15 Most Popular Wheelchair Sports


Wheelchair sports are all the rage in the disabled community. Most of the popular sports known today are adapted from standard sports. Wheelchair sports have some modifications in the regulations and rules to accommodate the abilities of wheelchair players. The list below contains the most popular sports captivating the attention of wheelchair users worldwide.

1. Speed Sailing

popular wheelchair sports speed sailing

Sailing across the ocean, taking control of the boat and winning a gold medal can be achieved by wheelchair users worldwide. This exciting sport requires the right equipment such as an adaptable sailboat, life vest and other necessities needed to sail to your favorite destinations and compete in the sport.

2. Motocross

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Wheelchair users don’t have to sit on the sidelines at the skatepark anymore. Wheelchair users can start competing in one of the most popular adaptable sports known today. This sport has wheelchair users performing tricks adapted from BMX and skate parks around the world. Professional level competitors find themselves traveling around the world for competitions performing thrilling tricks.

3. Tennis

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Brad Parks started wheelchair tennis in 1970 and it has been a hit in the community ever since. The game is played the same way as regular tennis. Players have the option to play single, with a partner, or as part of a team. An adaptable wheelchair is required to play the sport. Children and adults flock to this competitive sport, often with dreams of competing in the Paralympics and winning a medal.

4. Basketball

popular wheelchair sports basketball
BEIJING – SEPTEMBER 16: Chris Stoutenberg of Canada shoots during the Gold Medal Wheelchair Basketball match between Australia and Canada at the National Indoor Stadium during day ten of the 2008 Paralympic Games on September 16, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Wheelchair basketball was introduced to the public in 1956. As the sport increasingly became popular throughout the years the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation was formed to oversee the sport. The rules of the game remain the same as regular basketball with the exception of traveling regulations. This competitive sport keeps athletes challenged and fans cheering for their favorite team.

5. Rugby

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This heavy contact sport combines elements of hockey, basketball, and volleyball. It was introduced in Winnipeg, Canada in 1976. This sport quickly became popular and is now played in more than twenty-five countries. The International Wheelchair Rugby Federation was established in 1993 and is now an official summer Paralympics sport.

6. Softball

popular wheelchair sports softball

The National Wheelchair Softball Association was established in 1976. It currently serves more than 30 teams worldwide. Specialty sports wheelchairs are required to play the sport. Adaptive rules include the 16-inch slow pitch softball. Athletes who enjoy a team environment are encouraged to play.

7. Wheelchair Racing


Wheelchair racing, also known as chairing, is increasingly becoming popular among athletes. This isn’t your simple racing to the finish line. Wheelchair racing involves stunting, rail riding, ramps and other obstacles.

8. Snow Sports

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Winter sports such as snow skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling have been adapted for wheelchair users. Ski resorts worldwide have adaptive equipment for thrill seekers to show off their skills on the snow filled hills.

9. Water Skiing

popular wheelchair sports water skiing

This sport is an excellent choice for wheelchair users who enjoy being on the water and reaching high speeds. Adaptive water skiing involves being pulled behind a boat in a special device suited for wheelchair users.

10. Surfing

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Surfboards have been adapted for wheelchair users to enjoy the sport at their leisure. Recently there have been new designs of the all-terrain surf chair and custom ramp which allows surfers to independently wheel onto the surfboard straight from the land. Adapted surfboards provide superior stability for the rider.

11. Tandem Skydiving

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Adrenaline junkies fill their quota for adventure with tandem skydiving. Wheelchair users are secured to an able-bodied instructor throughout the entire process. Although there are two people, the wheelchair user has the control to pull the cord and control as much of the process as their abilities allow.

12. Mountain Biking

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Those who appreciate exploring the outdoors find mountain biking, also referred to as Fourcross, to be an adrenaline rush. Wheelchair users ride adapted four-wheelers with hand-controlled disc brakes downhill. The adaptive four-wheeler also includes large tires and a large bucket seat for comfort. During the downhill adventure riders will find themselves navigating over bumps and rough terrain. Due to the possibility of injury riders are encouraged to wear protective gear.

13. Fencing

popular wheelchair sports fencing

This sport is suited for a medieval knight. It has been adapted for wheelchair users with only a few minor rule changes. The original sport of fencing involves two opponents riding horseback and fighting with lances. Adaptive fencing replaces the horse with a wheelchair. This sport quickly becomes competitive and requires a specialty wheelchair, body armor equipment, and quick reflexes.

14. Soccer

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Wheelchair soccer is often played indoors on a basketball court. The game involves a goalie and five other players per team. The adapted sport combines soccer, basketball and handball. Rules include players bouncing and passing the ball with the end result scoring a goal for their team. Athletes who enjoy being part of a team and showing off their athletic skills will appreciate this fast-paced sport.

15. Paragliding

popular wheelchair sports Paragliding

This is the ultimate thrill seeking adventure for wheelchair users. It includes using a custom designed three-wheel chair. Riders have the opportunity to reach a flying altitude of about 1,500 feet. Riders slowly glide upwards towards the sky to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush and to experience a spectacular view.

These popular wheelchair sports have all been adapted from the regular version. Rules, regulations, and equipment often vary from the original game. Safety always comes first when doing any sport. Wheelchair users are encouraged to check with their doctor before trying a new sport. It is encouraged to share specific details and required abilities for the chosen sport with a doctor to assure safety.