Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, exciting, physically demanding, and strategic sport. It is highly developed in Ontario, boasting more participation than any other wheelchair sport. Not surprisingly, wheelchair basketball is one of the most popular spectator sports at the Paralympic Games.
Numerous wheelchair basketball clubs exist throughout the province and offer programs at varying levels for youth and adults alike. It is common for club teams to include both male and female players on mixed-gender teams.
Ontario athletes compete in the Great Lakes Conference, a league that has developed over time to include able-bodied athletes as well as athletes with various disabilities. Not all athletes who play wheelchair basketball require the use of a wheelchair for daily life.
Wheelchair Basketball Equipment
One of the attractions to wheelchair basketball is that it does not require the use of much equipment. All players need for this fun team game is a sport chair, a ball, and a lot of heart.
Find more information on the OWSA Wheelchair Loans program here.
The basic rules of wheelchair basketball are very similar to stand-up or able-bodied basketball. For example, the court dimensions, the height of the basket, and the distance to the foul and three point lines, etc., are the same measurements as in the game of basketball.
There are only a few basic rule changes that have been made to adapt basketball to wheelchair play:
- A traveling violation occurs if the player takes more than two pushes while in possession of the ball without dribbling. A player may wheel the chair and bounce the ball simultaneously, however, if the ball is picked up and/or placed on the player’s lap, he or she is only allowed to push twice before being obligated to shoot, pass, or dribble the ball again.
- There is no ‘double dribble’ rule in wheelchair basketball.
- The player must remain firmly seated in the chair and must not use his or her lower limbs to steer the chair or gain an unfair advantage. A player lifting his or her legs to gain an advantage or lifting out of the chair is given a technical foul.
Note: The wheelchair is considered a part of the body and any contact is treated in the same manner as contact with the body in the stand-up game.
Wheelchair Basketball Classification
Wheelchair basketball athletes are assigned a point value (class) based on their functional ability. In Canada, classifications are closely based on the international classification system and range from 1.0 to 4.5. Lower classification athletes are more limited in their physical function while athletes assigned to higher classes have few if any limitations. The total number of points on the court assigned for each of the five players may not exceed 14 points at any one time in most divisions.
For example, five 4.0’s would not be allowed to play because their points on the floor would equal 20.0, thus exceeding the 14.0 allowance.
Find a complete list of basketball clubs across the province of Ontario here.
Program Manager, Wheelchair Basketball