“I’m different, quite alright. But, I’m not less” – Temple Grandin (American Science Professor)

You can’t deny it!

The game of basketball is beautiful and it affects people from all walks of life!

Thus, no one is more special than any other. We’re all equal in the eyes of the game.

Whether you’re new to wheelchair basketball and hope to become a great player or you’re a normal basketball player or fan who wants to know more about the sport—there is one thing we all have in common:

The love for the game of basketball!

Whether you’re just someone looking to learn more about wheelchair basketball or someone with a disability that prohibits you from competing in normal basketball leagues, this is the article for you.

One thing is certain, those of us who decide to rise above the odds and compete in a basketball league even with disabilities are truly inspirational.

So, let’s dive into it and learn about the special people who participate in the great sport of wheelchair basketball!

What is Wheelchair Basketball?

Source: Brookes Rehab

Wheelchair basketball is a special sport for people who have physical disabilities like cerebral palsy, congenital disabilities, leg amputation, Spina Bifida, paralysis due to accidents, polio, and a ton of other limitations.

If you live with any of the above classifications, it means one thing. You are special! And the sports allow you to play the game of basketball—which you love so much.

A disability may prevent you from jumping, pivoting, or running, but it doesn’t stop you from moving your wheels in the court as you play the beautiful game.

Trust us when we say; you’re not missing anything at all!

With the game, you get the opportunity to ride on a wheelchair as you play with your remaining four teammates against an opponent team of five as well.

The game is quite similar to regular basketball. The loop, backboard, and the court all have the same dimension. Every team has 12 players, with only five playing on the court per time.

The aim of the game is for players to make as many baskets within four periods of ten minutes apiece. To get stability and balance, players use only lightweight and small wheelchairs, which come with one or two smaller wheels at the anterior.

Plus, to stay agile and active while you play the game, you get strapped into the wheelchair. Doing this also allows you to move freely, especially when taking shots in motion.

Wheelchair basketball is, no doubt, a great game of sports, but how did it all start?

That brings us to the next section.

Who Invented Wheelchair Basketball?

You can’t mention wheelchair basketball without referencing Sir Ludwig Guttmann—the believed founder of the Paralympic movement. Back in those days, the British government gave him the task to start a spinal cord injury center.

Guttmann opened the center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Aylesbury, England, by 1944—with the help of the British government who funded the project.

The British government agreed to be part of the project because Sir Ludwig wanted to help people living with disabilities:

  • Muddle through it
  • Recoup their independence and dignity they may have lost
  • Become healthy, happy, and respected members of society

1948 was the first time the world saw the Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, all planned and organized by Sir Ludwig Guttmann.

The above picture showing Sir Ludwig Guttman (Source: Wikipedia)

The competition featured a ton of wheelchair games; amongst them was the wheelchair netball—which is a cousin sport to wheelchair basketball. For accomplishing this feat, the world recognized Sir Ludwig Guttmann as a pioneer for wheelchair games.

In 1952, fours after Sir Ludwig organized the first wheelchair games; a global movement was born—as the Netherlands joined the Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games.

As the years went by, the annual event grew to become the International Stoke Mandeville Games—which is a predecessor to the modern-day Paralympic Games—we’ll discuss it later in this article.

History of the Game

Wheelchair Basketball unofficially kicked off in 1946 where physically disabled veterans, from the American Word War II, played the game.

At some point in 1949, Dr. Timothy Nugent formed the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in the United States. Dr. Nugent served as the first commissioner of the association and retired in 1974, which was 25 years later.

Above picture is Dr. Timothy Nugent (Source: Illinois News Bureau)

But, two years before then—in 1947, in England;

The Wheelchair games organized by Sir Ludwig had a handful of 26 participants, considering the competition was the first of its kind. The participants were able to compete for a few events like club throw, javelin, archery, and shot put.

The next year, in the 1948 games, Sir Ludwig introduced the wheelchair netball. Amazingly, by this time, a lot of wheelchair game events and participants had increased. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see the Netherlands join the competition in 1952, as we mentioned earlier.

