Wheelchair basketball

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Wheelchair basketball game Wheelchair basketball 090923 akita cropped.jpg
Wheelchair basketball game

Wheelchair basketball is basketball played by people with varying physical disabilities that disqualify them from playing an able-bodied sport. [1] These include spina bifida, birth defects, cerebral palsy, paralysis due to accident, amputations (of the legs, or other parts), and many other disabilities. The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) is the governing body for this sport. [2] It is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the sole competent authority in wheelchair basketball worldwide. FIBA has recognized IWBF under Article 53 of its General Statutes. [3]


The IWBF has 95 National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball (NOWBs) participating in wheelchair basketball throughout the world, with this number increasing each year. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people play wheelchair basketball from recreation to club play and as elite national team members. [4]

Wheelchair basketball is included in the Paralympic Games. The Wheelchair Basketball World Championship is played two years after every Paralympic Games. Major competition in wheelchair basketball comes from Canada, Australia, the United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Japan.


1940s to 1960s

In 1944, Ludwig Guttmann, through the rehabilitation program at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England, adapted existing sports to use wheelchairs. [5] It was known as wheelchair netball.

At around the same times, starting from 1946, wheelchair basketball games were played primarily between American World War II disabled veterans. [6] This began in the United States at the University of Illinois. Dr. Timothy Nugent founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1949 and served as commissioner for the first 25 years. [7]

The Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, held in 1947, were the first games to be held and included only a handful of participants (26), and few events (shot put, javelin, club throw, and archery).

The number of wheelchair events and participants grew quickly. Wheelchair netball was introduced in the 1948 Games. In 1952, a team from the Netherlands was invited to compete with the British team. This became the first International Stoke-Mandeville Games (ISMG), an event that has been held annually ever since.

Wheelchair basketball, as we know it now, was first played at the 1956 International Stoke-Mandeville Games. The US "Pan Am Jets" team won the tournament. [8]

1970s to present

Wheelchair basketball at the University of Worcester, England (video)
Competitors in the 2012 Euroleague tournament Euroleague - LE Roma vs Toulouse IC-27.jpg
Competitors in the 2012 Euroleague tournament

In 1973, the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation (ISMGF) established the first sub-section for wheelchair basketball. At that time, ISMGF was the world governing body for all wheelchair sports.

In 1989, ISMGF accepted for its former wheelchair basketball sub-section to be named International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).

Full independence came in 1993 with the IWBF becoming the world body for wheelchair basketball with full responsibility for development of the sport. Over the following years, IWBF membership grew in size, and based on the number of National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball (NOWBs) with active programs, the international federation configured itself into four geographical zones: Africa, Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe.

Wheelchair Basketball World Championship

World championships for the sport have been held since 1973, with Bruges, Belgium being the first host city. The first world championship for men was won by Great Britain. Of the first 11 men's world championships, six were won by the United States (1979, 1983, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2002), two were won by Great Britain (1973, 2018), two were won by Australia (2010, 2014); and once each by Israel (1975), France (1990) and Canada (2006). Canada has won five of the women's world championship titles (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014), the United States two (1990, 2010) and the Netherlands one (2018). [9]


Australian women's wheelchair basketballer Amanda Carter challenging for the ball in a game against the US at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games 27 ACPS Atlanta 1996 Basketball Amanda Carter.jpg
Australian women's wheelchair basketballer Amanda Carter challenging for the ball in a game against the US at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games

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, "travelling" in wheelchair basketball occurs when the athlete touches their wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball. [10] The individual must pass, bounce, or shoot the ball before touching the wheels again. [11]

In some countries, such as Canada, Australia, and England, non-disabled athletes using wheelchairs are allowed to compete alongside other athletes on mixed teams.


Classification is an international regulation for playing wheelchair basketball to harmonize players' different levels of disabilities. All teams which compete above a recreational level use the classification system to evaluate the functional abilities of players on a point scale of 1 to 4.5. Minimally disabled athletes are classified as a 4.5, and an individual with the highest degree of disability (such as a paraplegic with a complete injury below the chest) would be classified as a 1.0. Competitions restrict the number of points allowable on the court at one time. The five players from each team on the court during play may not exceed a total of 14 points. In places where teams are integrated, non-disabled athletes compete as either a 4.5 in Canada or a 5.0 in Europe; however, non-disabled athletes are not allowed to compete internationally. [12]

Wheelchair design

Basketball wheelchairs are designed for enhanced stability. The center of gravity is where the chair and the athlete's mass are equally distributed in all directions. Points at which the wheelchair can tip over sideways are the fulcrum. A wheelchair with a higher seat is easier to tip. Basketball chairs have lower seats and wheels that are angled outward so that the center of gravity has to move a greater distance before it passes over the fulcrum and tips the chair. Guards use wheelchairs different from those of centers and forwards. Forwards and centers are typically under the net, so their chairs have higher seats and therefore less mobility, but the height increases the player's reach for shots at the hoop and for rebounds. Guards have lower seats and therefore greater stability for ball handling and getting down the court as quickly as possible. [13]

See also

Related Research Articles

Parasports Modified sport activity

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The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games are a multi-sport competition for athletes with a disability, which under the former name of the International Stoke Mandeville Games were the forerunner of the Paralympic Games. The competition has been formerly known as the World Wheelchair and Amputee Games, the Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, the Stoke Mandeville Games, the World Wheelchair Games, and in the 1960s and 1970s was often referred to as the Wheelchair Olympics.

Wheelchair rugby

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WheelPower is the national organisation for wheelchair sports in the United Kingdom, and aims to help people with disabilities improve their quality of life.

