Eligible impairment types:
- Impaired muscle power
- Impaired passive range of movement
- Limb deficiency
- Leg length difference
- Intellectual impairment
- Short stature
In table tennis, players with physical impairments compete in sport classes 1-10 and athletes with an intellectual impairment compete in sport class 11. Athletes in the sport classes 1-5 compete in a wheelchair and athletes in sport classes 6-10 compete standing. In more detail, the sport classes for athletes with a physical impairment can be described as follows:
Sport class one
Class one players have no sitting balance and a significantly affected playing arm, for example due to tetraplegia. Players would often support their sitting balance with the non-playing arm.
Sport class two
Players in this sport class also have no sitting balance, and their playing arm is moderately affected. Like the players in sport class one, they tape the racket to the hand to make up for limited grip function.
Sport class three
Players in sport class three have full hand and arm function. With their good arm function, they can manoeuvre the wheelchair while maintaining good balance of their upper body. The athlete’s impairment may result from spinal cord injuries or neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy.
Sport class four
Class four players have some sitting balance and fully functional arms and hands. They can move to the front to meet their opponent’s serve.
Sport class five
This sport class includes athletes who compete in a wheelchair, and have normal sitting balance, arm and hand function. With the good trunk function, they can stretch out to the sides to hit the ball. The sport class includes athletes with lower spinal cord injuries.
Sport class six
Class six players have impairments affecting both arms and legs and play standing. The sport class includes, for example, athletes with ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia which affects the legs and the playing arm. These impairments impact the balance and the quality of strokes.
Sport class seven
Class seven players either have significant impairments of both legs or the playing arm, or impairments affecting arms and legs moderately. For example, a player with an amputation of both arms above the elbow could compete in this sport class.
Sport class eight
Athletes with moderate impairment of their legs or moderately affected playing arm compete in this sport class. An athlete with muscle weakness in one leg due to polio would for example compete in this sport class.
Sport class nine
Class nine players have mild impairments affecting the legs or the playing arm. Athletes with a stiff knee or restricted elbow of the playing arm compete in this sport class. Also, athletes who have significant impairments in the non-playing arm compete in this sport class. This will impact serving the ball.
Sport class 10
Players in this sport class have relatively mild impairments, such as a stiff ankle or wrist of the playing arm. Players with short stature may also play in sport class 10.
Sport class 11 intellectual impairment
Table tennis players with an intellectual impairment typically have difficulties with: pattern recognition, sequencing, and memory, or having a slower reaction time, which all have an impact on table tennis skills, tactics and performance.