Higgyball Rules

Last updated 2016-04-21

New rules in blue


  • A set of bocce balls consisting of eight large bocce balls (half of which are of a different color and/or pattern) and a smaller “object ball” (sometimes called a “pallino” or a “jack”). All balls should be the same size and weight per field. If there is a discrepancy, the ball kit closest to the official weight of 2 lbs. 2 oz. (per ball) will be used.


  • Higgyball bocce is played with two teams; each team consisting of two players. Each player throws two balls.


  • The object of the game of bocce is for one team to get as many of their balls closer to the pallino than the opposing team’s closest ball.

Play and Scoring

  • Prior to the first pitch, if, for any reason, a player wishes to dismiss or request an alternate field judge, he or she may politely do so. However, once a field judge has been agreed upon, said judge’s judgment becomes gospel. No field judge may wipe the field without consent of both participating teams.
  • The toss of a coin (or similar) determines which team will start. The starting team chooses which color (or pattern) ball they will play with. The first team member throws the pallino and then rolls his/her first ball as close to the pallino as possible. It is now up to the opposing team to roll a ball closer to the pallino than the starting team.
  • If the opposing team uses all four balls and fails to get closer to the pallino than the starting ball, the starting team rolls each of their remaining balls, trying to place them closer than the opponent’s closest ball. The team whose bocce balls are closest to the pallino is called “inside”. The opposing team is called “outside”. However, if the opposing team succeeds in placing one of their balls closer to the pallino, the starting team must then roll again to attempt to get closer or “better the point”.
  • Each team continues to roll until it beats the point of the opposite team. Only the “inside” team scores. One point is awarded to said team for each ball that is closer to the pallino than the “outside” team. The scoring team throws the pallino to begin the next frame. The player whose ball was closest to the pallino during the previous frame “pitches” the pallino, and then throws his or her ball. Order of flow must be continued throughout the frame. Regarding a single team, player A throws, then player B throws. This is repeated throughout the frame. Ex: A, B, A, B is correct. A, B, B, A is illegal. This continues until one team scores at least twelve points and has at least two points more than their opponents.
  • While the object is to get close to the pallino, it is permissible for a player to roll his/her ball as to knock an opponent’s ball away from the pallino. Likewise, a player may knock or move the pallino toward his/her own team’s balls. The pallino is playable anywhere on the playing surface.
  • A bonus point will be awarded to each winning ball that is in contact with the pallino.  This is called “baci” or “kiss”.  However, if both teams have a ball touching the pallino at the end of the round, the point is invalidated.
  • A representative from each team is responsible for keeping a score sheet and reporting the results of each match.
  • If one player from any team forfeits, that team is forfeit.
  • Any team that causes a minor infraction (throwing out of turn, throwing the opposing team’s balls, crossing the line, etc) will relinquish the pitch to the opposing team upon the beginning of the next frame. If the wrong color ball is thrown, the field judge or a third party will replace it and the frame can continue.
  • If the field of play is purposefully and/or maliciously disrupted by a contestant, the opposing team will automatically receive four points and the pitch.

Fields of Play and Boundaries

  • If a ball completely crosses a boundary line, it is considered “out of boundaries” and is not counted during the frame, even if the ball rolls back inside the boundaries and possibly affects other thrown balls. The out of boundaries ball should be removed from play. If the ball lands on the boundary line, it is still in play. If the pallino is thrown out of boundaries, the opposing team will rethrow. If the pallino is knocked out of boundaries during play, all balls are collected, and the frame is restarted.
  • All players must throw from behind, and within arms width of the bocce ball cluster. Any player abusing this rule will be given a prompt warning by the field judge. If said player continues to abuse this rule, the opposing team will be awarded the pitch on the next frame.


  • For each round of Swiss Pairings, teams are randomly shuffled and paired with other teams with the same record. At the start, all teams are 0-0, so all teams are shuffled together. One exception: The top four teams from the previous year are protected in this first round. This gives an incentive to place in the top four each year. Subsequent rounds could see those teams paired, however.
  • After the entire first round has been played, all 1-0 teams are shuffled and paired, and all 0-1 teams are shuffled and paired. When those matches complete, the process is done again (all 2-0 teams together, all 1-1 teams together, all 0-2 teams together). This keeps the matches fairly even (with the exception of the first round). This process is done for 5 total rounds.
  • If a team shows up late to the tournament—meaning the other first round games have completed—that team’s opponent gets an automatic 12-0 victory. If a team drops out of Higgyball, future rounds will give an automatic 12-0 victory to the team with the worst record at the start of the round.
  • After 5 rounds have completed, the top fourteen teams will be entered into a single-elimination tournament to determine 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th places. The 1 seed and 2 seed will get byes, while the other teams will play each other: 3 plays 14; 4 plays 13; 5 plays 12; and so on. The last four teams remaining play each other. The winners of those two games play each other to determine the ultimate winner, while the losers play each other in the 3rd place game.

Good luck!


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