I encourage all able-bodied people and those with disability to play a game of wheelchair basketball. Wheelchair basketball is similar to able-bodied basketball but sitting down and is more intense as players bump into one another and are thrown from their wheelchairs trying to win. This is my beginners guide on how to play wheelchair basketball.
My first time
I was first introduced to wheelchair basketball as a child when a Wheelchair Sports New South Wales (WS NSW) roadshow visited Tamworth. My family, friends and other locals joined in the fun. I even had my photo published alongside an article in the local paper. I had fun but as a very timid little girl also thought it was intense.
Returning to play
I was looking for something to do outside of work when I was living in Canberra. I got in touch with WS NSW to see what sports were available in Canberra. Wheelchair basketball was run on a Monday evening and the local team was the Canberra Chargers.
I got in contact with Rohan and agreed to go along and watch. I was very nervous as I drove to the basketball courts. I was reassured by Rohan that I had nothing to be nervous about and other members of the team (a great mixture of able-bodied people and those with disabilities) made me feel welcome. I watched on as the Chargers had fun training and playing.
I started off playing in my day chair before a bright yellow basketball wheelchair was received from WS NSW. I had so much fun returning each Monday to take part in wheelchair skills, ball skills and friendly games. I loved it when my colleagues, friends and family members joined in and gave it a go (especially girls to challenge the male dominated team).
Basketball wheelchair is considered to be part of the player. There are many different types of basketball wheelchairs. Put simply, it has two sloped wheels either side with push rims to propel the chair, two standard small wheels at the front, some also have 1 or 2 tip wheels at the back to prevent flipping backwards, and a bar at the front to protect your feet. Straps are used to keep you in the chair and prevent able-bodied people from raising out of the seat to pass or shoot.
It takes practice to get used to pushing a basketball wheelchair. The wheelchair should move really easily and get used to how easily it turns. When you are starting to get the hang of how to push a wheelchair then add a basketball. Continue to practice pushing and looking out for the ball and other players.
Rules of Play
The rules of play are similar to able-bodied basketball. The court is the same shape and size, and the hoop is at standard height (it can seem daunting at times).
To dribble a player can wheel and bounce the ball continuously. If the ball is picked up and placed on the players lap then the player can only push twice before passing, shooting or bouncing again. Act quickly because it’s tough to make a move when your wheelchair is blocked by members of the opposition.
If you live in NSW or ACT then I encourage you to become a member of Wheelchair Sports New South Wales (WS NSW). Book a roadshow for your school group or workplace. Get involved with wheelchair basketball through regular training and games. If you live in other states and territories then I encourage you to look up local organisations and give wheelchair basketball a go.