1956 was the exact year, the present-day wheelchair basketball, which we all know now, got its major recognition on the world’s map. That year, the US “Pan Am Jets” won the Wheelchair basketball tournament at the Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games.

Sir Ludwig’s creation, which later became the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games Federation (ISMGF), formed the first subsection for wheelchair basketball—one year before he retired as the commissioner. At that time, ISMGF was the global governing body for all wheelchair games.

By 1989, the ISMGF made more progress. The wheelchair basketball subsection they created got a new name—International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF). After this time, a lot of things changed in the game.

The year 1993, saw the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) gain its full independence to become the global governing body responsible for the growth, management, and control of wheelchair basketball.

Over the years, we have seen the organization grow in size. Plus, a large number of National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball (NOWBs) with active programs got affiliated to the body.

Today, the organization has sub-divided itself into four geographical zones. They are Africa, Americas, Asia/Oceania, and Europe. As a result, the controlling body, IWBF, has released a ton of global regulations and rules that govern all other National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball globally.

That brings us to the next section…

The Rules of the Game

The primary rules of a wheelchair basketball game are quite similar to that of a regular basketball game. The then ISMGF, adopted basic international rules in 1964, under the leadership of Sir Ludwig. The rules included minor modifications that met the needs of the players in the wheelchair, during a game.

Today, the Wheelchair basketball players compete in tournaments and other minor activities based on the rules given by the governing body, the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF). They modified most of the rules from the Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA).

Here are the three primary rules of the game discussed extensively:

Fouls

(Source: rolltmagazin)

In the game, your wheelchair is part of your body—which is in connection with establishing a sense of responsibility for your contact in the court, in the case of blocking, going out of bounds, charging, and many other violations.

The regulations of the game don’t allow you to stay put in a key area for more than three seconds as an offensive player.

There’s more!

Lifting your legs or body to gain an advantage to take a shot is a technical foul. Thus, you must remain seated in your chair while you pass, shoot, or dribble the ball. And you’re not allowed to use your limbs to wheel your chair—as it’s an unfair advantage.

That’s not all!

In a scenario where you fall off your chair, the referee is likely to stop the game, if he believes you’re at risk of getting injured. Otherwise, the game will continue.

Moreover, if you’re an offensive player, you can’t go into the key until the referee hands the ball over to inbounding player.

Dribbling

(Source: rolltmagazin)

You can bounce the ball and drive your chair simultaneously in wheelchair basketball. But, you’re not allowed to push your wheelchair more than twice, holding the ball or having it on your lap, before passing, dribbling or shooting.

In wheelchair basketball, there’s no double-dribble rule. Hence, if you take more than two pushes while you have the ball, without dribbling, it will be counted as a traveling violation.

There’s more!

You’re not allowed to have any contact with your feet on the playing surface, while you have the ball.

Scoring

(Source: rolltmagazin)

A team attacking the basket gets a goal when the following occurs:

  • A free throw to the basketball counts one point
  • A throw from a two-point field goal zone counts two points
  • A throw from a three-point field zone counts three points

A team has the opportunity to complete its goal attempt to score a basket within 24 seconds. Thus, the opposition team gets the ball and the right of the play, if the attacking team exceeds the 24 seconds time limit to score a basket.

What is the Classification in Wheelchair Basketball?

The classification in wheelchair basketball involves measuring and categorizing a player’s functional ability to handle all the skills necessary to play the game—which are pivoting, shooting, dribbling, pushing, catching, and rebounding.

It’s crucial to note that it has nothing to do with the assessment of a player’s skill level. Particularly, the stability and trunk movement of a player observed during the pivoting, shooting, dribbling, pushing, catching, and rebounding, forms the allocation of a player to a specific class.

The Different Classes

In wheelchair basketball, players get assigned to various classifications, ranging from 1 to 4—which are the most common classifications. The governing body place players with exceptional cases under 0.5 classes. Such players don’t fit into one class.

