Basketball is a team sport usually involving two teams competing to score points by successfully shooting a ball through a hoop at a fixed height. Basketball is a game that can be played successfully by individuals with a variety of disabilities. There are two major versions of basketball popular within disability sport – ambulatory and wheelchair basketball. Ambulatory basketball competition is offered by the USA Deaf Sports Federation (USADSF), the Dwarf Athletic Association of America (DAAA), Special Olympics International (SOI), and the United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association (USCPAA). Wheelchair basketball is offered in many areas sponsored by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
Benefits of Playing Basketball
- It permits participation in a team sport which involves both skill and strategy.
- There are many different roles and positions on a basketball team, so disability does not dictate the level of play possible.
- There are a number of widely recognized versions of basketball which permit persons with a variety of disabilities to participate.
- The wheelchair is considered part of the player - therefore, general rules of contact apply.
- The height of the seat may 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.
- Seat cushions are permitted for medical and therapeutic reasons, however the thickness of the cushion allowed varies between classes.
- Each chair must be equipped with a roll bar or other protective device to insure against damage to the playing surface.
- Players with the ball cannot push more than two strokes with one or two hands to advance without dribbling the basketball. However, a player may wheel the chair and bounce the ball simultaneously.
- More than two strokes of the wheel(s) without a dribble is a traveling violation.
- A player is out of bounds when he/she or any part of the chair touches the line.
- An offensive player cannot remain in the free throw lane for more than 4 seconds while his/her team is in possession of the ball.
- For more information about wheelchair basketball or an extensive list of rules, contact the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA).
Disabled Sports Organization Rule Modifications
Special Olympics International– Offers a variety of basketball events, including: team competition, individual skills, team skills, target pass, spot shot, 10-meter basketball dribble, and speed dribble. Team competition may consist of 5-on-5 full court, or 3-on-3 half court.
Dwarf Athletic Association of America – Competition is coeducational, and in certain competitions at least one female player must be on the court for each team at all times. Five seconds are allowed in the lane for an offensive team (instead of three) and varying ball sizes are used.
United States Cerebral Palsy Athletic Association – A classification point system is used similar to wheelchair basketball. Co-ed competition is encouraged at the local and regional level.
This game involves no running, dribbling, jumping, or body contact and relies on shooting skill. A series of shooting stations are set up, each with a uniquely shaped backboard. The players must score the ball off the backboard from three different positions in order to move to the next station. For more information on Bankshot Basketball, contact The Bankshot Organization at (800) 933-0140.
Twin basketball is a game which started in Japan where it is popular for athletes with cervical level spinal cord injuries. Players are divided into three classes based on functional level. The game court is a regular basketball court, but the players surround the free throw circle which encloses two goals: a high goal and a low goal. A complete set of rules may be obtained from:
Japan Wheelchair Basketball Federation
207 Mezondosharu 4-7-22,
Minami Kudan Chiyodaku, JAPAN
(Additional information on equipment and suppliers may be available in the NCPAD database. Try searching using keywords: adjustable hoops, basketball, basketball equipment, basketball videos, basketball programs, prosthetics, and wheelchairs).
USA Basketball, (719)590-4800
USADSF, (801)393-7916 (TTY)
The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago do not formally recommend or endorse the equipment listed. Individuals should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs.