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Benicia Bocce League Rules and Regulations

The Benicia Bocce League (BBL) play is intended for the leisure and enjoyment of both players and spectators. The following rules are intended to enhance the game of bocce to further that enjoyment. The game of “Open Bocce” is played with the following rules.

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Revision #8 (2024-04-15)

  1. Introduction

  1. The game is played with eight large bocce balls of contrasting colors and one small target ball called the palino
  2. The object of the game is to roll the bocce ball closest to the palino.
  3. A playing team consists of four players, with two bocce balls per person.
  4. Opposing teams have up to two players on each end of the bocce court, and are permanently stationed at their designated side for each game.
  5. Games are played to twelve points and must be won by two points.
  6. Only composition balls accepted by the BBL are permitted for league play.
  1. Match Play

  1. Matches consist of three Games
  2. All 3 Games will be played to a minimum of 12 points.
  3. To start early, both capos must agree.
  4. The match shall begin with the flip of a coin between the capos from each team.
  5. The coin-flip winner may either have the first toss of the palino or choose the color of bocce balls.
  6. Teams must play on the assigned courts.
  1. Playing the Game

  1. A player may toss the palino any distance so long as the palino passes the center line of the court and does not hit the back wall.
  2. If a player fails to validly toss the palino after one attempt, the opposing team will have one chance to toss the palino and put it in play.
  3. If the opposing team fails to properly toss the palino, the throw reverts to the original team.
  4. The teams take turns tossing the palino until it has been successfully put in play.
  5. The team member who originally tossed the palino, whether successfully or not, throws the first bocce ball.
  6. If the bocce ball hits the backboard, the ball is removed (and that team must roll again).
  7. If the ball is thrown successfully, the player steps aside and their team will not roll again until the opposing team has either:
  1. rolled a ball closer to the palino,
  2. or has thrown all of their balls.
  1. The team whose ball is closest to the palino is called “inside” and the opposing team “outside”.
  2. This continues until both teams have used all of their balls.
  3. The team that scores, throws the palino to begin the next frame.
  4. If a player rolls the wrong colored ball, replace that ball with the correct color when the ball comes to rest.
  5. If a player rolls out of turn, the opposing team may:
  1. leave everything, including the thrown ball exactly where it is, or
  2. may return any moved balls to their approximate original positions and remove the thrown ball from play.
  1. If a ball is accidentally moved before all eight balls are played, the opposing team replaces the ball to the approximate original position. This is to be done in the spirit of good sportsmanship.
  2. Players should never touch or move any ball or the palino until the frame has ended. If a player moves a ball prior to the end of a frame (thinking play is over) and the balls cannot be accurately relocated to their positions, all remaining non-thrown balls of the non-offending team are counted as points. If the offense is committed by the playing team, all non-thrown balls of that team are voided and the frame is over.
  3. The team winning the previous game will toss the palino to start the next game.
  4. No practice between games.
  5. During game play, a player cannot carry their bocce balls beyond the foul line.
  6. Bocce balls may not be removed from the court, except to be set aside when the ball hits the backboard.
  7. A burned ball is a ball removed from the round that would have been otherwise thrown.
  8. Pace of play rule. Limit 1 minute per shot. After two warnings, every infraction shall result in a burned ball. The purpose of this rule is to promote good sportsmanship.
  1. Palino

  1. Once the palino has been validly put into play, it remains in play even if it hits the backboard.
  2. If the palino is knocked out of the court or knocked in front of the centerline, the frame will end and NO points are awarded. The game will resume from the opposite end of the court with the same team tossing the palino.
  1. No volo throwing

  1. Volo” throwing is lofting the ball in the air beyond the center of the court.
  2. If the ball does not hit the ground before the centerline:
  1. everything goes back to its approximate original position,
  2. the thrown ball is out of play.
  1. In all shots, the played ball must hit the ground before striking any other ball.
  1. Dead Ball

  1. Should a bocce ball (other than the palino) make contact with the backboard, the bocce ball is considered a dead ball on impact and is removed from play until the end of the frame.
  2. If after a valid play, only the palino remains on the court, the team that last rolled must roll again until a ball remains in play or that team is out of balls.
  3. If the thrown ball comes to rest on the palino or another ball that is touching the back wall:
  1. the thrown ball remains in play,
  2. the bocce ball touching the back wall is removed from play.
  3. If the palino is touching the back wall, it remains in play.
  1. If a bocce ball hits the backboard and then strikes a stationary bocce ball:
  1. that stationary bocce ball shall be replaced in its approximate original position,
  2. and the thrown ball is removed from play.
  1. If a bocce ball hits the backboard and thereafter strikes a moving ball that likely would also have hit the backboard, allowing the moving ball to remain in play, that moving ball remains in play where it comes to rest.
  2. Balls that exit the court following a regular play are considered dead ball even if they return onto the court.
  1. Foul Line

