Seattle Double-Tap Bocce

Seattle Double-Tap Bocce Rules

Equipment needed to play:

  • A walled bocce court or defined surface court with a marked foul/point line at each end
  • One set of 4 balls of a distinctive pattern or color for each player
  • Two pallinos or jacks of distinctly different color or marking
  • A measuring device
  • A scoreboard or other means of keeping score (particularly useful for 3 or more players)

Number of players:

  • Double-Tap is an individual-player game best with 2 – 5 players. However, the number of players is limited only by the number of distinct sets of balls available or the degree of ball crowding players can tolerate. Generally, the more players, the longer the game.

How to begin:

  • The rolling order is determined as follows. One player tosses a pallino (hereafter for the sake of simplicity referred to as P1 or P2) beyond the court center line. All players then line up at the foul line and simultaneously roll* one ball at the P. The player whose ball stops closest to the P earns the right to begin the game and toss out P1 and roll the first ball to start the game. The player with the next closest ball rolls second, etc.
  • After determining the rolling order, all balls are  returned to the starting end to begin the game.

* To avoid confusion, the term “roll” will be used here to represent delivery of the bocce balls and “toss” will refer to delivery of P1 and P2.

The play:

  • The player (Player 1)who won the lineup roll tosses out P1. The P must come to rest beyond the court center line to be in play. Should it touch the back wall or stop outside the court boundary, the next player in the lineup tosses it onto the court. This procedure continues until the P rests in a valid position. Player 1 then rolls out their first ball. Should that ball touch the back wall or stop outside any boundary, it is removed from play until the next frame begins and rolls another ball. This continues again until Player 1 has a valid ball on the court. The same holds for all players that follow. A ball short of the center line counts as a ball in play and does not require another roll. Balls short of the center line can also score points. After all players have one legal ball on the court, the player whose ball is farthest from P1 rolls until they position a ball closer than another player, or have no more balls to play.
  • The point at which P2 enters the frame depends on the number of players and is determined by dividing the total number of balls in the game by 2. For example, a game with 2 players uses 8 balls, so dividing 8 by 2 yields 4. The player rolling the 4th ball wins the right to toss out P2. However, P2 must be tossed out prior to rolling that 4th ball. With 3 players P2 goes to the player rolling the 6th ball (12/2=6) and they toss it before rolling their 6th ball. With 4 players the P is awarded to the player rolling the 8th ball, etc. The ball count includes valid balls on the court as well as those out of play for striking the back wall or coming to rest outside the court boundary. It is the responsibility of the shooter to keep a count of played balls. Other players may not remind the shooter to claim P2 or disclose the number of balls already played, unless asked. If a player fails to claim P2, the player rolling the next ball may do so, even if it is the same player, and so on.
  • A player who tosses P2 prematurely (eg. mistakenly tosses P2 before the proper number of balls are played) forfeits the P2 toss to the player that follows and P2 is brought back behind the foul line. However, the player who made the error is allowed to continue rolling their ball(s) in the normal order.
  • To earn the right to toss P2, a player may intentionally roll a ball, or balls, so as to remain most distant from P1. Players may toss P2 to any court position, but the same validity rules that applied to P1 also apply to P2. If P2 stops short of the center line, touches the back wall, or stops outside any court boundary, that player retains their rolling order but the P is re-tossed by the player whose closest ball is the next most distant from P1, and so on until a player delivers P2 to a valid position. Even players who have already rolled all their balls may still re-toss P2.
  • The rolling order within a frame is always determined by farthest distance from P1. The most distant player continues to roll until they have a ball closer than another player, or have no more balls left to roll.
  • A player may target either P when both P’s are in play.
  • At the end of each frame the relative distance of each player’s best ball from P1 is noted to determine the rolling order for opening the next frame.
  • If P1 is knocked out of the court by another ball, the frame is over and is replayed, but from the other end of the court, using the same opening rolling order. If P2 is knocked out of the court, play continues and the frame is scored with only P1.

Finer points

  • Players may at any time measure ball distance from either P when the point is not obvious. On walled courts players may use the side rails at any time. A ball striking the backboard without first touching another ball or either P is a dead ball and is removed from the court.
  • A player may forcefully shoot a ball either by raffa (close to the ground) or volo (lofting), if court rules permit.
  • An illegally rolled ball that strikes the backboard and then strikes any stationary balls is removed from the court and the stationary balls are placed back in their original position. On courts lacking walls, balls exiting a court boundary, or balls knocked out of bounds legally, remain out for the duration of that frame. Balls knocked out illegally are placed back in their original position.
  • Both P’s are valid targets to be moved about
  • The player who tosses out P2 is free to roll  their following ball anywhere, not just toward P2.


  • Scoring around each P is independent, so two players commonly score in the same frame. One player’s ball(s) may score with each P if closer than the ball(s) of any other player .
  • If it cannot be determined which of two or more balls are closest to a P, no point is awarded and only the other P is scored. In the rare event of a double tie, no player would score in the frame. Because distance from P1 determines the rolling order for the following frame, should there be a tie at P1, the tying player who established the position first rolls ahead of the other player.
  • Games with 2 players are played to 12 points. Games with three or more players are played to 7 points. However, in casual play these limits may be adjusted to suit player preferences.
  • If players tie with a winning score (eg. 7 points each when there are 4 players), play continues with all players until the tie is broken or another player earns a higher score.

Playing hints:

  • To avoid confusion during play, it is best to consistently use the same color of ball for P1 throughout the game.
  • Accuracy on the opening roll of each frame (ie. covering P1) is particularly important because this preserves the remaining balls for the all-important second half of the frame when P2 also presents a scoring opportunity.
  • Thinking a move or two ahead can be a big advantage in this game. For example, a player might consider expending an extra ball, or even two, to gain the P2 toss since that ball(s) could be pre-positioned to serve as the target for P2.
  • The player earning the P2 toss gains an advantage when delivering P2 close to one or more of their balls already on the court. This leaves the followup ball free for an additional point or an attempt to take the point at P1 as well.
  • In certain situations a player might consider placing P2 close enough to P1 so that the same ball(s) could potentially score with both P’s.
  • With 2 P’s as targets, tactical defense is often just as critical as scoring points and players must sometimes roll to the more difficult target to prevent the leader from closing out the game. Players also need to block multiple point opportunities for an opponent. This is particularly true late in the game and often forces players to form temporary alliances to keep an opponent from closing out the game. At other times it may be expedient to come to the aid of one of the leaders so that the frame ends in a tie and the game continues.

Scoring and play illustrations

Link to larger photo

Link to larger photo

Link to larger photo