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 colors or markings
  • 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 the players wish to tolerate.

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, preferably centered between the two side boundaries. All players then line up at the foul line and simultaneously roll* one ball at the P. Distance from the P determines the throwing order, with the closest player rolling first and the most distant, last.
  • All balls are then returned to the starting end to begin the game.

* To avoid confusion, the term “roll” is used here to represent delivery of the bocce balls and “toss” is used to denote delivery of the P’s.

The play:

  • The player winning the lineup roll tosses out P1. To be in play, the P must come to rest beyond the court center line. Should it touch the back wall or stop outside the court boundary, it comes back to be tossed by the next player in the lineup. This procedure continues until the P rests in a valid position. The first player 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 end of that frame and that player rolls again until they have a valid ball on the court. A ball short of the center line shall count as a ball in play and does not require another roll, but that ball cannot score unless bumped across the center line. For the purpose of determining the subsequent rolling order, balls lying short of the center line, no matter how close to P1, are considered farther from P1 than any valid balls across the center line.
  • When each player has one legal ball on the court, or has no more balls to roll, the player whose ball lies farthest from P1 will roll until they are no longer farthest out or have no more balls to play. Players with a ball(s) short of the center line must roll until they have a valid ball closer to P1 than at least one other player.* To avoid confusion during play, it is best to consistently use the same color of ball for P1 throughout the game.
  • P2 enters the frame when a set number of balls have been played. This count includes valid balls on the court as well as those out of play for striking the back wall, etc). This number varies by the number of players and is determined by dividing the 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. P2 is to be tossed prior to rolling that 4th ball. With 3 players the P 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. It is the responsibility of the shooter to keep count of the played balls. The 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. If that next player does not claim P2, the following player may, etc. A player may also purposely decline to toss P2.
  • A player who tosses P2 prematurely (eg. by mistakenly tossing P2 prior to the 5th ball instead of the 6th ball in a 12 ball game) is allowed to continue rolling their ball(s) in the normal order, but only after P2 is brought back behind the foul line. However, this player forfeits the P2 toss to the player that follows them.
  • 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, it is to be re-tossed by the player next in the rolling order until a player delivers it to a valid position.
  • The next player to roll is always determined by farthest distance from P1. The most distant player continues to roll until they are 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 opening rolling order for the next frame.

Finer points

  • Players may at any time measure ball distance from either P when the point is not obvious. On walled courts they may also 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 illegal 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 approximate 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 approximate positions.
  • Both P’s are valid targets and remain in play if they touch the back wall after being struck by another ball. On courts without walls a P knocked out of bounds is centered at the far foul line. On courts with walls, if P1 is knocked over a wall via a legal shot, the frame ends and is restarted with the same rolling order.  If P2 is knocked out, it is centered on the far foul line.
  • If a valid shot moves any balls resting against a wall, those balls remain in their new position. If balls move as a result of an invalid shot, or are moved accidentally in some other manner, they are returned to their approximate original position.
  • The player who tosses out P2 is not required to roll their following ball 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 .
  • Ties at either P at the close of a frame are discarded 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 with the higher score rolls first. If the score is also tied, the player scoring last on P1 rolls first.
  • 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 until the tie is broken or another player earns a higher score.

Playing hints:

  • 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.
  • The player thinking a move or two ahead can earn a big advantage in this game. For example, a player might consider expending an extra ball, or even two balls to gain the P2 toss. Those ball(s) could then be pre-positioned to become 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, thus leaving the followup ball free for an additional point or an attempt to take the point at P1 as well.
  • In some 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 shut down multiple point opportunities for an opponent. This is particularly true late in the game for the players behind in the score. Often it is in the best interest of these players to form temporary alliances to prevent an opponent from closing out the game.

Scoring and play illustrations

Link to larger photo

Link to larger photo

Link to larger photo