The idea of the game is simple. One side has six red balls and the other six blue balls. The aim is to get your balls closer to the white target ball, the 'jack', than your opponent.
To start an end, one side will throw the jack. They will then throw their first ball trying to get it as close as possible. The other side then attempts to throw their ball closer. After that, the side whose ball is not closest to the jack throws the next ball. Once all balls have been played, points are awarded. The side that is closest to the jack receives a point for every ball they have nearer than their opponent’s closest ball.
A match consists of a set number of ends, four in Individual and Pairs events and six in the Team game. Once all ends have been played the side with the highest score is the winner.
Boccia is played indoor on a court similar in size to badminton. Players are positioned at one end in throwing boxes and can throw the jack anywhere on court over the ‘V’ line.
The balls are made of leather and are filled with plastic granules so they do not bounce and are easy to grip.
Played by athletes with a high level of impairment resulting from Cerebral Palsy or other conditions affecting motor skills, the sport is a test of muscle control and accuracy, demanding extreme skill and concentration at the highest level.
All athletes have an impairment that affects all four of their limbs. The majority of players use an electric wheelchair for mobility.
There are four classifications and all events are mixed.
The BC1 class is for players who have Cerebral Palsy. Athletes will have difficulty gripping the ball. As a result they are permitted to have an assistant on court to pass them the ball before they throw. BC1 athletes are allowed to use their hands or feet to play the ball. Most athletes throw the ball but a small number kick the ball into play.
The BC2 class is also for players who have Cerebral Palsy. BC2 players are more able than BC1 players to grip and release the ball. As a result they are not permitted an assistant on court and must throw the ball onto court.
There are three events for BC1 and BC2 players: the Individual BC1 event, the Individual BC2 event and the BC1/BC2 Team event which is three aside – a minimum of one BC1 player per side must be on court at all times.
The BC3 class is for players with either Cerebral Palsy or other conditions and was added to the Games in 1996. BC3 players have the highest level of impairment. They are unable to throw or kick the ball consistently into play and therefore play using an assistive device, also known as a ramp. The athlete has an assistant on court that faces away from play and is not allowed to turn around for the duration of the end. The assistant positions the ramp under instruction from the player and places the ball on the ramp for the player to release. There are two BC3 events: an Individual and a Pairs event. In the Pairs event, at least one player with Cerebral Palsy must be on court at all times.
The BC4 class is for players who do not have Cerebral Palsy and was first included in the Paralympic Games in 2004. BC4 players have similar functional ability to BC2 players so have difficulty gripping and releasing the ball but can throw it consistently into play. There are two BC4 events: an Individual and a Pairs event.