The rules of basketball are fairly simple. For instance, a player must dribble, pass, or shoot the ball after taking two steps. No physical contact between players is allowed; otherwise, the player will be called for a foul. Interestingly enough, the rules and techniques of wheelchair basketball are relatively the same, they are just done with a bit more difficulty. If anyone wants to learn how to play wheelchair basketball — and do well — here are the five major concepts everyone needs to know about the adaptive sport.
- Learn how to push.
Yes, in order to be a good wheelchair basketball player, one must learn how to push properly. While pushing a wheelchair sounds easy enough to do, there is actually a method for maximizing one’s own speed up and down the court. In a conversation I had with Triangle Thunder wheelchair basketball coach, Kevin Bailey, he stated, “Once you push, you have to let the wheels fully rotate, then push again.” By letting the wheels “fully rotate,” a player moves much faster up and down the court than by simply pushing his or her wheelchair in a jerk-like motion.
2. Learn how to dribble.
A game of wheelchair basketball cannot start if no one knows how to dribble the basketball up and down the court. Otherwise, according to the rulebook of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA), it will be considered traveling. Some of the individuals reading this article may be asking “William, how do I dribble the ball and push my wheelchair at the same time?” Have no fear, readers. It is actually quite simple: after taking two pushes, a player must dribble the ball once, then he or she can put the ball on his or her lap. Rinse and repeat this process until a pass or shot is available. (If anyone wants to see expert dribbling, check out the USA versus Italy on YouTube, posted by the Paralympic Games channel.)
3. Learn how to play defense.
There are two pictures below of my fellow teammate, Akeem Hassell. Which one shows good defense?
It is the first one. In order to properly defend someone in wheelchair basketball, a player must face his or her opponent with the side of his or her chair, not the front of it. The reason being that, if a player faces his or her opponent with the front of his or her chair, the opponent, if he or she is quick enough, can go left or right and get by the defender with ease, because there is a gap on both sides. However, by facing an opponent with the side of one’s chair, there is no gap, because the opponent has to try to get by the wheel.
4. Learn how to pass the ball.
No one likes a ball hog, especially in basketball. However, passing the basketball in wheelchair basketball is actually more difficult than in regular basketball because one has to take into consideration the various mobility limitations of the other teammates. In order to make a good pass in wheelchair basketball, always aim not only for the hands, but also the lap, stomach, and chest.
5. Learn how to shoot.
Shooting in wheelchair basketball is all about upper body strength. If anyone looked at the USA versus Italy wheelchair basketball game that I hyper-linked earlier, then, good readers, notice how the legs are strapped down, stripping any sort of lower body movement or motion during a shot.
In addition to upper body strength, to make shots in wheelchair basketball requires technique. I spoke with Kevin Bailey after basketball practice last Thursday about how to shoot properly, and he told me that a good shooter has his or her shooting stroke “at 1:00.” To illustrate this fact, here is a picture of Akeem Hassell showing the proper shooting form:
See how his follow through stops at 1:00? That is the correct way to shoot, if a player has enough upper body strength.
Try learning how to do each of these five skills presented here in this post, and leave a comment on what other skills you would like to know.