What is Powerchair Football?

Powerchair football is a dynamic and fast-paced version of football (or soccer) adapted for electric wheelchair (powerchair) users. It is typically played in a gymnasium on an 30m x 18m court. Two teams of four players (including the goal keeper) pass, dribble and spin-kick an oversized football as they try to score more goals than the opposing team.

Athletes compete in specially designed powerchairs for the sport of powerchair football. Metal foot guards are attached to the front of the powerchairs which allow players to ‘kick’ the ball. Athletes ‘spin’ to generate power, striking the ball with the side of the guard for the strongest hits, although often using the front bars of the guard results in a more accurate hit.

There are several differences between powerchair football and other versions of football, with rules encouraging safety and space for a relatively free flowing spectacle. Powerchair football is essentially a 2D version of football. Here’s a little preview of some of the important rules of our version of the beautiful game.

Set Ball
If the ball rises above 50cm during play, is held stationary between two chairs for more than 3 seconds, or it is impossible to tell who the ball touched last before going into touch a ‘set-ball’ is called (similar to a drop ball, although this is contested).

The two players contesting the set ball must drive directly towards the ball when the referee allows play to resume. All other players must remain at least 3 metres from the ball until play has resumed.

2 on 1
The other crucial rule in powerchair football is the ‘2 on 1’ rule. To ensure there is enough space for passes and to create space, only one player from either team can be within 3 metres of the ball and impacting on play. If a player is making an effort to avoid a ‘2 on 1’, play may continue until the referee is satisfied the player has moved far enough away (Figure 1), or until they decide a ‘2 on 1’ has been caused (Figure 2). A ‘2 on 1’ infringement results in an indirect free kick. However, when the goal keeper in within their own goal box, they are immune from causing a ‘2 on 1’ (Figure 3).

Here are some other examples of 2 on 1 infringements. Figure 4 shows a teammate interfering with an opponent by being too close, while Figure 5 shows a team mate being within 3 metres when an opponent it nearby. Figure 6 is a common cause of 2 on 1 free kicks and is caused when one team mate does not leave the area soon enough.

Spin Kicks
One of the most exciting parts of powerchair football is the spin kick, but it creates a chance for contact between athletes. A player attempting a spin kick must not do so if there is an opponent within their spinning area.

At the same time, an opposing player should avoid moving into a spinning player’s spinning zone once the player attempting a spin kick has begun their spinning motion. Powerchair football is a non-contact sport, but occasionally contact does occur.

Other rules
Some other differences between powerchair football and other versions of football is that goals can be scored directly from ‘hit-ins’ and kick-offs. Powerchair football has a strong emphasis on set plays, with many goals resulting from hit-ins and corner kicks. Opposing players must be 5 metres from the ball when play resumes from these scenarios. This highlights the tactical nature of the sport and much like other versions of football, all teams need to feature a dead ball specialist for these vital goal scoring opportunities.