Symposium de la bocce (how to excel at turbo style bocce)

Let me start by saying that this is a guide to help people who are looking to master the art of Turbo Bocce. My first suggestion is that you take the time to learn the rules of Turbo Bocce. Once you’ve done that, you will be ready to come back here and start learning the finer points of the game. Ok, go find the rules now and read them . . . I’ll wait.

Back yet? Good.

Turbo Bocce takes place on two battle fields. The actual field where the game is played, and the far vaster location inside the human mind. If you come to the battle armed with the proper mental weapons the odds are you will emerge victorious on the field of battle, because knowledge is power.

GI Joe says: Knowing is half the battle! (G.I. Joe is enthusiastic about learning).

The following pages are designed to give you all the knowledge you will need to succeed at Turbo Bocce. It will lead you step by step through the mental processes that are essential to come out victorious in a high level Turbo Bocce match.


Muhammad Ali once said that a fight is won or lost before you ever step foot inside the ring. Well, I can beat Muhammad Ali’s ass . . .in bocce. And I’m telling you that Muhammad Ali is a smart dude and we should all listen to him. . .right now.

Muhammad Ali says: In bocce a good plan is needed to win, if you don’t have a plan you’ll take one on the chin, so think something up like the rope-a-dope, and if you can’t do it then go ask the Pope. (Muhammad Ali likes to rhyme stuff).

So what’s the plan? The first thing you have to do before you ever step foot in a starting box is define your role on the team. Remember: If you don’t know exactly what your role is, you will never be a great bocce player, its that simple. As you know there are two players on a Turbo Bocce team, hence there are two roles, which I will refer to as the pathfinder and the striker. Put simply the pathfinder is the guy who shoots first, and the striker is the guy who shoots second, but there is oh so much more to it than that, and its important that you know what is expected out of each role and which role you are best suited for.


Each team only has four shots in a round, and its critical that none of those shots are wasted (this is a point that I will come back to time and time again) it only takes one good shot to score, but you will find that the team with the fewest bad shots wins a far greater percentage of time. Remember: its more important to have a small number of bad shots than it is to have a large number great shots. Keeping the pressure on your opponent by forcing them to throw good shot after good shot (forcing them to “earn it” as I often call it) is the best way to win. With that in mind, I will say that the first bocce ball is the most important ball of the round. A perfect first shot will lead to a win most of the time, and you will find that almost every multiple point round comes from a great first shot. That is why the most important thing for a Pathfinder to do is put his first shot right on target.

The Pathfinder will either have the first shot of the round or the second shot, depending on who gets to throw the pallino. If you throw first you are at a disadvantage because you will not be able to see how the ground affects other people’s shots (I will get into this in further detail later).

When the Pathfinder shoots first he is the person in charge of throwing the pallino. The Pathfinder should concentrate on throwing the pallino at a distance and in an area where he is most comfortable. Remember: because it is so essential to have a good first shot the Pathfinder should always be the one to throw the pallino where he is most comfortable, it is the Striker’s job to adapt his game to the way the pathfinder wants to play.

When you have control of the pallino the first thing you must do is asses the ground and see where you want to throw (there will be more detail on assessing the ground later). Would you rather throw the pallino in high grass or low grass? Uphill or downhill? Short, Medium, or Far? All of these things must be thought about when assessing where the pallino should be thrown.

Now you have to follow up your pallino throw. The Pathfinder should be the more consistently on target player of the two teammates. He should be able to land a bocce ball close to the area he is aiming almost all the time when there are no other balls obstructing his shot.

Where do you want to throw your bocce ball in relation to the pallino? That depends. If the team your playing prefers the low lob or the roll you probably want to leave your ball out front as a blocker because those two types of shots are the most negatively affected by blockers. If you choose to do this, having the correct placement is important. Put it too far to the left or right and it will not be an effective blocker. Likewise put it too short, or past the pallino, and it will not be an effective blocker. When throwing a blocker, keeping your ball in perfect alignment with the pallino is the most important thing (which is one reason you want to roll the ball or shoot a low lob, as these 2 shots are the easiest to keep in a straight line). How far away from the pallino you want to throw depends on how far a shot it is. The shorter the distance the closer you must put your ball to the pallino, so on a very far shot a blocker that is dead center and about 2 feet short is a good blocker, however on a short throw you may have to be less than a foot away to properly block your opponent.

