Doyle Mann has played wheelchair sports since he was a kid. Born with Spina Bifida, he has always loved the sport of baseball, so wheelchair softball was a natural fit. Doyle is currently the Assistant Commissioner of the National Wheelchair Softball Association and he plays for one of the top teams in the country: the Tampa Bay Rays.
I used to like to hunt, fish and go camping, but can't find a chair that will let me do that. Is there anything out there?
Yes there is. The Invacare Top End Crossfire All Terrain Wheelchair will handle the most aggressive terrain with its gigantic knobby rear wheels and big front casters. The frame is designed for great ground clearance and will get you back out in the wilderness!
Who plays wheelchair softball?
Persons with all disabilities participate in wheelchair softball including amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics and any other reason someone would use a wheelchair. The rules require that each team have a quadriplegic in their lineup. It is also a co-ed sport and many teams have women playing with and contributing to their teams.
Is it slow pitch or fast pitch?
It is slow pitch and we use a 16" softball which is larger than the 12" used by most leagues you might see with the able body game. The 16" ball is a little softer than the 12" and is easier to catch bare-handed.
How do the players push on dirt and grass in wheelchair softball?
We play on an asphalt or concrete surface. These surfaces allow the players to move faster, but the ball also moves faster making the game faster and more exciting and competitive.
Do players use a glove in wheelchair softball?
The only players that use a glove are the 1st baseman and sometimes the pitcher. Using a glove in the other infield positions or in the outfield would drastically impair that player’s ability to push at maximum efficiency.
How do players swing the bat in wheelchair softball?
Most amputees swing with two hands and their chair is secured with blocks so it doesn't move backwards during the swing. Most paraplegics and quadriplegics swing one handed using the off hand for balance and to pull themselves into the pitch. They may or may not choose to use the blocks. Quadriplegics may modify their bats with devices to help them hold on during the swing.
What kind of wheelchair is best suited for softball?
Some players use tennis wheelchairs while others use basketball chairs. In softball, the ability to field a ground ball is very important. Some players field the ball in front of the footrest while others field off to the side of the chair. This depends on your balance and chair set up. The most critical things are to be able to reach down to the ground to pick up a ground ball and be as quick as possible. It is best to use big camber for stability and turning. The only exception is that it shouldn’t be so big that it gets in your way if you field the ball off to the side. For specific questions on chair set-up, simply fill out the contact us form and we will get back to you.
How do I find a team close to me?
All the teams are listed on the National Wheelchair Softball Association's website, which is www.wheelchairsoftball.org. You can contact the teams individually or the NWSA.
How do I get a team started?
The best thing to do is to try to get as many wheelchair athletes of all sports from your area together to try it out. Contact the local Veteran's Hospital and the local SCI rehab center, as well as Orthotic/Prosthetic companies in your area. The NWSA also will provide clinics and guidance to help you through the process. Have cards or flyers available for everyone involved to give out to anyone they may see out in the community.
Are there junior programs?
Yes. There is now a division for juniors at the National Tournament. This is also a great way to help recruit more players for your team and a way to help wheelchair sports grow in general.
I’m not US-resident, how do I get an Invacare Top End product?
For product information outside the USA, please contact the Invacare location in your country.