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Lawn Bowling Vs Bocce Ball: Comparing Classic Outdoor Games

Lawn Bowling Vs Bocce Ball - Bowlingview

When it comes to outdoor leisure activities, two popular choices are lawn bowling and bocce ball. Both games have their origins in ancient times and offer a fun way to socialize and enjoy the outdoors.

In this article, we will compare and contrast these two games, their rules, and their unique characteristics.

Lawn bowling, also known as bowls or lawn bowls, traces its roots back to ancient Egypt and Rome. It is played on a flat, well-trimmed grass surface called a green, which is divided into parallel playing areas called rinks. The objective of lawn bowling is to roll slightly asymmetrical, weighted balls, known as bowls, towards a smaller white ball called the jack. The aim is to get your bowls as close to the jack as possible, while knocking your opponent’s bowls further away.

On the other hand, bocce ball has its origins in ancient Greece and is more popular in Mediterranean countries, particularly Italy. Bocce is played on a rectangular court, consisting of a mix of sand, clay, or crushed stone. The goal of bocce is to toss or roll a set of balls, called bocce, towards a smaller target ball called a pallino. Similar to lawn bowling, players try to get their bocce as close to the pallino as possible while displacing their opponent’s balls.

Lawn Bowling Vs Bocce Ball: Understanding the Basics

Fundamental Differences

Lawn bowling and bocce ball are both outdoor games that involve rolling balls to score points. However, there are some key differences between the two. In lawn bowling, players roll slightly asymmetrical balls, called bowls, with the goal of landing them closest to a smaller white ball, called the jack. The asymmetrical shape of the bowls causes them to have a natural curve when rolled, which adds a layer of strategy to the game.

On the other hand, bocce ball is played with perfectly round balls and a smaller target ball, called the pallino. Bocce involves less curve when rolling the balls, requiring players to focus more on the strength and accuracy of their throws.


Despite the differences, lawn bowling and bocce ball share several similarities:

  • Team-based: Both games are typically played with two teams, either with individuals or pairs.
  • Scoring: In both games, the objective is to roll your team’s balls closer to the target ball than your opponent’s balls.
  • Strategy: Both lawn bowling and bocce ball require strategic thinking to outscore the other team.

To sum it up, while lawn bowling and bocce ball have distinct features and rules, they both provide enjoyable outdoor experiences that involve strategy and skill to score points.

Origins and History

Lawn Bowling

Lawn Bowling dates back to ancient Egypt, where evidence of a similar game has been found in tombs from around 5,000 BCE. The game eventually spread to other regions, with its modern form and rules originating in England. Throughout history, Lawn Bowling has been popular among European countries, especially in Italy, France, and Scotland.

In the 13th century, the sport became organized in England with the formation of the Southampton Old Green Bowling Club. This long-standing tradition made its way across the Atlantic, with the first American Lawn Bowling club being established in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1632.

Bocce Ball

Bocce Ball’s roots can be traced to ancient Rome, where it was played using stones or coconuts. The game eventually evolved and became popular in Italy, where it is known as “bocce.” The sport of Bocce Ball then spread throughout European countries over time, becoming a popular pastime among both the nobility and common people.

Throughout its history, Bocce Ball has undergone several transformations, with modern bocce originating in the Italian region of Liguria around the 16th century. Here are some key dates and events in the history of Bocce Ball:

  • 5200 BCE: Evidence of a similar game found in an Egyptian tomb.
  • 1st century AD: Roman Empire adopts the sport under Emperor Augustus.
  • 16th century: Modern bocce originates in Liguria, Italy.
  • 19th century: The sport spreads throughout Europe, especially France and Germany.

Today, both Lawn Bowling and Bocce Ball continue to be played by people of all ages and skill levels. As they share similar origins and histories, it is no surprise that the two sports have a passionate following and continue to grow in popularity.

Playing Surface and Court Specifications

Lawn Bowling Surface and Rinks

Lawn bowling is typically played on a flat, smooth grass surface, commonly referred to as the “green.” The preferred type of grass for lawn bowling greens is bent grass, which provides a consistently even playing surface. Greens usually measure between 120 x 120 feet to 145 x 145 feet. The greens are divided into rectangular playing areas called “rinks,” with each rink measuring around 14 to 17 feet wide and 100 to 120 feet long.

The playing surface for lawn bowling is meticulously maintained to ensure a consistent speed and smooth roll of the bowls. The greens are regularly mowed, watered, and rolled to maintain a uniformly flat surface.

