For people with disabilities, there is an enormous range of sports available which can have a hugely positive impact on your life. The Paralympics is a testament to this, as these disabled athletes have not let their condition stand in their way and instead worked hard to become national heroes. This has inspired a new generation and the future looks very bright for disabled sport.
With the public becoming more aware, an increase in spending and the Paralympics opening new avenues – there are more sporting opportunities than ever before for the disabled community. Many people find that participating in these sports helps them in numerous different ways. It can help both physically and mentally, as well as introduce you to new people and those that are in a similar situation to yourself.
Here are a just a few sports that are available to people with disabilities.
Wheelchair basketball is particularly popular and also easy to get into as no adaptive measures have to be made (the rules are also very similar). There is a huge community, it has its own governing body and is in the Paralympics Games (it also has its own world championships). This is the most popular of the wheelchair sports, but tennis, rugby and fencing are a few other options.
Swimming is one of the most beneficial sports/activities for those with disabilities. The water can support your body and also give you extra resistance to work against; this can improve strength in many different areas and improve stamina. In addition to this, being in the water and floating can decrease stress and be very enjoyable. Many local pools have access for people with a range of disabilities, with some also running highly valuable physiotherapy sessions.
Adaptive Water Sports
Thanks to specially designed equipment, there are many water based sports that are available to the disabled community. Sailing is one popular sport for those with physical disabilities or vision impairments – this is possible with adaptations made to standard boats, or boats and yachts made with disabled people in mind. Thanks to specially designed equipment, disabled individuals can now enjoy other water sports that include kayaking, rowing, surfing, scuba diving and wake boarding.
Fishing encourages disabled individuals to be outside in a healthy environment, plus it can improve attention span, motor skills and provide a sense of achievement. Fishing is also a very social sport. It is easy to get into, with many fishing areas improving access through the use of improved pathways and platform designs.
Various adaptations made to bicycles have enabled many disabled individuals to ride a bike. Wheelchair users are able to power the bike by a hand crank, whilst those with mobility issues can use a side-by-side bike where support is provided by another cyclist. Trikes can also help those with mobility problems, whilst tandems enable partially sighted and blind individuals to ride. Although challenging, cycling is fantastic for both mental and physical well-being.
Horse riding provides a real sense of achievement and this can have a huge impact on confidence and self-esteem. Not just this, but horse riding is also proven to improve balance, co-ordination, posture and it can reduce muscle spasm by relaxing muscles. It is also a highly enjoyable and fun experience.
Various adaptations ensure that one of the world’s most popular and followed sports can also be enjoyed by the disabled community. The blind can play with a ball which makes a sound as it moves and world championships are held for this variation. Wheelchair football is also popular and typically played with either 5 or 7-a-side. There are also sports and governing bodies for football for those with neurological disorders.
A Paralympics sport for over 30 years, archery is very popular and inclusive for all. It can increase core stability and strength, develop stability, increase endurance, sharpen focus and improve social relationships.
Table tennis can be a fantastic sport for wheelchair users, helping to develop coordination, agility, speed and timing. It is also a very fun and engaging game and played by both men and women. The rules are very similar to the able-bodied game, with games consisting of five sets.
Participating in one or several of these sports can have a tremendous impact both physically and mentally. Although it can be difficult to know where to begin, you can find disabled clubs and activities near you by searching online. You can then start participating, with disabled vehicles with easy access making transportation to and from the venue taking the stress out of the journey.
These are a few of the more popular disabled sports which are played all around the world. There are many other types of Parasport, plus new ones and variations being introduced regularly thanks to an increase in funding and improved technology.