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Barry S. Mason, Rienk M.A. van der Slikke, Michael J. Hutchinson, Monique A.M. Berger, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose: To examine the effects of different small-sided games (SSGs) on physical and technical aspects of performance in wheelchair basketball (WB) players. Design: Observational cohort study. Methods: Fifteen highly trained WB players participated in a single 5v5 (24-s shot clock) match and three 3v3 SSGs (18-s shot clock) on a (1) full court, (2) half-court, and (3) modified-length court. During all formats, players’ activity profiles were monitored using an indoor tracking system and inertial measurement units. Physiological responses were monitored via heart rate and rating of perceived exertion. Technical performance, that is, ball handling, was monitored using video analysis. Repeated-measures analysis of variance and effect sizes (ESs) were calculated to determine the statistical significance and magnitude of any differences between game formats. Results: Players covered less distance and reached lower peak speeds during half-court (P ≤ .0005; ES ≥ very large) compared with all other formats. Greater distances were covered, and more time was spent performing moderate- and high-speed activity (P ≤ .008; ES ≥ moderate) during full court compared with all other formats. Game format had little bearing on physiological responses, and the only differences in technical performance observed were in relation to 5v5. Players spent more time in possession, took more shots, and performed more rebounds in all 3v3 formats compared with 5v5 (P ≤ .028; ES ≥ moderate). Conclusions: Court dimensions affect the activity profiles of WB players during 3v3 SSGs yet had little bearing on technical performance when time pressures (shot clocks) were constant. These findings have important implications for coaches to understand which SSG format may be most suitable for physically and technically preparing WB players.

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Thom T.J. Veeger, Annemarie M.H. de Witte, Monique A.M. Berger, Rienk M.A. van der Slikke, Dirkjan (H.E.J.) Veeger, and Marco J.M. Hoozemans

Objective: This study aimed to investigate which characteristics of athlete, wheelchair and athlete-wheelchair interface are the best predictors of wheelchair basketball mobility performance. Design: A total of 60 experienced wheelchair basketball players performed a wheelchair mobility performance test to assess their mobility performance. To determine which variables were the best predictors of mobility performance, forward stepwise linear regression analyses were performed on a set of 33 characteristics, including 10 athlete, 19 wheelchair, and 4 athlete-wheelchair interface characteristics. Results: A total of 8 of the characteristics turned out to be significant predictors of wheelchair basketball mobility performance. Classification, experience, maximal isometric force, wheel axis height, and hand rim diameter—which both are interchangeable with each other and wheel diameter—camber angle, and the vertical distance between shoulder and rear wheel axis—which was interchangeable with seat height—were positively associated with mobility performance. The vertical distance between the front seat and the footrest was negatively associated with mobility performance. Conclusion: With this insight, coaches and biomechanical specialists are provided with statistical findings to determine which characteristics they could focus on best to improve mobility performance. Six out of 8 predictors are modifiable and can be optimized to improve mobility performance. These adjustments could be carried out both in training (maximal isometric force) and in wheelchair configurations (eg, camber angle).

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Rienk M.A. van der Slikke, Annemarie M.H. de Witte, Monique A.M. Berger, Daan J.J. Bregman, and Dirk Jan H.E.J. Veeger

Purpose: To provide insight on the effect of wheelchair settings on wheelchair mobility performance (WMP). Methods: Twenty elite wheelchair basketball athletes of low (n = 10) and high classification (n = 10) were tested in a wheelchair-basketball-directed field test. Athletes performed the test in their own wheelchairs, which were modified for 5 additional conditions regarding seat height (high–low), mass (central–distributed), and grip. The previously developed inertial-sensor-based WMP monitor was used to extract wheelchair kinematics in all conditions. Results: Adding mass showed most effect on WMP, with a reduced average acceleration across all activities. Once distributed, additional mass also reduced maximal rotational speed and rotational acceleration. Elevating seat height had an effect on several performance aspects in sprinting and turning, whereas lowering seat height influenced performance minimally. Increased rim grip did not alter performance. No differences in response were evident between low- and high-classified athletes. Conclusions: The WMP monitor showed sensitivity to detect performance differences due to the small changes in wheelchair configuration. Distributed additional mass had the most effect on WMP, whereas additional grip had the least effect of conditions tested. Performance effects appear similar for both low- and high-classified athletes. Athletes, coaches, and wheelchair experts are provided with insight into the performance effect of key wheelchair settings, and they are offered a proven sensitive method to apply in sport practice, in their search for the best wheelchair–athlete combination.

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Rienk M.A. van der Slikke, Daan J.J. Bregman, Monique A.M. Berger, Annemarie M.H. de Witte, and Dirk-Jan (H.) E.J. Veeger

Purpose: Classification is a defining factor for competition in wheelchair sports, but it is a delicate and time-consuming process with often questionable validity. New inertial sensor-based measurement methods applied in match play and field tests allow for more precise and objective estimates of the impairment effect on wheelchair-mobility performance. The aim of the present research was to evaluate whether these measures could offer an alternative point of view for classification. Methods: Six standard wheelchair-mobility performance outcomes of different classification groups were measured in match play (n = 29), as well as best possible performance in a field test (n = 47). Results: In match results, a clear relationship between classification and performance level is shown, with increased performance outcomes in each adjacent higher-classification group. Three outcomes differed significantly between the low- and mid-classified groups, and 1, between the mid- and high-classified groups. In best performance (field test), there was a split between the low- and mid-classified groups (5 out of 6 outcomes differed significantly) but hardly any difference between the mid- and high-classified groups. This observed split was confirmed by cluster analysis, revealing the existence of only 2 performance-based clusters. Conclusions: The use of inertial sensor technology to obtain objective measures of wheelchair-mobility performance, combined with a standardized field test, produced alternative views for evidence-based classification. The results of this approach provide arguments for a reduced number of classes in wheelchair basketball. Future use of inertial sensors in match play and field testing could enhance evaluation of classification guidelines, as well as individual athlete performance.

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Annemarie M.H. de Witte, Monique A.M. Berger, Marco J.M. Hoozemans, Dirkjan H.E.J. Veeger, and Lucas H.V. van der Woude

The aim of this study was to determine to what extent mobility performance is influenced by offensive or defensive situations and ball possession and to what extent these actions are different for the field positions. From video analysis, the relative duration of the various wheelchair movements during team offense/defense and individual ball possession was compared in 56 elite wheelchair basketball players. A two-way analysis of variance indicated that during offense, the guards and forwards performed longer driving forward than during defense. Overall, centers stood still longer during offense than during defense. Without ball, centers performed driving forward longer than with ball possession. It is concluded that offense, defense, and ball possession influenced mobility performance for the different field positions. These differences can be used to design specific training protocols. Furthermore, field positions require potentially different specific wheelchair configurations to improve performance.