Everyone Can Play!

Physical disabilities affect how the body moves. The most common physical disabilities found in children and young adults include cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injuries. Depending on the level of impairment, children may need to rely on the use of a wheelchair, walker, crutches or braces for mobility.

Regardless of disability and level of impairment, there is one thing that everyone has in common. Everyone loves to play! The challenge for camps is how to accommodate children with various ability levels.

With appropriate accommodations, all participants can be successful. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of three popular sports designed especially for children with physical disabilities. General adaptations for sport and physical activities are outlined. Finally, resources related to more in depth sport rules, games, and equipment are provided.

Wheelchair Basketball

Wheelchair basketball is the most widely played of all wheelchair sports. It is very similar to the game of basketball played by individuals without disabilities.

Similarities to standing basketball:

• Game played on a regulation size court with same height backboards and rims

• Players shoot from regulation free throw and three point lines with points scored the same

• Time limits for in-bounding the ball and crossing half court are the same

• Game starts with jump ball at center

• Infractions (blocking and charging fouls) are called

• Five players are on the floor for each team

• Regulation men’s and women’s balls are used; youth use women’s ball

• Offensive positions (guard center forward) and defensive positions (zone or person-to-person) are used

• Two 20 minute halves for adults and four six minute quarters for youth

Differences from standing basketball:

• Wheelchair is considered part of the player’s body

• Play continues if player falls from chair unless the player or others are endangered; if the player cannot right themselves then play is stopped and the coach assists

• A technical foul is called if a player lifts their buttocks from the seat to gain advantage

• It is a traveling violation if a player pushes more than two times in a row without dribbling the ball at least one time, passing or shooting

• A turnover is given if any part of the player or wheelchair contacts the floor or touches outside of the boundary lines

• A lane violation occurs if a player on offense is in the free throw lane for more than four seconds

Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball is very similar to regulation volleyball. All participants must play from a seated position on the floor. Players need adequate trunk stability and balance to hold positions and players must be able to move in all directions. See the resources for additional information about power soccer.

Similarities to standing volleyball:

• Utilizes same skills –- set, forearm pass, hit, serve and block

• Regulation ball is used

• Six players on a side

• Similar team formations and player rotation – two front row attackers, one setter, and three back row players

• Ball is put in to play with a serve and three hits are allowed to return the ball

• A block is not counted as a hit

Differences from standing volleyball:

• Size of court is 40 feet by 20 feet

• Attack line is 6 feet, 6 inches from the center line

• Net height is 4 feet for males and 3 feet, 6 inches for females; net is 21 feet log and 2 feet, 6 inches wide

• Rally scoring is used

• Player position is determined by placement of buttocks –- limbs can be out of bounds without penalty

• Players must remain in contact with the floor at all times with any part of their body between the shoulders and buttocks -– no standing is allowed

• Players can momentarily lift buttocks from floor when sliding to a new position

Power Soccer

Power Soccer is a fast-paced, competitive sport played by people with a variety of disabilities. It was designed specifically for anyone who can operate an electric wheelchair but anyone using a chair can play.

Due to the recent development of the game, rules and court dimensions vary. Rules are similar to “standing” soccer except the wheelchair itself and foot guards are used to propel the ball.

General Rules:

• Played on regulation sized basketball court

• Over-sized (18″ diameter) soccer ball is used

• Two 25-minute halves — Play continues until there is a possession change or dead ball

• Four players per team –- One goalie and three court players

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