If you’re wondering what wheelchair sports are there, you only need to hear the story of Alana Nichols.
While aged 17, Nichols started using a wheelchair after a freak skiing accident (1).
That didn’t dampen her love for sports, though. She took up wheelchair basketball and won a gold medal with Team USA in the Beijing 2008 Paralympics.
The point is, there are a ton of wheelchair sports you can excel at if you try.
Read on to find out.
CHECK: The Best Exercises for Wheelchair Bound Elderly
- People with limited mobility can play a variety of wheelchair games
- Some games need adaptive equipment and a change of rules to allow wheelchair users to play
- Power wheelchairs are the most common equipment for wheelchair games though manual wheelchairs are also used
10 Most Popular Wheelchair Sports
There are incredible stories of athletes who didn’t let their physical disabilities block them from achieving sporting stardom.
Many of them did it while in a wheelchair, thanks to the many wheelchair sports available.
Here is a list of popular sports you can play and enjoy even in a wheelchair.
1. Wheelchair Rugby
I knew there were many team sports for wheelchair athletes. But when I heard that someone in a wheelchair could play rugby, I was amazed.
Wheelchair rugby is a massive game for people with disabilities. The World Wheelchair Rugby website describes it as a full-contact sport involving the touching of wheelchairs (2).
Watch this highlight video of wheelchair rugby at the London 2012 Paralympic games to see how it’s played:
2. Wheelchair Softball
This is another game you can try if you want to be a wheelchair player. It’s just like regular softball, only that the players are in manual wheelchairs.
You can only tag the bases with your wheelchair wheels. Hopping, running, or using the lower limbs is a punishable game offense.
If you’re interested in wheelchair softball, this video will give you helpful insights:
3. Table Tennis
Wheelchair table tennis is one of the most accessible sports to try if you’re in a wheelchair. The only difference here is the wheelchairs. Everything, including the bat, ball, and rules, stays the same.
Check it out!
4. Wheelchair Soccer
Power wheelchair soccer is one of the most exciting sports for wheelchair users. Players maneuver their power wheelchairs to kick or push the ball into the opponent’s net.
Power soccer is usually quite competitive and entertaining to watch. It’s usually an indoor sport with the same rules as regular soccer.
Here, have a look!
5. Wheelchair Racing
In wheelchair racing, players in specialty sports wheelchairs race against each other on tracks or the road.
The unique sports wheelchairs can move at a maximum speed of 30km/hr. They are made differently from regular wheelchairs, with two large back wheels and one small wheel at the front.
See how competitive this 100m race was!
6. Wheelchair Basketball
Wheelchair basketball games are some of the most followed wheelchair games in the world. Thanks to its massive following, it is arguably the most famous wheelchair sport.
The rules of wheelchair basketball differ somewhat from those of regular basketball.
For instance, you can bounce the ball and wheel your chair simultaneously. However, you can’t push more than twice with the ball in your lap.
Wheelchair basketball also doesn’t have the double dribble rule.
Watch videos of the game, and the competitive nature will surprise you.
7. Wheelchair Tennis
Wheelchair tennis is much like regular tennis. The rackets, court, and rules are the same. The rule difference with regular tennis is the maximum number of ball bounces.
Wheelchair tennis players are allowed two ball bounces. The bounces have to be within the bounds of the court, though.
Wheelchair tennis can be singles or doubles, just like regular tennis.
8. Wheelchair Hockey
Wheelchair hockey is an exciting version of the real hockey game for active wheelchair users. So developed is wheelchair hockey that it’s also played at the Paralympics.
Players use the best lightweight folding electric wheelchair, hence the name power hockey. Unlike the actual hockey game, power hockey uses a basketball court instead of an ice rink.
9. Wheelchair Fencing
Wheelchair fencing is a fiercely competitive adaptation of fencing. The style and technique required to play the game are stellar. If you’re good at it, you can participate in the Paralympics.
One significant deviation from the basic rules is the use of ground-anchored wheelchairs. Players also wear special armor for protection.
Wheelchair bowling is another enjoyable game you should try. Depending on the degree of disability, you can play this game like any other player.
It’s all about knocking the bottles off the platform, after all.
You may check out wheelchair ice skating, which is another sport for wheelchair users. People who have skating interests love to play it.
What Do You Need to Play Competitive Wheelchair Sports?
Competitive wheelchair sports only needs you to have slight body function impairment.
Popular wheelchair sports require a certain level of disability for someone to be eligible for competition.
For instance, the Internarial Paralympic Committee disqualified Germany’s Barbara Gross from playing wheelchair basketball (3).
Gross doesn’t use a wheelchair daily but has problems walking. The difficulties prevent her from playing any of the walking games.
A wide range of disabilities qualifies someone for wheelchair games. However, the underlying rule is that you have a disability that causes issues for your spinal chord.
Muscular dystrophy, paraplegia, Spina Bifida, post-polio syndrome, and quadriplegia are some of the disabilities.
Check out this video of fitness quotes to keep you moving.
Are there any professional wheelchair games?
There are many professional wheelchair games, such as basketball. If you don’t fancy playing only for fun, try professional wheelchair games and see how you’ll fare.
Which is the most popular wheelchair sport?
Basketball is the most popular wheelchair sport. The game enjoys a large following, especially in the US.
How strong do I have to be to play a wheelchair sport?
To play professionally, you’ll need to be quite strong. Since the games use a wheelchair, you’ll need lots of upper body strength to play most games.
What wheelchair sports are there? Tons! Being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean missing out on the enjoyment of sports.
It only means you’ll play and enjoy these games differently! You still need to maintain body fitness even if you are in a wheelchair.
And what better way to do that than to try any of the popular wheelchair sports mentioned here?
Did you ever try one of the above wheelchair games? Let us know how it goes!
- 1. Marie J. 12 Incredible Athletes with Disabilities. Bleacher Report. https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1743213-12-incredible-athletes-with-disabilities
- 2. WWR – World Wheelchair Rugby. https://worldwheelchair.rugby/
- 3. Welle (www.dw.com) D. Wheelchair basketball: How disabled do you have to be? | DW | 03.08.2020. DW.COM. https://www.dw.com/en/wheelchair-basketball-how-disabled-do-you-have-to-be/a-54406662