Get the games going in the garden

Feeling inspired?
Bring the spirit of Rio home and give it a go yourself

Here are some ideas to see if you’ve got what it takes to be a champion. All fired up and ready to be that little bit more active now the Paralympics are here? We certainly are…

All you need is a garden, local park or court, and a little imagination. Here are five ways to get the whole family involved in the action…


Two teams playing Boccia at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

This involves a sighted referee and two teams of three trying to get the ball past each other while wearing blacked-out eyeglasses (blindfolds will do).

Played with a bell ball, the game takes place in a space the size of a volleyball court. The idea is to throw the ball from one end of the court to the other and across the goal line to score, without the opposing team intercepting it.

Tactile markings, as shown in the chart below, are marked out with tape and string:

Goalball – tactile marking chart diagram

The rules are:

  • Of the three players, two take a wing each and the other goes centre. If players leave the team area when defending, the ref will award a free throw to their rivals.
  • The ball must always touch the ground before being thrown. You can either roll the ball straight towards the goal or roll to the overthrow line before picking it up.
  • Play must be called by the ref before a player can roll or throw the ball, and that player must be facing in the direction where he or she wants the ball to go. If these rules aren’t observed, they lose possession to the other team.
  • If a player passes the ball to another teammate and the pass is missed, with the ball going outside the lines, this is called a ‘Pass Out’ and that team lose possession.
  • If a defending player stops the ball, and it bounces off and rolls back over the centre line, it also goes to the other team. Yell ‘blindfold!’ before making adjustments.
  • Play is then paused to prevent cheating. ‘Deadball!’ is called by the referee if the ball is in play but no one can locate it.
  • It then goes to the nearest player. If a ball goes out of play at any point, it is passed to the other team.

Sitting Volleyball

Paralympicians playing sitting volleyball

Everyone sits on the ground or in stationary chairs, with a referee standing so they can help bounce the ball back into play if it goes astray.

Of course the official game has all kinds of complex regulations, but to play at home you can keep things simple:

Split into two teams of any size either side of the net (this can be a washing line). Players take it in turns to hit a spongy ball over the net, gaining a point if it gets past the opposite team.

  • You’re not allowed to throw the ball beyond the farthest player, or above where their outstretched arms can reach – it must be strictly kept within the team area.

The key here is gentle precision. The losing team has to buy lunch.
OK, we made that up – but it’s always good to have a little extra motivation.

Blind football

Paralympians playing blind football

Blind football is one of the most exciting events in the Paralympics, and requires a ball containing a ball bearing so you and your teammates can locate it by sound. You can buy these online pretty cheaply.

The rules are very similar to football. Here are some specifics:

  • The goalkeepers are sighted.
  • Each team has a maximum of five people.
  • There are no offside rules.
  • When defending or about to tackle, you must yell ‘Voy!’ to prevent any accidents.
  • Aggressive tackling, pushing over or saying things to disorient other players are not allowed and result in a free kick being given to the other side.
  • Five fouls and you’re off the pitch.
  • You need a sighted referee to oversee things including where the ball went out of play and where a free kick should be awarded.

Lawn bowls

Paralympic sport Boccia, lawn bowls

Taking inspiration from the Paralympic sport Boccia, lawn bowls can be played standing or sitting.

Keep things fair by having everyone playing from a seated position. Use your garden chairs and move them as needed. Then you just need a set of bowls and a competitive streak…

These are the rules:

  • Split into two teams of any number.
  • Toss a coin to see who will roll the jack (the small black ball) as a target.
  • Players take turns trying to get their balls as close to the jack as possible, with the person who gets closest winning the round.

The Paralympics has a set number of rounds, but decide how many you want to play before starting and have a chalkboard to keep score.

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