Nothing kills the mood at a garden party faster than an awkward lack of conversation.

No matter how carefully you curate the people attending an event, you can never tell if your guests’ shyness or nervousness is going to result in stretches of silence so excruciatingly long you’ll be wishing you spent the day getting a root canal.

And of course, it’s up to you, the host, to provide the spark the event needs.

You are responsible for introducing the missing ingredient that’ll convert a bashful group of people staring forlornly at their half-empty G&T glasses into a gaggle of chatterboxes exchanging witticisms and phone numbers.

Fortunately, this is why scientists invented games.

No, we’re not talking about Settlers of Catan or Pokemon Go. If this is where your brain went, why are you even considering throwing a garden party?

What you’re going to need is a physical, outdoor activity. One that turns partygoers who’d otherwise not exchange a word with each other into teammates. A game that turns friendly acquaintances into momentary rivals.

What you need is a game that’s easy to learn but full of strategy. A game that doesn’t take hours to finish and doesn’t need thousands of pieces of equipment.

What you need is Bocce Ball.

Nothing resurrects a dying outdoor event faster than a bit of friendly rivalry and bocce is genuinely one of the easiest ways to make this happen.

And don’t just take our word for it; bocce is one of the most popular games in the world and has its history in ancient Rome, where it is believed that soldiers played a rudimentary version of it to pass the time.

And those guys KNEW how to enjoy themselves!

As mentioned before, one of the reasons for Bocce’s popularity is how simple it is to get a game started. The equipment and space you need are very reasonable for an outdoor game.

In fact, all you need to start playing is a reasonably level stretch of earth and a bocce ball set.

Purists would insist that you play on a standard 90ft soil or asphalt court, but since very few of us have the time, money, or inclination to dig up our lawns, we’ll use this article to focus on the bare minimum you need to get playing: the set itself.

The 11 Best Bocce Ball Sets

We delved deep into the world of bocce to compile this list. Bocce is the third-most played sport in the world and it stands to reason that there will be an absolute avalanche of options out there.

Well, there’s no need to go scratching around the entire internet to find the top bocce ball set for your needs when we’ve done all the hard work for you.

Below are 11 of your top options – each one representing the top item in a specific category.

  1. GoSports 90mm Backyard Bocce Ball Set – Best for Casual Play
  2. GoSports 100mm Regulation Bocce Ball Set – Best Value for Money
  3. St Pierre Sports Professional Bocce Set – Most Elite Set
  4. GoSports 100mm Hardwood Bocce Set – Most Unique Set
  5. Hey! Play! Bocce Ball Set – Best Non-Regulation Set
  6. AmazonBasics Bocce Ball – Heaviest Set
  7. Franklin Sports Regulation Bocce Ball Set – Best for Beach Play
  8. Franklin Sports Starter Bocce Set – Best Starter Set
  9. Franklin Sports Advanced Bocce Ball Set – Most Affordable Professional Set
  10. Play Platoon Bocce Ball Set – Most Durable Set
  11. Playaboule 4 Color Lighted Bocce Set V3 DLX Glow – Best for Playing in the Dark.

1. GoSports 90mm Backyard Bocce Ball Set – Best for Casual Play

Diameter: 90mm
Weight: 1lb 11oz (765g)
Composition: Hard Resin or Soft Rubber

The GoSports 90mm Backyard set offers customers a choice of two materials, depending on where you’re more likely to play the game.

If you have a perfect outdoor setup offering a nice, even playing surface, opting for the hard resin set may be best. Especially if you prefer the satisfying, authentic sound the bocce balls make as they hit each other.

If you’re playing in a more confined or indoor space where you’re concerned with the hard bocce balls potentially causing damage, opt for the soft rubber set.

The great thing about having this choice is that you’re not compromising on one of the most important aspects of the ball: its heaviness.

A heavy ball is going to make decent contact with other balls and push them around the playing area, while a ball that’s too light won’t have that effect.

The GoSports 90mm soft rubber set is safer to use indoors and less likely to injure a toddler’s foot if it slips from their hand. But at the same time, you won’t be giving up one of the game’s most satisfying aspects: bossing it about by knocking your or your opponents’ balls around the playing area.