For players with minimal disability, the classifier places them in the 4.5 classifications.

Class Features

Each class in wheelchair basketball has unique characteristics—graded by the classifier. These features are evident in all of the basketball skills observed, which is part of the classification.

The Volume of Action

The volume of action is the extreme level your trunk stability can allow you to reach during a game, without holding to a wheelchair to get balance. Thus, this classification feature helps to define your classification in the game.

Also, there’s a defined maximal volume of action you should be able to demonstrate during a game.

How does Classification Work?

Before a major tournament begins, the tournament classifier monitors the players in their competition wheelchair. After the classifier carries out the initial observation, the players get assigned to a class before the tournament begins.

But that’s not all.

The classifier will keep observing the players in real competitive games. The panel confirms or modifies each player’s classification—if they deem it fit to do so.

Hence, to play an international wheelchair game, you must undergo an international classification, or else you won’t be able to participate. Nonetheless, it’s important to note that you won’t need a reclassification before every tournament if you have an international classification card.

Team Balancing With Classification

The aggregate number of points permitted for each team on the court is 14.0. The number of points must be the sum of all five players on the court at a time.

A team will incur a technical foul on the bench if the coach allows his team to possess over 14.0 points.

Equipment for Wheelchair Basketball

(Source: rolltmagazin)

The leading equipment for wheelchair basketball is a sporty wheelchair and a basketball. The snag, however, is the fact that some players, especially new ones, lack the required equipment—which is the sporty wheelchair. The reason is simple; the wheelchair is expensive.

Typically, you can play the game in a gym on a basketball court or in an arena—for major tournaments. Playing the game outdoors or indoors is pretty fine, as long as it’s on a flat surface and there’s an available net.

The Wheelchair

The wheelchair, which is the primary equipment for the game, has evolved with the sport. In the past, players had to use typical stainless steel wheelchairs, which came with arm and footrests—weighing about 30 lbs.

As the game evolved, the wheelchairs produced for the game became lightweight and streamlined. The features give players the room for agility and speed with a cutting-edge design as well as a sport-enhancing functionality.

But check this out.

These days, sports wheelchair manufacturers construct the wheelchairs with aircraft aluminum or titanium to get the ideal weight and form required for optimal performance. They also include an extra fifth and sixth wheel for improved mobility and stability.

The new wheelchairs also come with a well-designed front bumper that can’t be hooked or held by an opponent. The angle of the wheelbase is suitable for quick turns and stability.

There’s more!

The wheels on the chair now come with cables, rather than the conventional steel spokes. The new ones are usually 50 percent lighter and three times stronger than the steel spokes.

Top-quality basketball wheelchairs are quite pricey, and they could go from $2,500 to $5,000 per piece. Now, you see why some players find it hard to get one. However, you can get a few slightly suitable wheelchairs in the market for around $900 – $1500.

The Basketball

The official basketball of FIBA is Molten. The Paralympic Games and other world championship tournaments also use it.

The manufacturer of the ball designed it for elite basketball competition, and it comes in two sizes: a slightly smaller 6 for women and the 7 for men. It also comes in two models: the GG, which is composite and the GL, made with leather.

Wheelchair Basketball Paralympics

(Source: TeamUSA)

Wheelchair basketball has been in existence since the 1960 Summer Paralympics in Rome. One of the highest honors in international wheelchair basketball is winning the Paralympics. After it comes the World Championships of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).

The first two Paralympic games were men’s events grouped as Class A and B. The men’s wheelchair basketball started in 1960—where the US picked gold for both classes in two consecutive years. And the women’s began in 1968—with Israel winning gold, Argentina receiving—silver and the US settling for bronze.

Professional Wheelchair Basketball Leagues in the World

Here are some of the professional wheelchair basketball leagues in the world:

1. British Wheelchair Basketball League

Image showing a team in the British League (Source: British Wheelchair Basketball League)

GBWBA, which stands for the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, also known as, the British wheelchair Basketball. It’s a non-profit organization that governs the wheelchair basketball in Great Britain.

