The history behind the new BISFed Ball Roll Test
For many years, the development of boccia balls which are used in competitive play has led to ever softer balls being used at competitions. Many athletes and coaches started to question the legality of some balls because they were so soft and also often not available on the open market. This resulted in a situation where an athlete’s equipment could give a significant playing advantage. This problem arose because earlier versions of the boccia Rules did not eliminate the use of such balls.
BISFed has always been clear that we want a ‘level playing field’ where the athlete’s skill is the most important factor in determining the result of a boccia match. The matter was discussed at the BISFed General Assembly in 2014, and a motion was passed by BISFed’s Members which required BISFed to find a solution. In response, BISFed commissioned Loughborough University (LU), a world leader in sport research and technology, to conduct a study and to advise on a solution. LU carried out a 2-Stage project: Stage 1 was an extensive consultation exercise with BISFed Members, athletes, coaches and manufacturers which confirmed that there was indeed a problem. In Stage 2, LU used standard competition balls provided by 10 boccia ball manufacturers to devise a solution. The University’s advice was that a new rule which tests how a boccia ball performs is required. The recommended solution is the new BISFed Ball Roll Test which is described above and which has been included in the 2017 Boccia Rules. (It is worth noting that over 98% of the balls supplied by manufacturers passed the new test.) BISFed is confident that introducing the new test from May 2017 will eliminate most of the super soft ‘balls’ which cannot accurately be described as balls.
From 2018, as previously communicated, it is BISFed’s intention only to allow balls supplied by approved manufacturers to be used in competition play. This will allow all athletes access to the same range of balls, while still providing for variation in softness and allowing manufacturers to innovate. We will announce the list of approved manufacturers in the summer of 2017 to give those that need to adjust time to do so.