Athlete impairment level is an important factor in wheelchair mobility performance (WMP) in sports. Classification systems, aimed to compensate impairment level effects on performance, vary between sports. Improved understanding of resemblances and differences in WMP between sports could aid in optimizing the classification methodology. Furthermore, increased performance insight could be applied in training and wheelchair optimization. The wearable sensor-based wheelchair mobility performance monitor (WMPM) was used to measure WMP of wheelchair basketball, rugby and tennis athletes of (inter-)national level during match-play. As hypothesized, wheelchair basketball athletes show the highest average WMP levels and wheelchair rugby the lowest, whereas wheelchair tennis athletes range in between for most outcomes. Based on WMP profiles, wheelchair basketball requires the highest performance intensity, whereas in wheelchair tennis, maneuverability is the key performance factor. In wheelchair rugby, WMP levels show the highest variation comparable to the high variation in athletes’ impairment levels. These insights could be used to direct classification and training guidelines, with more emphasis on intensity for wheelchair basketball, focus on maneuverability for wheelchair tennis and impairment-level based training programs for wheelchair rugby. Wearable technology use seems a prerequisite for further development of wheelchair sports, on the sports level (classification) and on individual level (training and wheelchair configuration).
- wheelchair mobility performance
- evidence-based classification
- wheelchair sports