Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Courting Fun: Wheelchair Tennis Is Fast, Family-Oriented and Fun for All

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Courting Fun: Wheelchair Tennis Is Fast, Family-Oriented and Fun for All

Article excerpt

Wheelchair tennis is fast, family-oriented and fun for all.

Wheelchair tennis is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States for children and adults with physical disabilities. Not only does it offer a great workout, it can be a life-long family activity. And it is fun! With a few minor adjustments, tennis can be enjoyed by everyone.

Getting outfitted

The first thing needed in wheelchair tennis is a wheelchair, preferably a light-weight one. Even if a child can walk with crutches or a prosthesis, playing wheelchair tennis is much more fun because the wheelchair provides the extra speed and maneuverability to get across the court and hit the ball.

Then, consider the racket. Three things are important when racket shopping: size, grip and cost. The racket must be lightweight and correctly sized. An oversized racket is not a good idea. Not only can shots off of an oversized racket head be erratic, but its extra weight can easily tire out even an experienced player.

In terms of the "grip" (the handle), size is also a critical issue. Because a player will be pushing a wheelchair while holding a racket, the grip needs to allow as much mobility as possible. With one that is too big, players tire more easily, have a tendency to drop the racket and may not be able to maneuver the wheelchair easily enough to get to the ball in time. Some players use elastic (Ace[R]) bandages around the grip to help maintain a secure hold.

Two factors determine what size the grip should be: the size of the player's hand and the player's experience with the game. The size of the racket is generally the number you see at the base of the grip end of the racket. For wheelchair tennis, it should be slightly smaller than the size suggested for stand-up players. If a salesperson helps with selecting a racket, make sure to mention this.

As for cost: In wheelchair tennis, an expensive racket is not a better racket. Instead, the new player needs a racket that can be dropped often, rolled over and even thrown on the ground in frustration--without worrying about the condition it might be in after a couple of weeks.

Like rackets, there is no need for high-priced tennis balls. Basic balls are available in sports stores or the sports sections of discount department stores. …

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