Wheelchair basketball (WCB) is an adapted sport that continues to increase in popularity across the world, especially among youth players. The evaluation of youth WCB performance measures are necessary to determine baseline skill level, identify elite level players, and track athlete skill progression. Sport specific tests measure areas of sport performance, such as agility, shooting accuracy, muscular power, and speed. On the other hand, anthropometric measures can also provide indicators of potential success.
PURPOSE: To determine the relationship between wingspan (WS) and WCB sport performance measures in youth players.
METHODS: A total of 16 youth WCB players (age = 14.1 ± 2.2 yrs, height = 159.5 ± 72.0 cm) participated in the study. The sport performance measurements included maximal pass, sprinting with and without a basketball, agility T-test, spot-shot, and pick-up test. Prior to completing two trials of each test, all tests were demonstrated, and a familiarization trial was completed. Descriptive statistics were calculated for WS and the sport performance measurements. Pearson’s product-moment correlation coefficient (r) was used to evaluate the relationships between WS and sport performance measurements. Alpha level of 0.05, 2-sided was set a priori as a significance level.
RESULTS: Mean WS and sport performance values were as follows: WS 161.56 ± 16.85 cm; maximal pass distance 2.64 ± 1.07 m; sprinting with a basketball 4.11 ± 0.80 s; sprinting without a basketball 3.43 ± 0.44 s; agility T-test 18.88 ± 2.34 s; spot-shot accuracy 24 ± 12 points; and pick-up test 19.27 ± 5.13 s. All sport performance measures were significantly correlated to WS (p < .05). Wingspan values showed a large negative relationship with sprinting with a basketball (r = - 0.654), sprinting without a basketball (r = - 0.538), agility T-test (r = - 0.598), and pick-up test (r = -0.628) values. A strong positive correlation existed between WS and maximal pass distance (r = 0.816), as well as spot-shot accuracy (r = 0.739).
CONCLUSIONS: Participants with larger WS had quicker completion times during sprinting, pick-up, and agility tests, due to the ability to produce more torque during the push phase. Increased WS may be an indicator of better sports performance in youth WCB athletes, and coaches can use WS as a means of evaluating player talent.