Wheelchair Basketball is a form of basketball usually played by the physically impaired. Participants play on specially designed wheelchairs, built specifically for the sport.
All teams which compete above a recreational level use a classification system to evaluate the functional abilities of players on a point scale of 1 to 4.5.
In places where teams are integrated, able-bodied athletes would be classified as a 5, and an individual with the highest degree of disability (such as full paraplegia below the chest) would have the classification of 1.0. Classification is an international regulation for playing wheelchair basketball, where competitions restrict the number of points allowable on the court at one time. However, at this time, athletes are only allowed to compete internationally if they have a disability.
Wheelchair basketball retains most major rules and scoring of basketball, and maintains a 10-foot basketball hoop and standard basketball court.
The exceptions are rules which have been modified with consideration for the wheelchair. For example, "traveling" in wheelchair basketball occurs when the athlete touches his wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball. The individual must pass, bounce or shoot the ball before he or she can touch their wheels again.
Paralympic Wheelchair Basketball Infographic Explanation - Image Courtesy of Allianz.com
Wheelchair basketball rules include player classifications as follows.
Complete motor loss at T-7 or above or comparable disability where there is total loss of muscle function originating at or above T 7.
Complete motor loss originating at T-8 and descending through and including L-2 where there may be motor power of hips and thighs. Also included in this class are amputees with bilateral hip dis-articulation.
All other physical disabilities as related to lower extremity paralysis or paresis originating at or below L-3. All lower extremity amputees are included in this class except those with bilateral hip dis-articulation (see Class II).
Each classification will be given a numerical value or factor as follows: Class 1: 1 value point Class II: 2 value points Class III: 3 value points. At no time in a game shall a team have players participating with total points greater than twelve (12) on the floor at the same time.
Control and Enforcement of Wheelchair Basketball Rules:
The official scorer is responsible for seeing that personnel on the floor for either team at any time does not exceed the twelve (12) points. (This only has to be checked at the start of each half and at the time of substitutions.) At any time during the game, if it is identified that a team exceeds the "player point limit," a Technical Foul is called against the team in violation and handled as all other Technical Fouls, with a correction in the lineup being made at that time.
Any individual who, because of permanent severe leg disability or paralysis of the lower portion of the body, will benefit through participation in wheelchair basketball and who would be denied the opportunity to play basketball, were it not for the wheelchair adaptation, is eligible.
The height of the seat must not exceed 21" from the floor. The height of the foot platform or first point of contact must be no more than 4 7/8" from the floor. Seat cushions are permitted for medical and therapeutic reasons; a medium weight foam rubber is permitted (2" maximum thickness for Class III players and 4" maximum thickness for all other players). A heel strap of 1 1/2" width (minimum) must be attached to the foot platform bars. Each chair must be equipped with a roll bar or other protective device to ensure against damage to the playing surface.
Contact with Players:
The chair is considered a part of the player. Rules of contact in regular basketball (charging, blocking, etc.) apply to wheelchair basketball rules.
An offensive player cannot remain more than 4 seconds in the free throw lane while the player's team is in possession of the ball.
A player in possession of the ball may not push more than twice in succession with one or both hands in either direction without tapping the ball to the floor again. Taking more than two consecutive pushes constitutes a traveling violation. A player, may, however, wheel the chair and bounce the ball simultaneously just as an able-bodied player runs and bounces the ball simultaneously in regular basketball.
Loss of the Ball:
If a player in possession of the ball makes any physical contact with the floor or tilts the chair so far backward that the anti-tip (safety) casters touch the floor, it is a violation and the ball is awarded to the other team.
A player is considered out-of-bounds when any part of the player's body or wheelchair touches the floor on or outside the boundary.
Physical Advantage Foul:
Because of the varying causes and manifestations (degrees) of disability among participants, a basic rule of keeping firmly seated in the wheelchair at all times and not using a functional leg or leg stump for physical advantage over an opponent is strictly enforced. An infraction of wheelchair basketball rules (rebound, jump ball, etc.) constitutes a physical advantage foul. Three such fouls disqualify a player from the game, according to wheelchair basketball rules. Two free throws are awarded and the ball is given to the opposing team, out of bounds.
If a player falls out of the chair during play, the officials will immediately suspend play if there is any chance of danger to the fallen player. If not, the officials will withhold their whistles until the particular play in progress has been completed. If a player falls out of the chair to gain possession of the ball or by falling keeps opponents from gaining possession of the ball, the ball is awarded to the opposing team.