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Modified sports that keep you active

Most Australians enjoy their sport and exercise but may have to give it up as they get older because of their health or reduced mobility, however, it may be possible to continue participating in the sports you love simply by making some adjustments. 

Key points:

  • Modified sport means the sport has been adapted to allow for people with mobility issues or different skill levels including seniors

  • Older people are encouraged to get involved with sport, exercise and other active recreational activities to support healthy ageing

  • Ask your local club if they are willing to help you establish a modified sport round

Older person exercising
Modified sport can be changed depending on the abilities of the players who want to participate. [Source: iStock]

Modified sports are becoming more and more popular around the country meaning older people can continue to play the sport they enjoy, no matter their mobility issues or health problems.

What does a modified sport mean?

A modified sport is like any regular sport you have played, like basketball or football, but the rules have been adapted to accommodate the skills and abilities of older or less mobile players.

Modified sport can be changed depending on the abilities of the players who want to participate. 

Another great thing about modified sport is it allows a wider range of people to access sport where they previously were unable to either due to their fitness level, mobility, disability or health condition.

It is also a great way to stay social, make new friends and bond with other people in your community, as well as keep fit and active in a fun way.

Sport has huge benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing, which is why it is important to continue playing.

Forms of modified sport

Depending on who organises it, modified sport can vary and it generally depends on the individuals who are participating.

For instance, modified soccer could mean there is no running, the field is a lot smaller and the teams consist of less players.

Modified basketball could include no running or jumping, lowered basketball rings, and less physical contact. It would be similar to a modified netball match where players have more allocated steps and there is no running or jumping.

In a less competitive sport, like gymnastics, there are many ways this can be modified to not only enjoy yourself and be safe. Gymnastics also has the added benefit of developing your flexibility and mobility, which can make day to day tasks at home easier.

Any mainstream sporting club or association can adapt their activities into a modified version of their sports to accommodate people with limited mobility.

Some different types of sporting associations include:

Football Federation Australia - WalkingFootball
Netball Australia - Walking Netball
Basketball Australia - Walking Basketball

An exercise program or sports team near you

Most States and Territories have a portal to find sporting associations or exercise groups that provide modified sports for older people. 

National - Clearinghouse for Sport
Government subsidised exercise - Exercise Right
NSW - Active and Healthy
SA - Government of SA
WA - Stay on your feet       
Seniors Recreation Council of WA Inc.
NT - Council on the Ageing (COTA) NT Fit for life
TAS - Department of Communities Tasmania

You could also check with your local Council if they provide exercise and activity classes.

Charity groups and organisation also run exercise programs:

Senior physical activity charity - Active Ageing Australia
Walking groups - Heart Foundation Walking
Cycling groups - COTA Cycling
Running groups - Parkrun

If you have a specific sport you wish to play, why not see if you can get a group of your friends together.

You might be able to approach a local sports organisation and ask if they would be interested in developing a modified sports round.

How to organise a modified sport team?

The NSW Government developed a toolkit specifically for modifying your sport for older players.

They even developed helpful advice and guides on how to create a modified sports program and organise it with a local club.

This toolkit can help you create a modified sport for all kinds of sports outside the most basic sports that have already been modified, like netball, basketball, soccer, gymnastics and softball.

What sport could you never give up and why? Or share your sporting achievements? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Keeping healthy physically in your old age
Extreme sports for extreme seniors!
Keep mobile and stay independent

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