To be eligible to compete in boccia at national or international level, athletes must have a disability and be in a wheelchair, as a result of cerebral palsy, or another neurological condition that has similar effects, such as muscular dystrophy or traumatic brain injury. Players are examined to determine the extent of their disability and then assigned to a sport class, designed to allow them to compete against other athletes with a similar level of physical function.
Boccia players are assigned to one of four sport classes: depending on their functional ability:
- BC1 – Players in this class throw the ball with the hand or foot. They may compete with an assistant who stays outside of the competitor’s playing box, to stabilize or adjust their playing chair and give the ball to the player when requested.
- BC2 – Players in this class throw the ball with the hand. They are not eligible for assistance.
- BC3 – Players in this class have very severe locomotor dysfunction in all four extremities. Players in this class have no sustained grasp or release action and although they may have arm movement, they have insufficient range of movement to propel a Boccia ball onto the court. They may use an assistive device such as a ramp to deliver the ball. They may compete with an assistant; assistants must keep their back to the court and their eyes averted from play.
- BC4 – Players in this class have severe locomotor dysfunction of all four extremities as well as poor trunk control. They can demonstrate sufficient dexterity to throw the ball onto the court. Players are not eligible for assistance.