Wheelchair tennis was founded in 1976 and is now one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world. Wheelchair tennis integrates easily with the able-bodied game since it can be played on any regular tennis court without modification. The only rule change is that wheelchair tennis players are allowed two bounces of the ball.
Along with teamwork, wheelchair tennis teaches participants fundamental movement skills, fundamental sport skills and the ABCs – agility, balance, coordination and speed – of physical literacy.
Wheelchair tennis’s Long-Term Athlete Development (LTAD) model consists of eight main stages, plus two additional ones that affect people with acquired disabilities.
- Active Start – Builds agility, balance and coordination through fun, physical activity, and introduces striking with a racquet.
- FUNdamentals – Teaches fundamental movement skills, basic tennis skills and physical literacy through Progressive Tennis and other sports.
- Develop – Becomes a well-rounded athlete and builds the full court tennis skills required to be a player.
- Consolidate – Sets the foundation for the pursuit of excellence.
- Learn to Perform – Consolidates all skills and prepares athletes for competition.
- Learn to be a Professional – Utilizes skills, tactics and preparation in order to compete at the high performance level.
- Live as a Professional – Reaches peak performance through full-time commitment, solid and consistent preparation, individualized training programs and effective life management.
- Tennis for Life – Encourages players to remain physically active and involved in the game, either competitively or recreationally, for life.
Since people become disabled at any age, no ages have been assigned to these additional stages.
- Awareness –Wheelchair tennis opportunities for people with disabilities are not always well known, and someone who acquires a disability may have no knowledge of what sports are available to them. Sports need to develop awareness plans to make their offerings known to potential athletes.
- First Contact – Sports have only one opportunity to create a positive environment for prospective athletes with disabilities. It may not be easy for them to make the first approach to a sport, and research shows that if they don’t have a positive first experience, they may be lost to the sport and to a healthy lifestyle.
The primary goal of the National Bridging the Gap Program, which addresses the Active Start, FUNdamentals, Learn To Train and Active for Life stages, is to eliminate the gap between the introduction of sport and recreation in the rehabilitation setting and continued involvement in physical activity.
Wheelchair Tennis – lovemeansnothing.ca/all-access/wheelchair
- Athletes with Disabilities
- Health Practitioners
- Recreation Professionals