Let’s say your opponent prefers the high lob or is very good at bocce’s. If this is the case, a blocker may not be the best way to go. Often times a ball left short will just give a high lob player a marker with which to judge distance by, and since he is throwing in the air, your ball will probably not bother his shot. If you don’t want to throw a blocker, then you should simply try to get as close to the pallino as possible, however, it may be in your best interests to miss long rather than short. Remember: a bocce ball that’s located behind the pallino is the hardest ball to bocce out.

Now, before you’ve ever thrown a ball, you should know where you want to throw the pallino and if you want to throw a blocker or not. Since the roll and the low lob are the two most accurate shots when there is nothing in your way, you probably want to go with one of those two shots. Then it is up to you to hit the target. Make a good shot on your first try and you will almost definitely win the round.

Lets say your opponent has the first shot. What is the Pathfinders responsibility in this case? If your opponent has a bad first shot, your job is not just to beat his shot. You want to pretend that there is no first shot out there and act like you have the first shot, following the guidelines I just went through above.

If your opponent has a good first shot, you have a decision to make. Does his shot need to be boccied out, or can you get it closer? Another key point in bocce is preventing big rounds. Remember: conceding one point on a great shot while making it difficult for your opponent to score two points or more might not be as much fun as trying for a bocce . . . but it is a smart way to win a bocce match.

It’s extremely important that you have one ball close to the pallino on every play. Since the Pathfinder should be the best at getting close to the pallino and the Striker should be best at bocce’s it may be in the teams best interest to have the Pathfinder concede the shot to the opposing team and simply try to get as close as he can to prevent multiple point rounds. Once you have one ball that’s close (a “point stopper” I like to call it) then the Striker can step in and attempt to bocce out the opponents ball without worry of giving up a big round. This is not as easy of a shot as it sounds though. Not only does the pathfinder need to get close to the pallino, he needs to stay far away from the opponent’s ball so that the striker does not have any obstacles when attempting to bocce the opponent’s ball.

Now let’s say the opponent throws an effective blocker. Even though the Pathfinder will usually throw a low lob or a roll, it’s important to be able to shoot any shot effectively at any time, and this is one of the reasons why. When faced with a good blocker a high lob is unquestionably the best shot to take. A perfect block can be beat using the “Hop” which is a high lob that lands directly behind the blocker, if you did your job right, it will “hop” over the ball in front of it and land just past it. If the blocker is a ways back from the pallino you may just want to put a ton of back spin on the ball and simply get it to drop between the blocker and the pallino and say there.

Now you know what’s expected of the Pathfinder. So the question is, are you a Pathfinder? Ask yourself these questions:

– Do you like to throw a low lob or roll the ball?

– Do you prefer shooting when there is nothing to block your path?

– Can you place your ball close to the pallino consistently?

– Is there a certain distance you prefer to shoot?

– Would you rather try to put your ball closer to the pallino then try to bocce out the opponents ball?

– Do you feel comfortable shooting before you have seen someone else shoot?

If you answered yes to a majority of these questions you are probably best suited to be a Pathfinder.

Lewis and Clark say: Being a pathfinder is much easier with Sacagawea’s help. (Lewis and Clark are not good at surviving on their own).

As a Pathfinder in Turbo Bocce you’ll have to perform without Sacagawea’s help, but you will have Symposium de la Bocce to help get your through!


The Striker shoots second for his team and also last. As a result, the Striker can count on there being a lot of balls in play that he has to shoot around. He can also count on having to bocce the opponent out of position at least once a round. On the plus side, a Striker will have the chance to see how the ground affects other people’s shots before he has to throw.

Remember that the way to win in Turbo bocce is to put consistent pressure on the opposing team by not wasting any shots. Not wasting shots is actually done in two ways, the first, of course, is putting your balls close to the pallino. The second is knocking away the opponent’s best shots. If you’re playing in a B.O.O.B.S. event, you can be sure that every player is good enough to make a great shot at any given time, however, you will almost never see a team throw two great shots in a row. This means that every great shot is a swing point in the match. If you can’t bocce out your opponents great shot the match will swing in your opponents favor, but if you can bocce it out you will have wasted one of the other team’s best shots and the odds are they will not be able to follow it up with another great shot, thus the mach swings in your favor. The Striker needs to take responsibility for all the bocce’s that need to be made . . . any bocce a Pathfinder makes is a bonus because bocce’s are the Striker’s job.

Bocce’s are best made in one of two ways. The first way is a shot called the Volo. A Volo is when you throw your ball in the air so that it strikes the target ball without ever hitting the ground. This shot is great because if you’re good at it no blocker can stop it, and it is not affected by the ground at all. The problem with the Volo is that its hard to hit. You must hit the target ball flush in the center or it may not move far enough to make a difference.

