Bocce Ball Vs. Boules

Bocce ball

The difference between a bocce ball game and the game of boules begins with their countries of origin.

Bocce, developed in Italy, is similar to bowling and uses a flat lawn or on an earth-floored bocce court as its playing field. Bocce is the plural form of the word “boccia,” which means “ball” in Italian.

Boules, which originated in France, is more like horseshoes and is traditionally played in public places on a hard soil playing surface. Lawn bowling and boule lyonnaise are among the popular boules sports.

Bocce Ball

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Two main types of bocce are played, with the main difference being in the balls used within the playing area. One type of the Italian game, called volo, uses metallic bronze balls. This version of the game has the same rules as the French boules games.


Rafa, the second type of bocce, uses colored composite balls that are the size of grapefruits. Members of each team have matching colors of balls. Although rafa is played all over the world, Australians and particularly people in the United States play this type of bocce.

French Pastime

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Boules, also called petanque, is played with metallic petanque balls that are hollow and the size of an orange. Petanque balls come in diameters between 70mm and 80mm and weights of 650 to 800g. Hand size and arm length usually determine the size and weight of the ball needed for each player. A petanque court is 13 feet wide and 50 feet long.

Similar to bocce ball, players aim to get a ball as close as possible to the smaller target ball, also known as the pallino. If your ball is closer to the pallino than your opponent’s ball, you earn a point.

Playing Bocce Ball

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Differences in Throwing Technique

Most often, bocce players take steps as they roll the ball with their palms facing up. An exception is when playing volo, where metal balls are released with palms facing down while the players run forward to let go of the ball. Boules players keep both feet fixed as they toss the ball with an arched back spin and palms facing down.

Object of the Games

In bocce, the pallina, which is a small ball or object, is rolled down the alley first. The goal of the game is to roll the bocce closest to the pallina for a point. A score of twelve points is game. The same is true for boules, except that the small ball is called a cochonnet and game is eleven points. Natural objects can be used for the pallina or cochonnet when not playing professionally.