It’s Wheelchair Basketball and That’s No Foul

Across the United States and worldwide, wheelchair sports provide both recreational and competitive opportunities for people with disabilities. Some wheelchair sports have been around longer than others. Wheelchair basketball first emerged in 1945, when servicemen who were injured in World War II wanted to play the game. The sport was adapted to accommodate their injuries. Today, wheelchair basketball is played by individuals who require the use of a manual or electric wheelchair in their daily life.

Many of the same rules in basketball apply to wheelchair basketball. The size of the court is the same, as is the height of the basket. Players can score points the same way as well, with two points per field basket, one point per free throw, and three points for a shot made behind the arc of the three-point line.

Wheelchair basketball uses classifications to categorize players into different sport classes. There are eight classes in total:  1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5. The 1.0 class indicates that a player has no trunk control, while a 4.5 class indicates limited impairment and no restriction in trunk movement. Each team can have five players on the court, but their total classification points cannot exceed 14.

One of the biggest differences between basketball and wheelchair basketball is dribbling. A wheelchair basketball player can push a manual wheelchair one or two times while the ball remains in his or her hands or lap. The player must then dribble the ball, then continue the sequence. If a player pushes his or her manual wheelchair more than two times without dribbling, this is a travel violation. Fouling in wheelchair basketball is also slightly different. The wheelchair is considered a part of the player, so a foul in wheelchair basketball includes illegal contact with both the wheelchair and the player.  

There are a few different organizations worldwide that represent wheelchair basketball and provide manual and electric wheelchair users the opportunity to play the game they love. The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation is the global governing body of the sport. The National Wheelchair Basketball Association in the United States plays against teams from South America, Africa, Asia and Europe at the Paralympic Games and wheelchair basketball is just one of many wheelchair sports featured in the event.