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Wheelchair Basketball

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Wheelchair basketball is basketball played by individuals in wheelchairs. This sport is governed by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation, which has 82 National Organizations for Wheelchair Basketball throughout the world. Approximately 100,000 people play wheelchair basketball, whether recreationally or for an elite national team. Men and women of all ages play this sport

Internationally, wheelchair basketball is considered to be quite competitive, and the Paralympic Games (held every 4 years) includes this sport. Additionally, the Wheelchair Basketball World Championship (Gold Cup) is organized two years after the Paralympics are held.



In 1944, Ludwig Guttman adapted existing sports to be compatible with wheelchairs at a rehabilitation program in Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England. His sport, termed “Wheelchair Netball” is a hybrid version of basketball and netball, and continued to be played until 1956, when it was replaced with wheelchair basketball.

Around 1946, American World War II veterans who were disabled in the war began to play wheelchair basketball games. The first version of wheelchair basketball as we know it was played in 1956 at the International Stoke-Mandeville Games.

In 1973, the International Stoke Mandeville Games Federation established the first section for wheelchair basketball. In 1989, the International Stoke-Mandeville Games Federation accepted a change in the name to International Wheelchair Basketball Federation.

In 1993, the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation became the governing body for the sport, responsible for full development of wheelchair basketball. [2]


Most major rules and scoring or basketball are used for wheelchair basketball. The hoops are 10 ft high and the game is played on a standard basketball court. The official rules and regulations of the game can be found at the NWBA Website.

The following are generalized rules of the game, although some may vary based on league and location regulations.

In order to be eligible to play, an individual must:

  • Have permanent severe leg disability or paralysis of the lower portion of the body
  • Benefit through participation in wheelchair basketball and who would be denied the opportunity to play basketball were it not for the wheelchair adaptation

There are many regulations for wheelchairs used in the game. The height of the seat much not exceed 21” from the floor, the height of the foot platform or first point of contact must be no more than 4 7/8” from the floor, medium foam seat cushions are permitted, heel straps must be attached to the foot platform bars, and each chair must have a roll bar or other protective device. Rules of contact in regular basketball apply to wheelchair basketball, and the chair is considered part of the player. Travelling occurs when the athlete touches his or her wheels more than twice after receiving or dribbling the ball. A player is considered out of bounds when any part of the player’s body or wheelchair touches the floor on or outside the boundary. Player classifications are important for the game. The following are the inclusion criteria for each class

  • Class I – complete motor loss at T7 or above or comparable disability where there is total loss of muscle function originating at or above T7; one point value.
  • Class II – complete motor loss originating at T8 and descending through and including L2 where there may be motor power of hips and thighs. Also included in this class are amputees with bilateral hip disarticulation; two point values.
  • Class III – all other physical disabilities as related to lower extremity paralysis or paresis originating at or below L3. All lower extremity amputees are included in this class except those with bilateral hip disarticulation; three point values.

Numeric values are assigned to each class of athlete. At no point in time should a team be playing with a total player point score of greater than 12 on the floor at the same time. [4] [5]

External Links


  2. Schweikert, HA, Labanowich S. (2010). “History of Wheelchair Basketball.” NWBA. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from
  4. “Official Rules.” NWBA. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from
  5. “Wheelchair Basketball Rules.” Mobility Advisor. Retrieved December 4, 2011, from