The Classification Process

Wheelchair rugby athletes are most often quadriplegics, amputees, and cerebral palsy and polio participants.

Review the terms abduction, internal rotation, trapping the ball, wrist extensors, rims the ball (see Glossary).

Classification is a unique and integral part of sport for athletes with disabilities. The purpose of classification is to ensure fair and equitable competition at all levels of sport and to allow athletes to compete at the highest level, regardless of individual differences in physical function. Each sport for athletes with a disability has its own system of classification.

Wheelchair rugby players (both men and women) are carefully classified according to their functional ability by specially trained classifiers who assign a point value from 0.5 to 3.5 for a total of seven classification divisions. Some skills considered include:

  • balance ability (while sitting still and moving) and ball control
  • throwing, passing (bounced, overhead, chest pass, etc.) and catching (forearm, side and overhead catch)
  • dribbling (to the side of the chair and/or away from the back of the chair)
  • grasp and release of the push rims (during turns, when starting and stopping, against resistance)


The following is a general guide used to classify wheelchair rugby athletes:



  • forward head with bob when pushing
  • unopposed biceps-push with abduction and internal rotation at shoulder
  • uses back quarter of wheel to stop, start and turn
  • catches direct passes on lap by trapping the ball
  • sits low in wheelchair


  • triceps-push with longer contact on wheel (forearm or fist catch)
  • may use wrist extensors to hook under rim when pushing


  • rims the ball; effective chest pass
  • dribbles open-handed with scoop bilaterally
  • scoops ball into lap when catching
  • control and distance in overhead pass is limited


  • uses wrists/finger flexion in flip pass rimming the ball, stabilizing with opposite arms to allow greater reach
  • can dribble one-handed with control
  • grips wheelchair rim when pushing to increase speed
  • retrieves ball from the floor without use of the rim


  • these classes were created for individuals whose movement abilities “fall between” whole point classes because they display asymmetrical or varied upper extremity function and/or trunk function for example:
    • asymmetrical push; asymmetrical arm function
    • one-sided ball handling skills
    • turns toward weak side with more skill, strength and speed than toward strong side


A team consists of no more than 12 players with a maximum of 4 players on the court at any time. A maximum total of 8.0 points are allowed on the floor during play and this must include all 4 players. However, if a female athlete is on court, teams can have an additional 0.5 in points.