Evidence-based classification systems in Paralympic sport require knowledge of the underlying effect of impairment in a specific sport. This study investigated the relationship between cognition and tactical proficiency in 88 well-trained table tennis players with intellectual disability (ID; 29 women, 59 men, M ± SD IQ 59.9 ± 9.6). Data were collected at 3 competitions sanctioned by the International Federation for Para-Athletes with Intellectual Disabilities (INAS). A generic cognitive test consisting of 8 neuropsychological subtests was used to assess cognitive abilities relevant to sport (reaction time, processing speed, and decision speed; spatial visualization; fluid reasoning; memory; executive functioning; and visual processing). The backward stepwise-regression analysis model revealed that 18% of the variance in tactical proficiency was attributed to spatial visualization and simple reaction time. Applications of these findings resulted in an evidence-based classification system that led to the reinclusion of athletes with ID in Paralympic table tennis and provide the basis for future research in this important area.
Debbie Van Biesen, Jennifer Mactavish, Janne Kerremans, and Yves C. Vanlandewijck
Yves C. Vanlandewijck, Arthur J. Spaepen, and Roeland J. Lysens
Fifty-two male elite wheelchair basketball athletes, classified into four functional ability classes, were studied to determine whether overall wheelchair basketball performance in a game situation is related to the functional ability level of the participant. To determine the quality of the individual’s game performance, 18 championship games were videotaped and analyzed by means of the Comprehensive Basketball Grading System. Physical fitness parameters (propulsive force and aerobic power) were determined in specific laboratory conditions. Force application on the wheelchair handrims was measured by means of an ergodyn device. Finally, the subjects, while in their wheelchairs, performed a maximal exercise capacity test on a motordriven treadmill. The analyses indicated significant differences in field performance and aerobic power between Class I and the rest of the classes. However, isometric and dynamic force application on the handrims could not be proven to be functional ability dependent. In conclusion, reducing the number of classes to improve fair and equitable competition in wheelchair basketball was considered viable.
Viola C. Altmann, Jacques Van Limbeek, Anne L. Hart, and Yves C. Vanlandewijck
A representative sample (N = 302) of the wheelchair rugby population responded to a survey about the classification system based on prioritized items by International Wheelchair Rugby Federation members. Respondents stated, "The classification system is accurate but needs adjustments" (56%), "Any athlete with tetraequivalent impairment should be allowed to compete" (72%), "Athletes with cerebral palsy and other coordination impairments should be classified with a system different than the current one" (75%), and "The maximal value for trunk should be increased from 1.0 to 1.5" (67%). A minority stated, "Wheelchair rugby should only be open to spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions" (36%) and "There should be a 4.0 class" (33%). Results strongly indicated that athletes and stakeholders want adjustments to the classification system in two areas: a focus on evaluation of athletes with impairments other than loss of muscle power caused by spinal cord injury and changes in classification of trunk impairment.
Yves C. Vanlandewijck, Christina Evaggelinou, Daniel D. Daly, Siska Van Houtte, Joeri Verellen, Vanessa Aspeslagh, Robby Hendrickx, Tine Piessens, and Bjorn Zwakhoven
The player classification system in wheelchair basketball (composed of four classes) is based on an analysis of players’ functional resources through game observation and field-testing. This study examines if the classes are in the correct proportion relative to each other. During the Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in Sydney 1998, 12 teams were videotaped for three 40-min games. Eighty-eight male players were retained for a detailed performance analysis by means of the Comprehensive Basketball Grading System (CBGS). Although a slight underestimation of the functional potential of Class II and III players was noted, it was concluded that the player classification system in wheelchair basketball proportionally represents the functional potential of the players.