Paralympian Lesson by Patrick Anderson -Wheelchair Basketball- (Part I)
The Paralympian Lesson by Patrick Anderson -Wheelchair Basketball- was held on October 14 at the Nippon Foundation Para Arena in Shinagawa City, Tokyo.
The instructor was Canadian wheelchair basketball legend Patrick Anderson, gold medalist in three Paralympic Games—Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, and London in 2012—and a silver medalist in the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
People gathered from all over the country, some from as far as Hokkaido and Osaka, for the opportunity to participate in a lesson with the “king of wheelchair basketball,” and enjoyed a memorable day filled with their own special moments.
Learning World-Level Tricks Directly from the Source
There were a total of 15 participants, of a wide variety of ages and levels of experience, including current wheelchair basketball players, elementary and middle school students, and able-bodied basketball players. The “king” emerged onto the court amidst uproarious applause from the watching crowds.
Anderson greeting the audience after being welcomed with applause
There were a wide variety of participants, from children with no experience to players who have played consistently in the All-Japan Basketball Championships
Anderson presenting participants with a rundown of his life, interspersed with various stories
Like Anderson, Miki Matheson (right), a Paralympic Games gold medalist, graduated from the University of Illinois in the U.S., and has ties to Canada
Lesson 1: Warm-Up
Warm-ups start with a game called “Shark.” Similar to tag, players move as fast as they can on their wheelchairs from one end of the court to the other, trying to avoid being caught by the “shark” that lies in wait in the middle of the court.
Catching Anderson, with his deft maneuvers, proved extremely difficult
Anderson managed to outrun the “shark” for the entirety of the game
Different rules were applied—first with wheelchairs facing front, then back, then front again, or a rule in which players could only move forward with one swipe of the wheel—and as the game went on, the children, who had been a bit nervous at first, found themselves relaxing and enjoying themselves.
Anderson and a girl were the first “sharks”
Participants moving the wheelchairs forward with their upper bodies
Now that they were all warmed up, they were ready to handle an actual basketball. In this lesson, Anderson focused on the basics of wheelchair basketball, dribbling and shooting.
Participants formed a large circle around Anderson and practiced dribbling
Lesson 2: Dribbling and Shooting
Participants practiced dribbling with both of their hands in front of and next to the wheelchair, and even behind the wheelchair as well.
Participants practiced a wide range of dribbles, from high to low, from the front to the side, and more
Some dribbles require you to pass the ball from one hand to another
Dribbling a ball while navigating a wheelchair is a difficult feat in and of itself—so trying to dribble behind the wheelchair caused significant problems for many of the participants, forcing even the more experienced of them to lose control of their balls.
Anderson expertly dribbling the ball behind his back
Wataru Horie (left), former wheelchair basketball player, helped facilitate communication between Anderson and the participants
Anderson emphasized that better dribbling skills were absolutely integral to becoming a better wheelchair basketball player.
“When I steal the ball from an opponent, it’s when they’re dribbling the ball in front of themselves. Dribbling in front makes it easier for other people to steal the ball from you. So I make sure to also practice dribbling to the sides and behind myself, so that I’m able to dribble farther away from where my opponents might be.”
Shooting practice was conducted in pairs, with one “shooter” shooting the ball, and the other a “rebounder” that retrieves the ball and passes it back to the shooter.
The elementary and middle school students started with practicing basic passes
Anderson effortlessly making a shot
The pairs practiced four patterns in total, with the shooter dribbling and using feints, and the rebounder doing chest passes (pushing the ball forward from your chest towards the receiver’s chest), hook passes (raising your left hand over your head and snapping your wrist to make the pass), and baseball passes (throwing the ball like a baseball).
Baseball passes are difficult to throw in a way that makes it easy for the receiver to catch
Anderson getting directly involved in the shooting drills
Participants relaxing and enjoying themselves
After practicing with the basketballs, they moved on to the half-court tow exercise, a form of training similar to tire pulling. Instead of tires, however, participants had to tow each other. They formed pairs, with one acting as the “tire” and grabbing onto the back of their partner’s wheelchair, and the other as the “puller,” pulling them along with their wheelchair. For the exercise, the puller would make two turns of the wheelchair, stop, and repeat this process from the end line to the division line at the center of the court, after which they would go as fast as they could to the other end line.
Stopping, then moving again while carrying all that weight, is very difficult. There were some participants who found it took all of their energy just to move forward. “It’s the effort that counts. Go as hard as you can! Work hard, work hard!” said Anderson, cheering them on. The participants, inspired by his encouragement, all worked as hard as they could, and managed to finish it out.
Working hard in pairs
Anderson’s movements were quick and powerful even with the added weight of his partner
Participants managed to power through the exercise, even as they struggled