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Parasport Series: Wheelchair Basketball

In this edition of our Parasport Series, we are talking about wheelchair basketball. This might be the most common and well-known parasport. 

Wheelchair basketball originated at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England, the birthplace of parasport (International Wheelchair Basketball Federation). Since the 1940s, the game has been played at all levels of sport, including national and international sporting competitions. The rules are based on able-bodied basketball rules from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). Wheelchair basketball is extremely similar to the standing version, with the court also staying the same. There are also rules for holding the ball in an athlete’s lap (essentially travelling). An athlete can only push the chair two times with the ball in their lap, or they will receive a penalty. Another part of the rules of wheelchair basketball is the classification system for athletes. 


In many para sports, there is a classification system to essentially even the playing field for a team or athlete. Each sport has a different way of classifying athletes and a different way that classification will impact the sport. In the case of wheelchair basketball, each athlete is classified based on their control and mobility of their sitting base and trunk. The more control an athlete has, the more points they will be assigned. Classifications are given on a scale of 1-4. Classification is conducted by officials who have the knowledge and experience to evaluate and assign classifications. After classifications are assigned, athletes can play, and teams can have up to 15 points on the court at any time. So their combination of athletes must be less than 15. This brings an extra element of strategy to the game, as some leagues allow able-bodied athletes to play as a 4.5 class.

I think having an understanding of the sport and how some of the more intricate parts of it, such as the classification, make the sport more interesting to watch. As someone who has had the opportunity to try wheelchair basketball, it is a much more challenging sport to play than you might expect. If you are interested in trying wheelchair basketball, keep an eye out on for events near you during Wheelchair Basketball Week from September 25 to October 1.