The non-profit organization represents Great Britain in IWBF. It also represents women and men’s national wheelchair basketball team in the British Paralympic Association.

GBWBA handles the selection of the team that represents Great Britain in World Championships, international tournaments, qualifiers, Games of Paralympiad, and the promotion of the sports amongst spectators, fans, and prospective players.

2. Irish Wheelchair Basketball League

Image showing kids in the Irish Wheelchair Association (Source: iwasport.com)

The Irish Wheelchair Association governs and coordinates wheelchair basketball programs in Ireland. Asides welcoming new players into the sport, the league also welcome volunteers to join their clubs.

The organization accepts children between the ages of 5 and 15 years of age that have the skills to play locally and non-competitively in one of the 11 multi-sport junior clubs located in Ireland. Older children are not left out, because they have ten senior wheelchair basketball clubs that cater for players from age 15 upwards.

The Irish Wheelchair Association also runs a national program at the U23 and senior level. On an average of three weeks, all the teams gather to play a round of fixtures.

Regardless of your skill or experience, the organization is quite flexible as they accept players without disabilities—because they believe in a policy of inclusion.

The policy of inclusion means that non-disabled participants and athletes with a disability can play alongside each other at national levels. But for international competition, you must have a disability.

3. Spanish Wheelchair Basketball League

Thuringia Bulls of the Spanish League lifting Cup (Source: IWBF)

In Spanish, the Spanish Wheelchair Basketball league is called Division de Honor de Baloncesto en Silla de Ruedas.

It’s a top-flight professional league for wheelchair basketball teams in Spain. It consists of male and female players. Plus, the league governs the Spanish Sports Federation for People with Physical Disabilities. The organization was founded in 1971 as Primera Division before it changed its name to Division de Honor in 1992.

Annually, ten teams compete in the league playing with a double round-robin format. Unlike other leagues, the Spanish league doesn’t have playoffs.

At the end of the competition, the last two teams are relegated to a lower league—the Spanish Wheelchair Basketball First Division. While the first two top-ranked teams of the lower league get promoted to the Division de Honor.

4. DRS Rollstuhlbasketball

Team Hessen of the German league (Source: DRS RBB)

The first division of wheelchair basketball in Germany is the RBBL (The Rollstuhlbasketball-Bundesliga) (Wheelchair Basketball Federal league). Deutscher Rollstuhlsport-Verband (DRS) founded the league in 1990.

The league started playing with eight teams until 1995 when they extended to ten teams. In the first stage of the league, the teams compete in the primary phase with home and away game. The first four best teams that emerge enter the playoffs.

Teams compete in the playoffs with the semi-finals and a final in a best-of-three mode. The last two teams move to the north southern conference of the second Bundesliga—which is the second federal league—based on their geographic location.

The two champions that emerge from the Bundesliga conferences proceed to the RBBL.

5. Turkish Wheelchair Basketball League

Team Turkey (Source: IWBF)

The Turkey Disabled Sports Federation governs the Turkish Wheelchair Basketball Super League—which is a premier professional league for wheelchair basketball in Turkey for male and female players. In this league, ten teams compete annually.

The last two teams end up moving to a lower league—the Turkish Wheelchair Basketball First League. Then, the two best teams in the lower league move higher to the Super League.

6. National Wheelchair Basketball League

Players in the NWBA league competing for the ball (Source: Disabled Sports USA)

In 1949, Timothy Nugent founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). The association has 181 wheelchair basketball teams within 22 conferences. Today, the NWBA has intercollegiate, men’s, women’s, and youth teams throughout Canada and the USA.

The league comprises of junior divisions—athletes from ages 5 to 18 years old, and seven adult divisions. The IWBF (International Wheelchair Basketball Federation) knows the NWBA as NOWB (National Organization of Wheelchair Basketball) for the US. It also has the power to govern the wheelchair basketball in the United States.