Bear in mind, though, that the soft rubber set is slightly more expensive than the hard resin set.

The balls in this set come in four colors, with each of the similarly colored balls having a unique grooved pattern (referred to as a “cut”) engraved into it. What this means is that the set can be played by big groups of up to eight players.

Another consideration with the GoSports 90mm Backyard Set is the non-regulation size of the bocce balls themselves. At 90mm in diameter, they are smaller than standard balls and won’t be the best bocce ball set for a player wanting to play competitively away from their backyard.

What this smaller size does mean, however, is that the ball will fit comfortably in the hands of younger or older players who may struggle with holding and throwing the standard ball size of 107mm.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: two red, two blue, two yellow, two green.
  • 1 x 40mm white pallino.
  • 1 x measuring rope.
  • Soft canvas carrying case.

PROS:

  • Choice of two materials.
  • Ideal for big groups.
  • Smaller balls ideal for younger or older players.
  • Affordable price.

CONS:

  • Non-standard sized bocce.
  • Carrying case not particularly sturdy.

2. GoSports 100mm Regulation Bocce Ball Set – Best Value for Money

Diameter: 100mm
Weight: 2lb 5oz (1.05kg)
Composition: High-quality poly-resin

The GoSports 100mm is one of the most affordable bocce ball sets on our list that conforms to the sport’s official standards.

Not only is it the GoSports 100mm Regulation Set’s specifications and construction that gives it a sense of authenticity, but also the colors and engraving. The eight bocce balls come in two colors: red and green, with the standard square and circle cuts.

This represents the real deal: the same colors and cuts you’ll see Italian ladies and gentlemen play with along the streets of Napoli.

The balls are very attractive and have a high degree of gloss to the exterior, another thing that adds to their authenticity. The poly-resin material they have been crafted from also render them more durable than a cheaper or some similarly-priced bocce ball sets.

One of the benefits of selecting a bocce ball set with a slightly higher build-quality is the fact that they can be used on pretty much any standard surface without causing too much damage.

Players can also hit (or “spock”) their or their opponents’ bocce balls with confidence that damage is far less likely than with an inferior set.

That said, there certainly are better sets on our list, just not many in this price range.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: Four red and four green
  • 1 x 45mm white pallino.
  • 1 x measuring rope.
  • Good quality bag with shoulder strap and ball-dividers.

PROS:

  • Standard size and weight
  • Good value for money
  • Good build quality.
  • Great carrying case.

CONS:

  • Not as durable as some of the more expensive options on our list.

Check the price

3. St Pierre Sports Professional Bocce Set – Most Elite Set

Diameter: 107mm
Weight: 2lbs (907g)
Composition: All-resin

If you’re not messing around here and simply want the top set that your money can buy, then look no further than the St Pierre Sports Professional Set.

This set is the real deal. The Rolls Royce of bocce ball sets. Or would Ferrari be a more appropriate comparison?

Regardless of what you want to compare them to, this set just screams quality. It’s everything that a serious player is after. Its exterior is beautifully glossed with deep, perfectly colored white cuts. The bocce balls are precision-rounded and perfectly balanced.

Obviously, they conform to regulations, so playing with these bad boys is as close to playing in an official tournament as you’re going to get.

Yes, they are expensive. But man, they are worth it. This set oozes class and one gets the impression that if the IOC toyed around with these for an afternoon, bocce ball would be in the next Olympic Games.

If these fall within your budget, don’t think twice about it. Buy them now.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls (four maroon, four green).
  • High-quality carry-case.
  • 1 x yellow pallino.

PROS:

  • Professional-grade set.
  • Conforms to the official construction standards.
  • Most elite product on our list.

CONS:

  • May be a little too pricey for some customers.

4. GoSports 100mm Hardwood Bocce Set – Most Unique Set

Diameter: 100mm
Weight: Approximately 1lb (450g)
Composition: Varnished tropical hardwood

While the GoSports 100mm Hardwood Set hardly represents something you’ll see being used by purists, it certainly wins points for its original design.

While balls are typically either one of four colors, with engravings differentiating between those of a similar color, this set takes a very different approach.

