What are the Most Popular Adaptive Sports?

We love Adaptive Sports! Whether you are looking for a new activity, competitive sport or simply want to check your options, you’re in the right place.

Check out our list below of the most popular adaptive sports that people are enjoying and participating in today…

Wheelchair Basketball

When people think of “adaptive sports”, they often think of wheelchair basketball. If you are looking to start playing wheelchair basketball there are a few things that you should keep in mind.

For one thing, you will need to use a specific “sport” chair to compete. The wheels are tilted in for better speed, protection from other chairs, and offers the ability to roll the ball up from the ground.

When playing wheelchair basketball, each player is given a score to grade them on their skills and abilities, taking into account ability and disability as it relates to gameplay.

Each team needs to keep their “rating” beneath a certain number to keep game play fair and competitive.

What are the rules?

Many of the rules are the same as standing basketball. Wheelchair basketball rules use the same court dimensions and many of the contact rules remain the same. Your wheelchair is considered an extension of self.

One rule that is different is with dribbling. You are allowed to keep the ball in your lap while moving down the court.

For more information on wheelchair basketball, check out this article from WheelLife

For all of your basketball gear needs, check out the wide collection of gear available at Wilson.com here…

adaptive sport wheelchair basketball. Man reaching up to make a layup. Player on opposing team reaching to block him
photo credit: disabledsportsusa.org


Goalball is a less known adaptive sport that is totally worth knowing about! We love this sport because it is specifically designed for people with blindness or visual impairments, but anyone can participate!

Goalball is a three vs. three sport, typically played in a gym.

All players are required to wear a blinder mask, regardless of visual abilities. This ensures that all players are unable to see the goalball.

The object of the game is to throw the goalball past the other team and into the net.

How do the players know where the ball is?

The most unique trait of the goalball is that it is filled with bells and gameplay is completely silent.

There is no talking allowed from the players or spectators in the stands. (There are some exceptions, but for the most part, no talking).

To block the ball, player must listen to the ball as it rolls toward their net. Players will lay out and block the ball based entirely on sound.

For more information check out this article from the United States Association of Blind Athletes.

adaptive sport goalball, image shows player laying out on the ground to stop goalball from entering the net behind her
photo: Athletes at the Atlanta 1996 Paralympic Games

Sit Volleyball

Sit Volleyball is a favorite adaptive sport for many and for good reason. This fun sport is played with very similar rules to volleyball, only players must remain seated on the ground.

As pictured, the court is smaller and the net is set lower than a regulation sized volleyball court.

Other than that, rules are largely the same as standing volleyball. Check out a full list or rules and regulations over at DisabledSportsUSA.

Check out Wilson.com for the best-quality volleyball gear for people of all ages and abilities…

fun and popular adaptive sports include sitting volleyball, man laying out to hit volleyball up to his teammate
photo credit: disabledsportsusa


Whether its for competition or leisure, handcycling is an amazing workout and one of our favorite adaptive sports!

Handcycles come in many different forms. Some are designed in an upright position and others are more narrow and aerodynamic, designed for racing.

You can even find hand-cycle mountain bikes!

It all comes down to what style of riding you want to do and what your interests are.

While handcycles can be quite expensive, we find they are worth it if you are a committed rider looking to get back out there.

Check out local adaptive programs in your area and ask if they have a bike program you can get involved with!

adaptive handcycle mountain bike, man going down on rocks
photo credit: Reactive Adaptations

Wheelchair Tennis

Tennis is a lifetime sport, and wheelchair tennis is no exception. This sociable and fun sport is perfect for people of all ages.

Wheelchair Tennis has been an officially recognized sport by the Paralympic Association since 1988 and has continued to grow in popularity ever since.

Rules are similar to that of standing tennis and matches can be played as singles or doubles.

One distinct difference in the rules is that the ball can legally bounce twice before being returned by the opposing player.

A sport chair and quality tennis racquet are recommended!

adaptive sport wheelchair tennis, man swinging and striking tennis ball

Downhill Skiing

Adaptive skiing is an exciting sport that will get you out enjoying all that nature and the winter has to offer.

Downhill Skiing is inherently dangerous, no matter your skill level. We recommend taking a lesson to get started by searching for adaptive programs in your area.

There are many adaptations that can be made to have skiing suite your needs and abilities. Whether you need a guide to get started, specialized equipment, or just a little training, there is a program out there for you.

We highly recommend the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center for their adaptive skiing school and immersive programs.

Be sure to check out our blog post on all of the positive health benefits that downhill skiing has to offer!

adaptive skiing, sit skiing with guide standing behind

Wheelchair Rugby

Wheelchair Rugby is a unique combination of sports including handball, basketball and of course rugby.

Gameplay is typically 4 on 4, with each team competing to cross the other teams goal line.

As with standing rugby, full-contact is the name of the game. Athletes will block, interfere and bump into each other to get the ball down the court.

Check out the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation website for more information.

adaptive sport wheelchair rugby, action shot, man reaching ball to score point with opposing team attempting to stop him
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua D. Sheppard/Released)

Power Soccer

Power Soccer is played by athletes with a power chair and a large soccer ball, typically indoors.

The power chair is equipped with a foot guard to strike, pass and move the soccer ball down the court.

Players typically play indoors on a regulation sized basketball court, with teams consisting of 4 players on a team.

For more information and to find the closest league, check out Power Soccer USA.

adaptive sport power soccer, two players competing to hit the soccer ball down the court
photo credit: https://www.powersoccerusa.org/

Sled Hockey

Sled Hockey is a sitting sport that adapts the game of hockey to allow players to play while seated.

Ultimately, sled hockey follows most of the same rules as standing hockey. Players compete is a team fashion and the goal is to score in the opposing teams net.

Sled hockey is played by a wide range of players with a variety of mobility limitations: amputees, spinal cord injuries, spina bifida, along with anyone who has a permanent disability that limits participation in stand up hockey.”Disabled Sports USA

Check out this beautiful documentary about the USA Ice Warriors Paralympic Sled Hockey Team, available on Amazon.

sled hockey athlete handling hockey puck on sit sled
photo credit: EJ Hersom


Boccia (similar to bocce ball) is a favorite of popular adaptive sports given that anyone can play, regardless of physical abilities.

This fun and competitive sport can be played indoors or outdoors on a flat even surface.

Gameplay starts with a target ball, thrown or rolled out into the open playing surface. Players then throw or roll their competition ball towards the target ball.

The player who gets their ball closest to the target ball gets one point.

Players can bump other players ball with their own to ensure that their ball is the closest.

Check out this standard 2 on 2 bocce set available from Amazon.

popular adaptive sports include Boccia, wheelchair adaptive sport similar to bocce ball

Rock Climbing

Rock climbing has been exploding in popularity in recent years. Adaptive rock climbing is no exception!

With the use of various adaptive climbing devices, rock climbing can be achieved by people of all abilities.

One popular adaptive climbing device is called a gri-gri, which allows the user to lock and release tension on a climbing rope.

Another device is called a rope ascender, which allows the user to pull and lock themselves up on the rope in small incremental movements.

We recommend contacting a local climbing gym or adaptive recreation program and seeing if they offer adaptive climbing clinics to get started!

adaptive rock climbing, man climbing rock climbing with display of adaptive gear

Thank you for checking out our list of popular adaptive sports! Which ones do you compete in or want to try? Let us know in the comments below, and let us know which popular sports we may have overlooked.

For more information and resources check out our recommended links below!

Check out our Rock Climbing and Mountaineering Quotes here for some epic rock climbing motivation!

Recommended Links:

As always, don’t forget to check our blog for the latest fresh hobbies!