Wheelchair Basketball was originally developed by World War II veterans as part of their rehabilitation in USA, 1945. Since then, the sport has gained popularity worldwide and was inducted as an official sport at the1960 Rome Paralympic Games. Today, it is practiced in nearly 100 countries. At first, players had to have a spinal cord injury to be eligible to play. Now, the opportunity to participate has been extended to persons with permanent lower extremity disability that prevents from running, jumping, and pivoting. Furthermore, in addition to spinal cord injury, some other types of conditions of conditions such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and permanent joint disorders, qualify a person to play wheelchair basketball.
In Singapore, the Wheelchair Basketball Association of Singapore (WBAS) is the governing body of the sport. Formed in 2007, the WBAS’ vision was to use basketball as a medium promote societal awareness of disabilities through encouraging interaction between people on the basketball court.
In order to start playing wheelchair basketball, all you need is a wheelchair! As a casual player, you can bring your own wheelchair in order to get a feel for the game. However, if you do decide that you would like to pursue competitive wheelchair basketball, then a change to a sport wheelchair is needed. This wheelchair may be made specifically for wheelchair basketball, but a generic sports wheelchair can also be used in numerous other sports such as wheelchair tennis perhaps even wheelchair dancing! So, fret not because your sport wheelchair will be a versatile piece of equipment you can rely on.
One common misconception about basketball is that the game is only eligible for everyday wheelchair users. This is actually false because many wheelchair basketball athletes are able to walk independently with the aid of prostheses, or is a person with cerebral palsy who has adapted to walk. Hence, wheelchair basketball is open to peoples of all kinds of disabilities. In fact, the game can also be played by able-bodied persons.
The rules for wheelchair basketball are similar to that of able-bodied basketball, albeit with a few adaptations. These same rules apply: a regulation ball is used, the basket is ten feet high, and the free-throw line is 15 feet. The differences in rules lie in the way the ball is played;
- Players have to dribble once for every two pushes of their wheelchair in order to avoid a traveling violation.
- Touching the wheels more than 3 times while holding the ball on the player’s lap is a violation.
- There is also no double dribbling violation in wheelchair basketball.
- The front wheels of a shooter’s chair may be over the free-throw line, but the back wheels must remain behind it until the ball is released.
- Although there is still a 3-second lane violation, if the player is trapped in the lane and continues to try to exit it within 3 seconds, a violation will not be called.
- For women’s’ games, a smaller ball size is used.
- In junior divisions, a rookie ball is used—it is smaller and lighter than the regulation women’s ball.
- The basket is 6 to 8 feet high
- A 13 feet free-throw line is used
- Players play four, 8-minute quarters
Athletes with these impairments are eligible to compete in wheelchair basketball:
Each player is allocated one of the eight sport classes, and each class is classified from 1 to 4.5 points. A wheelchair basketball team consists of 5 players, but cannot be made up of individuals which exceed a total of 14.0 points at any given time. Lesser points indicate a more severe activity limitation.
Benefits of Wheelchair Basketball
Engaging in wheelchair basketball helps individuals who are undergoing physical rehabilitation to strengthen the upper body. This especially relevant to those who have severe lower body impairments (i.e., core, and limbs).
Regular wheelchair basketball training helps to improve an athlete’s agility in the upper limbs and flexibility in the wrist (the flick of the wrist to shoot). As basketball is a fast-paced game, the sport can also help improve reaction times and thought processes (how to beat the opponent). Of course, this also encourages and cultivates creativity and the use of efficient tactics in-game.
Wheelchair basketball is also a very social game. Hence, it can foster friendships, a sense of camaraderie and solidarity amongst team members. Individually, it instils self-control, responsibility, determination and perseverance.
So, with all these benefits, what are you waiting for? Start playing wheelchair basketball today!