Hold onto your helmets, sports fans! Wheelchair lacrosse is the newest full contact adaptive sport to gain traction in the USA since rugby started in 1977. Lacrosse is a sport that involves a unique combination of speed, skill, agility, grace, teamwork, and finesse. Basketball inventor James Naismith once called it, “the best of all possible field games.” Wheelchair Lacrosse USA (WLUSA) was created by Ryan Baker and Bill Lundstrom after discussions with several other recently injured sportsmen.
The rules of wheelchair lacrosse are straightforward. There are 7 players on each side, 2 defensemen, 2 midfielders, 2 attackmen and 1 goalie. Each team must have 3 players in their defensive half and 2 in their offensive half. The game is broken into 4 quarters of 15 minutes. Each team gets a total of 4 time-outs per half. Each team has a limited amount of time to clear past the midfield line once they get possession and to move into the attack zone once they cross the midfield line.
The following video shares an exhibition match between the Wheelchair Lacrosse Team from San Diego and top NLL stars at the John McCauley Memorial Box Lacrosse Tournament in Canada.
Dimensions for the court and goal area are the same as an indoor roller hockey rink. Protective gear including helmets, gloves, mouth guard, shoulder pads, arm pads and shin guards and/or thigh pads should be worn at all times. All front wheelchair protection must be a minimum of 2” off the ground. Checking in the back half of the chair is not allowed nor is touching of the ball with the hand. If the ball lands on a player’s lap during play, the player must brush the ball off their lap onto the floor using the crosse stick to pick the ball up.
Interested in learning how to play? Here’s a quick video that demonstrates how to catch the ball from your wheelchair:
Previous lacrosse experience is not necessary. Many players start as wheelchair tennis players before being introduced to lacrosse. Those with backgrounds in rugby, basketball, track and field wheelchair sports have also found wheelchair lacrosse exhilarating. Still others who have played lacrosse before but are now recently restricted to the chair can get involved as well.
Players are classified based on their disability level, Class I: complete motor loss at T-7 or above, Class II: complete motor loss originating at T-8 and descending through and including L-2, and Class III: All other physical disabilities as related to lower extremity paralysis or paresis originating at or below L-3. Each classification is given a numerical value: Class 1: 1 value point; Class II: 2 value points; Class III: 4 value points. At no time in a game shall a team have more than twelve points (12) on the floor at the same time; this includes six (6) field players and one (1) goalie.
WLUSA is on a mission to bring wheelchair lacrosse to the masses. Cities with leagues forming or camps being held include Atlanta, GA; Colorado Springs, CO, New York City, NY; San Jose, CA and Ocean City, MD, debuting in August 2013. If you are interested in joining a team or starting one in your city, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Katie J. Hogan is an experienced marketing professional in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Business. When she’s not busy with marketing, Katie enjoys singing at local music events, competitive team trivia and spending time with friends and family.