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Playing Wheelchair Basketball for Sport

  • Date: 2009/01/13 (Rev. 2018/02/18)
  • Christopher W Smith
  • Synopsis : Wheelchair basketball as a sport is one option available to those with a disability.

Main Document

Wheelchair basketball is one option available to those with a disability, helping with their self confidence and providing opportunities to socialize with others.

Wheelchair Basketball is a form of basketball usually played by the physically impaired. Participants play on specially designed wheelchairs, built specifically for the sport.

Too few people with disabilities get involved with sporting activities. Many despair at their apparent disadvantage and end up overlooking the physical therapy and even psychological advantages offered by playing sports.

One little know fact is that wheelchair basketball is played at an international level of competition.

After the second world war, many US servicemen were confined to a wheelchair, and wheelchair basketball was born. In 1946, these veterans played their first game, eventually growing to become one of the most popular sports in the world.

At Stoke Mandeville hospital in England, the spinal injuries department, is known in Europe for its advances in treatment and rehabilitation. The staff encouraged playing sports, eventually adding wheelchair basketball in 1956. Its not surprising that the hospital later went on to found the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation.

There are many international competitions held today, with the sport playing an important role in the Paralympic Games since its inauguration at the 1960 Rome Games. Held every 2 years after the Paralympics, the Gold Cup is a qualifying event. USA, Canada, Australia, England, Japan and the Netherlands currently dominate the sport.

Abiding by the rules of the International Basketball Federation, the games are played on a regulation size court and with a 10-foot basketball hoop. Of course, certain rules have to be adapted. Players are not allowed to touch the wheels more than two times after dribbling or receiving the ball. Before they can handle the wheels once more, they must bounce, shoot or pass the ball.

It's not hard to learn the rules of wheelchair basketball, because the main rules regarding fouls, free throws, and traveling are the same as the ones in the basketball you already know and love. However, you will find that some of the court dimensions have been changed in order to better accommodate athletes in wheelchairs. For example, the three point line has changed to 20'9". This allows more space on the court and keeps the game moving smoothly.

The location for taking free throws has also changed. Instead of using the free throw line, free throws are taken from the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lines on both sides of the basket. This change was made to keep the defensive player safer. There are only a few of these minor changes to learn. Other than that, you should spend some time watching your favorite basketball players to improve your form, skill, and timing.

Any age can play wheelchair basketball. You'll find leagues available for elementary students on up through college age, and there are also adult leagues. You can register a team through your school or community center. It's also a requirement to register with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. Since there are many regional tournaments open to official teams, you'll want to make sure yours can be a part of the fun.

Several countries now admit mixed teams, which consist of able bodied participant and those players with disabilities. You can see mixed wheelchair basketball in countries such as Canada, Australia and England. Usually, teams of wheelchair bound players work within a points system, which governs the make up of the team in terms of degree of disability. Certain players have full paraplegia below the chest.

This sort of basketball is quick and highly competitive. Games are exciting and fun for spectators to watch. The crack of speeding wheel chairs is quite common! Wheelchair basketball is enjoyed by players and fans all over the work making it the perfect sport for persons with disabilities who want to remain in competitive sport, or for those who refuse to let their disability keep them on the sidelines of life.



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