Comments on the New Draft Boccia Rules

In response to my teammate’s (Josh Vander Vies) blog post about, draft changes to the Boccia rules and “An athlete was not on the very small committee that decided which proposals to reject or approve. It is very important that we hear from as many players as possible so that the rules reflect realities of the game.”:

I hereby, publicly submit my comments on the new draft boccia rules:

– In multiple locations in the text of new rules, the player is referred as “he” or “his”. Boccia is a unisex game, and as such, the rules should respect and reflect this.

– In rules 9.6 and 13.1, the rule says:
“Some routine actions are allowed without a specific request to the Sport Assistant. (i.e. “Ball!” might mean, “Roll ball, place in athlete’s hand and move the chair forward”, but not orientating the chair).”
I suggest:
“Some routine actions are allowed without a specific request to the Sport Assistant. (i.e. “Ball!” might mean, “Roll ball, place in athlete’s hand.”)
In 3 dimensional space, moving the chair forward, is the act of “orientating the chair”. All players must direct any orientation of the chair (if they require this).

– I have concerns about the throwing of the Jack ball being included in a sides time. This creates an inequality of time between sides during an end. One side has 7 balls to play, while the other has 6, given the same amount of time. The time it takes to prepare to throw any ball is significant (especially for BC3 players who must line up their ramp for every shot). Throwing the Jack is that side’s opportunity to take advantage. The side should not be disadvantaged by having less time (in the end) to throw their coloured balls. This could cause situations that a side could quickly purposely foul their Jack to put the “time pressure” on to the other side. I propose 2 alternatives which address my concern, while still having the Jack “timed”:
– Give each side their whole time, for the whole match. This spreads out the time for Jack throwing over the whole match (not just one end), and is therefore fair during every end and throughout the whole match. Sides should made responsible to be able to manage their time for the match as a whole.
– Give specific time just for throwing the Jack, then each side would have their normal allotted, equal time to throw their coloured balls.


The Value of a Top-Notch Boccia Sport Assistant

Team TK, Defi Sportif 2012

In many of my blog & facebook posts in the past few years on Boccia events, you have seen me refer to my “individual Boccia self” as “Team TK” (which for those of you who haven’t figured that out yet, TK stands for “Trish & Keven”). I do this because I feel that at competitions, success is achieved by myself & my sports assistant working as a team.

The rules of Boccia define a sport assistant as a person who during an end can only: “carry out a specific action such as altering the positioning of the chair, moving the assistive device, rolling the ball or passing the ball to the Player.”, without being able to communicate with the player. In truth, this just a small part of what their role really is. Even for athletes who can’t have a sports assistant on-court with them (BC2s & BC4s), this role is still extremely important. A sports assistant is also considered (just for one athlete):
– care attendant
– training partner
– emotional/mental support (between games & between ends of a game)
– on-site scout
– sounding board
– coach (if the athlete desires)
– roommate (during events/camps)
Compared to other members of an athlete’s team (like physios, coaches, sports psychologists, etc), the personal relationship of the sport assistant allows for all of the little things to be taken care of, and gives the athlete maximum comfort going into competition.

Finding that “right sports assistant” is critical to the success of a Boccia athlete. Some athletes like their sports assistant to be more “just professional”, some prefer the comfort of a significant other. I’ve found that having one of my best friends works the best for me. I need someone who will keep things “fun”, and this way I stay relaxed and can focus in on my execution and strategy. Finding that right person, is not an easy job, but makes a huge difference!

Maintaining the athlete/sports assistant relationship also requires special attention and recognition by both sides. Being together 24 hours a day, in sometimes stressful, sometimes exciting, sometimes extremely tiring situations, can be taxing on any type of relationship. It may sound like “couples therapy” advice, but communication really is the key. Letting your “partner in sport” know how you feeling, and when your need rest or time to yourself, will help keep everyone together and happy. Athletes especially need to let their sports assistant know how they need to be mentally prepared before a game, or on the way, or even the night before a big game. Sports assistants play a major role in ensuring the athlete is mentally ready to play.

I firmly believe that finding that “right” sports assistant, and maintaining this relationship, makes a big difference in the performance of a Boccia athlete. Athletes, sports assistants, coaches, and sport organizations need to recognize and appreciate the significance of a healthy relationship between the athlete and their sports assistant in order to achieve success.

Update on 2012

As the London 2012 Paralympic Games draw near, I thought I should provide an update for everyone on my Boccia career.

