Evaluation of Physical Condition and Body Composition of an Elite Wheelchair Basketball Team in Istanbul. (Research Application)
Besides the physical loss, individual differences among athletes with disabilities are important in understanding their performances on competitive levels (Kelley & Frieden, 1980; Van der Helm & Veeger, 1996). Strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, and balance are the main criteria in discerning physical characteristics and body composition of players. Speed and reaction time are also essential to differentiate physical characteristics. On the other hand, amount of practice and experience contribute to the development of physical conditioning of players, along with their abilities in skill acquisition essential in competitive sports (Bompa, 1983; Ardle, Katch & Katch, 1994). Thus, training programs designed by coaches are aimed mainly to develop good physical conditioning, enhance speed, and increase endurance and coordination.
In the present study investigators first tried to identify characteristics and needs of elite wheelchair basketball players and offer an assessment model procedure for coaches dealing with disability sports in Turkey. Second, it was hoped a contribution to development of performance and acquisition of skills of the wheelchair basketball players would be made by providing objective data to the coaches--namely, transferring knowledge to practice.
In this study twelve elite basketball players playing in the first league in Istanbul were evaluated as to their physical conditions and body compositions. There were 12 male athletes, aged 18-30 (22.25 [+ or -] 3.22) years; their weight was 54-83 kg (69.66 [+ or -] 9.6). Nine of them had paralysis and three had amputations (see Table 1). Their classification according to the IWBA Classification (1996) was between 1.5-4.5 (3.125 [+ or -] 1.04) (see Table 2), and their years of experience in this sport were between 1-6 (3.21 [+ or -] 1.23) years. Two of the players were positioned as guards, two as forwards, two were defensive players, and six were pivots in the games. Although their disabilities differed from each other, they were considered a unique group, and the same test protocol was applied without considering their physical differences, since they had been playing on the same team. Subjects were tested individually, and standardized instructions were provided before beginning each test. The tests were completed in three consecutive days.
In the test protocol the handgrip, trunk and hip muscle strengths, speed of wheelchair propulsion, reaction times, flexibility, and static balance of the players while sitting in wheelchairs were assessed. Initially, to get general information they were asked to fill out a questionnaire with twenty-five questions about their medical conditions (the physical loss, etiology, functional supports, orthosis-prosthesis necessary for ambulation), years of experience in wheelchair basketball, their positions in games, and number of injuries they experienced. An injury was defined as any trauma occurring during training or competition causing the players to stop, limiting or modifying their participation for at least one day.
Trunk and hip muscles responsible for balance were evaluated by Manual Muscle Tests (MMT). Number of push-ups in 20 seconds was used to test the proximal muscle power of upper extremities. During the test, palms were on the floor and arms were perpendicular (Ikawa & Tokuhiro, 1995). They were free to position their lower extremities. The handgrip dynamometer was used to evaluate isometric muscle power of the hands and arms. Muscle shortenings and deformities were also inspected.
Speed of the wheelchair was determined on a wheelchair running line (20 m). Duration was measured by photocells located at the beginning and the end of this line.
Reaction times of the players to light (visual reaction time) were measured for each hand separately and for both hands randomly using the New Test Power Timer System. …