Wheelchair basketball dates back to the 1940s and retains most major rules and scoring of basketball, such as using a standard 10 foot high basketball hoop and basketball court. As a result wheelchair basketball retains all the physical and mental demands of the able-bodied game. These include, strength, power, speed and a requirement for basic aerobic fitness. The cognitive demands include decision making, tactical awareness, teamwork and pattern recognition. Recovery is also a significant challenge as at the London 2012 Olympics the men’s teams played 9 games in 10 days with just a single rest day. Similarly the women’s team’s played 8 games in 9 days, with a days rest.
As a consequence of the physical and mental challenges of wheelchair basketball, appropriate nutrition can make a significant contribution to performance. The Elite Sport Group (ESG) developed bespoke wheelchair basketball nutrition strategies to specifically cope with the demands of the 2012 Olympics. These included fat loss programs to help increase players power to weight ratios, proven performance nutrition to combat muscle acidosis and fatigue, and manipulations to increase oxygen uptake and oxygen delivery to muscle. ESG also produced a bespoke nutrition program to improve mental alertness and decision making during games and improve both physical and mental aspects of recovery after games. These utilised components of our Tour De France nutrition programs but were specifically tailored to meet the individual requirements, the demands of wheelchair basketball and game schedule of the 2012 Olympics. In addition to accessing sports nutrition services from the ESG the Team GB Captain Joni Pollock, also chose ESG sports medicine services to help his post surgery rehabilitation.