I am unfortunately not in London, either as an athlete (barely missed making the team this time around, with one BC1 athlete cut for just the Paralympic year) nor a “SuperFan” (long story, the contest was marred by software bugs, yes very ironic given my profession, and was finally won via random draw). The next couple of weeks will be difficult for me, but I still fully support my friends and teammates who are representing our country and sport. It also an opportunity for me to closely follow my teammates and their experiences, to help me prepare for my own Boccia future. All the small pieces of info, will give me a better idea of what to expect and prepare for down the road.

If you know me at all, you know that setbacks just make me drive even harder towards my goals. Looking forward to 2016, I’ll have a full quadrennial as a high performance athlete to continuously improve and gain international ranking points. I won’t be “behind” like I was for London with just being on the National Team only a year prior. For 2013-2015, they will be two BC1’s on the team, and that should give me the opportunity to work hard and improve my international play and ranking.

For the summer, I’ve dialed down on the training (while keeping my physical preparations high) and taken some time to rest, refocus, and spend some time with my wife, friends, and family. I’ve also really tried to focus on why I love to play the game of Boccia. Using my background as critical-thinking problem solver, I’m also developing some new equipment, balls, and strategies, which I hope will give me a “world-unique” advantage. Together with my whole “team”, we’re looking at plans for the next 4 years to accomplish my sport and non-sport goals. My next competition is Boccia Blast (in London, ON) in November, and I’ll be looking to “next peak” at 2013 Nationals in March.

I’ve also re-branded my twitter account (@bocciashooter) to be able to provide quick updates during my training and competitions. Please follow me if you have a twitter account.

In closing, I wish all the best to the Canadian Athletes currently in London!


Please vote for me as the Paralympic SuperFan

My dream of heading to the 2012 Paralympic games is not quite over yet!!! Please vote for me in the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s “SuperFan” Contest. “Like” “The Heart”, on Facebook, and help me win a trip to London, to show my support for my fellow Canadian Boccia Teammates, and Canadian athletes in other sports. If you know me at all, you know I’ve always been a loud & proud fan wherever I go. I would love the opportunity to show my heart for all our Super Athletes!!!!! It would also help if you posted this on your network/wall so I can get even more votes. Thank you very much!!!!!

Life (and Boccia) go on…

So, in case you haven’t heard via other means, I missed making the 2012 Canadian Paralympic Boccia Team by a very close margin. Yes, it was very disappointing, but life goes on, and for now, so does my Boccia career.

I’m headed to Montreal today for the 2012 Defi Sportif Boccia Competition. This is my opportunity to show everyone what they’re going to miss in London. 😉 I also have a few new tricks up my sleeve which I will introduce to the world!!!! My “theme song” for this week will be: , it seems very appropriate for my current situation. I’m also happy to say that Team TK will double in size for the weekend, as my wife and a good friend are coming to watch and support me. Nice to know that no matter what happens, I have many people who are totally in my corner.

Keep an eye on my facebook fan page for updates throughout the week at Defi.

Final Day of Individual Competition

So today started off with my final game in my pool.  I defeated Gabe 9-1 to finish first in my pool with a 4-0 record and a +35 points for/against.  The other pool didn’t quite go as planned, and I ended up facing my toughest competitor in the Semi final.  I was down 4-0 after 3 ends, and tried my best to complete the comeback but came  up short losing 4-3.  I then had to run directly back to the call room for my bronze medal game.  Again, I got off to a bit of a shaky start getting down 3-0 after two ends.  But I pulled of 2 points in each of the final two ends to win the bronze medal 4-3.  Obviously this is not medal colour I was looking for but I was happy with my overall performance and finished first among the athletes in my classification running for the National team ( which was the real goal coming in to the competition).  

One more final day tomorrow with the Paralympic team selection camp.  I look forward to playing well all day and finally putting an end to the selection process for the 2012 Paralympics.

I will hear about the selection late this week, and will of course let you all know how it goes. I probably won’t get a chance to blog tomorrow as we will be out celebrating.

Have a good night everyone.


Day 2 at Nationals

I had a very good day to start off the individual competition at this year’s nationals.  I started off with a come from behind 4-3 win over Ontario teammate Brock Richardson.  I followed that up with a 16-0 win over a new athlete from BC.  My final game of the day was against Josee from Quebec which I won 10-0.  for some reason I decided to make the day extra challenging by throwing away one jack in every game of the day.  I can’t wait to see what I can do with two jacks per game tomorrow.  I have clinched first place in my pool but I have one more pool game tomorrow at 9 am, then it will be on to the semi’s and finals tomorrow afternoon.  I am very pleased with my bounce back abilities today and I am quietly confident going into tomorrow.  

I hope to be reporting more good news tomorrow.  Good night from Surrey, BC.