Bocce Ball Court

Bocce ball courts are rectangular and can be made from various materials, including clay, gravel, sand, and grass. The most common playing surfaces are clay and natural/artificial turf. A regulation bocce ball court typically measures 91 x 13 feet, but backyard and recreational courts can vary in size.

The construction of bocce ball courts includes a specific set of guidelines in terms of the playing surface and dimensions:

  • Court size: Court width should be between 8 and 14 feet, while court length should be between 60 and 91 feet.
  • Surface Material: Clay, crushed stone, or oyster shell mix (often used on professional courts), may be used for creating a firm and consistent surface.
  • Borders: Wooden or concrete borders are placed around the court to contain the playing area and maintain consistency.

Both lawn bowling and bocce ball require specialized playing surfaces to ensure an enjoyable and competitive game. Maintaining these courts and greens is essential for a consistent playing experience.

Equipment and Balls Used in Each Game

Lawn Bowling Equipment

In Lawn Bowling, the main equipment used includes weighted balls known as bowls, a smaller target ball called the jack, and a mat for players to stand on while delivering their shots.

The bowls are typically made from a dense composite material and come in various sizes and weights, catering to players’ preferences and hand sizes.

A common size range of bowls is from 00 to 5, while weights can vary from 1.1 kg to 1.5 kg (2.4 lbs to 3.3 lbs). Bowls have a unique bias to one side, which affects their path of travel on the green.

The jack, also known as the target ball, is made from the same material as the bowls but is smaller in size and usually white in color. A measuring tape may also be used to determine the distance between the nearest bowl and the jack to settle any close calls.

Bocce Ball Equipment

Bocce Ball requires slightly different equipment when compared to Lawn Bowling. The game uses a set of eight balls, with four balls of one color and four balls of another color. These balls are usually made from a hard resin composite and are uniform in size and weight, typically measuring around 107-115 mm (4.2-4.5 inches) in diameter and weighing between 2 lbs (907 g) and 3 lbs (1361 g).

Another essential component of Bocce Ball is the pallino, also referred to as the target ball. The pallino is a smaller, neutrally colored ball that serves as the target for the players to aim at during the game. The size of the pallino can range from 40 mm to 60 mm in diameter (1.6-2.4 inches).

Gameplay and Rules

Lawn Bowling Rules

In lawn bowling, the objective is to roll biased balls (they are not perfectly round) as close as possible to a smaller white ball called the kitty or jack.

The game is played on a rectangular green with a smooth surface. Each game consists of several ends. In each end, players take turns delivering their bowls from a mat at one end of the green, targeting the jack placed at the other end. The bowls must remain within the playing surface boundaries.

The bowls have an off-center weight distribution, causing them to curve, or hook, as they travel along the ground. This is the defining characteristic of the game, and players use a variety of delivery techniques to control the hook and get as close to the jack as possible.

The scoring in lawn bowling is based on the distance of a player’s bowls from the jack at the end of each round. Only one player/team scores per end. The player/team with the most bowls closer to the jack than their opponent’s receives one point for each of those bowls. The game continues until a predetermined number of ends has been played, and the player/team with the highest score wins.

Bocce Ball Rules

Bocce ball is another outdoor game with elements similar to lawn bowling. Players alternate rolling or tossing bocce balls, aiming to get them as close as possible to the smaller white target ball called a pallino. Bocce ball is typically played on a 90-foot long, flat, rectangular court with a hard-packed surface.

The main difference with lawn bowling is that bocce balls are spherical, not biased. This means that they do not have a natural curve when rolled. Players use underhand throwing techniques to deliver the balls and can strategically use angles, spin, and teammates’ calls to position their balls strategically.

Scoring in bocce ball occurs at the end of each frame (when all eight balls have been thrown). The team with the ball closest to the pallino gets one point for each ball closer to the pallino than any of the opposing team’s balls. The game continues until a predetermined number of frames have been played or a team reaches a predefined score (usually 12 or 15 points).

Unlike lawn bowling, a judge (or referee) is often present during bocce ball games. The judge’s role is to measure the distance between the balls and the pallino, settle disputes, and enforce rules related to gameplay and sportsmanship.

Techniques and Strategies

Lawn Bowling Techniques

In lawn bowling, players focus on mastering several techniques to improve their performance. One key skill is controlling the biased side of the bowl to achieve a curved path.

