Bocce: Similar to bowling

A look at the BC Seniors Games - Bocce: Similar to bowling

Written for Kamloops This Week

By Sarah MacMillan

It’s a game that started in Italy but has now become a popular recreation all over the world. And Canada is no exception as bocce is played at both summer gatherings and sporting events alike.

Bocce is a game played on a soil or asphalt court in which individuals or teams throw their balls, trying to get them as close to the jack as possible.  The jack is a smaller ball that is thrown by the team and the goal is to try and throw the bocce balls as close as possible to the jack.

“Bocce is just like bowling” said Judy Zmaeff, zone eight bocce representative. “It’s very similar to bowling but you don’t knock over pins, you throw towards the jack.”

Zmaeff used to be a dart player but became interested in bocce after she received a shoulder injury.

“With my shoulder in part, I could throw underhand.” she said. “And I figured it would be just so interesting to try something new.”

Zmaeff says that bocce is a very mental game.

“You have to know where you’re going” she said.

Though the game is somewhat similar to lawn bowls, as the players throw towards the jack, the game is drastically different in that the bowls that are used for bocce are completely spherical and therefore have no built in bias.

The rules of bocce are relatively simple.  Each person or team gets four bowls and the match begins when one team, who is randomly selected, usually through a coin toss, throws the jack to the other end of the bocce court.  The team who placed the jack then bowls first and the team who does not have their bowl closest to the jack continues to bowl until all four balls have been placed.  After all balls have been bowled, the person or team that has balls closest to the jack and is not farther out than the opponents ball, is awarded one point for each ball.

2012 will be Zmaeff’s first year competing in bocce, and though she doesn’t expect any medals, she does think it will be fun.

“And if I can do it, then so can you,” said Zmaeff.


If you are interested in bocce or would like more information about the BC Senior Games, please contact Judy Zmaeff at 250-837-5670, by email at or visit the B.C Senior Games website at