Thursday 30 August – Saturday 8 September 2012
Olympic Park – Basketball Arena (initial group phase)
North Greenwich Arena (initial group phase, all quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals)
Number of medal events
One men’s and one women’s competition
Number of competitors
264: 144 men and 120 women
Twelve teams compete in the men’s and 10 in the women’s competitions, with 12 athletes (five players and seven substitutes) on each team.
Each country is limited to one men’s and one women’s team.
Every player is assigned a point value based on his/her functional ability, from 1.0 for a player with the least physical function through to 4.5 for the most physical function. During play, the total on-court point value for each team of five players cannot exceed 14.#
Read more about Wheelchair Basketball classification
Field of play
Like its Olympic equivalent, the Wheelchair Basketball court is 28m long and 15m wide. The baskets at either end are 3.05m above the ground. The court is divided into two halves, with a free-throw line 5.8m inside either end, and the three-point line a 6.75m radius from each basket.
History of Wheelchair Basketball at the Paralympic Games
Wheelchair Basketball featured at the first Games in Rome 1960, and has remained on the Paralympic programme ever since. The women’s competition was added at the Tel Aviv 1968 Games.
The rules of Wheelchair Basketball are broadly similar to Basketball. The court is the same size, the basket is at the same height, and the scoring is identical: two points for a regular shot from open play, one point for each successful free throw and three points for a shot from distance (6.75m from the basket). Players move the ball around the court by passing or dribbling, and are required to throw or bounce the ball after every two pushes of the wheels on their chairs to avoid being penalised for travelling.
There are 12 players in each team, with no more than five on court.
Games last for 40 minutes, split into four 10-minute quarters. The clock stops for every break in play and teams can call time-outs which last one minute.
For a complete set of rules, please refer to the website of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), governing body for the sport.
Both the men’s and women’s tournaments begin with a round-robin – the 12 men’s teams divided into two groups of six teams, the 10 women’s teams divided into groups of five. The top four teams in each group qualify for the quarter-finals, from which point the tournaments are played in a knockout format.
A referee oversees each game, assisted by two umpires. There are also table officials who are timers and scorers and statisticians who record all the action. A game commissioner also sits with the table officials next to the court.
Keys to success
Wheelchair Basketball is a fast and physically demanding game. Players need speed, strength and stamina, as well as excellent ball skills and the ability to think quickly and play tactically as a team.
Breaking the rules
Referees will be looking out for rule infringements including violations and fouls. Violations are not committed against another player, but include offences such as taking more than two pushes of the wheels with the ball (travelling), being out of bounds or rising out of the seat of the chair to gain an advantage. Violations result in the ball being awarded to the opposition.
Fouls are offences that are committed against an opposition player. While contact between players and chairs is not necessarily against the rules, referees will penalise deliberate blocking, pushing or charging. In the case of fouls, the opposition team is awarded a throw-in close to where the infringement took place. If the player who was fouled was trying to shoot a goal at the time, then one or more free throws will be awarded, depending on where the foul took place.
Assist – a pass that leads directly to a basket scored by a teammate.
Downtown – the area outside the three-point line.
Shot clock – a timer measuring the length of time since the last shot. If the ball doesn’t touch the rim or pass through the net within 24 seconds, possession passes to the opposition.
If you want to find out about wheelchair wasketball in your country, including clubs, facilities and coaching schemes, check the website of your National Governing Body. To find out how you can get involved in wheelchair basketball in the UK, go to thegamesandbeyond.com
For more information on the Wheelchair Basketball competition at London 2012 and the rules of the sport, go to the website of the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), governing body for the sport.