The Joy of Bocce Weekly
The FREE weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume #1, Issue 4    January 29, 2002
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni   Copyright 2002 The Joy of Bocce

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In This Issue

The Skills of the Game - Pointing
Bocce Ball Retriever
Arthritis/Joint Pain Slowing Your Game?
Feedback From Last Week's Issue
Chattanooga Tourney Date Set


The Skills of the Game - Pointing

Bocce is a game of strategy, a game of one-ups-manship, a game of hitting, even a game of "luck of the bounce."  But more than anything else, ours is a game of "touch."  The best courts play very fast so that even a gentle roll results in the ball travelling considerable distance.  I see many different pointing styles among excellent players (palm up, palm down, rolling, lofting).  Some toss the ball a few feet in front of the foul line, releasing all five fingers at once. For them the touch is in the backswing and the release.  Others roll the ball off the fingertips and get a 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock rotation.  In The Joy of Bocce I tell about adapting an old baseball camp throwing drill to bocce.  Most young ballplayers' throws miss their target because of poor grip and/or throwing technique.  We place a piece of electrical tape around a baseball and have the camper (Little Leaguer - small hands) place his middle finger on the stripe and his next fingers to the left and right, with the thumb catching the stripe at the bottom.  The baby finger is on the side of the ball.  Next, the players enjoy a game of catch, and carefully watch the flight of the ball.  With proper grip and throwing motion, the stripe will not wobble as the ball sails to its target.  If you place a similar stripe on a bocce ball and work on an even release (rolling the ball off the fingertips), you'll get proper rotation and a true roll.

I've noticed that many of the best players favor the following technique (discribed from the point of view of a right handed roller).  They cozy up to the foul line and place their left foot close to the line.  They bend very low and place the right foot well back toward the backboard.  The only motion is in the swing of the arm.  No step is taken.  Some maintain that a palm down delivery is a more natural motion for the arm.  The palm up release requires an almost 180-degree rotation of the forearm.  This, they maintain, increases the chance of the wrist or hand twisting inadvertently during release.

I have seen much success with all these styles.  It's a matter of finding what you like best and are comfortable with, and then playing enough  to develop skill and confidence. 

Basketball guru Dave DeVenzio describes in his book, Smart Moves, how he went to the playground early in the morning before high school to practice his game.  His goal was to become the best basketball player in the nation, in part, by out-practicing the competition.  "The extra hours of practice I was getting were not nearly as important as the confidence I was developing.  Nearly everyone with whom I was competing was sleeping while I was advancing, getting better."  DeVenzio was named the best basketball player in Pennsylvania and one of the top five players in the nation.   So, I want everybody reading this to develope the bocce confidence you need by getting up at 5:00 AM every day from now on to practice pointing.


Bocce Ball Retriever
{No, dog lovers, this article is not about a new breed of canine}

Gene Goutsey and Don Allen are big time bocce fans from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  They play on the beach at low tide, tossing the pallino out in any direction and getting their daily exercise walking the course through tidal pools and sand bars. Gene, partial to bocce over all other sports says it "beats the hell out of golf - don't cost nothin."  With a wink, he's quick to add that "Our groundskeeper comes in twice a day."  His partner Don wants outsiders to understand that their beach bocce play is not without conflict.  "We play under duress that helps us when we travel to tournaments elsewhere."  The problem, he maintains, is that beach play requires great powers of concentration, because "...there are good looking women in bikinis everywhere."  

Gene has a nagging backache making it difficult for him to bend over and pick up his bocce balls.  Together with Don he developed a unique "bocce ball retriever."  The device has what looks like a Tupperware bowl attached to a telescoping rod that can be adjusted to the user's height.  With a little practice you can get a deft little wrist snap going, and pick up your bocce ball without bending at all.  I first met this dynamic duo in Las Vegas where I was the games organizer for a big money tournament put on by the World Bocce Association and the Golden Nugget Casino.  I've put a few photos up on my site - depicting the tournament and the bocce ball retriever.  Click here to view.   Photos
The South Carolina duo retails the device for $29.95 plus shipping.  Email Gene at

Arthritis or Joint Problems Slowing Your Bocce Game?

