Sports Offered

Special Olympics Illinois provides a spectrum of program choices for people with intellectual disabilities or closely related developmental disabilities. Athletes train for a minimum of eight weeks before competing. Special Olympics Illinois provides opportunities in 19 different sports, please select a sport from the drop down below for more information.

Sports Offered

1. Alpine Skiing

Alpine Skiing Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Alpine_Skiing_BlackAlpine skiing is an exciting winter sport that challenges the athlete’s downhill racing ability and coordination.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Alpine skiing was introduced as a sport in Illinois in 1975. It later became an official Special Olympics sport in 1977 at the World Winter Games in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in alpine skiing can compete at their local Alpine Qualifier. Athletes can then advance to the state competition held during the Winter Games in Galena in late January or early February.

Alpine Skiing Events Offered in Illinois

  • Giant Slalom
  • Slalom
  • Super G (Downhill)

National Governing Body
Federation Internationale De Ski
Thunerse Switzerland
Web: http://www.fis-ski.com/ Rules can be downloaded online

2. Aquatics

Aquatics Facts

Aquatics, which is considered a lifetime activity, is appropriate for a range of ages and abilities. Competition events are based on a variety of strokes.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Aquatics was one of the first sports offered in Illinois beginning in 1968. It was also one of the first sports officially recognized by Special Olympics at the first Special Olympics international competition held in Chicago in 1968.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in aquatics compete locally in a District Qualifier. Gold medal winners from the districts are then eligible to advance to the state level competition held at the Summer Games in Normal in June.

Aquatics Events Offered in Illinois

  • Backstroke – 25, 50 and 100 Meter
  • Breaststroke – 25, 50, and 100 Meter
  • Butterfly – 25, 50 and 100 Meter
  • Freestyle – 25, 50, 100, 200 and 400 Meter
  • Individual Medley – 100 Meter (Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle)
  • Relays – 4X25 Meter, 4X50 Meter, 4X100 Meter Freestyle, 4X25 Meter Medley (Backstroke, Breaststroke, Butterfly, Freestyle

National Governing Body
Illinois High School Association (IHSA)
Bloomington, IL
Web: http://www.ihsa.org/

SO_SportsIcon_Aquatics_Black

3. Athletics

Athletics Facts

SO_SportsIcon_badminton_BlackAthletics offers a wide variety of traditional track and field events. Competition is also provided for athletes with lower ability levels in a variety of development track and field events.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Athletics was one of the original sports in both Illinois and at the first Special Olympics International Games in Chicago in 1968.

Athletes in Illinois who compete in athletics compete locally at their Area Spring Games. Gold medal winners are eligible to advance to the state level competition held at the Summer Games in Normal in June.

Athletics Events Offered in Illinois

  • 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 3000 Meter Run
  • 100, 400 and 800 Meter Race Walk
  • Running Long Jump
  • High Jump
  • Shotput and Wheelchair Shotput
  • Relays – 4X100 and 4X400 Meter Run, 4×25 Meter Wheelchair and 4×100 Meter Walk
  • Pentathlon (100, 400 Meter Run, Running Long Jump, High Jump and Shotput)
  • 25, 30 Slalom, 100 and 200 Meter Non Motorized Wheelchair Race

Developmental Events

  • 10, 25 and 50 Meter Assisted Walk
  • 30 and 50 Meter Motorized Wheelchair Slalom
  • Standing Long Jump
  • High Jump
  • Softball Throw
  • Tennis Ball Throw

National Governing Body
USA Track and Field
Indianapolis, IN
Web: http://www.usatf.org/

4. Basketball

Basketball Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Basketball_BlackOne of the most popular sports in Illinois, basketball provides competition for both teams and individuals. Five-on-five team competition is available in Junior, High School and Senior Male (Coed) and Senior Female age groups. Individuals can compete in the Basketball Individual Skills Competition to develop basic basketball skills. Events include the Target Pass, 10 Meter Dribble and Spot Shot events.

