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Wheelchair Basketball Rules

There are many different rules for wheelchair basketball and most of these rules are a bit different from those of the able bodied basketball. The rules devised by the International Basketball Federation are utilized, with little changes to show the use of a mobility device as defined by the International Wheelchair Federation or IWBF. Only a few changes are made for the sake of wheelchair use and the need to play while seated. These adaptations, however, make no changes to the way a regular basketball game is played, but they are used in interpreting the rules affected by the presence of a wheelchair.

Just like the regular basketball games, wheelchair basketball can only be played on a basketball court. For fully grown athletes, the three-point line, basket height, farness to the foul line etc. will be the same measurements as that of the stand up basketball game. For juniors or teenagers, few programs use lower hoop heights to make sure that the players have a nice experience. The game is usually played by 5 players each from 2 teams. Game lasts for 4 quarters of ten minutes each. 


Any person who, due to a permanent severe paralysis that has to do with the lower part of the body, or legs disability, is considered qualified to take part in wheelchair basketball. 


The chair’s height must not be more than 21 inches from the ground. Seat cushions are allowed for therapeutic and medical reasons; a medium-weight pad rubber is allowed (2″ level of thickness for Class three athletes and 4″ level of thickness for all other athletes). A heel strap must be connected to the foot bars. Every wheelchair must have a roll bar or any other protective device that prevents it from damaging the playing surface. 


The wheelchair of every player is considered as part of their body. The rules of contact in the stand up basketball (blocking, charging, etc.) applies to the wheelchair in a basketball game. 


A player can wheel his/her chair while bouncing the ball continuously, notwithstanding, if the ball get picked up or placed on the athlete’s lap, she/he is only permitted to push two times before they’re allowed to dribble, shoot, or pass the ball again. In wheelchair basketball, the double dribble rule does not apply. A traveling violation takes place when a player gets pushed more than twice while the ball is in his/her possession without dribbling. While holding the ball, a player won’t be allowed to get in contact with the ground. 


In this Paralympic sport, the wheelchair is considered as a part of the athlete’s body when it comes to making defenses, charging, going out of bounds, blocking, among other violations. An offensive player will remain in a particular area for just 3 seconds. Also, concerning the technical violations that may occur occasionally like in a regular basketball game, when players lift their legs to gain an advantage or get out of their wheelchair, it will be considered as a technical foul. At all times, players must remain well seated in their chairs and must not use their lower limbs to turn the chair around to gain advantage. Incase a player accidentally falls out of his/her wheelchair, the referee must halt the game if in her/her opinion the athlete is hurt. On an inbound game, an offensive player isn’t permitted to enter the key not until the referee has handed the ball over to the inbounding player. 

Loss Of The Ball 

If a wheelchair basketballer that has the ball in his grasp make any form of contact with the court floor or tilts his wheelchair so far backward that the safety touches the floor, it will be considered a foul and the ball will be given to the opposing team.

Physical Advantage Foul 

Due to the varying degrees and causes of disability among players, a general rule of maintaining a firm position while seated on the chair and not utilizing a leg stump or functional leg to gain advantage over an opposing player is highly enforced. Breaking this rule (jump ball, rebound, etc.) will result in a physical advantage violation. If this type of foul is committed for the third time, the player will be disqualified from the basketball game. 


If a player happens to fall out of his/her wheelchair during a game, the officiating referee will immediately pause the game if the player is at risk of sustaining an injury. If not, the referee will not blow the whistle until there is a fowl or till that particular quarter is over. 


Points in wheelchair basketball are awarded as follows: 

  • A goal scored from a free throw counts as one point;
  • A goal scored from the 2-point field goal region counts as two points;
  • A goal scored from the 3-point field goal region counts as three points.

Each team has exactly 24 seconds to end its attempt to put the ball in the basket. If a team fails to score a basket within this time frame, then the right to play and the ball will be given to the opposing team. 


The rules of the wheelchair basketball game are very similar to that of the stand up basketball. With the Paralympic games approaching, a lot of disabled persons are ready to be inspired as they participate in the wheelchair basketball games. The wheelchair basketball is one of the most played Paralympic games around the world, and if you’re new to the game or you wish to start playing, you need to know the rules of the game.

Those who play wheelchair basketball do not use a regular wheelchair. Also, they must have an impairment that is testable and has an effect on their lower limbs. Some physical impairments might include cerebral palsy, paraplegia, polio, or lower limb amputations. Players are usually tested to see if they are able to apply the required skills such as pivoting, pushing, catching, shooting, rebounding, passing and dribbling.


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