Bocce is an accessible sport that can be enjoyed by all kinds of players and happens to be a mainstay of the Special Olympics. It is pronounced “bot-chee”.
The sport can be played just about anywhere with a smooth, flat surface to allow balls to roll and track straight. Think anywhere from a beach, bar or backyard to a park, recreation centre or a specialised bocce venue with a bespoke bocce surface.
If you’re playing the sport properly and by its official rules, you’ll require a court with back and side walls to rebound your bocce balls off so you can leverage the full strategic capabilities of the sport and get as close to the pallino as possible.
Court sizes vary according to the lie of the land involved, even at a competitive level, but to give you an idea the standard Special Olympics bocce court size is approximately 60’ x 12’.
Traditional courts are often made of wood but a growing number of people are now playing on high-quality and easily portable inflatable courts created by Packaworld to help organisers bring the game with them.
Boccia is an offshoot of bocce developed for people with physical disabilities and is played in the Paralympics by athletes in wheelchairs. It is pronounced “bot-cha”.
The rules and strategy of the sport are similar to bocce, but the how and where are different, as are the kinds of balls used.
Boccia is traditionally played inside on an unwalled court similar in size to a badminton court and all players must be seated during a game.
Players can either roll, kick, or use a ramp to set their balls in motion from a throwing box which they must remain in during their turn to play. Unlike the hard balls used for bocce, the balls used for boccia are made of leather and the pallino is more often referred to as a jack.
At Paralympic level, players’ individual abilities are assessed so they can be matched with suitable opponents who have a similar level of functional ability. Four classes of ability have been established (BC 1-4) to grade players and ensure a level playing field.
What equipment do I need to play?
Apart from bocce or boccia balls and a pallino (bocce) or jack (boccia), the other consideration is the court you will play on.
For bocce, inflatable Packabocce courts made by Packaworld are smart solutions that allow organisers and players to bring the game with them. Highly portable, these courts are now common sights at Special Olympics competitions worldwide.
Capable of being pumped up and ready to use in minutes, Packabocce courts are easy to use and transport, and come in different sizes to suit different indoor or outdoor venue sizes and requirements.
For the Paralympic sport of boccia, unwalled courts are the norm. If you have access to a dedicated boccia court lucky you! However, it’s more likely that you will be playing in a shared space with temporary line markings.
Packalines are temporary line markings, available from Packaworld, that effectively mark out court lines and leave no trace – avoiding damage to expensive gymnasium floors. Maximum visibility against wooden flooring is provided by a high contrast light blue design.
The product uses a special type of rubber with a ribbed profile that grips the floor to provide a resilient, sturdy marking. You can simply cut Packalines to size, roll them out, roll out your boccia balls, then roll them up once you’re done.
As to the question of which is better, that might be best left up to you to decide. With the fantastic amount of fun fans of both sports enjoy, we’re picking it might be a very close call!
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