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Popular Wheelchair Sports

  • Published: 2009-01-13 (Revised/Updated 2013-06-13) : Author: Cindy Heller
  • Synopsis: Most wheelchair sports are adapted from the normal sports with some modifications in the rules and regulations.

Quote: "Most of the rules of wheelchair basketball follow the rules of regular basketball. The biggest difference is perhaps concerning the rules of traveling."

Main Document

Wheelchair sports were invented because the awareness that even disabled people have rights to play sports and participate in competitions.

Nowadays, wheelchair sports are very popular and people who are physically disabled and affected due to their intellectual disability can participate.

Most of the sports are adapted from the normal sports with some modifications in the rules and regulations to accommodate wheelchair players. Wheelchair sports are also part of international competition for disabled people called Paralympic Games, which now is conducted at the same period and country as Olympics.

There are many types of wheelchair sports, among them are racing, basketball, tennis, table tennis, badminton, bowling, hockey, football, and baseball. Some of them are played in manual wheelchairs, while others in electric wheelchairs. Normally sports that are required electric wheelchairs have the term electric before the name like Electric Wheelchair Baseball.

Wheelchairs, either manual or electric, that are used in sports are not the same as regular ones. It is specially designed to have higher speeds and it is also easy to be maneuvered. The wheels have angles for added stability and the frame is stronger to sustain rough activities during sports. The following sections discuss two popular wheelchair sports, namely wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.

Wheelchair Basketball

It is believed that wheelchair sports were started in 1946 during the Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games and wheelchair basketball was introduced in 1956 where Pan Am Jets is the first team who won the competition. The sport gained popularity and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) was formed in 1973 to oversee the sport until now.

Most of the rules of wheelchair basketball follow the rules of regular basketball. The biggest difference is perhaps concerning the rules of traveling. In regular basketball, traveling happens when a player moves both feet while holding the basketball. Traveling is closely related to double-dribbling, where a player stops dribbling, holds the ball, and dribbles again. In wheelchair basketball, traveling is when a player touches his wheels more than two times after receiving or dribbling the ball. The player must pass, bounce, or shoot before he or she can touch the wheels again.

Wheelchair basketball has a player classification system, which basically is a number system from 1 to 5. The number indicates the severity of the handicap, where a player that is almost paralyzed completely is classified as 1.0, while an able-bodied player is classified as 5.0. Everyone can participate in a wheelchair basketball games and the system is intended to balance the teams and ensure fairness.

Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair tennis is basically played in the same way as regular tennis. There are two or four players, one or two on each side of the net, and they need to hit the ball back and forth. The only difference is that the players are not running, but they use wheelchairs to reach and hit the ball. It was started in 1970s by a young man named Brad Parks.

Many people like to play wheelchair tennis and this sport has gained much popularity among other wheelchair sports. You may need specialized equipments to play it as regular ones can be quite difficult to be handled. The wheelchair should really be in a good condition for playing wheelchair tennis so you can maneuver quickly.

Reference: Cindy Heller is a professional writer. To learn more about wheel chair van conversion, please visit


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