Wheelchair basketball is currently hailed as the fastest growing sport for athletes with a disability. The game was initiated in the late 1940’s when basketball players returned from World War II to the U.S.A unable to play able-bodied basketball adapted the rules to enable it to be played in wheelchairs. In 1955, the first international competition of Wheelchair Basketball was played at Stoke Mandeville. The game quickly grew throughout Europe, Asia and Australia thus encouraging the establishment of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation in 1993, a fully independent world governing body. It is now played in over 80 countries with over 100,00 players at all levels over the globe.
Who Can Play Wheelchair Basketball?
To be eligible to play wheelchair basketball, a person must in their lower limbs have an objective and measurable permanent physical disability, which prevents them from running, jumping and pivoting as an able-bodied player.
The classification of wheelchair basketball players has evolved significantly over the past 15 years. Wheelchair basketball classification is based on the players’ functional capacity to complete the skills necessary to play – pushing, pivoting, shooting, rebounding, dribbling, passing and catching.
It is not an assessment of a player’s level of skill, merely their functional capacity to complete the task. Players are assigned points as their classification – 1, 2, 3, and 4 are the recognized classes, with 0.5 classes between for the exceptional cases which do not fit exactly into one class, and the 4.5 category for the player with least or minimal disability.
Classes are defined according to players’ “volume of action”. Each class has a clearly defined maximal volume of action, which the player may exhibit. Players are observed in their competition wheelchairs, complete with all strapping they will use, but in a training situation before the tournament commences. From this initial observation, a player is assigned a class with which they will begin the tournament. The player is then observed in an actual competition game, at which time their classification will be confirmed or modified if the classification panel feels it is necessary.
The total number of points allowed on court at any time is 14.0. That is, the total points of all five players actually playing. If a coach allows the team to have over 14.0 points, they will incur a coach technical foul.
Official Wheelchair Basketball Rules HERE