March 23, 2013
The first day of spring was three days ago so I thought this would be a good time to talk about adaptive sports for the spring and summer weather. I know the last couple days have still felt like its winter, but pretty sooner the weather will be nice and children will be itching to play outside. Some of the sports I am about to mention can be played either outdoors or indoors. Remember that most children have been cooped up for most of the winter, so try to balance the sports that are played indoor and outdoor. Almost every sport can be adapted for children with disabilities. However, because there are so many sports I am only going to focus on the most popular ones.
Children in wheelchairs can play basketball either indoor or outdoors. It is important that there is protective equipment on the chair if basketball is played indoors to protect the floors. Gymnasium floors are probably the best floors to play the sport on, because they are smooth. When you go outside you have to be careful for rocks and cracks in the pavement. If there are no small rocks or cracks in the pavement, it is safe for children in wheelchairs to play basketball outside. Players can wheel themselves around in their chair and bounce the ball at the same time. Some people also like to get a cushion for their wheelchair to make their chair more comfortable for playing. Some people also might just want to take shots on a net and that’s fine. If children want a change up from the regular basketball game, you could make a game where they take shots on different nets. Once they get a shot on one net, they move to another net. These nets can be different heights or each net could be for a different shot. For example, at the first net the players could shoot from in front of the net and at the second net they could shoot from the right side.
Children in wheelchairs can also play hockey. Usually there are five players on each team and children move around in their wheelchairs. This sport can be played either outdoors or indoors; just make sure there are no cracks or rocks that could be hazardous. Plastic sticks and blades, and small plastics balls are usually used to play the game. Children can also just take shots on a net if they don’t want to actually play hockey.
Sitting volleyball is a great sport for people with double leg amputees, spinal cord injuries and people who are in wheelchairs. It is usually played with six players on each team, but it can always be played with less. Players sit on the floor and the net is lowered so that they can hit the ball over the net. However, usually players are supposed to remain sitting on the floor while hitting the ball. This sport can be played on a gymnasium floor or on the grass. However, when it’s nice outside, try to give children the opportunity to play in the grass. Many children don’t get this opportunity to play in the grass, so allowing them to would be a nice switch up from what they are used to. All you need to is two holes in the grass to put both poles of the volleyball net into and you could have yourself a volleyball game on the grass!
Soccer is a sport that can be accommodated to fit the needs of many different people. People with visual impairments, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and autism can play soccer. Usually there are five players on a team as well as volunteers who help the children both on and off the field if need be. The playing field and the net area are also usually smaller than a regular field and net area are. People in wheelchairs can also play soccer. This is often called Power Soccer, and is usually played with only four players on each team. There are foot guards that can be attached to the front of the wheelchairs to hit the ball. The players must use their wheelchairs to get close to the ball, than they hit the ball with the guard. Both regular wheelchairs and motorized wheelchairs can be used in power soccer, but to make the game fair to everyone, it is best that everyone uses the same wheelchair. As you can see in the picture before, everyone is using motorized wheelchairs to play the game.
Children in wheelchairs can also play tennis. In tennis, a child in a wheelchair usually is allowed two bounces before the ball is required to be returned to the other side of the court. Tennis can be played by two people in wheelchairs or by one person in a wheelchair and one who is not. However, people who are not in a wheelchair should only be allowed one bounce, and people in a wheelchair should still be allowed two. There are also prosthetic arms and legs that can be used to help amputees play.
These are just some ways that these sports can be adapted. They don’t have to be played this exact way as long as the people playing can agree on that. For example, if two people in a wheelchair agree that each can have three bounces rather than two than that is fine. However, you can’t play a game if everyone is going by different rules, so try to agree on rules that accommodate everyone’s needs. Have fun, and remember, safety first!