The second method of throwing a bocce is the roll. The roll is susceptible to blockers and the ground, but it is more accurate than the Volo and can be used effectively at greater distances. Remember: the faster you roll the ball the less it will be affected by the ground. However, the faster you roll it the farther it ends up from the pallino after it hits its target. Sometimes it’s better to try a slower roll to knock the opposing ball out of position while leaving your ball in position. The problem with this technique is that it’s much less accurate than a fast roll. Try to use your best judgment when deciding between the slow roll and the fast roll.

The high lob is not a good method of throwing a bocce, and the low lob will only work if you can get it to hug the ground after your throw it . . . so you might want to practice that.

Let’s say there is no shot you need to bocce. How does a Striker go about throwing? 99% of the time there are going to be other bocce balls in play that obstruct the Striker’s path. Because of this the Striker is not going to be able to use the low lob or the roll as much as some would like. If you want to be a Striker you have to be adept at using the high lob, period. The high lob is the one shot least affected by other balls in play, therefore it is a must for the Striker. And don’t forget, when there is a blocker in your way, the Hop is the Striker’s best friend. A Hop is executed by lofting a high lob directly behind the blocker, if you did your job right, it will “Hop” over the ball in front of it and land just past it.

The problem with the high lob is that it’s the easiest shot to miss on, yet the Striker must be precise whether he is throwing a bocce or dropping his ball in between other balls in play. The best way to use the high lob is to find out what distance you are most accurate using it. If the pallino is too far away the high lob often will not get as much height as it needs, if the pallino is too close throwing the high lob will be awkward. As a Striker you will prefer to use the high lob but you also must know when to be innovative and throw something else because it’s the pathfinder’s job to choose the distance the pallino will be thrown and the striker must adjust.

Don’t waste any shots. That’s a mantra you should know by now, however, there will come a time when you do waste shots and your behind on balls and losing the round. While the odds are not in your favor, all hope is not lost, one great shot can still win the round. Because the Striker throws last, its usually his responsibility to throw that one difficult shot that will either win or lose a round. While the Pathfinder must be the more consistent of the two bocce players the Striker should be the guy more likely to hit that one “miracle shot” or at lest very difficult shot to win the game.

Now you know what’s expected of the Striker. So the question is, are you a Striker? Ask yourself these questions:

– Do you like to throw a high lob?

– Are you good at bocces?

– Do you prefer shooting when there are other balls between you and the pallino?

– Are you flexible about what distances you can throw accurately?

– Does watching how the ground affects other people’s shot help you determine how to throw your own shot?

– Are you good at hitting very difficult shots?

– Can you hit a difficult shot when the pressure is on?

If you answered yes to a majority of these questions you are probably best suited to be a Striker.

Rocky Balboa says: You knocked him down, why don’t you try knockin’ me down. (Rocky is lovably violent . . . and a bit slow).

Remember: you and your teammate can switch from Pathfinder to Striker over the course of one bocce match, but to be successful you must know what the desired outcome of each shot you take should be, sometimes one player is suited to one particular role, and other times both players can do both, figure out what’s right for your team, but remember that no matter which role you choose, you need to know what your job is.


Just like a good pitcher in baseball must have several different pitches he can throw accurately, and a good golfer must be adept at hitting the ball with many different clubs, a good Bocce player must have many different shots at his disposal. Every shot is useful in its own way depending on the situation and the ground conditions.

John Dailey says: I can drive but I can’t putt. I’m basically only half a man even though I’m as fat as two men. Trust me, it sucks being half a man trapped in the body of two men. It just plain sucks being half a man at all . . . unless you’re that one armed drummer from Def Leopard, he’s awesome. (I think John Dailey is drunk right now).

Here are the three major shots you need to have in your arsenal if you want to play Turbo Bocce, how to throw them, and when to throw them. There is definitely room for innovation, but make sure you have these basic shots down pat.

The High Lob: The advantage of the high lob is that its only minimally affected by the ground and blockers, in other words if you can throw it, its consistent and hard to stop. The disadvantage is that its a harder shot to throw and leads to more misses, and its not affective at very long and very short distances. This shot is best thrown when the grass is high or wet or when there are many blockers in your way.

