But maybe now, if many years have passed, you’re finally ready to try one of these adaptive sports. But the big question remains — which one should you try?
Since it’s nearly summer, let’s focus on summertime adaptive sports. There are plenty, and I don’t care what you can or can’t move, there is an adaptive summertime sport for you. You can channel your preppy side with adaptive golf, you can feel like a wheeling robin hood through archery.
For all you non-athletes out there like me, just remember to not let the word “sport” scare you. Don’t worry, no one is expecting you to be the next Paralympian gold medalist.
Now on to my summertime adaptive sports list:
7. 4-Wheel Mountain Biking
This sport is fairly new, and it uses gravity as its minion. Called 4-wheel mountain biking, it requires you to get out of your wheelchair and onto an arm-powered four-wheel mountain bike contraption, so you’ll have to be courageous. It also requires you to go down an incline at fairly high speeds, so no crying there either.
Places in the U.S. that have mountains — California, Colorado and Montana just to name a few — offer great 4-wheel mountain biking experiences for newbies, but even places that are flat like Minnesota offer smaller scale 4-wheel mountain biking. And hello, summer is the perfect time to get up on the mountains — the trails are dry and ready to be tore up. Plus, the temps are usually cooler.
6. Adaptive Golfing
If you love nature, adaptive golf is one of the most beautiful adaptive sports out there. There are several mobility-inspired golf carts made just for the course that come with swing-away seats to let you golf right from the cart. And there’s even one golf cart that will stand you up, letting you feel like what it feels like to putt, drive and everything else from a standing position. Now that’s awesome. This contraption is called the ParaGolfer.
If you’re itching to try adaptive golf this summer and you want to use one of these machines, they are hard to find. Most courses will not offer them as rentable items, so if you want to become a serious golfer buying one of these is usually your best bet. Otherwise, you can search Mobility Golf’s database to find nearby courses with rentable mobility equipment.
5. Adaptive Water Skiing
If you love an adrenaline rush, adaptive water skiing is one of the coolest sports you can do. You just get on a sit-ski or an adaptive wakeboard, and the boat does the rest.
There are adaptive water ski clinics around the country. One of the best is UCanSki2 in Winter Haven, Fla., and there are dozens of others around the country. Also, Adaptive Adventures is providing water ski clinics throughout the country this summer.
4. Horseback Riding
If you are an animal lover, adaptive horseback riding is something you should absolutely check out. They say the canter of the horse can be therapeutic because it can feel like you’re walking, and many people with paralysis back this up. Sounds pretty good, huh?
And adaptive horseback riding is one of the more easier adaptive sports to find in the U.S. Most states offer at least one location, and one of the most famous adaptive horseback riding organizations is Ride On in San Fernando Valley, Calif.
The equipment used is rather awesome as well. They have some fabulous saddles that can help support nearly anyone. Check out Path International to find an adapted horseback riding program in your area.
3. Adaptive Archery
One of the oldest sports made into an adaptive offshoot, adaptive archery is one of my favorite because people of all abilities can equally partake in this sport. Even quadriplegics with no movement below their neck can practice archery, thanks to genius inventions such as a mouth trigger.
You can also practice archery inside on rainy days this summer. If you have a decent garage space, you can totally practice in your garage too. I especially love the leather braces made to help hold the bow, which even a quadriplegic like myself can use.
If you want to find an adaptive archery program near you to finally satisfy your need to channel Robin Hood, check out this site from Disabled Sports USA.
To try out the seated version of bicycling, handcycling is where it’s at. But the kicker with this particular adaptive sport? The equipment is frighteningly expensive. Just like in the real world when it comes to buying a bicycle, buying a handcycle will cost, at minimum, around $1,000.
The good news is there are dozens of handcycling clinics all around the country that let you use their cycles while in the clinic, so you can see if you like this sport before laying down the big bucks. It can be quite the workout, but this sport is a great way to burn calories.
The Paralyzed Veterans Association is one such group that offers handcycling clinics this summer.
1. Wheelchair Tennis
For a bit of the glam life when it comes to adaptive sports, wheelchair tennis is certainly one of these sports. You get to look cool, dress cool and hang out at cool posh venues. Ah, the tennis life … and wheelchair tennis has been around since 1976. There has been a lot of time for this sport to get perfected.
I love that it can be played from either a manual or a power wheelchair. The tennis racket can even be fused onto your wheelchair in case you can’t hold it. When you play this sport, you get two bounces on your ball, not just one, making it a much more this-can-work sport for many.
It can be hard to get moving, especially when summer is filled with awesome movies and beautiful weather that beckons you to just lay in the sun and not move a thing. But I can guarantee if you move this summer, you will feel better. So think about finally trying one of the well-thought out adaptive sports above this summer. They were made for us, so the least we can do is give them a whirl.
What adaptive sport do you thank the heavens for?