Check out this product which I found so helpful that I became a manufacturer's rep for it.  Click  the link below to read about a very powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation in the joints.  People everywhere have had good results for the symptoms of arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis, asthma, allergies and a laundry list of illnesses making the product sound like a snake oil that's "good for anything that ails you."  The reason is that this powerful substance composed of natural substances like extracts from grape seed, red wine, and pine bark, does two major things in the body.  These antioxidants improve circulation and boost immunity.  As you can probably imagine, so many of today's maladies can be traced to poor circulation and low immunity.  My son James, pretty expert in herbal remedies and holistic medicine, turned me on to the product almost 6 years ago.  "I think it will help your arthritic old basketball knees," he reasoned.  Within a week of faithfully using the product, I was going up and down stairs without pain.  I took a serious look at the company, liked what I saw, and became a manufacturer's rep for its many wonderful products. Anti-oxidant ($64.95 for a three-month supply) 


Prohawk Measures going gangbusters!

I'm almost out of stock of these nifty measuring devices.  I made a trial order to check out how my readers would like them.  They're going so well that I am considering taking on the distributorship for the United States and Canada.  Check them out.  They are neat to have on hand for games and make the best gift I can imagine for a bocce lover (well, you have to figure if the person is any kind of player at all, s/he already has my book - otherwise it would be the second best gift a bocce lover could receive).  Click here Prohawk Measuresto check out the two that I recommend.  They retail for $19.95 plus shipping.


Feedback From Last Week's Ezine

Tom Coyle uses 45 degree angle boards - a style of play that he picked up in Phillipsburg, NJ.  "I placed the corner boards, thinking all courts had them.  I later found out that nobody else has them and am now considering their removal if I want better players to arrange home-and-home matches with me. But the people who play on my court absolutely love them."  To stop players from always playing off the angle and end boards, Tom made a rule that "any ball thrown to backboard without first hitting a sideboard or another ball is removed from play for that inning."

The angle boards make it "a little easier to keep the lower skilled teams in the game" and his rules discourage richocheting balls off the back and favor pointing or "coodling in" as he calls it. 

Tom asks if any readers have suggestions for covering courts (low cost methods preferred) during down time to keep leaves and other debris off the playing surface?

Bob Goetz of North Carolina says he's seen the 45 degree angle courts in Cleveland, Ohio.  "It makes for a fun and interesting game.  For example, one can ride the ball down the far right corner, and with sufficient speed, catch the left hand corner  (basically reversing the direction from the start of the throw) and back to the pallino. This is a very effective shot, especially when the pallino seems surrounded heavily in the front by other balls."

Bob's courts are surfaced with Chapel Hill grit which is a fairly fine brown stone.  What surfaces do you play on?  Readers will be interested to know.  Click REPLY.


Chattanooga Tourney Date Set

I help run this excellent tournament with Rico Daniele of WWOBA and would love to get to meet any of you readers who might want to participate or just come to watch.  More than a tourney, this event features gourmet dining (even a chocolatier on staff), cultural amenities (outdoor sculpture garden, glass blowing studio), and the most scenic court in the South.  Also, if you never met Rico you are in for a treat.  A tireless promoter of the game he loves, he even has a 40-foot bocce balloon that he displays in parades.  On the night before the tournament Rico puts on a demonstration of hitting and volo shots and assorted trick shots that is worth the price of admission.  The official tournament dates are Friday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4.  Call Rico at 1-800-BOCCE54 for more information or click on Chattanooga Tourney for more details and photos of the "most scenic court in the South."  


Other Outdoor Games series still available

My friend Tom Demogenes is an avid outdoors gamesman.  A former professional boxer and current fight trainer, Tom loves any game that can be played outdoors.  When I introduced him to bocce he liked it right away and promptly went out to purchase a set of bocce balls for his family.  A couple weeks later I asked him what he liked best about bocce. He quickly replied "No set-up time."  I hadn't thought about that.  Croquet and volleyball and badminton take a while setting up the wickets or nets.  With bocce on the lawn, you just dump the bag of balls on the grass, and you are ready to go.

Interested in horseshoes, croquet, badminton, volleyball, archery?  Click Outdoor Games to order any of these well crafted booklets by author Steven Boga.  Under $10.00 each.  


What they're saying about The Joy of Bocce, the only instructional book on bocce in America.  Over 100 photos and diagrams depicting how to play, build a court, locate equipment, and more.

"Whether your style is backyard, post-barbecue play, or serious tournament action, this book is right up your alley."

Jeff Joaquim
Backyard, post-barbecue player

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