The balls are made from sustainably sourced, varnished tropical hardwood. The wood is dark, attractive, and has a very high degree of gloss. They look awesomely vintage in a way that you won’t see with any other set, with unique color “stripes” allowing players to identify their balls.

While the balls in this set are of official size, their weight is significantly lighter than what you’ll typically play with at a club or in a tournament. So be aware that while this set is a fun novelty and will provide hours of fun in your backyard, they definitely will not prepare you for the big-time.

As with other lightweight bocce ball sets, though, this does make the game more accessible for some of the younger or older participants.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: two with orange, two with blue, two with green, two with yellow markings.
  • 1 x 40mm white pallino.
  • 1 x measuring rope.
  • Carry bag.

PROS:

  • Attractive, unique design.
  • Extremely lightweight.
  • Standard 100mm size.

CONS:

  • Soft carry bag can be uncomfortable to carry long distances.

5. Hey! Play! Bocce Ball Set – Best Non-Regulation Set

Diameter: 90mm
Weight: Approximately 1lb 12oz (790g)
Composition: Heavy-duty resin composite

This Hey! Play! Set offers the best of both worlds.

Visually this bocce ball set aligns with a more traditional set: Eight balls in the two standard colors (red and green) with familiar engravings.

However, they are 10mm smaller in diameter than regulation balls, meaning that they cater to competitors with smaller hands. They’re also not quite as heavy as regulation balls or some of the other bocce ball sets on our list. It’s an ideal set if you’re buying one for a family that includes younger or older participants that may struggle to throw bigger, heavier balls accurately.

This is also one of the more affordable options on our list and one that doesn’t compromise on quality.

If you’re not concerned with owning a set that conforms to regulations but you still want to feel like you’re using one that does, this is the set for you.

It’s also an extremely popular option. In fact, only one other set on this list sells more frequently than the Hey! Play! Set.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: four red and four green.
  • 1 x 40mm white pallino.
  • Carry bag.

PROS:

  • Smaller balls idea for players of all ages.
  • One of the most affordable bocce ball sets on our list.
  • Durable, attractive carry-case.

CONS:

  • Doesn’t ship with measuring rope.
  • Non-regulation size balls.

6. AmazonBasics Bocce Ball Set – Heaviest Set

Diameter: 100mm
Weight: 2.45 lbs (1.1kg)
Composition: Poly-resin composite

Some experienced campaigners love the feeling of heavy bocce in their hands. The sense of heft and the satisfying connection a heavy ball makes with the surface, pallino, or other balls can be extremely satisfying.

Of course, if you’re using a very heavy ball, the build quality of the set must be able to support this level of impact. In the case of Amazon’s own product, we can definitely vouch for the quality. The poly-resin composite material these bocce balls are made from is more than durable enough to withstand intense impact.

If the heaviness and size of these bocce balls seem a little intimidating, but you like the AmazonBasics brand and other aspects of this set, there is the option to select a slightly smaller (90mm) and lighter set. The price difference between these two differently-sized sets is minor.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: four red, four green.
  • 1 x standard-sized pallino
  • Soft carry-case.

PROS:

  • Heavy balls for competitors who enjoy a high-impact game.
  • Choice of 90mm or regulation-sized 100mm balls.
  • Extremely durable construction.

CONS:

  • Entire set is quite heavy and can be uncomfortable to carry.

Check the price

7. Franklin Sports Advanced Regulation Bocce Ball Set – Best for Beach Play

Diameter: 100mm
Weight: approximately 2lbs (900g)
Composition: All-weather Resin

While it’s unlikely that you and your friends will be in the mood to ever play in the rain, there are some instances when it helps to have a set that’s resistant to wet conditions.

Sometimes you just can’t wait to get the game started after a shower of rain. Other times you may want to play at the beach, where the bocce balls are extremely likely to get wet.

If you can see yourself falling in either of these categories, Franklin Sports have the best bocce set for you, and at a very reasonable price also.

Their Advanced Regulation Set has been constructed specifically for play in damp or wet conditions. The all-weather resin these balls have been made from will deal with getting damp without compromising their durability.

In addition to this benefit, these bocce balls also conform to standard regulations.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: two red, two blue, two yellow, two green.
  • 1x 50mm white pallino
  • Carrying case

PROS:

  • Best bocce ball set for use at the beach.
  • Regulation sized balls.
  • Made from all-weather resin.

