What's it all about?
It’s the sport whose name sounds like “gotcha”! Players compete from a tiny rectangle as they try to get their ball super close to another ball to push off their opponents for a win. It’s a boccia match! And you should check it out.
How it's played
The teams: Mixed-gender athletes compete in classes based on impairment. You can watch seven different medal events or just catch an individual, team or pairs match.
The match: Individual athletes play four ends with six balls per player, per end. Pairs play four ends and share the six balls. Teams play six ends with only six balls per end for the whole team!
The equipment: Balls are 12-sided and look like mini soccer balls. There are six blue for one side, six red for the other and one white ball. All competitors use wheelchairs or scooters and some might also use assistive devices to throw the balls.
The play: The white ball (the jack) is thrown first, then each side throws a ball to try to get as close to the jack as possible. Play goes until a side is all out of balls (check out some photos below).
The points: When a side has played all six balls, the referee awards one point for each ball closer than their opponents' to the jack. Most points at the end wins!
The athletes: Boccia athletes have different strengths and abilities they use in their strategic approach to getting their balls closest to the jack — oh, and winning the game!
Did you know? Boccia is pronounced "bot-chuh” which is Italian for “ball.”
Things to watch for
- Assistive devices can be used to throw the ball for athletes with limited function in their arms and legs.
- An assistant can set up a ramp for them and put their ball on it so the athlete can push the ball with their hand or using a head or hand pointer.
Soft, medium, hard
- The boccia balls are made of leather and are a bit bigger than a tennis ball.
- They're available soft, medium or hard depending on the athlete's arm strength, if they are kicking it or using an assistive device.
- Athletes throw their balls from one of six rectangular throwing boxes at one end.
- They must stay in their designated spot during play.
- The jack (white ball) has to be thrown past the V-shaped white line for the play to be valid.