7. Canada Wheelchair Basketball League

Members of the Canadian Wheelchair basketball league take a group photo (Source: Wheelchair basketball Canada)

In the early 1940s, women started playing wheelchair basketball in Canada. In 1972 Summer Paralympics, the Canadian women’s team participated and turned out to be the most successful national sporting teams.

At that time, they were the only national women’s wheelchair basketball team to bag three consecutive gold medals at the Paralympics games. And Canadian women’s team was the only team that won four successive World Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

In 2014, they added more medals to their collection by winning a fifth world championship held in Toronto.

8. IWBF European Euroleague

Players in the European league competing for the ball (Source: IWBF)

IWBF Europe governs national teams that contest biennially in the European Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Also, the Championship is a qualifying tournament for the Paralympic games and IWBF Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

The IWBF Europe comprises of national associations. The national associations govern the practice of wheelchair basketball. The IWBF has a mission statement that aims to provide opportunities for individuals with a lower limb disability to engage in the game of wheelchair basketball.

Apart from actively raising public awareness of the benefits and importance of wheelchair basketball, IWBF supervise and organize the international competition. They also create rules of the game and set standards for equipment and practice.

Famous Wheelchair Basketball Stars and Players

There’s a whole lot of hard work that goes into making wheelchair basketball an exciting sport.
But there are few people responsible for all the magic that goes down on the court. Here’s a list of some of the famous wheelchair basketball stars and players that made the game look too easy:

Adedoyin Olayiwola “Ade” Adepitan

Source: Wikipedia

Ade is a fantastic wheelchair basketball player that was born March 27, 1973. Ade’s enthusiasm spread across the media space because he is a British television presenter as well. The star was born in Africa—Nigeria. When he was 15 months old, Ade contracted polio. Polio led to the loss of function of his left leg and prevented him from walking.

When Ade was about three years old, his mother emigrated with him to the U.K to join his father. He started his education in Southern Road Primary School. According to him, the school helped him with his disability and issues at home. At a young age, Adepitan longed to become an international sportsman.

Ade did everything within his power to bring his dreams to reality. Today, he is an accomplished wheelchair basketball player for his club Milton Keynes Aces.

Adepitan took things further to compete in the 2005 Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, and 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens. Ade, along with his team, was victorious with Gold and bronze medals respectively.

Patrick Anderson

Source: Zimbio

Patrick is a Canadian born athlete that grew up in Fergus, Ontario. When Patrick was nine years old, a drunk driver hit him—which resulted in the loss of his legs below the knee. He may have lost his legs at a young age, but he didn’t lose the zeal or tenacity to achieve great feats as an athlete.

Due to the nature of his disability, Patrick has a classification of 4.5 point for competitions. He started playing wheelchair basketball in 1990.

And in 1997, Anderson was first chosen for the Canadian national team. 1997 was a great year for Anderson as he led the Canadian Junior Men’s National Team to victories in the World Championship. He repeated the same victory in 2001. The remarkable thing about these victories is that he was named MVP at the two competitions.

In 1998, he was in the senior-level team that won a bronze medal in the World Championship. As if that wasn’t enough achievement that year, the national league selected him as a member of the all-star team for the event. 2000 was another exciting year for the athlete as he represented Canada for the first time at the Sydney games.

Another great year for Patrick was 2008, even though it would have been greater with a shining gold medal. Anyway, he was a member of the Canadian team that won the silver medal in the Summer Paralympics that held in Beijing, China that year.

Anderson retired from basketball after the 2008 games and moved to New York. Anderson retired because he planned to attend university to achieve his dreams of being a professional musician.

At that moment, we thought it was impossible to see him on the court again. But no, Patrick came out of retirement in 2011. That same year, Patrick got selected to compete in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London.

How do you think the competition went?