  1. Player’s movements are limited to the foul line.
  2. No part of the player’s foot may be beyond the foul line when the palino or bocce ball is released.
  3. If a player commits a foot foul, a warning is issued for the first offense during a game. Should the same player foul again, the thrown ball is removed from play and all struck balls returned to their approximate original positions. If the intent of the foot foul rule is abused, the offending player may be removed from the game by a Board Member of the Benicia Bocce League.
  4. When a player releases the palino or bocce, both feet must be in the court unless that player has significant physical impairment.
  1. Disputes

  1. The teams playing will referee their own game.
  2. Any dispute (measurement, rule clarification, etc.) which cannot be resolved by the team capos shall be decided by a neutral third party, agreed to by both capos.
  3. If a board member or member of the BBL disciplinary committee are present at the courts, they may act as a neutral third party whether agreed to by the capos or not.  
  4. Upon his/her decision, the game shall continue.
  5. If a resolution still cannot be agreed upon by both capos, then the game can be played under protest. See section 11.
  1. Scoring

  1. Only the “inside” team scores.
  2. One point is given for each ball of the inside team that is closer to the palino than any ball of the opposing team.
  3. If at the end of any frame the closest ball of each team is equidistant from the palino:
  1. the frame ends in a tie,
  2. no points are awarded to either team,
  3. the game will resume from the opposite end of the court with the same team tossing the palino.
  1. Capos of each team are responsible for:
  1. keeping the score sheet,
  2. and for reporting the results of the match by inserting the “Official Score Sheet” in the “Scoresheet Dropbox” inside of the shed.
  1.    Measurements

  1. All measurements will be made from the inside edge of the bocce ball to the inside edge of the palino, rather than the middle of the palino.
  2. Do not move the balls.
  3. Only the capo and one representative from each of the opposing teams may be present during measurements.
  4. If both team capos agree on which team has the point(s) and it is later determined that a mistake has been made, all balls played are valid.
  5. If both teams have balls remaining, the team that does not have the closest ball to the palino rolls again.
  6. Once all balls have been played, points are awarded. 
  1. Protest

  1. A protest will be considered valid only if:
  1. the opposing capo is notified at the time of the dispute (before the next frame begins) and,
  2. Both teams must complete the remaining games.
  1. All protests must be submitted in writing to the Benicia Bocce League board within 72 hours of the disputed game.
  2. Decisions of the board are final.
  1.     Forfeits

  1. A team (minimum of two players) not present within 15 minutes after the scheduled match start will forfeit.
  2. If a team forfeits 20% of their games:
  1. they may be dropped from league play,
  2. the team capos will be notified by email,
  3. all games previously played will be removed from division scoring.
  4. there will be no refunds for teams removed due to excessive forfeits.
  1.     Rescheduling Games

  1. Games may not be rescheduled unless both capos agree.
  2. If a team would like to reschedule a match, they must contact their opponent at least 72 hours before the start of their match. Any attempt to reschedule that is under the 72-hour mark, will not be allowed.
  3. All rescheduled games must be pre-arranged with the league’s scheduling coordinator no later than one week after the originally scheduled date. Rescheduled games must be arranged with the scheduling coordinator within one week of the game that was rescheduled.
  4. If the City of Benicia determines that games must be canceled due to rain or other circumstances, those games will be rescheduled at the convenience of the teams, and as directed by the scheduling coordinator.
  1.     Players

  1. All players must act with the utmost sense of sportsmanship and fair play before, during, and after the game.
  2. Changes to team rosters may be made until the end of the third week of play.
  3. Completed rosters must contain names of all players, and phone numbers and email addresses for both capo and co-capo.
  4. You can replace player vacancies in special circumstances, such as illness or relocation from the area.
  5. No more than sixteen (16) people may be on a roster and no less than six (6).
  6. A person can only play on one team in the league each season.
  7. A team forfeits any game in which they play a non-roster player or a player that has not signed a league waiver of liability. A Waiver Form must be reviewed and signed by each player and submitted to the league by a designated date.
  8. The opposing team may not waive non-roster player forfeits.
  9. If a team fields less than two players, the game is considered a forfeit.
  10. A two or three-member team may play throwing only two balls per player.
  11. A 3rd or 4th player arriving late may enter the game after the completion of the frame.
  12. There is no minimum age requirement, however, no more than half of the team may be under the age of 18 and at least one person in every game must be 18 years or older.
  13. Any number of substitutions may be made between games.
  14. A team may make up to two substitutions per game mid-game.
  15. A substitution may only be made between frames.
  16. No player may play two consecutive games from the same end of the court.
  17. Players need not alternate throws.
  1.     Court and Shed Maintenance