CONS:

  • White paint inside the engraved areas can fade quickly.

Check the price

8. Franklin Sports “Starter” Bocce Set – Best Starter Set

Diameter: 90mm
Weight: 1lb (453g)
Composition: Polyethylene

Not everyone wants to break the bank as they get started with a new hobby.

If you’re a first-timer and only suspect that bocce ball is a game you and your family will enjoy, you don’t have to spend too much to test out the waters.

For people who just want to try this great game out for the first time, the Franklin Sports “Starter” Set is the ideal option.

It’s incredibly affordable while at the same time not radiating “cheapness”. They look attractive and even though they are on the light side, the balls are made from a durable polyethylene material, ensuring a more than adequate lifespan.

As can be expected with the least expensive item on our list, this set doesn’t conform to official regulations and are genuinely intended for very casual use by someone wanting to just get started with this great game.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: two red, two blue, two yellow, two green.
  • One 40mm pallino
  • Carry box.

PROS:

  • Extremely affordable.
  • All-weather friendly.
  • Great starter set.

CONS:

  • Very lightweight and isn’t the best bocce ball set for hardcore enthusiasts.

9. Franklin Sports “Professional” Bocce Set – Most Affordable Professional Set

Diameter: 100mm
Weight: approximately 2lbs (900g)
Composition: Solid resin

Of the three Franklin Sports sets on our list, the manufacturer’s “Professional” set is comfortably their best product.

As can be expected of a product of this one’s quality, its price is a little higher than the mid-range bocce ball sets on our list, but you certainly see the value in forking out a little more.

The Franklin Sports “Professional” set is just a step above the rest of the medium-priced items on the list. The balls are beautifully glossed, the engraving is fine, and the solid balls themselves are incredibly durable.

If you’re a new enthusiast looking to make your first serious purchase, this is without any doubt the ideal product for you. This set conforms to the game’s official regulations, so if you’re hoping to start playing competitively, this is another great reason to consider the Franklin Sports “Professional” Set.

If you’re a seasoned enthusiast looking to replace a worn-out set, then look no further.

Regardless of its price, this is a remarkably popular product, outselling most of the bocce ball sets on our list. This says something very obvious about the set: “Buy it now”.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: two red, two blue, two yellow, two green.
  • 1 x 50mm pallino.
  • Deluxe carry bag.

PROS:

  • Ships with a high-quality carry bag.
  • Conforms to official regulations.
  • Extremely high build quality for good reliability and endurance.
  • All-weather design means the set can be used in all conditions.

CONS:

  • Measuring rope not included in the set.

10. Play Platoon Bocce Ball Set – Most Durable Set

Diameter: 100mm
Composition: Premium crack and damage resistant solid resin

If you’re looking to buy only one set for the rest of your life, the Play Platoon set is the one for you. No other set on our list comes with a lifetime warranty looking at the construction of their balls, it’s no surprise that the manufacturers have this much confidence in their product.

Coated with a solid, impact-resistant premium poly resin and filled with an all-rubber core, the Play Platoon will probably be the last set you’ll ever need to buy.

Unless of course, you lose it. Don’t do that.

Looking at the user reviews usually gives one a good idea of the caliber of a particular product and doing so on the Play Platoon set’s Amazon page reveals that we’re not the only people impressed with this set.

By all means, look at that 4.8 score and read what customers had to say about this remarkable set.

And then look at the price. Reliability and durability have never been so affordable.

If you know that you’re likely to play a reasonably aggressive style of bocce ball, look no further than this great set.

SET INCLUDES:

  • Eight balls: four red and four green.
  • 1 x pallino
  • Measuring rope

PROS:

  • Solid, incredibly durable product.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Sturdy, comfortable carry bag.
  • Water-resistant.

CONS:

  • Some players may be disappointed that the set only comes in two colors.

11. Playaboule 4 Color Lighted Bocce Set V3 DLX Glow – Best for Playing in the Dark.

Diameter: 107mm
Weight: 567g
Composition: Dense plastic

Bocce takes a leap into the 21st century with these space-age battery-powered balls that allow players to enjoy a great game of bocce even after dark.

