Interested in taking up a sport? Consider whether you would prefer a team sport or individual sport. Would you prefer to play an outdoor or indoor sport? Are you looking for something fast paced and intense like sledge hockey or something less vigorous but still competitive like boccia?
Check out our list of sports for descriptions of each of the sports to find one that you might like. Keep in mind that at a recreation level, most sports are open to all abilities however at a competitive level there are classification systems in place which may limit who can compete. Be sure to check with the provincial sport organization that governs a sport for more details.
For ParaSport® Ontario opportunities in your community check out our ParaSport® Ontario Directory for a listing of all clubs that offer ParaSport® opportunities in Ontario.
Becoming a Coach
Becoming a Coach for athletes with a disability does not require any special skills. Just like coaching any sport all you need to start is passion, motivation and perhaps some patience.
For many of the Paralympic sports, there is a National Coaching Certification Program offered by the Coaches Association of Canada which provides resources, modules and certifications. There are some National Sport Organizations who also have sport specific coaching resources that they can help you become certified.
People with disabilities get involved in the sport are first and foremost athletes and have the same drive and dreams as any other athlete. There are a few unique aspects of ParaSport® Ontario that you’ll need to understand, including information on different disabilities, classification and the para-athlete and coach pathways.
Every sport has a different coaching education pathway but there are many organizations out there to help you along the way.
Interested in learning more information on how to become a para coach in Ontario? Fill out this form from the Coaches Association of Ontario to find out more.
*To access form, please visit Become a Coach, and scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the “Resources & Opportunities” section, click on the ParaSport® Ontario tab.
Becoming an official, or referee of a sport requires knowing the rules, and regulations for said sport. If you are interested in officiating/referring please contact the provincial, or multi-sport organization for more information on how to begin the process to become certified.
The sports of running, and skiing for athletes with visual impairments both rely on the aid of Guides. Being a guide runner can mean helping a friend as a recreational runner, or supporting an elite-level athlete. The commitment of being a guide runner for an elite-level athlete is significant. The blind athlete might be training almost every day of the week, and even more problematic, the guide and the blind runner may not live in the same place!
Guide Runner Facts
A guide runner must be faster, or have potential to be faster than the blind athlete. For this reason, many top blind sportswomen have male guide runners, as they usually have greater ability to run fast enough for elite-level competition. A guide runner is usually a similar height to the blind runner, as it helps in being able to match the athlete’s stride pattern. Technique isn’t so important as the stride pattern and ability to keep pace.
For long distance races, a relay of up to four guide runners is allowed, with changeovers every 10km. For middle and long-distance track races, two guides are allowed with only one changeover, which must be on a straight section of track. Guide runners always wear a bright orange running vest to distinguish them from the competitors. For more information on Guide Running please contact Achilles Canada.
Both ParaNordic and ParaAlpine skiing include skiers with a visual impairment, who require the aid of a Guide Skier. The Guide skier skis ahead of the skier with a visual impairment, and are usually connected over a radio/walkie talkie system. To learn more about ParaNordic Guide Skiing visit Cross Country Ontario, and for more information about ParaAlpine Guide Skiing visit Track3 or the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiers.
Sport clubs for athletes with a disability often rely heavily on volunteers to contribute their time and skills. Coaches often come to mind when one considers volunteers involved in sport clubs, however there are many other volunteer positions that contribute to a successful club or program.
During practices, and at games clubs often require support volunteers to help out by giving an extra hand. For example sledge hockey clubs often include volunteer on-ice pushers, and boccia club volunteers help hold athletes’ ramps and retrieve balls after each end.
Aside from helping out directly with practices or games, other less “sport” related volunteer roles that are found in sport clubs include executive committee roles, such as a treasurer, secretary, team manager or fundraiser. These roles are ideal for those who are interested in helping out but who might not have an athletic inclination or cannot commit to scheduled practices.
Classification is simply a structure for competition. Not unlike wrestling, boxing and weightlifting, where athletes are categorized by weight classes, athletes with disabilities are grouped in classes defined by the degree of function presented by the disability.
Traditionally there are athletes who belong to six different disability groups in the Paralympic Movement: amputee, cerebral palsy, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries, intellectual disability, and a group which includes all those that do not fit into the aforementioned groups (les autres).
Classes are determined by a variety of processes that may include a physical and technical assessment and observation in and out of competition. The classes are defined by each sport and form part of the sport rules. Classification is an ongoing process.
When an athlete starts competing, they are allocated a class that may be reviewed throughout the athlete’s career. Sports certify individuals to conduct the process of classification and these officials are known as classifiers. (From CPC website)
International classifiers have either a degree or equivalent qualification in medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, physical education or exercise/sport science, or have nationally recognised athletics coaching qualifications or have competed at an international level.
Please note that possession of one or more of these qualifications is necessary but may not be sufficient to become a classifier. For more information on how to become a classifier please contact the provincial or multi-sport organization that governs the sport of interest.