  1. The designated Home team has the responsibility for preparing the court prior to League Play competition and ensuring proper shed organization at the end of scheduled play.
  2. The Home team capo is expected to assign players to groom the court.
  3. If necessary, a team capo may arrange to trade or otherwise modify its maintenance duties with the opposing team capo.
  4. Allow a minimum of 30 minutes to properly groom the court.
  5. Games start promptly at their designated times so consider adding 10 to 15 minutes of practice time when scheduling your home team for court maintenance.
  6. The courts are to be prepared in the following manner:
  1. Pick up any debris that may have blown onto the court and put it into one of the trash containers. Make sure you do not pick-up too much sand/oyster flour.
  2. Use the large broom to prepare the surface.
  3. Wet the court with a fine spray. Usually one pass is sufficient.
  4. Once the court has dried (about 10 minutes), roll the court using the large roller.
  5. Use the wooden wedge to enter the court with the roller. Enter from the sides and not the ends as the court may be damaged if you enter from the end.
  6. Return all of the grooming equipment to the proper place in the shed and replace the equipment in its designated location.
  1.    Entry Fee

  1. A team fee is charged for each team to cover the cost of supplies, trophies, equipment and insurance.  An additional fee is charged for each player, which is paid to the city of Benicia for the use of the courts during the league season.
  1.     Conduct and Courtesy (see Standards of Conduct)

  1. Capos are responsible for the conduct of their teammates, their spectators and any children accompanying them to the courts. The courts are not to be used as sandboxes or in any manner that is inconsistent with playing the sport of bocce.
  2. If a player is standing in the playing half of the court while the opposing team is rolling and the opposing team requests that the player step aside, that request will be honored.
  3. All bocce balls should remain on the court behind the throwing line and be visible to all players during the round. (Unplayed balls should not be removed from the court.)
  4. Only players participating  in the current game (and co-capos for the purpose of measuring) are allowed on the court while the game is in progress.
  5. Spectators are not allowed on the courts at any time during regulation play.
  6. Courtesy and respect for all persons is required at all times.
  7. Profanity and unsportsmanlike conduct is not permitted.
  8. Violations may result in a warning by a BBL Director to the player and team capo and may result in other disciplinary proceedings.
  9. A severe violation or violation after warning may result in the player’s expulsion by a BBL Director from the game or match or may result in additional disciplinary proceedings.
  10. All trash, uneaten food, and recyclables, are to be discarded in the appropriate containers.
  11. Bicycles, skateboards, scooters and roller skates are prohibited on or around the courts.
  12. No dogs are allowed in the park per Civic Center Park rules and regulations (City Code 6.16.030).
  13. Beverages are not allowed at any time on the playing surface.
  14. Smoking and/or vaping are prohibited within the fenced area of bocce courts.
  15. Music at the courts is prohibited during league play.
  16. All incidents need to be reported to the league via the BBL website. There is an online form that must be completely filled out and submitted.
  17. Any physical altercations will result in immediate disciplinary action.
  1.    Scorekeeping

  1. In order for league standing to be posted and correct, official BBL Score Sheets must be submitted for each scheduled match immediately following the conclusion of the match.
  2. Completed score sheets are to be placed in the designated box provided at the storage shed.
  3. Each Home team Capo is responsible for submitting a score sheet after each match.
  4. The score sheet must be completely filled out and legible and must include the date of play, the designated night of play, and the team name and team number.
  5. Both Capos must sign confirming the final score.
  6. It is not the league Scheduling Coordinator’s job to fill in missing blanks, to phone for scores or track down missing score sheets.
  7. Although the Home team is responsible for submitting the completed (and signed) score sheet after each match, both teams’ Capos are ultimately responsible for missing score sheets.
  8. The Score Sheets are located in the Bocce Shed.
  9. Incomplete Score Sheets may result in both teams losing one game (one game from the win column will be added to the loss column).
  10. Missing Score Sheets may result in both teams having a score of zero (0) for games recorded for that day.
  11. If a team forfeits a match for any reason other than an official BBL cancellation:
  1. the “winning” team must still submit a score sheet for the forfeited night of play.
  2. the score should be recorded as 12-0 for each match in favor of the “winning” team
  3. the forfeiting team’s signature is not required in this instance.
  1. Score Sheets are picked up weekly.
  2. The Board of Directors is available to answer scoring questions.
  1.    Playoffs
  1. The top 4 teams from each division automatically advance to the playoffs.
  2. Standings are calculated using the total number of games won and lost.
  3. Depending on league size, there may or may not be “Wild Card” teams that advance to the playoffs. These “Wild Card” teams will be selected based on total games won and lost.
  4. If two or more teams are tied at the end of the season, the following is used to break the tie.
  1. The team that won the most games among the common matches (head-to-head) wins the tie.
  2. If the head-to-head records result in a tie, then a point differential is used.  A teams point differential is calculated by taking the total points scored (PS), and subtracting the total points allowed (PA) from all the teams’ games in the regular season.  The highest point differential wins the tie.
  3. If point differentials result in a tie, then only the points scored (PS) are used.  The team with the highest points scored wins the tie.
  4. If points scored result in a tie, then only points allowed are used.  The team with the least points allowed wins the tie.
  5. If a tie still remains, a coin-flip will determine who wins.


