Active Lifestyle

Viva Bocce! An Old School Favorite Still Making History


February 28, 2022 • Fenny Peiffer

Viva Bocce!

Thousands of years later, folks are still crazy about bocce. While you might think of it as just another retirement community sport, bocce ball is actually one of the oldest sports in recorded history. Said to date back to 5200 B.C., its lineage can be traced to the Egyptians, who according to the United States Bocce Federation were using round stones as their prop of choice. The game was later played by the Greeks before it was ultimately the Romans who made bocce ball what it is today. Its ageless appeal and accessibility are one of the main reasons most active lifestyle communities keep bocce on the amenities list. Low impact, and competitive, this easy-to-learn the sport is fun, it’s socially engaging, and boomers can’t get enough of it.

Played by everyone from early European leaders, to George Washington, this timeless sport might be ancient history, but the novelty definitely hasn’t worn off. As Italians began to immigrate to the states their love for bocce came with them, and the rest, as they say, is history. Bocce, also known as lawn bowling, can be played indoors or out, it has a few simple rules, and requires only basic equipment. Each team of 2-4 players is given four balls with the “pallino”, (the small target ball) as the focal point. The winner of the coin toss rolls the pallino to the halfway line, chooses their color, and throws the first ball. The team furthest from the target continues to play until they’re able to edge out the competition or they run out of balls. Although official bocce courts are the ideal set-up, the game can be played on a variety of surfaces from your back lawn, to a flat driveway.

Bocce’s devoted fanatics have taken the sport to the major leagues with championship games taking place across the country, and around the world. While organizations like Major League Bocce are big with the millennial set, 55+ boomers continue to dominate national tournaments on a hardcore level. Since 1979 The United States Bocce Federation has seen older adults compete for the gold from the 2014 World Championships in China to the 2016 Livermore, California games. If you’re not ready to go pro, 55+ communities coast to coast gives bocce enthusiasts the chance to start their own leagues. Sun-drenched neighborhoods like Regency at Summerlin in Las Vegas, and the resort community of Trilogy at the Polo Club in Indio provide an idyllic climate to compete for the win all year long, so whether you’re a seasoned professional or just getting started, this century-old favorite is still on a roll.

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