Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports

A young girl in a wheelchair practicing her tennis skills on a blue court.

Connect. Move. Inspire.

Enjoy the exhilaration of physical competition. Experience the intensity and focus that comes from challenging your body and mind.

Mary Free Bed Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports is one of the largest programs of its kind in the United States. Every year we offer enriching recreational opportunities to hundreds of people with disabilities of all ages.

We'll help you find the rush you're looking for. 

Thanks to the generosity of donors, our programs are available to the community. To learn how you can help, email Laura Dulay, Mary Free Bed Foundation Development Director, at 

Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports 2023 Impact Report 

Wheelchair Adaptive Sports

Wheelchair adaptive sports, also known as adaptive sports or parasports, are sports that have been modified to allow individuals with physical disabilities to participate. Wheelchair adaptive sports can be beneficial for individuals with physical disabilities in a number of ways, and Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital strongly supports wheelchair adaptive sports. They can help improve physical fitness, strength, and coordination. They can also provide a sense of achievement, boost self-esteem and confidence, and promote socialization and a sense of community. Additionally, participating in adaptive sports can help individuals with disabilities to overcome the physical and psychological challenges that may come with their condition and improve their overall quality of life. These sports are designed to be inclusive and provide the same level of competition and enjoyment for individuals using wheelchairs as for those who do not.

Wheelchair Basketball

One of the most popular adaptive sports is wheelchair basketball. This sport is very similar to traditional basketball, but with a few modifications to accommodate players in wheelchairs. The playing court and baskets are the same size, but the game is played with a smaller ball and there are different rules for how players in wheelchairs can move and pass the ball. Wheelchair basketball is played by both men and women, and there are national and international leagues, including the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA) in the United States and the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) for international competition.

Wheelchair Rugby

Another popular adaptive sport is wheelchair rugby. This sport, also affectionately known as “murderball,” is played with a specially designed ball that is larger and heavier than a standard rugby ball. The sport is played indoors on a basketball court and is a full-contact sport, with players in wheelchairs colliding with each other in order to advance the ball down the court. This sport is governed by the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF), which oversees national and international competitions, including the Paralympic Games.

Wheelchair Tennis

Wheelchair tennis is another sport that has been adapted for individuals in wheelchairs. The rules of the game are similar to traditional tennis, but with a few modifications. Players are allowed two bounces before they must hit the ball, and the court is smaller. This sport is governed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is included in the Paralympic Games.

Sled Hockey

Adaptive sports also include ice sled hockey, which is a version of ice hockey played by individuals in wheelchairs who use a specialized sled to move on the ice. The sled has two blades on the bottom to allow the player to move around the rink, and the player propels themselves forward using two sticks with picks on the end. This sport is governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and is included in the Paralympic Games.

Wheelchair Lacrosse

Wheelchair Lacrosse is played on a roller hockey rink or box lacrosse pad using a no-bounce ball and basketball sport chairs. The sport provides an opportunity for those with physical disabilities and able-bodied athletes to play on the same team. Wheelchair lacrosse is a popular choice for sled hockey and wheelchair basketball athletes. 

 We're grateful to our sponsors:

  • Meijer  
  • Carelinc  
  • Saladin Shriners  
  • Pioneer Construction  
  • Neurocare  
  • Fifth Third Bank  
  • Fusion Medical  
  • Michael and Christina Rosloniec Family  
  • LMCU 
  • Lacks Enterprises, Inc.  
  • Per4Max
  • Granger Construction
  • West Michigan Sports Commission 
  • Eastbrook HOMES 
  • Gun Lake Casino 
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America 
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield 
  • Accident Fund 
  • Med-Equip 
  • Dan Vos Contruction Company 
  • Cavallo 
  • Our Family 
  • Consumers Credit Union

Classes + Clinics

Thousands of children and adults with limited mobility participate in classes and clinics offered by Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports Program. Click here to view our most current RecConnect brochure.

Learn More

Participants riding handcycles on an indoor track.
Two individuals in blue life jackets paddling a kayak on a lake, participating in an adaptive sports clinic at Millennium Park.
A young girl in a wheelchair smiling and holding a basketball above her head during the Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp.
Two boys in wheelchairs playing tennis on a blue court.
Participants at an adaptive sports clinic high-fiving on the shore after a successful kayaking session at Millennium Park.
A wheelchair softball player taking a swing at the ball during an adaptive sports tournament.
A young child wearing a helmet rides an adaptive tricycle at the Bikes for the Rest of Us event.
Campers enjoying a water fight with buckets and hoses with the Allendale Fire Department at Junior Wheelchair Sports Camp.
A family aboard a sailboat participates in Mary Free Bed Adaptive Sports sailing clinic.


Do you love sports? Looking for volunteer opportunities? Want to be a part of something that enriches others’ lives? We’re always looking for great volunteers! 

Many sports clinics and teams need volunteers to help with a variety of activities, from coaching and teaching to greeting, registration, event planning, event set-up and tear-down, player and equipment assistance, foodservice, and material creation.  

Click here if you’re interested in volunteering with Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports.


Please help support Mary Free Bed’s Wheelchair and Adaptive Sports programs. Even $10 can make a difference. 


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