Bocce/Horseshoes Re-certification is available to those coaches who have been previously certified in the Sport of Bocce/Horseshoes. If you have not been to a coach’s certification class in athletics you do not qualify to re-certify. To Re-certify, a coach must make sure that the Volunteer application and protective behaviors training is up to date. Please check the Certified Coaches List found on the Coach’s Corner page. Re-certification is not valid without an up to date volunteer application, protective behaviors class and concussion awareness.

Re-certification should only be done when you are close to expiration of your original certification. Please do not take the course until you have less than 3 months to go on your certification. Please check the Certified Coaches List found on the Coach’s Corner page. Certification is good for 4 years.


Special Olympics Bocce and Horsehoes is available to all persons age 8 and above, having been identified by an agency or professional as having an intellectual disability, or a closely related disability which means having functional limitations in both general learning and in adaptive skills (such as recreation, work, independent living, self-direction, or self-care), and having registered to participate in Special Olympics.

Application for Participation

The Application for Participation in Special Olympics is commonly referred to as the Medical Release. This form is valid for a specific 3 year period. The valid dates are printed on the top center of the form. It is only good for this time period. Example – September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2013. Coaches should make copies of this form after completing all information. Please do not leave off any information. If there is information that does not apply, please write does not apply in that space. This form must be signed by a Physician, Physician’s Assistant, Nurse Practitioner or a Clinical Nurse Specialist. It must also be signed by either an adult athlete (with witness signature) or a Parent/ Guardian. Athletes will not be able to train or compete without the release. Coaches should have a copy of the medical release with them any time they have an athlete with them. Coaches are also responsible for updating the forms whenever a change has taken place, such as, medicine changes.

Coaches Responsibilities

Coaches have a lot of responsibility. It is imperative that coaches find enough assistant coaches to help cover all of the duties of a coach. The following is a list of responsibilities of the coach. This list will not cover everything a coach has to do in order for the team to be successful.

  1. Coaches must have enough help to supervise athletes at all times.
  2. Coaches must have a proper practice facility that is both safe and meets the needs of the athletes.
  3. Coaches must have medical releases with them at all times. Coaches must be aware of all medical issues of their athletes.
  4. Coaches must know first aid and have a phone available to call for help if needed.
  5. Coaches must train their athletes for no less than 8 weeks prior to competition. The training must be appropriate.
  6. Coaches must select sports and events that are appropriate for their athlete’s age and abilities.
  7. Coaches must ensure that all athletes are uniformed appropriately.
  8. Coaches must know how to complete entry forms and do so on a timely basis.
  9. Coaches will be a positive influence on their athletes.
  10. Coaches must keep a written training plan for all of their practices.



Special Olympics divisions athletes based upon their age, gender, and ability, with ability being the primary indicator. This aspect of Special Olympics is what separates Special Olympics from all other sports organizations. Every athlete will receive an award. Athletes disqualified will receive a participation award.

Bocce and Horseshoes divisioning is done through a bracket system. Usually the first game of the tournament dictates the division in which the athlete will play. These divisions are commonly referred to as a winner’s bracket and the consolation bracket. The sports of Bocce and Horseshoes may not allow the event director to split athletes by age and sex, which is acceptable. The numbers of competitors will determine how divisioning will take place.


All Special Olympics paperwork is now available on-line. Coaches may complete the entry forms, medical release, down’s addendum, and Coaches card on-line, then print the forms and submit. The medical release and down’s addendum must be signed by an authorized person. All entry forms and medicals are due by the deadline that you will see on the schedule. Most can be mailed in but some must be hand delivered. You must pay attention to the directions in the schedule. The deadline is the date that paperwork must arrive, not when it is to be mailed. Mail your forms in time for the paperwork to reach the event director by the deadline.

General Rules For Bocce

Proper uniforms are required for Bocce and Horseshoes. Collared shirts are not required at this time but are recommended. Soft soled shoes should be worn for Bocce (Flip flops, cowboy boots, etc. will not be allowed). Athletes should not wear jewelry and hair should be kept off of the face.