How to: Start by palming the bocce ball in your hand. A high lob must be lofted very high (many feet over your head). It must have a lot (not a little) back spin. You want the high lob to land between 90% and 95% percent of the distance from the starting box to the pallino, it will roll the rest of the way. Make sure you don’t hit the side of your leg as you throw, and focus very carefully on the spot you want to hit. It’s an easy shot to miss and there is not a lot of room for error because your aiming so close to the pallino.

Remember: The higher your throw the high lob the less it will roll, but the more difficult aiming it becomes. The higher the grass and wetter the grass is the less it will roll. This shot needs a lot of back spin.

The Low Lob: The advantage of the low lob is that its probably the easiest shot to throw accurately (especially to the left and the right, less so for distance). The disadvantage is that it is susceptible to blockers, and it is more affected by ground than the High Lob. The low lob is very good for moderate to long distance shots, but not as good for very short shots. This shot is best thrown when there is nothing between you and the pallino.

How to: Start by palming the bocce ball in your hand. A low lob is lofted low (about head height). It must be thrown with a lot (not a little) back spin. You want to land the low lob between 50% and 60% of the distance from the starting box to the pallino, it will roll the rest of the way.

Remember: It might not seem like you want to put a lot of back spin on the low lob but you do, especially when the grass is dry and hard.

The Roll: The roll is great for very long shots and very short shots. It is not as effective for medium distances. The roll is a great way to bocce another ball out. The problem with the roll is that it is very affected by ground conditions and blockers. Use it for very long or very short throws where the ground is flat and there is nothing in your way. Also use for bocce attempts.

How to: A roll can be attempted in 2 ways. The first is the forward spin. Cradle the ball in your hand. Bend down close to the ground, judge the break of the ground like a golfer then roll it like a bowler. Make sure you don’t hit the ground with your hand because that will throw you off, but at the same time you really want to hug the ground so bumps don’t throw you way off course. The second method is the backwards spin. This should be used only for very short throws. Palm the ball in your hand. Bend down close to the ground, judge the break like a golfer then roll it with back spin instead of forward spin.

Remember: The faster you roll a ball the less effect ground conditions will have on it. Using a back spin roll can also lessen the effect of ground conditions but it becomes much less accurate with distance.


If you’re new to Turbo Bocce you might not think that reading the ground is that important, but any veteran will tell you that more times than not, its the difference between winning and losing. There are many factors to consider when reading the ground, and I will go through only the most common factors here.

First and foremost, the longer the grass the quicker the ball will stop on a lob and the shorter it will go on a roll.

The wetter the ground the quicker the ball will stop on a lob and the shorter it will go on a roll.

Uphill and downhill (even at very low angles) makes a big difference, adjust accordingly.

Some people are bothered when the pallino is not in sight because its in a hole or in long grass. Are you one of those people? Is your opponent?

Flat, even ground tends to help the more skilled team. Uneven ground, or ground with many holes and pock marks tends to even the playing field.

Remember: the best way to read the ground is to watch what shots everyone else is taking and see how the ground affects those shots.

Sun Tzu says: I write book about war; I talk about picking the right ground. It very famous for long time. My book also helpful for bocce – You buy now! And stop saying I sound like Turbo from that horrible Turbo & Bob comic – not all Asians sound alike you know! (Sun Tzu is an angry character).


Remember your role on the team. Every shot should have a strategy behind it. You should know if you want to throw a blocker or not, if you want to throw a bocce or not, what kind of shot you want to throw, where you want to throw your ball and why, and how the ground has affected everybody else’s shots that threw before you. And you should know all this before you ever step into a starting box. Also remember that even if you know all this and do everything right, your shot still won’t turn out the way you want every time because bocce is an unpredictable game with many variables. So don’t let it get to you. Above all else bocce should be fun.

Bono says: It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right. She moves in mysterious ways. (Bono calls bocce balls “she”),

Don’t be afraid to concede a point, because giving up one point will never kill you . . . it’s the 3 and 4 point rounds that lead to losses. On the other side of things, be careful about getting greedy and going for extra points when you already have the round won. Debocces are HUGE momentum killers. They hurt worse than the score will indicate. Remember: In bocce greed kills, both in the offensive and the defensive side of the game.

In the end, if you played smart, made no Debocces, were willing to concede shots and thought out a strategy before each shot you took, and you still lost, there’s nothing wrong with giving the other team a little credit. Remember: The best Turbo Bocce players in the world play for B.O.O.B.S.

Tyler Durden says: The first rule of Bocce Club is . . . go out and tell everyone you know about bocce club! (Tyler only likes to spread the word about the very best clubs he’s a member of).