Players should study the greens to identify subtle changes in terrain that might affect the roll of the bowl. Adjusting grip, stance, and delivery can all impact the effectiveness of a shot. Key techniques include:

  • Draw: Carefully rolling the bowl to either come to rest near a target or move the jack (small white ball) to a more advantageous position.
  • Guard: Placing a bowl in front of an opponent’s bowl to block a direct shot, forcing them to use a more complex and riskier shot.
  • Drive: Hitting an opponent’s bowl with enough force to remove it from play or move it to a less favorable position.

Bocce Ball Techniques

Bocce ball, similar to lawn bowling, also has specific techniques that players use to enhance their skills. The primary focus is on underhand throwing and control of the ball’s speed and curve:

  • Curve: Players may execute a slight curve by strategically placing their fingers along the bocce ball, giving more spin and control.
  • Lob: A technique where the player tosses the ball with a high, soft arc to bypass obstacles or land closer to the pallino (small target ball).
  • Hit and roll: Aiming for an opponent’s ball with enough force to knock it away, then having the thrown ball continue rolling to rest closer to the pallino.

During a match, players must anticipate their opponent’s strategy and adjust their own tactics accordingly. In bocce, observing the terrain and adapting throws to the surface is critical to success. Both sports require a combination of finesse, accuracy, and strategic thinking to excel.

Popularity and International Events

Lawn bowling and bocce ball have similar origins but have garnered varying levels of popularity across different countries and regions. Both are fun games that families and friends often enjoy together. In this section, we’ll take a look at the popularity and international events for both lawn bowling and bocce ball.

Lawn Bowling Events

Lawn bowling is particularly popular in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. It has a wide following in these regions, where a larger number of clubs and competitions take place. Some notable international lawn bowling events include:

  • World Bowls Championship: Held every four years, it is the premier event featuring top lawn bowlers from around the world.
  • Commonwealth Games: Lawn bowling has been a part of the Commonwealth Games since 1930, showcasing the sport to countries within the Commonwealth.
  • Atlantic Championships: This event involves countries along the Atlantic rim and has been held every two years since 1993.

Bocce Ball Events

Bocce ball, on the other hand, is more popular in Mediterranean countries, particularly Italy. The following are some international bocce ball events:

  • World Bocce Championships: Organized by Fédération Internationale de Boules (FIB), it is held every two years and features bocce ball players from participating countries.
  • European Bocce Championships: This event focuses on participation from European countries and incorporates several different forms of bocce ball.

Both lawn bowling and bocce ball have their respective international events and championships, attracting a wide range of participants from different countries. These events help further popularize the sports among families and communities, as they foster a sense of camaraderie through the shared love of the game.

Distinct Attributes and Playing Experiences

Unique Aspects of Lawn Bowling

Lawn bowling stands out from other boules games due to a few significant factors. First and foremost, it is commonly played on a strip of grass rather than sand or a hard-packed dirt surface. This lawn game can accommodate two to eight players, fostering a more social atmosphere.

The spherical lawn bowls used in this game are distinct from other boules as they possess a weight bias, giving them an oblong shape. This weight bias adds an extra layer of strategy, as players need to take into account the curve it will create when rolling the bowl. Skill levels can also widely vary, allowing for players with less experience to still enjoy the game.

In lawn bowling, each player typically has four bowls, with one foot on the mat while delivering their bowl. The winner is determined by having the closest bowl to the “jack” or target. Matches can last for several hours, and the playing field size may vary, with the United Kingdom often using larger fields.

Unique Aspects of Bocce Ball

Bocce Ball, another popular game within the boules family, shares a few similarities with lawn bowling but also has some key differences. It is typically played on a hard-packed dirt or sand surface, which can be a more forgiving terrain for beginners.

Unlike lawn bowling, bocce balls are completely spherical with no weight bias. The game involves two to eight players, each using one to four heavy balls, depending on the number of participants. Bocce is also known for being approachable, with players of varying skill levels able to partake and have fun.

A unique attribute of bocce ball is the use of one pallino, a smaller ball used as the target. Players must be strategic in how they advance towards the pallino or knock their opponents’ balls further away, as the closest ball to the pallino earns points. Sets are won by reaching a predetermined score, and the team with the most sets ultimately holds the advantage.

In conclusion, both lawn bowling and bocce ball offer engaging experiences for players, with their unique attributes and playing styles catering to a wide range of interests and skill levels.