Of course, he nailed it all through the completion and got to the finals, where he gained 34 points, 8 assists, and 10 rebounds, and a gold medal for victory. What a great comeback?

Janet McLachlan

Source: Wikipedia

If you’re looking for a nifty player that brings her A-game at the slightest opportunity on the basketball court, Janet McLachlan fits the description.

Asides playing the game with so much passion, she had a whole lot of achievements as proof. McLachlan went from winning two national championships in 1998 and 2000 to represent Canada at the 2001 Beijing Student Games.

The 6-foot athlete had a thing for sports as she explored the world of Rugby at an elite level. It was all rosy in the beginning until a knee injury cut Janet’s career short as she was competing for the British Columbia provincial team. Due to the injury, Janet couldn’t make Canada’s national squad for the 2006 World Cup.

At this point, it looked like it was the end of the road but, her rugby teammate made a suggestion that changed her life. The advice was to try wheelchair sports to help her keep fit as she recovers from her injury.

Boom!!! That was how she started playing wheelchair basketball. She was excited that she could still enjoy sports in a challenging way. Janet started to climb the ladder of success. In 2006, she made the national team and competed for Team Canada at the Paralympic games.

In 2010 she got a bronze medal with her team. Janet was also able to grab a gold medal with her Canadian teammates in 2014, at the Toronto World Championship. After Janet concluded her career at the University of Alabama, she joined a semi-professional wheelchair basketball team in Germany called Trier Dolphins.

Cobi Crispin

Cobi is yet another remarkable wheelchair basketball player that proves that the only obstacle that stops us from achieving our goals in life is nothing. Oh yes, you read it write! Cobi was born December, the 22nd of 1988. She’s a brilliant 4 point wheelchair basketball forward from Western Australia. When she was 17 years old, she started playing wheelchair basketball.

In 2009 Crispin desired to be a Champion grant recipient. In 2010, she got it thanks to the Victorian Institute of sports and the Australian Sports Commission. In the 2008 Summer Paralympics, Cobi got a bronze medal with her team.

Her team finished fourth in the 2010 IWBF world championship held in Birmingham, England. A silver medal came through for her the following year when she was the captain in the U-25 Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team. In 2012, Crispin finished second with her team in the Summer Paralympics.

Leanne Del Toso

In 2012, the fantastic 3.5 point wheelchair basketball player, Leanne Del Toso, won a silver medal at the Summer Paralympics held in London. The athlete was born August, the 12th of 1980. When Leanne was 19, she got diagnosed with a chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.

At the age of 26, Leanne started playing wheelchair basketball. In 2007, Del Toso participated in the local Victorian competition where she was named the league’s most valuable player.

Leanne didn’t hold back her skills on the court when her team Dandenong Rangers played with the Goudkamp Gladiators in 2009. At the end of the game, she pulled down 19 rebounds and scored 31 points that gave her team the win.

In 2011 and 2012, Leane alongside her team, the Rangers, held on to the titles. The Osaka Cup in Japan wasn’t left out of her reach as she took her team through a series of wins in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2013.

Joey Johnson

Johnson is a retired professional wheelchair basketball player. He was born July, the 26th of 1975. The great athlete has competed in several World Championships and Paralympics. He was so good with his game that he became the first athlete to be inducted in Manitoba’s basketball Hall of Fame.

When Joey was eight years old, he got diagnosed with a degenerative hip disease. But that didn’t stop him.

Joey went all out in 1996, and he got the fifth position in the Atlanta Summer Paralympics with team Canada. He did his best in 1998 at the Sydney World Championships and got third place. Then, he went for the Parapan American Games in Mexico City and took second place—which was a fantastic achievement compared to the previous ones.

When Johnson’s career saw the millennium, it attracted a lot of gold medals. It started from the Sydney Paralympics in 2000 where he won gold, to the Parapan American Games in 2003 that held in Argentina where he grabbed gold again.

