Legend has it that when Marco Polo invented bocce back in the 5th century (I’m a direct descendant of his, by the way), he was the best player on the planet. And boy was he brash about it. His signature catchphrase—”Throw the hammer!”—was shouted with pretty much each shot. That said, every ball was a brilliant combination of pinpoint accuracy and devastating power. None could stand against him, and he was eventually bodily assumed into heaven by the Bocce gods so that other mortals might have a fair chance at winning a game every once in a while.
Now, my lineage notwithstanding, I am no Marco Polo. And, I apologize for saying so, but neither are any of you. So, what to do when you can’t throw with perfect accuracy and power at the same time? My first piece of advice is that you don’t have to “throw the hammer” every time you want to bocce a ball out of position.
The whole point in bocce is to have your team’s balls closer to the pallino than the others. Even if you make contact while heaving a ball down the court, all balls involved are going to end up really far away from the point of collision. If you miss, forget about it. See ya later, have a hot shot, try again or, better yet, don’t. You’ve just handed your opponent a big opening to capitalize on.
When trying to bocce out an opponent’s ball, the vast majority of the time it’s best to use only slightly more power than you would if you were just trying to park one close. This way, if you make that contact, you’re a lot more likely to get your ball in even if you don’t push your opponent that far away. And if you miss, your ball will still be in close enough range to be a blocker or some sort of headache for the opponents to have to handle.
Are there appropriate times to “throw the hammer”? Sure. Here’s a quick list:
- Even after throwing a hammer attempt, your team will still have more bocce balls to throw in the frame than the opponent.
- If you make contact with your target, you’ll leave multiple balls in even if the ball you throw isn’t one of them.
- It’s a mess of balls in a back corner of the court so might as well muck it up.
- You want your opponent’s ball to be irrelevant for the rest of the frame.
- Seems like it will be extra fun and you like extra fun.
Just know that while you may be there for extra fun, your opponent might be there to win.
*Analysis by Dan Spomer with contributions by Matt David