Spring Extreme Sports for People with Disabilities

This past winter, we wrote about extreme sports for people with disabilities. Now that spring has sprung, we wanted to share some sports, extreme and otherwise, that people with disabilities are participating in. Here is a list of individual, team, and extreme sports to check out this spring!

Individual Sports

  • Cycling – Quite often, we see families riding their bikes in the neighborhood now that spring is here. But cycling is also a competitive sport! People with visual impairments, spinal cord injury (SCI), amputations, cerebral palsy, and other disabilities are all able to compete at different levels. The equipment used in cycling includes a bicycle, tricycle, or hand-cycling.
  • Rock Climbing – This sport can be done on a wall or outdoors and adaptations are made based on an individual’s needs and abilities. There are different organizations that can be of help via equipment, resources, climbing programs, and so on! And check out this this video on adapted rock climbing from No Barriers, USA.
  • Wheelchair Tennis – This particular type of tennis follows regular tennis rules. However, in wheelchair tennis two bounces are allowed. There are other rules as well: Athletes must have a loss of function in one or both lower extremities and, for the quad division, athletes must have a loss of function in one or more upper extremities. The International Tennis Foundation (ITF) hosts the Paralympic Tennis Events (this year’s event will be in London, England) for people with disabilities. You can even follow your favorite wheelchair tennis athletes and how they rank by visiting the ITF’s main website!

Team Sports

  • Sit Volleyball – This type of volleyball is played on a smaller court with a lower net. The athlete’s pelvis must touch the ground at all times. This particular sport is played mostly by amputees; however, other athletes do play, including those with cerebral palsy, paralysis, and other locomotor disabilities. To learn more about sit volleyball, please visit the World Organization Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD).
  • Goalball – This particular team sport combines elements of soccer and bowling. The point of the sport is for each team to roll a basketball sized ball with bells inside into the other team’s goal, while the opposing team dives to block the goal. This particular sport is exclusive for athletes with visual impairments. To learn more, please visit the International Blind Sport Federation (IBSA). Their website is in English and Spanish.

Extreme Sports

  • Downhill 4-Cross Biking – In this sport, one ascends a mountain via a chairlift or a 4×4 vehicle. Then gravity does most of the work on the way back down with the use of an off-road hand-cycle. This video of an off-road hand-cyclist shows how exciting this sport is.
  • Wheelchair Skateboarding – This is also known as “Hardcore Sitting”. In this sport, a manual wheelchair is used to gain momentum due to the wheelchair’s lightweight material. At 14 years old, Aaron Fotheringham, who was born with Spina Bifida, did a backflip somersault in his wheelchair. At the age of 18, he did a double back flip.
  • Bungee Jumping – This extreme sport is adapted for people with disabilities, but works in the same vain as regular bungee jumping. Recently, a story was written about Christine Rougoor, who broke her spine in 2008, and her first bungee jump.

Before starting any exercise program or sport, you should check with your primary care provider to see whether you are healthy enough to avoid injury. The National Center for Physical Activity and Disability has excellent resources, such as their General Exercise Guidelines, to get you on track to an activity you will love.

About mpgarcia

I'm the Bilingual Information/Media Specialist at NARIC.
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