| Team Sports
Wheelchair basketball began with the
Veterans Administration more than 40 years ago as a rehabilitation
program. Today the game is extremely popular and enjoyed by diverse
groups of players. It has developed into an organized program of
more than 185 teams in the United States and many more throughout
the world. The game is played according to NCAA rules with slight
modifications to accommodate wheelchairs. The National Wheelchair
Basketball Association (NWBA) competition uses a classification
The NWBA is composed of 181 basketball teams within
22 conferences. The NWBA was founded in 1948, and today consists
of men's, women's, intercollegiate and youth teams throughout the
country. For more information visit: http://www.nwba.org.
The choice of a suitable, lightweight sports wheelchair
is critical to involvement in competitive leagues because mobility
is enhanced by their use. See Infinitec's all-terrain wheelchairs
for several examples of sports wheelchairs.
Adapted Basketball Versions
A variety of modified versions of
basketball using special equipment can be used for skill development.
These range from a non-contact, non-running and non-dribbling game
called bankshot basketball to several games using lower and/or netted
basketball rims that allow the ball to be returned to the wheelchair
user by a ramp.
adapted version of wheelchair basketball, called twin basketball,
has been developed by the Japanese. The game features two baskets
at different heights. Players choose which basket to shoot at based
on functional ability.
Contact your local YMCA, YWCA or community organizations
to find out where adapted versions of basketball are offered, or
see Infinitec's list of sports
Basketball enjoys the reputation of
being the oldest organized sport for individuals with disabilities.
Played with little or no rule adaptations by athletes from five
different disability groups, basketball continues to be one of the
most exciting sports for players and spectators alike. Three disabled
sports organizations offer ambulatory basketball competition: the
American Athletic Association of the Deaf (AAAD), Dwarf
Athletic Association of America (DAAA), and Special Olympics
Sport Devices for Amputees
Basketball is successfully played
by people with upper and lower limb amputations. For upper extremity
amputees who wish to play with a prosthesis, a device called the
Super Sport is useful. This device comes in different sizes and
was specifically designed for recreational activities and ball sports.
It is manufactured by TRS, Inc.
Lower limb devices:
The use of the (QSA) Single Axis
Knee and a Quantum foot allows an above-the-knee amputee
to enjoy the game of basketball, as well as many other activities.
Visit the Hosmer
Dorrance Co. Web site for a full line
of upper and lower extremity devices: http://www.hosmer.com
Kingsley Mfg. Co.
Success in boccia is often a matter
of inches! Accuracy is the name of the game; the white target ball
is the point of concentration.
There are several theories regarding the origin
of boccia ball: One is that the Romans adopted it from the Greeks;
another theory is that it was derived from the Italians at a much
later date, and yet another theory asserts the game was a derivation
of the French game of petanque. The United States Cerebral Palsy
Athletic Association (USCPAA) introduced the game to American
athletes with disabilities. Special Olympics and the Dwarf Athletic
Association of America have recently incorporated boccia into their
Boccia is played either indoors or outside and
is similar to the Italian game of lawn bowling. The object of the
game is similar: A white target ball is thrown onto the court by
one of the players, and opponents take turns attempting to get their
game balls as close to the target ball as possible. Once all game
balls have been thrown, points are awarded by the referee, according
to the placement of game balls nearest the target. Individual boccia
ball is played with six balls per player for six rounds.
Boccia has been modified specifically
to include the more physically involved cerebral palsy athlete in
a competitive sport. It is one of the few activities requiring a
high degree of skill that can be mastered by individuals with severe
disabilities. boccia is an excellent activity for physical education,
recreation, or a competitive sport for participants with or without
disabilities. The game can be played one-on-one or three-against-three
and is one of the few sports played on a co-ed basis. Disabled players
have the choice of playing with or without an assistive ramp or
A boccia court for athletes with cerebral
palsy consists of two areas: the players' boxes and the playing
area. The playing area is comprised of two parts, the non-valid
target area and the valid target area. The players' boxes are six
equal-sized boxes. Each player must stay completely within his or
her box during play.
A Canadian version of the game called
precision boccia, changes the objective from getting balls close
to the white target ball to getting balls within designated areas
of the court. Three separate areas within the standard boccia court
are given different point values. Players are required to make two
attempts at each area, and the player scoring the most points is
declared the winner.
Special Olympic Boccia
Boccia was first played at the Special
Olympics as a demonstration sport at the 1991 International Summer
Special Olympic Games in Minneapolis. Competition involved athletes
in the senior masters division (at least 30 years of age).
Although the objective of the game is similar
to boccia played by athletes with cerebral palsy, the court and
balls are different. Competitors stand at opposite ends of long
lanes and take turns throwing. The balls are made of wood; balls
used by athletes with cerebral palsy are made of leather. The leather
balls are soft enough to be grasped by individuals with extreme
fine motor difficulty, but still hard enough to roll. For individuals
without grasping difficulties, unofficial boccia balls are available
from a variety of stores and manufacturers that specialize in sports
and recreational equipment.
