Boccia is a competitive game that can be played one-on-one, in pairs, or with teams of three. It is played on a specially marked court, usually with a hard surface. The goal of the game is for players/teams to throw/bowl game balls so that they get them as close as possible to a special target ball. The game begins with a player throwing the white target ball onto the court. Opponents then take turns trying to throw/bowl their game balls as close as possible to the target ball. When the game balls have all been thrown, a referee determines the points awarded to individual or teams based on measurement of how near the game balls are to the target ball.
Boccia is an official sport of the United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association (USCPAA), the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA), and Special Olympics International (SOI). (see links below) There are two modified versions of boccia that are commonly played: Precision boccia and Special Olympic Boccia.
BENEFITS OF PLAYING BOCCIA
Boccia is an activity that can be enjoyed by persons of all ages and persons with a wide variety of disabilities. It can be played for recreation, as a competitive sport, or for physical education in school programs. The game requires planning and strategy in trying to place playing balls for maximum scoring. It also can develop or increase hand-eye coordination. Finally, boccia is an activity in which individuals with severe disabilities can participate and develop a high level of skill. The game can be easily adapted to allow players with functional limitations to use chutes and ramps in order to to place their game balls into play.
THE BOCCIA COURT
A regulation boccia court consists of two areas: individual player boxes and the common playing area. The common playing area has a designated target area in which all scoring occurs. The players make their 'throws' from specific boxes marked on the court. These boxes are equal in size and each player must remain completely within his or her box during play. Boccia is a very popular outdoor game, and unofficial courts can be set up on virtually any hard surface.
Boccia balls are made from many materials. Good quality boccia balls are soft enough to grasp but hard enough to roll well on the court surface. Official balls used by the USCPAA are handmade of leather and are approximately the size of a baseball. In adapted games, chutes and ramps are used to allow players to put their playing balls in play without having to manually release the ball.
Precision boccia is a somewhat easier variation that can be enjoyed as it is or used to develop the playing skills necessary to succeed at regulation boccia. In this version of boccia, players try to get their game balls to stop in designated areas of the court. Three areas within the playing court have specific point values and the player must indicate which area he or she is aiming at prior to making each throw. Each players gets nine consecutive throws, three at each target box, to place their game balls. More information on how to play precision boccia is available from Sport for Disabled.
SPECIAL OLYMPIC BOCCE
In the Special Olympic version of bocce, opponents stand at opposite ends of the court and take turns throwing their game balls. The game balls are made of wood and a coin toss determines who throws the target ball. The player who throws the target ball also starts the game by throwing the first game ball. The opposing team then throws their game ball and the players alternate until the point is taken or they have thrown all their game balls. For a complete list of Special Olympic Bocce rules, contact Special Olympics International (SOI).
Chutes and Ramps
The use of chutes and ramps allows many individuals to participate who might otherwise be unable to compete. A player may use an assistant when using a ramp. The assistant is not allowed to view the playing court and must follow specific instructions from the player at all times. The assistant places the ball at a certain height and may not initiate the throw.
Additional information on boccia may be available in the NCPAD Citation Database. Try searching using keywords: boccia or bocce.
Boccia Balls and Equipment*
USCPAA National Office, (401) 874-7465
Sportime (wooden balls), (800) 850-8603
*USCPAA distributes two sets originally made in Denmark and New Zealand.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
DAAA, (972) 317-8299
SOI, (202) 628-3630
USCPAA, (401) 874-7465
Sport for Disabled, (416) 426-7361
The information provided here is offered as a service only. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago do not formally recommend or endorse the equipment listed. As with any products or services, consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs and budget.