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.

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