Basketball was first adapted to be played using wheelchairs after the Second World War. Former American soldiers, injured during the war, met on a court at a rehabilitation hospital and started to play. In England, this sport was also used in the rehabilitation of patients at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital.
The sport was played at the first Paralympic Games, held in 1960 in Rome, and is one of the few to have been played at every Paralympics. Women started to play at the 1968 Paralympic Games in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Wheelchair Basketball is played by people with some kind of physical-motor disability. The wheelchairs are adapted and standardised in line with the rules, established by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF).
The court’s dimensions, the scoring and the height of the hoop are the same as those used in conventional basketball and there are five players in each team. Games are divided into four quarters each lasting ten minutes. The clock is stopped in a number of situation such as when the ball leaves the court or whenever a one-minute time-out is called.
Each team may hold the ball for 24 seconds, and during this time, players need to throw it towards the hoop. Every two touches on the wheelchair, players need to bounce, pass or shoot the ball. Simple contact between wheelchairs is not considered a foul by the referees, unless it is interpreted as intentional.
In order to ensure the teams are balanced, athletes are classified based on a scoring system from 1 to 4.5, in line with each one’s functional potential. The greater the athlete’s potential mobility, the higher the score. The sum of all players’ scores may not exceed 14.
Wheelchair Basketball is a pioneering sport with an illustrious tradition in the Paralympic Movement.