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Ability Superstore Blog

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Spotlight On The Paralympics: Boccia

Posted by Jamie McKay on August 12, 2021

the team GB paralympic boccia team

If, like us, you got addicted to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and miss the daily rollercoaster of thrills, then fear not, because the Paralympic Games are just around the corner!

Today we thought we would take a closer look at one of the lesser-known sports and a firm favourite here at Ability Superstore: The Paralympic sport of Boccia.

What Is Boccia?

No, it is not that fizzy orange tablet vitamin drink thing (you are thinking of Berocca), boccia (pronounced ‘botch-iah’) is a target sport that was specifically designed for athletes with a disability. 

However, it can be played by all and follows a similar pattern of play to bowls, with two sides competing to throw their set of balls closest to the white target ball, which is called the ‘jack’.

Players compete individually, in pairs, or in teams of three, and the game takes place over a set number of ‘ends’.

Each ‘end’ sees the two sides propel six balls in an attempt to be closest to the jack ball. Players who are unable to release the ball with their hands often use a specially designed boccia ramp.

Now, we could write a dozen paragraphs on how to play boccia, but this video explains it far better and it is only 1 minute and 14 seconds long.

It looks cool, doesn’t it? You can see how it can quickly become so addictive to play and to watch!

Standard boccia is usually played indoors on a court measuring 12.5m (41 feet) x 6m (19.5 feet). Still, any flat surface is suitable, and it’s a game that is incredibly easy to set up with specially designed tape to help. There’s also a lawn boccia version which has slightly harder balls and is designed specifically to be played outside.

Boccia is one of the fastest-growing Paralympic sports, and we are sure that if you watch it or play it once, you’ll be hooked on this great game of skill and strategy!

A close up of a Boccia game

The History Of Boccia

Throughout the centuries, many cultures had games that involved throwing items at targets. Boccia is believed to have evolved from the ancient Italian game of ‘bocce’, which itself started in Greece. 

The difference with the modern sport of boccia is that it was designed specifically for athletes with disabilities or for those who were unable to pay a standard came of boules, such as children or the elderly.

Initially created for those with cerebral palsy, it was designed to test muscle control, accuracy and coordination. It is now played by athletes with many disabilities, as well as those with none.

As the game evolved to include more athletes, so boccia equipment has evolved too and these days ramps, tape measures and boccia ball sets for lawns, are available.

The sport was introduced to Great Britain in the early 1980s. It is now played at all levels from recreational right up to Paralympic standard. The International Paralympic Committee introduced boccia in New York at the 1984 Paralympic Games.

Boccia is now played in over 50 countries worldwide, and there are clubs and leagues springing up across the globe all the time. Whether as a player, coach, fan or volunteer, there’s never been a better time to get involved with boccia. 

the names of the team GB paralympic team

Boccia At The Paralympics: Team GB!

Just like in Rio 2016, Team BG are aiming to top their medal tally from previous paralympic games.

David Smith, 32, the most decorated boccia player in Great Britain, returns to head a nine-strong team and will be aiming to add to his impressive four medals from across three previous Paralympic Games.

“I’m not thinking too much about the joint record,” David Smith said. “I’m more interested in playing well and winning. I could surpass the joint record by winning a bronze, but my focus is on the gold.”

For more Boccia stars to look out for, including David Smith, check out this video of who to watch at the 2020 Paralympic Games.

How Can I Play Boccia?

If boccia sounds like the sport for you, there are many ways to get involved. If you would like to play in your garden,at the park or even indoors, then we do sell a range of competition standard boccia equipment – all you need to get going!

If you feel you want to get more involved and become the new David Smith, then you can find a nearby club by visiting https://www.bocciaengland.org.uk/find-a-club.

The website has details for existing clubs as well as information on how to get involved with coaching and volunteering. It even has guidance on how to go about setting up and funding your own boccia club – although that might be a bit of a leap if you’re new to the game!

Sport is a great way to socialise and meet new people, as well as being a fun and exciting way to build confidence, social skills and friendships. Of course, it helps to keep you fit too! If you would like to get involved but don’t necessarily want to play, there are always opportunities for volunteers to assist clubs in all manner of ways.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of amateur sport, and boccia is no different so, whatever you want to do, however you want to get involved, boccia clubs up and down the country are waiting to greet you.

three people playing boccia

Boccia At Ability Superstore

As we mentioned earlier, we do sell a large selection of boccia equipment. If you have any questions about our boccia products, then please do contact us, and we will be more than happy to help!

*The 2020 Paralympics start on the 24th August with comprehensive coverage in the UK on C4.

*Team GB images courtesy of Flickr