Wheelchair Sports 101

18 Aug 2021

Playing sports is one of the most prevalent phenomena in the world with the majority of people regularly watching or playing, regardless of country, age and background. It’s a universal language that is loved by so many and has so many benefits for the player and supporters. One of the most significant worries for new wheelchair users is the concern for lack of mobility, however, the wheelchair has been designed to give the user safety, comfort and independence in their day to day life. There has been a large uptake in the popularity of wheelchair sports as most games can be adapted for wheelchair users. Doing something familiar to the participant can be extremely rewarding and helps to build self-esteem, particularly for new wheelchair users.

There are a huge variety of clubs available across the UK from beginner through to professional so whichever level you are at, you can be sure there is a team for you. Many clubs offer free taster sessions which gives you the opportunity to meet the team, try the sport and find which club is perfect for you. Wheelpower specialises in British wheelchair sport, offering a variety of resources and a list of teams that offer each wheelchair sport. Wheelchair sports helps to build muscle and stamina, as well as improving your mental wellbeing and confidence which is hugely important and many participants find their lives dramatically change and improve once they start getting involved in wheelchair sports.

Sports and Mental Health

It’s no secret that sport and fitness are excellent for mental health, not only is physical movement important for releasing endorphins but interacting and playing as part of a team supports emotional wellbeing and is an excellent chance to meet new people and challenge yourself. If you have begun using a wheelchair more recently you may have feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, joining a sports team is an excellent idea for meeting new people who you can relate to or have had similar experiences, as well as finding a new hobby. Speaking to someone who can relate to you is invaluable for your mental health and the sense of belonging that often comes with being a part of a sports team is an excellent help for those struggling.

wheelchair sports

What sports can I try?

The majority of sports can be adapted and played in a wheelchair with some of the rules modified but the staple point of the game remaining. There are a wide range of wheelchair sports including:

  • Ice Sledge Hockey
  • Wheelchair Basketball
  • Hand Cycling
  • Wheelchair Rugby
  • Athletics

You can find an extensive list of wheelchair sports on the Wheelpower website.

Wheelchair Basketball

This is one of the most popular wheelchair sports with perhaps one of the biggest advantages being that the court size and rules are almost exactly the same. Several minor adjustments have been made for ease, and this is a great starting off point for anyone wishing to get involved in wheelchair sports. Wheelchair basketball is excellent for building confidence as you are able to start solo and gradually build players and difficulty as required.

Wheelchair Fencing

Wheelchair fencing is a really interesting sport, with the upper body being trained along with precision and stamina. Protective gear is required for all participants including masks, puncture-resistant jackets, breeches and gloves. Participants may not stand up during the match, leaving players to rely on ducking and moving to win.


Wheelchair sports doesn’t have to be competitive. Dance is an excellent way to express yourself whilst reducing stress, and all types from Tango to Ballroom have been adapted for wheelchair use.

Martial Arts

If you’re a fan of martial arts, you’re in luck! Many sports including Ju-jitsu, judo and karate have all been adapted and are a great challenge for any participant.

Adapted Wheelchairs

If you are planning to get into wheelchair sports, a specially adapted chair is recommended which will streamline your performance and maximise safety. These types of chairs are usually non-folding to ensure security on impact, the wheels are turned in for stability during turning and the chair is made of lightweight material. If you are a beginner looking to purchase an adapted wheelchair, speaking to other team members or a local coach means you can identify your requirements and get a better understanding of the right chair for your sport.

Although we do not offer wheelchair insurance that covers sport activities, we can offer excellent wheelchair insurance for day to day use for both electric and manual wheelchairs. If your wheelchair gets damaged or is lost or stolen this can cause a huge disruption in your life so our comprehensive insurance is designed to ensure you can get moving and back to your daily routine as soon as possible. From just £24 our insurance includes:

  • Public liability up to £2 Million for injury or damage to property
  • Cover for you and anyone using your Manual Wheelchair with your permission
  • Accidental damage to your Manual Wheelchair including theft and vandalism
  • Replacement of your Manual Wheelchair if we are unable to repair it
  • Serious Injuries to you while using your Manual Wheelchair
  • Loss or theft of personal effects
  • The wheelchair must be secured if left unattended
  • There is an excess to pay for claims under the public liability and accidental damage sections

Having peace of mind that your wheelchair is protected is invaluable. To find out more or speak to our friendly team, get in touch today.

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