The gold rush continued in the 2004 Athens Paralympics with Team Canada. Joey won first place in NWBL alongside the Wollongong Roller Hawks. He was named an All-star in 2006 World Championships–held in Amsterdam and won gold. In 2012, he took first place in the London Paralympics Games and retired afterward.

Matt Scott

Source: Twitter

Born in Detroit, Michigan over 34 years ago with spina bifida, Matt Scott is a professional wheelchair basketball player that has made his country proud so many times without number. Scott attended the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, where he started his wheelchair basketball career.

In 2004 and 2008, at the Summer Paralympics, Scott competed and came out with flying colors. That gave him enough recognition. Thus, he became the first American Paralympian to feature in a Nike advert.

That’s not all.

Scott also grabbed a silver medal at the IWBF in 2006 as well as a bronze medal in 2010 in the same competition. That drew attention to him, and the Disability ESPY nominated him for the award of Best Male Athlete for that year.

He was part of the US team that won the gold medal in the Parapan American Games hosted in Brazil in 2007 and 2011. Presently, he plays for GSD Porto Torres Wheelchair Basketball Team.

Motivational Quotes

Here are some motivational quotes that will keep you going hard at your game all the time:

“Even though there’s some basketball that seems out your control, never allow any player to try harder than you.” – Dean Smith

“When you discover your gift, develop it and give it away every day” – Don Meyer

“Always push yourself repeatedly; don’t give an inch until you hear the final buzzer” – Larry Bird

“If you choose to work only on days where you feel good, you can’t get much done in life” – Jerry West

“Think of a basketball team like the five fingers on your hand. If you can put them all together, you have a fist. That’s how you should play” – Mike Krzyzewski

“Relax and forget about what’s at stake. It’s best to think about the basketball game. Because the moment you think about who’s going to win, you lose your focus” – Michael Jordan

“Never allow obstacles to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t give up and turn around. Instead, think of how to climb it, work around it, and go through it” – Michael Jordan

“If you plan to be successful in basketball, do two things: play hard and play intelligently” – Pete Carroll

“Remember that basketball is a lifelong game. As you play, you learn a day in and day out. And you can only get better along the way” – Scottie Pippen

“As a basketball player, you should have a goal to win the next game one possession at a time. That’s it. You shouldn’t have any other goals” – Brad Stevens

How to Find a Team/Program near You?

You can start by visiting the National Wheelchair Basketball Association website. Then, search the map and click on the pin. The pin will help you view team information.

You can locate the map menu on the top left corner. Click on the menu to filter which Division pins you want on the map. To view several teams within the same practice location, zoom in on a location or group of pins.

Great Wheelchair Basketball Movies and Documentaries

Here are two excellent movies that would give you a clear picture of what the game of wheelchair basketball entails:

Catch the Rebound

Catch the Rebound is an impressive piece of art that catches the attention of audiences with its impactful storyline.

The award-winning documentary film gives us a breakdown of what it means to play wheelchair basketball and aim for a national title. It follows the underdog journey of a wheelchair basketball team, Miami Heat Wheels.

The movie didn’t just stop at showing us how three athletes had the zeal to win the national title. It went deeper to show the audience how the three athletes had a whole lot of obstacles to deal with outside the court. Regardless of the challenges they encountered, the athletes rose above it and realized their dreams.

Desperados (TV series)

Source: Amazon

The Desperados is a TV series that has ten episodes. The drama revolves around the journey of Charlie, a former football player that was involved in a disabling accident on the pitch. His friend, who was also his teammate, Aidan, was responsible for the accident.

After the accident, Charlie found a new meaning and purpose in his life as he joined a team called the Desperados.

It also showed how a coach needed to recruit new players for a junior wheelchair basketball team. In the process of recruiting, the coach made it clear that it wasn’t a basketball team. Instead, it was a way of life. The coach invited Aidan to join his team since he was impressed with his perfect shooting.

Outside the basketball court, the drama continues as his friend tries to patch up their shaky friendship. We also see how Charlie works to showcase his basketball skills to raise money for their team’s mini-bus, and prejudice showed against disabled people.

