1. Basketball
  2. Wheelchair Basketball
  3. Top 10 Wheelchair Basketball Rules

The Top 10 Rules Of Wheelchair Basketball

Table of Contents


What is wheelchair basketball?

Wheelchair Basketball is a fast paced and high action sport that involves athletes with the use of wheelchairs to play against each other in a competitive setting. The sport is very much like traditional basketball in terms of scoring, court dimensions, and team aspects. Some of the rules have been modified a little to adapt to the nature of the game. The sport is intense and many athletes play with a sense of physicality, mental toughness and joy whenever they play.

The sport was created as a rehabilitation activity in 1945 for soldiers that had fought in World War II. Wheelchair basketball is popular worldwide and is even one of the more popular sports in the Paralympic Games! It has created excitement for basketball fans alike and has also developed some friendly rivalries between teams in Europe. It was first featured in the 1960 Paralympic games and has developed a large fan base both in the US and in Europe.


What are the top 10 rules of wheelchair basketball?

  1. Playing Time
  2. Scoring
  3. Dribbling
  4. Traveling
  5. Three Seconds Rule
  6. Shot Clock Violation
  7. Fouls
  8. Free Throws
  9. Out of Bounds
  10. Lifting

1. Playing Time

Playing time in Wheelchair Basketball consists of 4 quarters with 10 minute intervals. Everytime the ball is considered dead then the clock stops and does not resume until play is continued and the ball is live. Once a quarter ends and a new one begins, a player must inbound the ball in order to resume play and start the clock. This does not apply to the beginning of the game as a jump ball at half-court will be initiated and whenever the team completes the tip-off the game clock will begin.

Much like "stand-up" basketball, if the score at the end of the 4 regulated periods results in a tie, then an overtime period will take place. The overtime period is 5 minutes and there can be as many overtimes played until a victor is determined.


2. Scoring

In terms of scoring, Wheelchair Basketball follows the same procedures as traditional basketball. In order to score points a player must shoot the ball through the hoop. There are three point totals in Wheelchair Basketball consisting of a two -pointer, a three-pointer, and free throw(s).

A two-pointer is any shot that is shot within the three point arc and it is worth 2 points. A three-pointer is any shot that is launched behind the three point arc and it is worth three points. In the case of Wheelchair Basketball, since the wheelchair is considered part of the player's body it must be completely behind the three point line for the shot to be worth 3 points. Shooting a free throw is an opportunity for a player to score free points without any defender guarding them while they shoot. A free throw shot is worth 1 point for every made shot that is made at the free throw line.


3. Dribbling

Dribbling in Wheelchair Basketball is a bit different than dribbling in traditional basketball. In this sport, dribbling is when a player pushes their wheels and bounces, taps, or rolls the ball on the floor simultaneously. A dribble does not count as a live dribble until the player has full possession of the ball and begins their action.

In Wheelchair Basketball, there is no double dribble violation which is when a player ends their dribble and then begins their dribble sequence again without any loss control of the ball. This allows these players to have more freedom with movement and control of the ball during the game. Also, a player is allowed to take 1 or 2 big pushes on their wheels while the ball is in their lap as that counts as an active dribble and is not considered as a "travel."


4. Traveling

As with dribbling, traveling in Wheelchair Basketball is also a little different than in traditional basketball. Traveling is considered to be when a player who has full control of the ball uses more than two pushes is any direction to move with the ball without dribbling or losing control of the ball. As with advancement of the ball up the court, any pivoting movements are to be counted as active pushes and if any active pivot exceeds two pushes it will also count as a travel. Actions that do not count as traveling include multiple successive shots at the basket, fumbling the ball while advancing in any direction, and deflecting a pass and gaining control of the ball.

If a player is called for traveling then it will count as a turnover and the ball will be awarded to the other team. However, it should be noted that there is no double-dribble or carrying violations in Wheelchair Basketball.


5. Three Seconds Rule

The Three seconds rule in Wheelchair Basketball is when a player is positioned in the painted area of the key for longer than three seconds. This incident can occur on both offense and defense. Whether the violation is committed on either offense or defense the result of the penalty will remain the same, which is a loss of possession of the ball and rewarding possession to the opposing team.

Yet, it should be understood that there are some variations of acceptances to this rule. One acceptance being that if a player is their 3rd second of the penalty, as long as they are leaving the paint it is fine and play shall continue as normal. Another acceptance is if one of the player's on the team with control of the ball decides to shoot, then it is okay for a player in the paint to stay in order to get the best opportunity to rebound the ball.


6. Shot Clock Violation

A 24 second shot clock is used to show players how much time they have to shoot the ball. Failure to get off a shot in the given 24 seconds results in a shot clock violation which grants the opposing team with possession of the ball. The shot clock begins as soon as the ball is touched by a player's wheelchair or the moment a player comes into contact with the ball.

A shot attempt is valid within the 24 seconds shot clock period as long as the ball completely leaves the hands of the player. Yet, the ball must hit the rim of the basket in order for the shot clock to be set to 14 seconds instead of 24. If the ball does not touch any part of the rim it is considered to be a shot clock violation and will result as a turnover.


7. Fouls

Committing a foul is when any player comes into illegal physical contact with an opposing player. Let it be noted that the chair is part of the player's body, so any illegal contact with the chair of another player is also to be considered a foul. Many of the fouls are very similar to that of traditional basketball. However, it isn't the fouls that differ. Yet, it is the way in which the players come into contact with one another.

There is an understood rule in the sport called the "Cylinder Principle" which is explained at the imaginary space a player is given between the player and the floor. The cylinder includes the player's entire body, wheelchair, and arms when they are extended vertically. This space is used as a measurement to determine if and which player comes into contact with another player at any given time on the court.


8. Free Throws

A free throw is when a player gets the opportunity to score without a defender in their space guarding them. A free throw is worth 1 point if the basket is made. Depending on where the player was fouled on the court during the act of shooting, that will determine how many free-throws the player is allowed to shoot. In the case that a player is fouled during the act of shooting and that shot is made, the basket will count and the player will get an opportunity to shoot an additional free throw at the line.

When shooting a free throw, a maximum of four defenders are to be positioned on the side hashes of the painted area with two offensive players positioned in between the defensive players. This allows the defensive team the best possible chance to rebound the ball given the case of a missed free throw.


9. Out of Bounds

The boundaries of a Wheelchair basketball court are the same as that of a regulated professional basketball court. If a player in control of the ball goes out of bounds or loses possession of the ball out of bounds it will result in a turnover and the ball will go to the other team. As mentioned prior, the wheelchair is considered to be part of the player's body. Meaning that if the player's wheels or any portion of the chair is out of bounds while the player is in full control of the ball then it will also be ruled as a turnover. If the ball itself goes out of bounds then the player who touched it will be granted the turnover and the ball is given to the opposing team. The same rule applies to if a player throws the ball at an opponent's wheels, then the ball will be given to the team who did not touch the ball last.


10. Lifting

Lifting is a rule that is unique to Wheelchair basketball. Lifting is when a player lifts both buttucks off of their chair in order to gain an unfair playing advantage over their opponent. Lifting is not allowed when a player is shooting, rebounding, attempting to block a shot, or deflect a pass from the opposing team. If a player is caught "lifting" then he will be committing a penalty and a violation will be called.

A technical foul will be counted towards the offender and the opposing team will get to shoot one technical free throw and be granted control of the ball. However, if the lifting violation was called while the defender was attempting to block the shot then the same procedure follows if the player misses his shot. However, if the player that shot the ball makes the basket it will be counted and he will have the chance at an additional free throw.



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