Wheelchair Basketball Handling Skills

Proper handling of the wheelchair is the most important skill in wheelchair basketball. A player must also handle the ball. This is especially difficult in wheelchair basketball because the hands and arms are used both for ball handling and player mobility. Some chair-handling skills may even need to be modified slightly so they can be executed while maintaining control of the ball (stationary turns and pivots, for example). Good wheelchair basketball players have mastered both wheelchair and ball-handling skills; outstanding wheelchair basketball players can effortlessly perform both tasks simultaneously.

Health and Safety
  • Drink enough water. This is especially important for athletes with spinal cord injuries.
  • Double amputees, athletes with high-level spinal cord injuries and those with limited sitting balance should keep their anti-tip (safety) casters in place during all practices and games.
  • All players should use their anti-tip (safety) casters when participating in drills that increase the possibility of the wheelchair tipping over to the rear.
  • If the wheelchair has brakes attached, these should either be removed or placed in a position to avoid interfering with the athlete's hands when he or she pushes forward on the wheels or hand rims.
  • Players with spinal cord injuries should be alert to the potential for skin breakdown (pressure sores, decubitus ulcers). Loose clothing, cleanliness and frequent checks for redness are essential. In addition, cushions should be used at all times. The player should lift the buttocks off of the cushion at regular intervals.
  • Players should wear hard shoes that fit properly. This is especially critical for players with little or no feeling in their lower extremities, because poor-fitting shoes may cause pressure sores. Hard shoes will also help protect all players from foot injuries caused by contact with other players' wheelchairs.
Avoiding Head Injuries
  • When falling forward, the player should try to fall far enough in front of the wheelchair to prevent entanglement. This maneuver will also help to elongate the player's body, thus lessening the risk of leg injury caused by the weight of the upper body landing upon the legs.
  • Extending the arms to "cushion" the fall also reduces the risk of leg injury.
  • When falling to the side, it may be best to tuck the arms close to the chest and turn so that the upper back and shoulder areas absorb the impact. This maneuver prevents injury to wrists or shoulders but should be used only if the fall is unlikely to cause leg injury.
  • Falls to the rear are safest when the player quickly leans forward into a tuck position and grasps the frame of the wheelchair. This maneuver allows the back of the wheelchair to absorb most of the impact. If the wheelchair has a low back without handgrips, however, the player may need to turn and "cushion" the fall with an extended arm.
  • Regardless of the direction of a fall, the player must be careful to avoid head injury. This is done best by quickly tucking the head tightly to the chest or shoulder (inclined away from the area of impact).