Parapan Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair Basketball

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Sport Overview

Originally developed as a rehabilitation means for World War II veterans, elite-level wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, exciting, rough and tumble sport. It is not uncommon to see wheelchair-tipping collisions as players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling the ball in an attempt to throw it into the opponent’s net. The team with the most points at the end of game wins.

Canada is a formidable powerhouse in the sport. The women’s team won the 2014 World Championship in Toronto in June 2014 and is hoping it’s a sign of things to come again in 2015.

Canada’s men’s team won gold at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. At the Guadalajara 2011 Parapan Am Games, the Canadian women took silver, while the men collected bronze. Canada’s two teams have a combined total of six gold and one silver medal from the last six Paralympic Games.


Wheelchair basketball was originally developed by World War II veterans in the USA in 1945. At the same time, Sir Ludwig Guttmann developed a similar sport, wheelchair netball, at the Spinal Rehabilitation Hospital in Stoke Mandeville.

Since then, the sport has grown worldwide and was introduced on the global stage at the Rome 1960 Paralympic Games, and today it is practiced in nearly 100 countries.

How it works

Wheelchair basketball is similar to able-bodied basketball — players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling the ball, except that they must throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on the chair, otherwise they will be penalized for travelling. The objective is to throw the ball into the opponent’s net. One, two or three points are awarded for each goal, depending on where the ball is thrown from. The team with the most points at the end of game wins.

The size of the court and the height of the net is the same as in able-bodied basketball. Teams are comprised of five players, and the sport is open to athletes with physical disabilities that prevent them from running, jumping and pivoting. Not all athletes use a wheelchair, however, in daily life.


The small wheels at the front of the wheelchair.

The bounce technique used to move the ball down the court.

Considered a foul when a player lifts the chair off the ground or lifts their buttocks off the chairs when shooting, passing, rebounding or attempting to block a shot.

A legal maneouvre, tilting occurs when a player lifts one rear wheel with one front caster off the floor while using one or both hands to shoot, pass or handle the ball.



Physical Impairment

Sport Classes

Wheelchair basketball players are allocated one of eight physical impairment sport classes, from 1.0 to 4.5 points.

All athletes compete in a wheelchair and have an impairment affecting their legs or feet that would prohibit them to compete equally in able-bodied basketball. Most have normal arm function.

The most significant activity limitation, players in sport class 1.0 have no trunk control and cannot bend forward or sideways or rotate to catch and pass the ball. To keep a stable position, the backrest of the wheelchair is higher and the athletes are strapped to the wheelchair.

These players can move and lean forward and rotate their body to some extent, allowing them to catch the ball within a larger radius. Their wheelchairs have a higher backrest and strapping for trunk support.

Trunk control of the players in this class allows them to fully rotate and lean forward, but does not allow them to lean to the sides.

While 4.0 players can move forward and rotate similar to those in 3.0, they can also partially lean to the sides.

Players in this sport class have the least eligible impairment and no restriction in trunk rotation or leaning forward or sideways. An athlete can also be allocated sport classes 1.5, 2.5 or 3.5. The activity profile of these half-pointers fits between the profiles of the lower and higher class.

Fairness Between Two Teams:
Each team of five players is only allowed to have 14 points on the field of play at the same time.

Additional Information

Additional Information