International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation

The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) is an international sports organisation that governs sports for athletes with physical impairments.

International Wheelchair Basketball Federation

The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) is the international governing body for the sport of wheelchair basketball. IWBF is recognized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) as the sole competent authority in wheelchair basketball worldwide. International Basketball Federation has recognized IWBF under Article 53 of its General Statutes.

Adaptive Sports USA is a registered multi-sport organization of the United States Olympic Committee/the U.S. Paralympics dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles by implementing sports and recreation opportunities for children and adults with a physical disability.

Paralympic sports

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Wheelchair racing

Wheelchair racing is the racing of wheelchairs in track and road races. Wheelchair racing is open to athletes with any qualifying type of disability, amputees, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and partially sighted. Athletes are classified in accordance with the nature and severity of their disability or combinations of disabilities. Like running, it can take place on a track or as a road race. The main competitions take place at the Summer Paralympics which wheelchair racing and athletics has been a part of since 1960. Competitors compete in specialized wheelchairs which allow the athletes to reach speeds of 30 km/h (18.6 mph) or more. It is one of the most prominent forms of Paralympic athletics.

Philip Craven

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1 point player is a disability sport classification for wheelchair basketball. It is for people who have significant loss of trunk control.

2 point player

2 point player and 2.5 point player is a disability sport classification for wheelchair basketball. People in this class have partial trunk control when making forward motions. The class includes people with T8-L1 paraplegia, post-polio paralysis and amputations. People in this class handle the ball less than higher-point players. They have some stability issues on court, and may hold their wheel when trying to one hand grab rebounds.

3 point player is a disability sport classification for wheelchair basketball. People in this class have good forward and backward trunk movement but poor to no sideways trunk movement. The class includes people with L2-L4 paraplegia and amputations. Amputees are put into this class generally if they have hip disarticulations or hip abductions. Players in this class can generally rebound balls that are over their heads, but they can have some issues with balance during lateral rebounds.

4.5 point player

4.5 point player is a disability sport classification for wheelchair basketball. Players in this class tend to have normal trunk movement, few problems with side to side movements, and ability to reach to the side of their chair. Players generally have a below knee amputation, or some other partial single leg dysfunction. This classification is for players with minimal levels of disability. In some places, there is a class beyond this called 5 point player for players with no disabilities.

Wheelchair basketball classification is the system that allows for even levels of competition on the court for wheelchair basketball based on functional mobility. The classifications for the sport are 1 point player, 2 point player, 3 point player, 4 point player and 4.5 point player, the greater the player's functional ability. Classification for the sport is set by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation.

Disability racquetball classification is the medical based classification system developed to allow fair competition between racquetball players with different disability types and against able-bodied competitors. Internationally and in Canada, this classification system only allows only wheelchair users to be eligible to compete. In contrast, the United States classification system covers wheelchair users and people with vision impairments, with different classes inside these disability types.

Amputee sports classification is a disability specific sport classification used for disability sports to facilitate fair competition among people with different types of amputations. This classification was set up by International Sports Organization for the Disabled (ISOD), and is currently managed by IWAS who ISOD merged with in 2005. Several sports have sport specific governing bodies managing classification for amputee sportspeople.

Wheelchair sport classification is a system designed to allow fair competition between people of different disabilities, and minimize the impact of a person's specific disability on the outcome of a competition. Wheelchair sports is associated with spinal cord injuries, and includes a number of different types of disabilities including paraplegia, quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, post-polio syndrome and spina bifida. The disability must meet minimal body function impairment requirements. Wheelchair sport and sport for people with spinal cord injuries is often based on the location of lesions on the spinal cord and their association with physical disability and functionality.

United States mens national wheelchair basketball team

The United States men's national wheelchair basketball team began in 1955 when the Pam Am Jets brought wheelchair basketball to Europe at the International Stoke Mandville Games, albeit in the form of netball. Shortly following the Pan Am Jets' dominating performance at the International Stoke Mandville Games, wheelchair netball was switched to wheelchair basketball for all future Games.

The Cerebral Palsy Games are a multi-sport competition for athletes with a disability, which under the former name of the International Stoke Mandeville Games were the forerunner of the Paralympic Games. The competition has been formerly known as the International Cerebral Palsy Games or the Stoke Mandeville Games. Since the 1990s the Games are organized by the organisation Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA), so they called also CPISRA World Games.


  1. "What is Wheelchair Basketball". ActiveSG. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  2. "Home page". International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  3. "Wheelchair basketball". Capstone. Retrieved 25 October 2015.
  4. Estimates of number of players according to the IWBF website Archived 2008-12-16 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "History of the Sport". Wheelchair Basketball Canada. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  6. "History of Wheelchair Basketball". International Wheelchair Basketball Federation. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  7. "Nugent, Timothy J. (1923-)". University of Illinois Archives. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  8. Otero, Michael (21 May 2011). "Sprint, agility, strength and endurance capacity in wheelchair basketball players". Biology of Sport. Biology of sports. 32 (1): 71–81. doi:10.5604/20831862.1127285. PMC   4314607 . PMID   25729153.
  9. Fontaine, Pamela (2000). Wheelchair basketball. Boston: 66 leaves. p. 20.
  10. "Basic Rules of the Game". BC Wheelchair Basketball Society. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  11. Syzman, Robert (January 14, 2014). "Ball Size and Distance". Consumer health.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. "Basketball". International Paralympic Committee.
  13. "Science of the summer Olympics: engineering for mobility" Cooper R. National Science Foundation Directorate for Engineering. Retrieved 9 October 2014