The availability and popularity of various sports for people with disabilities is increasing which is truly a positive trend as physical activity is crucial for the health and wellbeing of everyone.
Wheelchair users can participate in summer sports, winter sports, individual and group sports.
Below we have collected the different sports most popular among wheelchair users.
Team sports for wheelchair users
1. Wheelchair rugby
Rugby is already a popular team sport for people who enjoy competition. It is one of the biggest and most popular Paralympic sports.
Not every wheelchair user can practice traditional wheelchair rugby. Each player receives a score of 0.5 to 3.5 points depending on the degree of their disability. The sum of the points of all 4 players of one team present on the field during the match must not exceed 8.
Special wheelchairs with a steel frame and components such as impact-resistant rugby wheels are required for wheelchair rugby.
Wheelchair rugby is gaining popularity rapidly and more and more athletic associations are making it possible to play the sport.
Wheelchair rugby is rough a contact sport and often quite spectacular. The sound of wheelchairs hitting each other with great force and the sight of a player falling over is memorable for a long time.
Important to mention, teams in wheelchair rugby can be mixed gender and it is increasingly possible to see women in the games.
2. Wheelchair basketball
One of the oldest wheelchair sports, and one of the most popular too, as it is the most watched Paralympic sport.
This sport can be played by people with varying degrees of disability, but all players have disabilities in the lower limbs or arms (for example, amputations/paraplegia – paralysis of both lower or upper limbs, occurring because of spinal cord damage or brain damage in a particular location). As in Wheelchair Rugby, each player is scored based on a disability rating.
In the case of Wheelchair Basketball, a team of five players on the court at any given time cannot have more than 14 points total. Importantly, players with different degrees of disability must play on the court at the same time.
Wheelchair basketball also requires the use of specialized equipment. However, basketball carts are extremely lightweight and manoeuvrable.
How do you get started? Try to go to one practice to just see what it looks like. After that, it will go smoothly.
Individual sports for wheelchair users
Cycling has an excellent effect on the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems. It not only strengthens muscles, but also activates joints. It is an ideal sport for those who like to race and one of the most popular sports practiced by people with disabilities. Wheelchair users need a bicycle specially adapted for them, with the arms as the driving force.
In addition to helping improve fitness, swimming is also rehabilitation for people with disabilities.
Swimming is practiced by many people in wheelchairs daily. Water relieves stress, and one can perform movements normally impossible in water. Swimming is a sport accessible to everyone – regardless of the degree of disability and moving in water can give the swimmer a sense of independence and self-reliance.
Swimming professionally and competing in competitions requires a lot of determination and will to fight and the right people around the athlete who will motivate them and lead them to success.
Nowadays in many major cities in Europe there are swimming sections for people with disabilities.
3. Sailing for wheelchair users
An increasingly popular sport for wheelchair users is sailing. I quess most of us like to test ourselves while struggling against the elements, but also to overcome our own weaknesses.
Sailing is for everyone – for people with paralysis and paresis of limbs, infantile paralysis, spinal cord injuries and many other conditions.
The yacht does not have to be specially adapted for wheelchair users. If you have strong hands, you move around automatically. It is worth adding that wheelchair sailing is a team sport. As in the case of standard sailing on a yacht, there must be several people on the boats, each of whom has a different role. Wheelchair users usually sit at the steer, while people who move normally adjust the sails, etc. If necessary, an alternative belts can be used so that the persion in wheelchair does not move in an uncontrollable way.
There are a number of associations in Europe that organize sailing camps for people with disabilities. As part of a regular camp, you can apply for a yacht sailor’s license.
4. Wheelchair skiing
Skiing for people with disabilities is known as mono ski. Its name is related to the fact that this sport uses one ski, instead of the traditional two. The equipment itself consists of a metal structure/frame, skis and a seat. The skier’s entire weight rests on one ski, so it must be very firm. It is also worth noting that, to ensure safety during downhill skiing, the ski and seat should be made to measure for the user, considering the width, length and height of the seat and the length of the leg rest.
Skiing for the disabled is a sport that can be practiced by people who have suffered a spinal cord injury, meningeal hernia, cerebral palsy, or bilateral leg amputation. Organizations have been founded around the world with the aim to help people with disabilities open their eyes for this sport.
Those beginning their adventure with mono-ski can take advantage of the help of qualified instructors, who will provide valuable tips and, above all, take care of the skier’s safety. When the skier is not able to control the ski on their own, their driving can be taken over by an instructor.
5. Wheelchair dancing
Wheelchair-using dance enthusiasts can also pursue their passions. The most popular discipline is wheelchair ballroom dancing, in which one partner is a non-disabled person and the other is a wheelchair user. It is now even a Paralympic discipline in two styles: standard dancing and Latin American dancing.
Wheelchair inclusive dance competitions are held in two classes related to the abilities of the disabled partner. Class I includes those with severe or moderate upper body mobility impairment. Class II includes athletes with no dysfunction or with minor mobility limitations in the trunk.
Many sports clubs also organize group dance classes for wheelchair users, such as wheelchair Zumba.
6. Wheelchair fencing
Wheelchair fencing differs from traditional fencing in that, as the name suggests, it is done with wheelchairs fixed on a special platform. Competitors remain at the same distance from each other. The duel is based on thrusts and dodges using one of 3 weapons: a saber, sword or flare. Depending on the choice of weapon, the targeted surface can be the athlete’s entire body, clothing and pad or only the torso.
In this discipline, there is a division into men’s and women’s competitions, and 3 disability categories (A, B, C).
Wheelchair fencing is one of the Paralympic sports as well.
7. Wheelchair tennis
Wheelchair tennis is another form of recreation and physical activity that people with physical disabilities can choose to enjoy.
Wheelchair tennis is one of the summer Paralympic sports. Basic wheelchair skills are required to start training. Like all sports, it requires proper equipment and training.
The size of the court, the height of the net and the rackets are the same as for traditional tennis. The difference is that the players move differently, and that the ball can bounce up to twice, with the second bounce also occurring off the court.
It may not be as popular as other wheelchair sports, but it has its share of supporters.
As you can see, there are many options for wheelchair users to participate in sports. Is it crucial for everyone of us to train our body but another very positive thing about sport is that it is a good way to meet people, socialise and make friends etc…. Of course Normal GYM fitness with weight training is done by many etc… to stay fit and train other muscles than the ones used when propelling the wheels.