men playing wheelchair basketball

Team Sports

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair basketball began with the Veterans Administration (now called the US Department of Veterans Affairs) in 1946 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 200 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 point system.

The NWBA is composed of over 200 basketball teams within 22 conferences and seven divisions. The NWBA was founded in 1948, and today consists of men's, women's, intercollegiate and youth teams throughout the US and Canada.

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.

An 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 organizations.

Ambulatory Basketball
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 sports organizations offer ambulatory basketball competition: the US Deaf Sports FederationDwarf 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.


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. Click here for an overview of different types of knee joints used in protheses.

TRS, Inc.
 Manufacturer of body-powered prosthetic devices

Kingsley Orthotic and Prosthetic Supply
Orthotic and prosthetic supplier

Manufacturer of innovative prosthetic and orthotic products


man in wheelchair playing bocce ball

Boccia or Bocce

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 competition programs.

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.

USCPAA 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 chute.

The Court
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.

Precision Boccia
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 Bocce
Bocce 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 bocce balls are available from a variety of stores and manufacturers that specialize in sports and recreational equipment.