Rolling Without Limits

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Wheelchair Basketball, a Sport for All Athletes
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Wheelchair Basketball, a Sport for All Athletes

Basketball originated in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891 by James Naismith, a physical education instructor. The sport gained popularity during the 20th century with the formation of the American National Basketball Association. After World War II, veterans with mobility needs found an outlet in sports, including basketball. The first playoffs for the National Wheelchair Basketball Association were played in 1948. Today, the NWBA has grown to over 200 teams to include men’s, women’s, intercollegiate and youth.

Eligibility:  Wheelchair basketball rule eligibilities state that a person must have a disability of the lower extremities that is irreversible. An athlete does not meet National Wheelchair Basketball Association eligibility due to symptoms alone, such as atrophy, edema, ligament instability, numbness or pain. An individual must have a permanent measurable physical feature, including an amputation, joint replacement, limb shortening, paralysis or other functional and consistent mobility need to meet eligibility qualifications.

Equipment Regulations:  The circumference of the eight-panel orange ball should measure between 74.9 to 78cm and weigh from 567 to 650gr. The basketball court for Paralympics is the same measurement as the Olympic Games. A wooden floor is a prerequisite for national and international games. The regulation wheelchair is equipped with two large rear wheels and one or two smaller front wheels. Anti-tip devices are allowed on the wheelchair.

Overview of Rules:  Wheelchair basketball is played with two teams of five players. An attempt for a basket must be completed within 24 seconds of a team taking possession of the ball. A player scores two points for a field basket, one point for successful free-throws and completed baskets from behind the arc score three points. The rules for dribbling and passing the ball is the same except that a player is allowed to place the ball on his/her lap in order to push the wheelchair once or twice, but must bounce the ball after the second push. Otherwise, a penalty for traveling will be called on the player. If an athlete has five fouls called in a game, he/she is not allowed to participate for the remainder of the game.



(Photo is courtesy of 110518-M-ED403-105 as uploaded by the Wounded Warrior Regiment at Flickr’s Creative Commons.)

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