Technical Abilities of Elite Wheelchair Basketball Players

Article excerpt

Introduction

Sporting activities for people with physical disabilities became widespread in recent years. Wheelchair basketball, which is regarded as one of the most popular and spectacular sports for people with disabilities, devised at the end of the Second World War. Specifically, in 1944 the British government commissioned Dr. Guttmann to establish a foundation for care and hospitalization of world-war II spinal cord injured soldiers, in the area of Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Specifically, the team called "The Flying Wheels of Birmingham" is the one that has the legal right to invoke that have devised the wheelchair basketball (1946). The evaluation of the wheelchair basketball players' technical skills has interested researchers and trainers in the past (4, 14-15). The evaluation methods for the technical characteristics of wheelchair basketball players, mainly based on similar tests used for healthy players (1-2, 11).

The ability to perform the technical skills required for the sport, characterized by the different type and degree, of the players' disabilities. Each athlete is classified according to degree of disability, and the ability to perform certain tests such as wheelchair sprint, stopping, obstacle dribbling, holding the ball, etc. The classification system for wheelchair basketball, which has been established by the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF), with five classification points (1-4.5), differs than U.S.A. applied system, which classifies the players in a three points scale (1-3). The main purpose of the studies so far, is to evaluate the athletes with different classification, and to investigate methods to improve their technical skills.

Brasile (4) demonstrated the performance of wheelchair basketball players which were classified according to the U.S.A. applied system (Classification I, II and III). Participants were evaluated in the following skill tests: (a) obstacle dribble, (b) free-throws, (c) dribbling and shooting the ball, and (d) pass for accuracy. The results showed that: (a) the classification II and III athletes demonstrated higher performance than the others, and (b) classification II athletes demonstrated highest performance.

Moreover, Vanlerberghe and Slock (14) evaluated 30 wheelchair athletes which were classified in the 3 points scale (I, II, III) and they applied: (a) two tests for shooting accuracy (shot under the basket and rebound; obstacle dribble, shot and rebound), (b) two tests for ball-handling (obstacle dribble and dribble around wheelchairs), and (c) two tests for passing ability (speed pass and long pass).

Results revealed significant differences between athletes with different physical disabilities. Athletes of III classification revealed the highest performance, while athletes of I classification revealed the lowest. However, researchers have argued that these specific skill tests can hardly be a reliable method for the evaluation of the wheelchair basketball players.

Also, Brasile (5) divided a sample of 79 wheelchair basketball athletes into three groups, according to their classification in order to evaluated their technical ability in six skill tests: (a) obstacle dribble, (b) 1 minute free throws using the strong hand, (c) 1 minute free throws using the weak hand, (d) pass for accuracy using the strong hand, (e) pass for accuracy using the weak hand and (f) 20m speed run. The skill tests' results revealed that, athletes of II and III classification referred similar performance between them, but both of them higher than the athletes of I classification. These findings led the researcher to the conclusion that skill tests' results are influenced by both of the training time and the previous experience in basketball.

Similar results were referred in a recent study by Ergun, Duzgun and Aslan (9), which evaluated 32 wheelchair basketball players. Subjects with low disability lagged behind in lay ups test, in 20m speed run, in shooting around the basket, as well as in obstacle dribble. …