What is wheelchair basketball?

Wheelchair basketball (adaptive basketball) is a competitive team sport that is open to individuals with lower extremity disabilities that prevent them from playing stand-up basketball. These disabilities may include spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, post polio syndrome, lower extremity amputations, leg length discrepancies, and permanent joint disorders. Contrary to popular belief, players do not need to use a wheelchair for everyday mobility in order to participate in the sport. In fact, many wheelchair basketball athletes are able to walk and stand after games and practices.

How do I get started?

To play wheelchair basketball, players need access to a wheelchair that is specifically designed for the sport. These sport wheelchairs are lighter, have no brakes, have wheels with a greater camber for a tighter turning radius, and are meant to enhance athletic ability rather than provide long-term comfort. These chairs typically cost between $2,000 and $3,500 and can be purchased with either a rigid frame or an adjustable frame.

What are the rules for wheelchair basketball?

There are only a few rule differences between stand-up and wheelchair basketball. The basket is still ten feet high and a regulation ball is used, but the free-throw line is moved to fifteen feet. The NWBA rules are based on NCAA rules, with additional variances to accommodate the use of wheelchairs. For example, players must dribble once for every two pushes in order to avoid a traveling violation, there is no double dribble violation in wheelchair basketball, and the front casters of the shooter's chair may be over the free-throw and three-point lines during a shot, but the rear wheels must remain behind the lines until the ball is released.

What resources are available?

There are numerous organizations and resources available for individuals interested in participating in wheelchair basketball. The NWBA is the largest organization in the United States, with over 210 teams in 38 states. Other organizations include the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) and the National Junior Disability Championship (NJDC). In addition, many local Move United Member Organizations offer wheelchair basketball programs, and the NWBA website has a calendar of events and information on local programs. Finally, there are several grants available to individuals and organizations looking to start or support wheelchair basketball programs, including the NWBA Developmental Grant and the IWBF Development Grant.