LED lights strategically positioned inside the semi-transparent plastic balls make these (along with the pallino) glow with enough brightness to easily play at night.

As if this level of innovation wasn’t enough, this Playboule set also allows you to switch the balls into a blinking/flashing mode for an added level of visibility.

Don’t let the presence of electronics and plastic construction fool you into thinking that this is a set that can only be used at night. No, the Playaboule V3 DLX set is perfectly usable in the daytime too.

What’s more is that despite the electronics, these balls are far from fragile. Expect the same level of durability from these than from any other mid-priced set.

So if you’re someone who spends most of their leisure time outdoors, or if the simple novelty of a really interesting and cute version of the game appeals to you,

Set includes:

  • Eight battery-lit balls (two red, two blue, two yellow, two green).
  • 1 x LED-lit pallino.
  • Measuring tape.
  • Carry bag.
  • Pre-installed batteries.

PROS:

  • LED lights make night-time play possible.
  • Regulation size despite electronics.
  • Unique visual design.
  • Durable despite the presence of electronics.

CONS:

  • Much lighter than standard balls.

Buyers Guide (How to Choose the Ideal Bocce Ball Set)

By now it must be pretty clear to you that there are a plethora of things to consider when buying a set. Even if this isn’t the very first time that you’re making this purchase and you know a thing or two about bocce ball, the last thing you want to do is choose a set that isn’t ideal for you and your friends or family.

This buyer’s guide contains all the information you need to choose the best set.

What to Consider When Selecting a Bocce Ball Set

Here’s a quick list of things to look out for as you consider all the options on our list above.

Size, Weight and How this Affects Competitiveness and Accessibility.

When talking about the size of a bocce ball, bear in mind that the values are expressed as the diameter of the ball itself. This would be the length of the ball section if it was sliced along its widest points.

Balls generally come in four sizes: 90mm, 100mm, 107mm, and 115mm.

The first two sizes are most common on our list and are the favourites of casual players who are just looking to have a bit of competitive fun in their backyards, while camping, or having a day at the beach.

Since bocce ball’s popularity is mainly due to how accessible it is, the size of the ball is going to be a very important consideration for you. Are there people you intend to play with that have small or weak hands? If so, you should not consider a set of balls over 100mm.

On the other hand, the sets containing larger balls are very popular amongst more competitive players because they emulate professional conditions better.

If you are part of a very competitive circle of friends and you expect to be taking the game a little more seriously, a set of 107mm or 115mm balls is probably a better bet.

The balls also come in a wide variety of weights, ranging typically from 1lb (450g) to 2.4lbs (1.1kg), with the most popular sets adhering to the official weight requirements of 2lbs (910g).

When considering the heaviness of the ball, you’re again balancing accessibility with competitiveness. The lighter the ball, the more people will be able to enjoy the game. The heavier the ball, the more you are going to be emulating a competitive arena.

Composition and Durability

The material that the balls are made of is a very important consideration. Not only because you want to avoid a ball breaking entirely but also because even a mild crack in the coating can affect the balance of an otherwise usable ball.

Success is based on a judicious use of both tossing and rolling the ball accurately. The latter is seriously dependent on the ball having a smooth, even surface and being well balanced to eliminate weighting bias that will result in a curved roll.

If you’re planning on playing on a level above super casual, and you intend on playing on a level court as opposed to a makeshift section of lawn in your backyard, balance and roundness plays a very important role.

If this is the case, the set should be made entirely from high-quality resin that will be highly resistant to both serious and superficial damage to the balls.

Again, the level of competitiveness comes into play when making this choice. Will you or your friends be inconvenienced by one or more of the balls having a slight dink or crack in it? If not, the material should be a slightly smaller concern for you.

If you’re planning on taking this game seriously, opt for a solid, highly durable set made from professional-level resin. The higher price will certainly be worth it in the long run.

Price

As you can see from our list, the cost of a bocce ball set varies greatly, with the most common tradeoff being build-quality, durability, and attractiveness.

The difference between an absolute entry-level set and our most elite pick is close to $100 – no small amount for leisuretime equipment.