Overall, the movie displayed the beauty of the wheelchair basketball game, the hard work that goes into it, and the life of the players outside the court.

Wheelchair Basketball FAQs

When did wheelchair basketball start?

Wheelchair basketball formerly known as wheelchair netball started from 1946, and it was played between American World War II disabled veterans in the U.S at the University of Illinois.

Who can play wheelchair basketball?

You can play wheelchair basketball only if you have varying physical disabilities that disqualify you from playing the able-bodied sport.

How many players are in a wheelchair basketball?

Two teams usually play it, and each of the teams comprises of five players and seven substitutes.

How is wheelchair basketball different from normal basketball?

The significant differences between wheelchair and able-bodied basketball are: the former doesn’t have the double dribble rule. So, a traveling violation can happen if a player takes more than two pushes while holding the ball and not dribbling. Also, there is no restriction to the distance a wheelchair basketball player coasts between pushes.

Is wheelchair basketball a contact sport?

Wheelchair basketball isn’t a contact sport. The reason is that it’s against the rules of the game to have physical contact with an opponent.

What does a person need for wheelchair basketball?

All you need for wheelchair basketball is a physical limitation that doesn’t permit you to pivot, run, or jump at speed with control.

How much is a wheelchair for basketball?

Standard wheelchairs for basketball cost between $900 and $4000. But the highly specialized ones go for $5000 and above.

How many colleges in the US have wheelchair basketball?

There are about 21 colleges in the US that have wheelchair basketball.

Is wheelchair basketball in the Paralympics?

Yes! Since 1960, men’s wheelchair basketball has featured at every Paralympic Games.

Where to watch wheelchair basketball?

You can watch wheelchair basketball on Paralympic Games.

How often do you have to dribble in wheelchair basketball?

It’s normal for players to wheel their chairs and bounce the ball simultaneously. But, in a situation where a player picks up the ball and places it on their lap, the player can only push twice before a pass, shoot, or dribble.

How many “pushes” are allowed in wheelchair basketball before the player must dribble?

Only two pushes are allowed before a player must dribble.

What is the height of a basketball hoop in wheelchair basketball?

The height of the basketball hoop in wheelchair basketball is 3.05m.

How long is a shot clock in wheelchair basketball?

There’s a 24-second shot clock that tells the players that they must shoot at the basket within 24 seconds of having the ball in their possession.

What is a Physical advantage foul in wheelchair basketball?

Due to different degrees of disabilities amongst players, there’s a basic rule of remaining firm in the wheelchair at all times without using a leg stump or functional leg for a physical advantage over an opponent.

When is it considered out of bounds in wheelchair basketball?

A player is out of bounds when he is outside the boundary or the player’s wheelchair, or body touches the floor.

How to shoot a basketball in a wheelchair?

To shoot in a wheelchair, do it within your range. Start in close and move out. Then, work to improve your range as it provides you with a ton of opportunities to make baskets. Any shot you decided to take inside the key “9” should often be with the backboard.

You can put the shots high up on the backboard and ensure that you try to make it swish through the hoop—as it increases your chances of success. Lastly, take most of your shots 15 ft. and closer.

What is the Paralympic basketball wheelchair size?

Athletes that play wheelchair basketball sits higher than those on a racing chair. So, they use a larger push rim that ranges from 60-68cm in diameter.

Bottom Line

The game of wheelchair basketball works perfectly for recreation or as a profession. Regardless of your classification points; whether you’re 0.5, 4.5, or any other approved point.

All you need to do is to comprehend the rules of the game, practice regularly to perfect your skills, get a role model to look up to, read motivational quotes to build your confidence in the game, and find a program near you to register.

Do you want to play wheelchair basketball as a profession or for recreation? What actionable steps have you taken to achieve your goals? Did you learn anything new from this beginner’s guide? We want your feedback. Air your thoughts and comments here!

This page was published on Sep. 27, 2019.