Sports give us lots to love. There’s the competition, the camaraderie and the passion, as well as the physical benefits of exercise. People living with disabilities can play any sport with basic tweaks to the game like adaptive equipment or amended rules.
National Sports Day, Oct. 16, was created to celebrate sporting competition and all the fans, athletes and families that make sports more than just a game. To help you get involved, we created a list of 10 easy, adaptive sports. Give them a try for the first time or return to your glory days by rediscovering an old sport.
Jump in! The water is fine! Swimming pools are an ideal environment for people living with limited mobility. It provides a place for low-impact exercise without the threat of falling. Many public and private pools have lifts or other apparatuses to get you in the water. If you’re seeking competition, USA Swimming has a Disability Committee that offers myriad programs for kids and adults.
To play tennis, all you need are two rackets, a ball and a net. The game is easily adapted for folks who use a mobility device. The USTA has official rules for adaptive competition. You can find adaptive tennis programs and resources on the association’s website. You could also take your Pride Mobility device, a racket and a buddy to a local court. Who knows, maybe you have a seated serve that rivals Serena’s?
Does a wide open tennis court and big racket sound overwhelming? Well, scale it back with some table tennis, also commonly called ping pong. The game is played on a table with a net strung across the middle and a player on either side. Players have full access to their side, whether playing on their feet or from a mobility device.
Like tennis and table tennis, volleyball can be played from a seated position. A backyard volleyball game is a great way to include the whole family. In an informal setting, you can play from your wheelchair. For a more competitive experience, there’s sitting volleyball. This adaptive version of the game is played from a seated position on the floor and was invented in the 1950s, according to the Paralympic Games.
It takes a considerable amount of upper body strength, but it looks like a considerable amount of fun.
<link to Paralympic Games YouTube video, which may be embedded into the blog> https://youtu.be/uXLSzwJoT4M</link>
The United States Golf Association, the sport’s governing body, has modified rules for players who use mobility devices. The powers that be in golf are generally accommodating, allowing golfers to make reasonable adjustments to play the game. The rules allow people who use power wheelchairs, mobility scooters or other mobility aids to bring their devices on the golf course. Golfers are permitted to swing the club from their wheelchair or stand next to their device to swing.
You may be familiar with bocce, the game where players toss balls down a narrow dirt court, competing to be closest to a smaller white ball. Boccia is the paralympic version of the sport. It was developed for athletes with cerebral palsy, but has since expanded to anyone with impaired motor skills. In boccia, balls can either be thrown or rolled down a ramp.
Adaptive cycling requires specific equipment, but there is a bike for every rider. There are hand-powered bikes and tricycles with specially-designed seats and handlebars. The Adaptive Cycling Foundation was even involved in making a bicycle with voice-activated gears.
Equestrian Dressage, which gets airtime every four years for the summer Olympics, is a horse riding speciality. Para Dressage is an adaptive version of the sport and the only Equestrian event at the Paralympic Games. The adaptive rules make it possible for riders with any kind of disabilities to participate. Veronica Grogan, a Pride Mobility user with Multiple Sclerosis, shared her experience of discovering and excelling at Para Dressage.
Target shooting — which includes archery and guns — is a great accessible option for people with a keen eye. There are ranges around the country where you can shoot a bow, pistol, rifle or shotgun. The United Foundation for Disabled Archers and the NRA Adaptive Shooting Program have resources to get these adaptive sports in your sights.
Adaptive fishing — just like shooting — is a great sport for the avid outdoorsman. Fishing can be a leisure activity or an all-out competition. All you need to fish is a body of water, a fishing pole and — of course — patience. USA Adaptive has a list of state-by-state licensing requirements and information about adaptive equipment.