However, the game of bocce ball offers so much and the possibility of joining clubs and leagues in your region is very feasible. So by all means, if you can spare the extra expense, opt for a set that allows you to play at the level you want to achieve.

Portability, Storage and Overall Set Heaviness

All of the sets in our list come with some form of storage. Because bocce ball is a game that is enjoyed outside and in various venues, making the carry bag it ships with is a matter of some importance.

If you’re the type of player who intends to play at various locations, bear in mind that eight 2lb balls along with some peripheral elements can be a bit of a schlep to carry around in an uncomfortable carry bag.

This should be your main consideration when thinking about the bag that your set ships with: How often will you be carrying it around and for what distances.

If you never intend on taking your set out of your garden, this is obviously much less of a concern.

Measuring Device

While no one likes a disagreement during a casual game between friends, deadly accuracy in this respect shouldn’t be your highest priority.

At the same time, if you know that you and your family or friends are a competitive bunch who are likely to argue the validity of a point, do not start a match without a measuring device handy.

Most of the sets reviewed here ship with some form of measuring rope or tape. Start a game without one of these at your own peril.

What Not to Buy

If bocce ball is your jam and you want to pursue it exclusively, be aware of two games that are relatively similar but are definitely not the same thing.

Petanque is a French version of Bocce with the main differences being that petanque balls are always tossed with the player’s palm down to effect backspin. Petanque balls are made from metal to deal with the increased impact over Bocce.

Lawn bowls is another very similar game to bocce ball and the two can be easily confused because both involve rolling the balls towards the pallino (or “jack” as it’s referred to in bowls).

The major difference, and this is a big one, between these two games’ balls is that lawn bowls are weighted on one side, providing a bias that results in a curved roll.

Bocce Ball Rules

Despite official bocce ball tournaments having a very specific set of rules, part of the fun of playing casually is that players can make tweaks as it suits the crowd taking part in the game.

You’re welcome to think of these rules as a guide to developing a ruleset that suits your desires.

Having said that, let’s take a quick look at a simplified version of the official rules of a game as it’s played on a standard bocce court.

  1. A player is nominated to toss the pallino into a space situated midway between the opposing ends of the court.
  2. That same person then tosses or rolls their bocce towards the pallino, attempting to get as close to it as possible. There are advanced tactics that can be employed here that may contradict this approach, though. Some players may wish to cover the space behind the pallino, hoping to knock it towards their bocce at a later stage.
  3. The next player then has their turn to do the same.
  4. The most common rule is then for the player whose bocce is lying furthest from the pallino to continue throwing all their remaining bocce until they achieve a position closer to the pallino.
  5. If they achieve this, the turn switches back to their opponent who does the same.
  6. Once all the players have tossed or rolled all their bocce, the round, or “frame” ends and the score is calculated.
  7. Only one person or team can score per frame. If only one of their bocce is closest to the pallino, they score a single point. If they have two closest to the pallino, they score two points, and so forth.
  8. Play for the next frame switches to the opposing end with the court.
  9. This continues until a predetermined threshold of points are reached by the winning team.
  10. Using the sideboards to bounce or deflect a bocce is encouraged. However, making any contact with the barrier at the opposing end of the court is not permitted and the offending bocce is taken off the court.
  11. Making contact with your own bocce, the pallino, or your opponents’ bocce is also encouraged and plays a very significant role in strategy. This is referred to as “spocking”.
  12. A game can be played by two players, with each having four bocce to toss or roll. It can also be played in teams with team-members alternating turns.

Why Get Into Bocce Ball?

In closing, allow us to make another case for taking up this great game.

With minimal effort and investment, you and your friends or family will be able to spend hours of fun outdoors. It’s an incredibly easy game to learn, but the scope for advanced tactics makes it a hard game to master.
And even if you play against a superior opponent, a single lucky throw can drastically change the momentum of a match. Essentially, you’re never beaten until the last bocce is thrown.

Despite players arguably having more fun when playing on a flat court with sideboards, this is by no means a necessity. Playing on the beach, a lawn, even indoors with some novelty bocce sets is possible.

In a sentence, bocce is an easy game to learn, but difficult to master. The hallmarks of a truly worthwhile passtime.