Wheelchair Sports

Dive into the lives of athletes who get their thrills playing sports in a wheelchair. Read bios about athletes with disabilities and their amazing achievements, as we introduce you to the world of adaptive sports and track the evolution of those sports throughout the world. You might be motivated to develop your skills in archery, billiards, bowling, wheelchair basketball, boxing, flying, hand-cycling, hunting, wheelchair football, motor sports, mountain biking, rugby, soccer, swimming, tennis, wheelchair tennis and winter skiing. AMS Vans will be cheering you on!

An Introduction to 5 Sports Organizations for People With Disabilities

Disabled basketball player bouncing the ball for sports

Dribbling a basketball on the court.

A physical disability doesn’t have to keep you out of the game. Indeed, several organizations provide people with disabilities an opportunity to show their abilities through sports.

Disabled Sports USA

This organization helps people with permanent disabilities increase their independence and confidence through adaptive sports. The organization serves youth and adults via its network of 140 chapters spread over 42 states. Disabled Sports USA offers more than 50 sports. Thus, here is a sample of the sports available.

  • Archery
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Power soccer
  • Rock climbing
  • Sailing
  • Scuba
  • Sled hockey
  • Snowboarding
  • Surfing
  • Water skiing
  • Wheelchair basketball

Each year, the organization hosts the Hartford Ski Spectacular, a winter sports festival for people with disabilities. Indeed, the week-long event attracts over 800 participants to Breckenridge, Colorado.

Disabled Sports USA was founded in 1967 to assist veterans wounded in the Vietnam War. Today, the organization’s Warfighter Sports program gives severely wounded warriors opportunities to participate in adaptive sports at no cost to these military veterans.

National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD)

The Colorado-based NSCD was launched nearly 50 years ago to teach skiing to children with amputations. However, in the intervening years, the organization has expanded to serve youth and adults with any disability. Now, NSCD’s programming includes adaptive lessons for airgun training, archery, alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski biking, canoeing, kayaking, cross country skiing, rock climbing, river rafting, snowshoeing, and horseback riding.

In addition, the organization offers a variety of camping experiences. Some camps are designed for a specific population. For example, there’s a weekend camp for women with physical disabilities. Other camps, like the Basketball Clinic, help the participants sharpen a skill.

Although disabled military veterans may participate in any program, NSCD has designed these programs for them.

  • Ski and Snowboard Program for Military Veterans
  • Veterans Camp
  • Family Camp
  • Paralympic Experience
  • Rocky Mountain Adventure

International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS)

The organization bills itself as the “Founder of the Original Paralympic Games”. IWAS provides competitive opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities. Further, this is accomplished through two signature events: IWAS World Games and IWAS Youth World Games.

Both are held every other year. The host country decides which Paralympic sports will be part of the games. Further, host countries may choose from archery, athletics, powerlifting, shooting, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair fencing, wheelchair rugby, table tennis, and volleyball.

IWAS Youth World Games, formerly known as the IWAS World Junior Games, introduce young people to the thrill of international competition. Each competition is divided by age group. The classes are under 23, under 20, and under 17.

IWAS is also the governing body for powerchair hockey and wheelchair fencing.

National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA)

“Roll With Us”. That’s the motto of the NWBA. Further, the invitation is open to anyone with a qualified physical disability. Also, many men, women, and youth have accepted their invitation. The NWBA has a network of over 200 wheelchair basketball teams in 22 conferences.

In the Junior Prep Division, players aged 13 and under can develop their skills by shooting hoops into a basket that 8.5 feet high. However, youth with more advanced skills may play in the Junior 10′ (Varsity) Division. The Adult Divisions are:

  • Division I
  • II
  • III
  • Women’s
  • Intercollegiate Women’s
  • Intercollegiate Men’s

The NWBA hosts an annual national tournament. Indeed, the best teams for each division play for their division’s national title.

American Wheelchair Bowling Association (AWBA)

AWBA hosts 8 to 12 tournaments for wheelchair bowlers each year. In fact, the competitions are held around the country. There’s a national tournament that has a different host city each June. Then, bowlers compete in one of four divisions according to their skill level. Lastly, the divisions range from Novice Division to the elite Scratch Division.

Wheelchair User Outdoor Excersize

A Guide to Wheelchair Fitness

Since the Paralympics are back in full swing in Rio, we thought you might want to feel like a Paralympian yourself! So here’s a few tips on how to work out in a chair! Safety first, though. Talk to your doctor before you try any of these workout tips! Make sure that a loved one or a caregiver is present when exercising, and be sure not to overwork yourself! We don’t want you getting sore or too tired, we just want to get that blood flowing!

Why is exercising in a wheelchair helpful and important? Exercising will result in more flexibility, will strengthen you and your lungs and heart, and provide more mobility overall.

Push-ups in a wheelchair?! How to:

  1. First, lock your wheelchair into place, of course!
  2. Lay your arms on your arm rest.
  3. Now lift! Use your arms and upper body to lift yourself up and off the seat of the chair; stay lifted for as long as you can.
  4. You can lift and rest on repeat!

“Do you even lift?” Lifting weights in a wheelchair:

  1. You can use free weights or dumbbells, whichever is easier for you!
  2. If you don’t have any of those lying around, that’s okay! You don’t even need to rush out to buy them! Just use anything you have around the house that is a little bit heavier, like cans of food or books! Repetition is key!

Ready, set, go! Racing in your wheelchair:

  1. It’s fun, AND it works out your upper body!
  2. You can race other friends in wheelchairs or you can have people run against you! Working out can be FUN!

For those who want tight tummies:

  1. Alright, this one actually involves getting out of your chair and onto a yoga mat.
  2. Cross your legs, grab a weight (dumbbell, Pilates ball, heavy object around the house), and lift it straight above your head.
  3. Slightly rotate your torso back and forth for a period of time or until you’re too sore!

Some more tips on working out:

  • Turn the TV on and out for half the time of your favorite show! Or the whole time you’re watching your favorite show!
  • Make a playlist to listen to while your pumping that iron!

Links to workout videos for those working out in a chair: