paralympics
Boccia

Peter McGuire of Great Britain, Josh Vander Vies of Canada and Stephen McGuire at the mixed pairs boccia at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

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

Things to watch for

three boccia players use ramps to help them roll the balls on to the court
Jose Macedo of Portugal plays a shot during the Mixed Pairs Boccia gold medal final at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Assistive devices
  • 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. 
a close-up of a player's bare foot holding on to soft red boccia ball
Argentina's Mauricio Ibarbure uses his foot to control the ball during the Boccia mixed teams heats at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. (Ben Stansall/Getty Images)
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.
the playing area with several players and their helpers which shows all the border lines
Athletes compete in the individual boccia competition during the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games. (Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)
Play area
  • 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.