Fundamental of Classification in Para Sport

Classification is the cornerstone of the Paralympic Movement.  It is a unique and essential feature of Para sport that provides the fundamental structure for credible, competitive, fair, and meaningful high-performance competition for Athletes with a disability all over the world.

Classification across the entire Paralympic Movement is governed by a central, overarching document called the IPC Athlete Classification Code. It is underpinned by five International Standards that each deal with specific elements that are integral to Classification.

The Code and International Standards have been developed by the IPC and its stakeholders for over 20 years. It is officially approved by the IPC Membership, comprising over 200 members categorised as National Paralympic Committees, International Federations, Regional Organisations, and International Organisations of Sport for the Disabled, at the IPC General Assembly.

The Code provides a clear, authoritative statement regarding the purpose of Classification and presents a framework of policies and procedures designed to ensure that Classification is delivered to the highest possible standard.  All Para sports must comply with the Code. 

Learn about the most important features of Paralympic Classification in an interactive online course provided by the International Paralympic Committee. Whatever your role or interest in Para sport, with four modules to choose from, the course will assist you to increase your knowledge and contribute to the growth of the Paralympic Movement.


To play wheelchair basketball at an international level (i.e. for your country at an IWBF competition) you must meet BOTH of the following criteria:

  • Have one of the following Eligible Impairments: Impaired Muscle PowerImpaired Passive Range of MovementLimb DeficiencyLeg Length Difference, HypertoniaAtaxia or Athetosis.
    *(These Eligible Impairments are defined by the IPC Athlete Classification Code and Players must have an accepted Underlying Health Condition also defined within the IPC Classification Code)

A Player must go through the Player Evaluation process to confirm they have an Eligible Impairment and that they meet the sports’ MIC before they are able to be assessed to have a sports class allocated. Click here for further information on the Player Evaluation.

The new Player Evaluation process is part of the new Classification Rules that came into effect on 1 October 2021 which also included the new Minimum Impairment Criteria.

Any player who are not listed on the Classification Master List (including those who were previously internationally classified prior to the new rules coming into affect in 1October 2021) will be required to go through Player Evaluation Process.

Sports Class Allocation

Sport Class is based on the players’ functional capacity to complete the skills necessary to play – pushing, pivoting, shooting, rebounding, dribbling, passing and catching. It is not an assessment of a player’s level of skill, merely their functional capacity to complete the task. In particular, the trunk movement and stability observed during these actual basketball situations form the basis for the assignment of a player to a particular class.

Versions of this video are available in Spanish, French and Portuguese


Players are assigned points as their classification – 1, 2, 3, and 4 are the recognized classes, with 0.5 classes between for the exceptional cases which do not fit exactly into one class, and the 4.5 category for the player with the least disability.

Volume of Action

Classes are defined according to players’ “volume of action”. Each class has a clearly defined maximal volume of action, which the player may exhibit. The volume of action refers to the extremes to which a player’s trunk stability will allow them to reach, without holding on to the wheelchair, before overbalancing.

Class Characteristics

Each class has characteristics unique to that class, which are used by the classifier. These characteristics are evident in each of the basketball skills observed as part of the classification process.

Team Balance

The total number of points allowed on court at any time is 14.0. That is, the total points of all five players actually playing. If a coach allows the team to have over 14.0 points, they will incur a technical foul on the bench.


Team Balance

The total number of points allowed on court at any time is 14.0. That is, the total points of all five players actually playing. If a coach allows the team to have over 14.0 points, they will incur a technical foul on the bench.

2021 IWBF Official Player Classification Rules

2021 IWBF Official Player Classification Manual