3x3 wheelchair basketball – how Loughborough’s research made a lasting impact

3X3 wheelchair basketball is set to feature for the first time at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, with researchers at Loughborough University playing a key role in the development of the sport.

Colleagues from the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport investigated how the 3x3 version of the sport could ultimately encourage more nations to participate in the high-speed, high-impact game.

Professor Vicky Tolfrey, Director of the Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport, explained:

“3x3 for both the running game and the wheelchair game is very different because it's smaller squads.

“I saw that as a great opportunity in the world of Para sport because some nations haven't got enough people with a disability who play wheelchair sport and to put out a team to play the 5x5 game.

“I really wanted to engage in this research because I saw it as an exciting platform to try to get 3x3 on the world stage, not only at the Commonwealths, but at future events too.

“It did exist prior to the research, it's just that there were different formats being played and what we wanted to do is generate evidence to have two separate games, the 5x5 and the 3x3 wheelchair basketball.”

Vicky continued: “Since London 2012 there's a lot of pop ups of wheelchair basketball seen at schools and in the local community. People like me love jumping in a chair and having a go at trying to score a basket, which is extremely difficult!”.

Lynsey Speirs, Loughborough’s Team Scotland 3x3 wheelchair basketball player, explained how the game is played and what supporters can expect in Birmingham.

“The 3x3 format is played on a half court and both teams shoot into the same basket. There are only three players on each team on court at once,” she said.

“The game is only 10 minutes in length as opposed to 40 minutes 5x5 game, and there’s also a much quicker shot clock. You've only got 12 seconds from the moment your team gets possession to get a shot up.

“The game is naturally so much faster. There are no pauses, there's no ball going out - the ball stays in play, it stays alive. That's what makes the game so dynamic and interesting to watch and exhausting!”

The 3x3 wheelchair basketball will take place in the Smithfield venue in the heart of Birmingham and all four gold medals will be awarded on Tuesday 2 August.

Loughborough’s dedicated 2022 Commonwealth Games website features all the latest news, videos, and medal tables from Birmingham.