Chutes and Ramps
In USCPAA boccia, the use of chutes
and ramps is restricted to a single division in which class I and
II athletes compete jointly. The assistive device is the equalizing
factor. An individual's ability to effectively use a ramp or chute
depends on several factors, including a type of ramp release mechanism
or technique used by the athlete and the need for additional assistance.
The most popular chute is made of a plastic or aluminum pipe. boccia
ramps can be easily made from materials found in most hardware stores.
Ramps with swivel bases allow players to adjust the direction of
the ramp independently.
For makers of boccia balls contact:
Mamaku & Co.
Created in Canada in 1979 as murder
ball, the game is a cross between wheelchair basketball and ice
hockey. It was introduced to the United States in 1981 by Brad Mikkelsen,
and the name changed to quad rugby.
The United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA)
was established in 1988 and now boasts membership of more than
40 teams. The season begins in November and culminates in April
with the annual National Championship tournament. In the fall of
1992, USQRA became an official member of Wheelchair Sports USA,
hoping to promote inclusion of quad rugby in World Championship
and Paralympic competition. The sport is now recognized as an official
Paralympic sport. The US National Rugby Team is undefeated in international
Combining aspects of basketball and soccer and
a penalty system similar to hockey, quad rugby provides an exciting
team sport for quadriplegics left out of the game of wheelchair
basketball. Quad rugby consists of four 8-minute periods and is
played on a regulation basketball court with restricted areas designated
by pylons and tape. Two teams consist of four players each.
The object of the game is for the offensive team
to carry a regulation volleyball to the defensive team's goal line
that is 26 feet, 3 inches wide. A variety of offensive strategies
have been developed to maximize defensive weakness. During the game,
team players pass a volleyball back and forth while advancing into
the opponent's half court. While the offense is trying to advance
the ball, the defense is trying to take it away and keep the opposing
team from scoring.
The defensive team attempts to force turnovers
by blocking, intercepting or batting the volleyball away from the
offensive players. All four offensive players are allowed in the
restricted zone for no more than 10 seconds. Only three defensive
players are allowed in this zone, a fourth player in this zone results
in a violation.
Each ball handler may take an unlimited number
of pushes but must bounce or pass the ball within 10 seconds. The
offensive team must get the ball into the front court within 15
seconds of possession. Generally, offensive penalties result in
the loss of possession while defensive penalties and major infractions
result in banishment to the penalty box.
Participants may have various disabilities that
preclude their play in able-bodied sport competition. Players must
have a combination of upper and lower extremity impairment to be
considered eligible to participate. Most of the players have sustained
cervical level spinal injuries and have some type of quadriplegia
as a result.
Players are given a classification number from
one of seven classifications ranging from 0.5 to 3.5. . Team totals
may not exceed 8.0 for the four players on the court at the same
time. Of those eligible to participate, the 0.5 player has the greatest
impairment, which is comparable to a C5 quadriplegic. The 3.5 player
has the least impairment and is similar to a C7-8 incomplete quadriplegic.
Both male and females are encouraged to play. Because of the classification
process, gender advantages don't exist.
The use of equipment in quad rugby is limited
to the official ball (volleyball), a good sports wheelchair, and
gloves. Gloves are seen more often in quad rugby than in wheelchair
basketball because upper extremity and hand dysfunction is so severe
in quadriplegics. Depending on individual needs, the use of trunk,
waist, leg and foot strapping is also allowed.
The United States Quad Rugby Association Manual
is available at the USQRA office and is a must for anyone interested
in this exciting game.
United States Quad Rugby Association (USQRA)
The Leisure Services Department
at The Royal Ottawa Regional Rehabilitation Centre (RORRC) devised
a new team sport called power soccer for individuals needing power
wheelchairs. The object of the game is to push the ball over the
opponent's goal line. Power soccer is similar in concept to quad
Power soccer is played in two 30-minute halves
with a 10-minute halftime period. The game, now played throughout
Canada, is ideal for use in physical education classes.
The game is usually played on a basketball court
with a three-meter goal line marked on each end. Court size and
surface can be changed to meet the needs of the program.
A wheelchair bumper that fits right into the footrest
was developed for player safety by the rehabilitation engineers
at RORRC. Certain rules for contact and charging apply to the game
of power soccer. The 37.5-inch Gymnic ball was also developed to
be large enough to not get caught under a footrest or wheelchair
For power soccer rules, strategies, and press
clippings or for information on starting a team contact:
Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program
Gymnic ball is available at:
The Equipment Shop
Sportime, Select Service & Supply
Be sure to see Sports
Organizations for the organizations mentioned above and many
Note: Information on
adapting sports was excerpted with permission from Sports and Recreation
for the Disabled, 2nd edition, by Michael J. Paciorek and Jeffrey
A. Jones. (See recommended reading list.)