Article 1

Unacceptable Behavior and Conduct

Contrary to the Precepts of Good Sportsmanship

Section 1. The following shall be deemed as examples of, but not an inclusive list of unacceptable behavior and conduct under this Code of Conduct:

  1. Behavior, including words and gestures that reasonably offend others such as repeated swearing or using foul language or epithets,whether or not directed at someone specific.
  2. Slow play that is drawing out a game to gain advantage or to tire or influence opponents.
  3. Stopping or moving a played ball or palino before both capos  have agreed that the point(s) have been determined and the frame is completed. This includes kicking the balls or stopping balls or the palino as they approach close to the side boards or back boards but are not yet out of play.
  4. Taunting or mimicking players.
  5. Cheating such as mismarking the position of balls, using tampered balls, recording invalid scores or improperly changing valid scores.
  6. Players who argue with their opponents instead of allowing the team capo to resolve a dispute.
  7. Team capos who argue instead of following the proper procedure for obtaining a ruling from a neutral third party.
  8. Irregularly formed teams (teams formed with non-roster players).
  9. Other inappropriate behavior deemed to be adverse to the spirit of the BBL including but not limited to displays of poor sportsmanship such as disturbing or distracting a player during his or her turn to play or insisting on rule interpretation that is not consistent with good sportsmanship.
  10. Engaging in conduct that disturbs or disrupts the game in progress including yelling, heckling, shouting or making loud comments about the play or player.
  11. Physical confrontations or threats of physical violence.

Article 2

Disciplinary Committee and Investigation Procedure

Section 1. The league president shall establish a disciplinary committee (of three or more members to investigate alleged violation(s) of these standards of conduct and BBL rules.

Section 2. Written complaints of misconduct must be submitted by the Capo and identify at least one other person as a witness. The complaint shall be submitted online at to the BBL President, who shall review it for probable cause. In so doing, the President may speak to witnesses and parties involved, and thereafter dismiss it, or, if the complaint has merit, the President may submit it to the disciplinary committee which shall conduct an investigation which will require a written response by the capo of the alleged offending team to determine whether or not there has been a violation of the BBL rules or standards of conduct.

Section 3. In performing its investigation, the disciplinary committee shall provide the subject(s) of the alleged misconduct with the statement of allegations and an opportunity to respond, to identify witnesses, and to provide a written statement and other evidence relevant to the complaint.

Section 4. If the disciplinary committee finds a violation, it shall forward a recommendation to the board which shall review the recommendation and approve, modify or reject it. Such action shall be final and is non-appealable.

Section 5.  The board shall keep a yearly record of alleged personal and team infractions and may refer to this history in determining appropriate discipline.

Article 3

Penalties for Violations

Section 1.   A Board member or member of the BBL disciplinary committee (present and witnessing an infraction)  may immediately penalize an offending player, team, or capo, or spectator, by one or more of the following actions:

  1. Giving a verbal warning to the offending person (player, capo, entire team or spectator).
  2. Voiding one or more balls.
  3. Permitting the aggrieved team to re-play one or more balls.
  4. Temporarily stopping the game
  5. Excluding the offending player(s) and their balls from the remainder of the game or match
  6. Declaring the game or match forfeited by the offending team.
  7. Dismissing the player, capo, entire team or spectator from the game, match or league.

Section 2.   Upon submission of a written complaint and referral by the BBL President, the disciplinary committee may recommend to the full board, one or more of the following penalties relating to a spectator, team player or team:

  1. A warning: verbal or written to the person or team involved;
  2. A public letter of reprimand (to be posted at the courts) regarding the person or team involved;
  3. Forfeiture of one or more previously played games of the team;
  4. Probation, suspension, or expulsion from the league of the player and/or team;
  5. Any other appropriate penalty under the circumstances, at the sole discretion of the board.