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The Rise of Indoor Bocce Ball: Coming to a Bar Near You?

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With deep roots in Italian culture, the game of bocce (or boules from France, among other variants) is making a comeback in the States.

Bocce can be played on a designated bocce court, or pretty much anywhere where there’s some available space outside, including your backyard, the local park or the beach.

And if the weather is not cooperating, you can play indoor bocce too.

That’s right, indoor bocce ball is showing up at more bars and entertainment venues around the country these days.

And it’s easy to see why this could be a great new bar game option for you’re night out with a few friends, or even an event or special occasion.

Read on to learn more.

And if you can’t find a bar to play at, we also have some ideas for playing at home.

Indoor Bocce for the Bar Crowd

Yes, bocce can be played in bars. Even on full-length turf, packed clay or sand courts.

If you’re not convinced, here are just a few reasons to consider adding it to your bar game line-up.

It’s already an old favorite

In many cases, the most popular bar games are the ones that everyone knows how to play or are at least familiar with.

For example, it’s not hard to generate some interest in a game of pool because most people have a basic understanding of how to play a game of eight-ball.

Like pool, darts, and even bowling, bocce is an established recreational game that most people either know how to play or can pick-up pretty quickly.

The familiarity of the game is one reason many bars have chosen to add bocce to their bar game line-up.

But still a new concept

Although it’s an old and established game, playing bocce indoors on a custom court is a new and exciting concept for most bar goers.

Just like bars that now offer ping pong and skee-ball as alternatives to classic bar games like pool and darts, bocce ball is another great way to offer something different for your guests.

So, it’s a great way to attract new fans to your bar, host events and parties, or just give people a cooler alternative to bowling.

And it’s great for larger groups

Then there’s the fact that bocce ball is a great game for a larger number of players.

Like bowling, bocce can be played with two teams of four. In some cases, you can even play with up to six players on a team in indoor bocce.

Now you have a game with room for 8 – 12 players; perfect for a party, group outing or team-building event.

As mentioned, most people know about bocce. But if you’re interested in playing more, here’s a quick recap of the rules.

These rules are tailored for indoor bocce ball.

Bocce Rules for Indoor Courts

These are basic rules for a game of indoor bocce ball.

However, make sure you check with the venue before playing, as they will most likely have their own set of rules and codes of conduct for playing in their establishment.

Depending on the bar and the number of bocce balls, you can form teams of 2 – 6 per side on an indoor bocce court.

You can always play 1 v 1, but bars encourage team play with more players on the court at the same time.

  • Start the game with a coin toss. The winner of the toss can either choose to serve the pallino or choose a color.
  • The serve must cross the half-court line and not touch the back wall. The team that serves the pallino gets to throw first.
  • Alternate turns until all balls have been thrown. The object of the game is to get as close as possible to the pallino.
  • Each throw must pass the half-court line to count (just like in a game of table shuffleboard). If the ball does not cross the halfway line, it can be knocked into play by another ball. If not, it is out of play.
  • If a ball hits the back wall directly, without hitting the pallino or another bocce ball first, it is out of play. If a ball is knocked into the back wall by another ball, it remains in play.

Only the team with balls closest to the pallino scores per round. This is similar to cancellation scoring, the same concept used in games like cornhole. Each ball that is closer than the other team’s ball counts as one point. Only one team scores per round.

Some bars include a tape measure to be sure.

First team to reach 15 points wins.

Indoor Specific Rules

As mentioned, many bars include house rules and codes of conduct that apply to games under their roof.

Common indoor conduct rules include:

  • No wearing high heels on the bocce court
  • No food allowed; but holding a drink in your non-throwing hand is encouraged
  • Games must be finished within the allotted time. For example, if you rent the court hourly, and there is another group waiting to play, your game ends when the time is up even if the game is not over. If there is no one waiting, you can extend the game to finish.
  • Only throw underhand
  • All balls must stay within the bocce court

Where to Play Indoor Bocce Ball

There are several new bars offering indoor bocce. Even hotels, like this Marriott in downtown Reno, which houses the Bundox Bocce event space, are building indoor bocce courts for their guests.

Here are a few more examples to pique your interest.

Rhein Haus – Seattle

This authentic Bavarian bar and restaurant in Seattle features 5 turf indoor bocce courts.  

The courts allow up to 8 people at a time (teams of four) and are available on a walk-in basis. The courts can also be reserved in advance on certain nights or for special events.

Check it out here.

Jack and Fanny’s – Manhattan

A vintage 60’s and 70’s inspired bar with specialty cocktails, a nice selection of craft beers, wood paneling, and an indoor bocce court.

How can you go wrong?

Check it out here.

The Jack – Camden, ME

This restaurant and bocce bar, which also has cornhole, is located in beautiful Camden, Maine. They have four indoor bocce courts and plenty of craft beers on tap. If you’re ever up in that area, be sure to check it out. I know I will.

Learn more here.

As mentioned, there are many more bars that offer outdoor and indoor bocce. You just have to do some digging to find them.

But if you can’t make it out to play at a bar, and it’s too cold to play outside, fear not: there are also some fun indoor bocce options for your home court.

Indoor Bocce Ball at Home

If you’re looking to play bocce on your home court indoors there are some great safe and surface friendly options to consider.

That is, unless you have the space to build an actual bocce court in your house.

But for the rest of us, we need something that doesn’t involve throwing a 2+ pound resin ball around our house.

For example, if you have carpet floors to play on, you can use a mini indoor set with lightweight metal boules.

These small metal boules will still roll nicely and give you the feel of playing a real game of a bocce variant called Pétanque.

Plus, the carpet provides enough resistance, so the balls don’t just roll away.

Indoor Bocce Set for Carpet

This set comes with 2 sets of three balls, each with a distinctive pattern to tell them apart, a carrying case, and distance gauge.

Check it out here.

If playing on hardwood floors, check out a basic soft bocce ball set like this one from Franklin.

But if you really want to slow it down and play it safe and want the kids to have fun learning how to play bocce indoors, you can go for a Kooshie bocce set.

These are fun for all ages.

Plus, the game plays like a real game of bocce on grass or sand, or even game horseshoes or cornhole, because the Kooshie will pretty much stick to its landing spot on any hard surface.

Check out this Kooshie bocce set here.

Wrapping Up

If you love bocce and want to play it year-round, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it indoors, whether at a bar or just with a basic set for your home.

But we are definitely on the hunt for some more bars with indoor bocce courts.

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