March 2020

Wheelchair Softball

What we did

In 2019 we launched Australia’s first social wheelchair softball competition.

Held in the City of Casey Stadium, Victoria, the competition followed two successful ‘come and try’ days and several meetings between key partners.

The come and try days were important to gauge interest, test equipment and rules and to determine if softball can actually be played in wheelchairs on a basketball court.

The inclusive competition provides an opportunity for people with a disability to participate in softball with able-bodied participants on an equal basis.

Players of all ages, genders and abilities play while seated in a wheelchair. We adopted the rules from our Social 7s program.

The inaugural season involved four teams with six players per team. They played over the course of seven weeks, including a week of finals.

We trained City of Casey Stadium staff as coordinators to officiate the game and to score. We gave them the rules, scoresheets, the requirements for the playing field and equipment, and an equipment kit for the duration of the competition.

In addition to Softball Australia and Softball Victoria, a number of other organisations have played a key role in setting up and promoting the competition including Casey Stadium, Disability Sport and Recreation Victoria, City of Casey, AAA Play, Casey Softball Association and the Narre Warren Softball Club and all the teams, players and supporters that have taken part.

Why we did it

The ground-breaking initiative is in line with the strategic objective of our sport in growing participation and membership. It also demonstrates our commitment at national, state, and local level in providing an inclusive sport for people of all ages, culture, gender and ability and paving the way for the development of similar programs throughout the state and country.

The Social Wheelchair Softball Program was developed as part of softball’s National Inclusion Strategy in engaging more people with a disability.

How we know it worked

Our targets

From the outset, we seven targets:

  • Participation and growth — we required a minimum of four teams with six players in each to have sufficient numbers to start the competition. New participants and teams join in season two to grow the competition.
  • Accessible – the venue needed to be accessible for wheelchair access and people with a disability.
    Inclusive – the competition aimed to be inclusive for people of all ages, gender and abilities.
  • Affordable – the cost needed to be affordable for all.
  • Easy to play/understand rules – the rules needed to be easy to understand and play to ensure people of all levels of ability could participate.
  • Fun/enjoyment — Participants would need a high level of fun and enjoyment.
  • Willingness to want to continue – We wanted to get all the competition elements right so that we would have a high level of participant retention.
Tools to measure our progress

We used a number of tools to check progress against our targets:

  • Participants and teams registered online on the Social 7s website to capture and record number of participants and teams involved.
  • We distributed surveys to record satisfaction, intent to continue, suggested modifications and used Survey Monkey to evaluate the success of the program against key targets.
  • We monitored and sampled social media feedback.
  • We used social media to assess the interest of social wheelchair softball within and outside the softball community.
  • Officials involved in delivering the initiative provided us with formal reports of their experiences.
  • Social 7s Game Coordinator completed weekly match reports recording results, key highlights, incidents or issues, and general feedback or questions.
  • We interviewed guardians, coaches and volunteers to gauge their experience.
  • We also interviewed a number of players throughout the competition for promotional purposes and these interviews captured their reason for participating, thoughts on the game and why they think others should get involved.
Evidence of impact and success

Participation and growth

In a small space of time the competition has grown from four teams involving 34 registered participants to six teams and 47 registered participants.

In season 1, of the 34 registered participants involved, 23 participants were new to softball and not existing softball members.

The success of the inaugural season has led to two additional seasons, with Season 2 in May 2019 growing from four to six teams.

In season 2, of the 47 registered participants involved, 36 participants were not existing softball members.


Of the original 34 registered participants, 24 of them (70%) returned to participate in a second season.

Spread of growth of initiative

The awareness of the initiative has spread via social media with other state softball bodies (Softball NSW and Softball NT) and local associations seeing the action on social media and decided on running wheelchair softball come and try sessions with great success. More locally, Geelong Softball Association recently delivered three social wheelchair come and try sessions in conjunction with Try Boys Stadium in Geelong.

From data collected, all participants communicated that the competition was very accessible in terms of venue access and location for people with a disability.

The youngest player involved in the first two seasons of the competition was 12 and the oldest player is 62. In season 1, of the 34 registered participants, 15 (44%) were female, in season 2, of the 49 registered participants, 26 (53%) were female. In season 1, 32% of participants had a physical disability or intellectual disability and in season 2, 34% of participants had a physical or intellectual disability.

In the evaluation survey all participants communicated that the inclusive nature of the competition was one of the things they liked most about the initiative.

In the evaluation data collected, all participants communicated that they were completely satisfied with the cost of the competition and the majority communicated that if the cost increased by $1 to $3 per person per week it most likely will not deter them from playing.

Easy to play
In the evaluation data, all participants communicated that the game was easy to play, and most communicated that the modified rules were easy to understand and follow.

All participants reported a high level of fun and enjoyment in both seasons of the competition and one of the main reasons for playing.

Social media data

Softball Australia Social Wheelchair Softball social stats - 2019
 Post clicks
 Reactions 723
 Impressions 52,811
 Reach 30,459
 Engagement 2,416
 Instagram and Twitter
 Impressions  8,119
 Reach 4,006
 Engagement 370
 Impressions 60,930
 Reach 34,465