Special Olympics will offer Singles Bocce, Traditional Doubles Bocce, and Unified Doubles Bocce. Athletes may only be able to compete in one format at the Area level. Summer Games does allow (at this time) for Athletes to compete in each of the formats. Competition in any format at the Area level will qualify the Athlete for all formats of Bocce at Summer Games.

The Court will be regulation 12’ X 60’ with a foul line 10’ from each end line which will also act as a spotting line for Palina placement (Palina placed in center of 10’ opposite foul line) and a midline. Surface will be grass with painted or chalked lines. Recently, Special Olympics Oklahoma has been able to use some of the artificial turf football fields. In this case, cones will be used to mark the boundaries.

Each team will have 4 official size tournament Bocce balls, sized 4 ¼ to
4 ½ “ in diameter, made of wood or composition only. Palina will be no larger than 2 ½” in diameter.

A coin toss will determine first throw of the Palina. The team winning the toss will throw the Palina. The team controlling the Palina will throw the first Bocce ball. If the Palina does not cross the center line, player/team number 2 will throw the Palina. If the Palina is still not playable, it will be placed on the opposite 10’ foul line with control returning to the original player/team. If the Palina leaves the court of play during a live frame, it will be placed in the center of the opposite 10’ foul line.

The team to first successfully roll the Palina will roll the first Bocce ball. If neither team successfully rolls the Palina, the Palina will be placed and the first team will roll the first Bocce ball. After the initial Bocce ball roll, the team that is furthest from the Palina will roll until their ball is the “in” ball- meaning the ball closest to the Palina. At that time, the other team will roll. This continues until all balls have been rolled. Player’s ball delivery may not be assisted by another person.

The team closest to the Palina will score 1 point for each Bocce ball that is closer than any of the other team’s Bocce balls.

Number of balls played by a player: Singles – the player is allowed to deliver 4 balls; Doubles – each player is allowed to deliver 2 balls in each frame and may be delivered in order of players’ choice. In Doubles, both players will be in the same 10’ throwing area behind the foul line. A frame is completed when all 8 balls have been played and the score has been recorded.

A game will consist of a maximum of 12 frames or 15 minutes, whichever comes first.

The winner of the game is the person or team with the highest number of total points.

No substitutions allowed. Every player must be at the court they are assigned at the time of their game. They may not leave the court during the game. If an Athlete is not on the court for a frame, the other player/team will roll all their balls and will score 4 points for that frame; if their opponent has not arrived back on the court after this frame is scored, the game will end with a forfeit.

Each court will have a judge and scorekeeper. All decisions by the judges are final.


Ramps are not officially recognized in Bocce competition. More importantly, Bocce balls coming down off a ramp onto grass have limited accuracy and distance. If you have an Athlete who must play with a ramp, the Athlete must provide his/her own ramp for competition. Ramps cannot be shared between courts. Ramp play in Bocce is modified; Ramp is placed just behind the midpoint of the court with both the Palina and Bocce balls being delivered from this point for all frames.

General Rules For Horseshoes

The Horseshoe Court will have a distance of 40’ between stakes. There will be a throwing line 30’ from each stake. The stakes will be set in a 3’ by 4’ frame or box.

Each Shoe that lands on or in the box will be scored 1point – each ringer will be scored 3 points. Leaners are scored one point for being in the box.

Players may use their own horseshoes, provided they are official weight and size and approved for competition by the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Shoes must weigh between 2 lbs. 2 oz. and 2lbs. 10 oz.

The individual or team with the most points after 40 shoes are thrown by each individual/team will be declared winner.

In the event of a tie after 40 shoes have been thrown, 2 additional shoes will be thrown by each individual/team to decide a winner.

No substitutions will be allowed.

Each court will have a judge and a scorekeeper.


Athletes must practice a minimum of 8 weeks prior to competition. Practice should consist of warm-ups, stretching, competitive experience and a proper cool down.

Bocce/Horseshoes Re-certification Test

Note: If you have not been to a coach’s certification class in Bocce/Horseshoes you DO NOT qualify to re-certify. To Re-certify, a coach must make sure that the Volunteer application and protective behaviors training is up to date. You cannot re-certify without an up-to-date volunteer application and protective behaviors class. SOOK only allows a limited number of attempts to take the bocce/horseshoes re-certification test as we are charged for each test that is taken.