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Boccia is very much like the French game of Petanque: Players from two teams compete to throw their team's coloured balls closer to the target ball (JACK) than the other team. One point is scored for every ball of one colour that is closer to the jack than the nearest ball of the opposing side; so it is possible to score up to six points during each completed section of the game, called an"end".

The main difference between the games is that in Boccia, everyone MUST be seated, either in a chair or wheelchair. Balls may be thrown, kicked or even rolled down a ramp by more severely disabled athletes! Players sit in "boxes", which are one metre wide and two and a half metres long. In front of them is a court ten metres long, with a "jack ball" or "vee" line denoting the valid jack ball area on the far side from the athletes. Coloured balls are valid on the athlete's side of the "vee" but the jack is not.

Firstly: the referee calls for "Jack, please"; and the player holding the white jack ball must throw it into the court. The referee then signals with a paddle for that player to throw the first coloured ball as close as possible to the jack.

Now it is the opposition's turn...and when the referee signals, a player from the opposing side must throw a ball to try to get their ball closer to the jack.

The referee now checks to see which side is furthest from the ball and signals for that side to continue to throw their balls until they get closer than the opposing team, or run out of balls.  Sometimes the throw changes at every turn as players get closer and closer to the jack!

When all players have thrown their balls, the referee checks the score and asks the players to agree, measuring if there is any doubt. The referee announces "End finished".

There are SIX ends in a teams match, and FOUR ends in pairs and singles matches; the jack ball passing to each player in turn.


Basic Rules for competitions

  • The first Player on the right as the referee looks into the playing boxes plays RED and always starts the game. A coin is tossed to decide who choses which colour.

  • The white jack ball is thrown first and MUST cross the "vee" line and stop inside the court markings.

  • If the jack ball goes "out" or fails to cross the "vee" line it is "fouled" and passes to the next player in line.

  • In Boccia, a ball or any equipment which touches a line is said to be OVER that line.

  • The player who throws the jack MUST throw the first coloured ball.

  • The player and all of their belongings/balls/ kit must be inside their playing box when the ball is thrown or the ball will be stopped and a penalty given against them.

  • Balls may only be thrown when the referee signals with the paddle for that colour to do so.  Even if it is obvious to you that it is your turn, you MUST wait for the referee's signal. If you throw before the signal, your ball will be retracted (stopped and removed from play)

  •  If you and a team-mate throw together, BOTH balls will be retracted! Make sure that your captain or partner wants you to take the shot before throwing.

  • When the referee shows the paddle for your side to play, you may talk to your partner or captain about the shot to be played, and you may ask the referee to allow you to come onto court to look at the balls. You may roll your balls and prepare a shot even if someone on your team else is throwing, but you must not touch your balls once the referee shows the paddle for the opposing team to throw! 

  • Once the  referee has show the opposing team's colour on the paddle, you must keep still, not talk or fidget or handle your balls. If you do so a penalty ball is awarded to the opposition!

  • If you come out onto court during your team's time, ask the referee first (although it is your right to do so)...because the referee will check that you don't accidentally trip over balls or disturb the head of play and by doing so get a yellow card!

  • If the score is even after the ends have been played, a TIE-BREAK is given. The jack ball starts on the centre cross and the first player is decided by coin-toss. The end is played as normal, BUT... if even one of your team's balls are closer than the opposition's and they have no balls left to play, you have won! Do not continue to play as a tie-break is simply a win or extra points are given, so for example the match is scored at 4-4, with RED the winner.

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