The Paralympic Games are an exciting testament to both human ingenuity and perseverance. The creativity that goes into adapting some sports for people with disabilities is awe-inspiring. So is the effort and training that Paralympic athletes undergo to compete at such a high level.
But everyday folks who live with a disability or with limited mobility may feel left out. Sure, Paralympic basketball is great for people who are physically able to wheel their chair around with speed and precision. Yet, there are other sports more suited for people who use an electric wheelchair. Take boccia, for example. This fun and enjoyable sport can be played by people of all ability levels and those who use power wheelchairs.
Boccia, also called bocce (or, less accurately, bocce ball), is a ball-throwing/rolling game. It descended from an ancient Roman game with similar principles and is popular today in many places. It’s played professionally throughout Italy, France, and Spain. The game is competitive and exciting. And, it can easily be adapted for power chair users.
All you need to play is a flat playing surface (grass or turf, typically; professionals may play on clay) and a set of bocce balls. Boccia can be played in teams of one, two, or four. The object is to end each round with at least one of your team’s balls closer to the goal.
The game is played using two white balls, called pallinos, and four red and four green balls, called bocce. The game starts with one player throwing or rolling out a pallino. Then players take turns rolling balls of their team’s color toward the pallino. (The order of rolling changes slightly in tournament-style play.) Players can knock any ball on the playing field, including the pallino, with any throw. This adds an exciting dimension to the game, as players can literally move the goalpost itself in a round.
Once all eight balls have been rolled, it’s time to score the round. The team with the ball closest to the pallino scores, one point per ball that’s closer than the opposing team’s ball. If the scoring team has two balls closer than the opposing team’s closest ball, they score two points. The maximum score in a round, therefore, is four points.
Boccia for electric wheelchair users was first included in the 1984 Paralympic games, and it follows a formal set of adapted rules. With the proper assistive devices (including a power chair), anyone can play boccia regardless of ability. The game follows the same track described above. The only differences are as follows.
In casual play, positioning is unimportant. Any flat surface can be turned into a court. In regulation play, players must throw or roll from their designated boxes, and scoring must happen in the designated scoring area.
There are four classes of play, each with its own adaptations.
Other than these adjustments, play proceeds just like standard boccia.
Boccia is a great game that can be enjoyed with friends and family, regardless of ability level. Give it a try today!