Basketball was first introduced in Illinois in 1975. Basketball became an officially recognized sport of Special Olympics at the third Special Olympics International Games in Chicago in 1972.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in team competition, compete locally at a District Qualifying event. Individual Skills participants also compete locally in Area Qualifying events. Teams or individuals who win a gold medal are eligible to advance to the State Basketball Tournament held in Normal in March.

Basketball Events Offered in Illinois

  • 5-on-5 Team Competition – Junior, High School and Senior age groups

Developmental Events

  • Individual Skills Competition – Target Pass, 10 Meter Dribble, Spot Shot

National Governing Body
Illinois High School Association (IHSA)
Bloomington, IL
Web: http://www.ihsa.org/

5. Bocce

Bocce Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Bocce_BlackBocce is an ancient sport invented during the Roman Empire. The game combines the skills of bowling with the accuracy of darts. Players try to get their Bocce balls closer to the Pallina (target ball) than their opponents. Individuals can participate in Bocce as a traditional single player or as part of traditional doubles or team. Unified Bocce is available in doubles and team formats. Unified sports combine a Special Olympics athlete with a non-disabled peer as partners or on teams for competition.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Bocce was introduced as an official sports at the 1995 World Games. Illinois began competition in Bocce in 1997.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in Bocce compete locally at a District Qualifying event. Gold medal winners are eligible to advance to state level competition held at the Summer Games held in Normal in June.

Bocce Events Offered in Illinois

Traditional

  • Singles competition
  • Doubles Competition
  • Team Competition

Unified

  • Doubles competition
  • Team competition

National Governing Body
Special Olympics, Inc.
Washington, D.C.
Rules can be downloaded at http://www.specialolympics.org/

6. Bowling

Bowling Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Bowling_BlackBowling is perhaps the most popular sport in Illinois. Bowling competition is conducted using a traditional format. However for those of lower ability or with physical disabilities, bowling has been modified by utilizing a ramp on the approach.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Bowling was introduced as a sport in Illinois and internationally in 1975.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in bowling compete locally at Area Qualifying events. Gold medal winners are then advanced to Sectional Qualifying competition. Gold medal winners are then eligible to advance the State Bowling Tournament held in Peoria in December.

Bowling Events Offered in Illinois

Traditional

  • Singles competition
  • Doubles Competition
  • Team Competition

Developmental

  • Ramp singles (ramp bowlers may also enter doubles and team competition as part of a traditional team)

National Governing Body
United States Bowling Congress (USBC)
Greendale, WI
Web: www.bowl.com

7. Cross Country Skiing

Cross Country Skiing Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Cross_Country_Skiing_BlackCross country skiing is a winter sport which promotes physical conditioning and provides opportunities for athletes of all ability levels.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Competition in cross country skiing was introduced in Illinois and internationally in 1977.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in cross country skiing compete locally at a District Qualifying event. Gold medal winners are eligible to advance to state level competition at the Winter Games held in Galena in late January or early February.

Cross Country Skiing Events Offered in Illinois

  • 50 Meter Race
  • 100 Meter Race
  • 500 Meter Race
  • 1K Race
  • 2.5K Race
  • 5K Race
  • 4X1K Relay

National Governing Body
Federation Internationale De Ski
Thunerse Switzerland
Web: http://www.fis-ski.com/

8. Equestrian

Equestrian Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Equestrian_BlackEquestrian provides athletes with the opportunity to learn to ride a horse, develop sport skills and gain self-confidence. Events include all levels of riding experience as well as a variety of styles.

In order to participate in equestrian competition, the equestrian coach or equestrian facility must be PATHI (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) certified. For PATHI certification information, please contact the Special Olympics Illinois Director of Sports and Competition.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Equestrian first became an official sport of Special Olympics in 1987 when it debuted at the World Games. Illinois added equestrian as a sports offering in 1990.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in equestrian compete at the local level in an Area Qualifying event or in 2 sanctioned events. Athletes are then eligible to advance to the state level competition at the Fall Games held in Rockford in October.

Equestrian Events Offered in Illinois

  • Dressage
  • English Equitation
  • Showmanship
  • Stock Seat Equitation
  • Working Trails

National Governing Bodies
Special Olympics Inc., American Horse Shows Association (AHSA)
Rules can be downloaded at http://www.specialolympics.org/

9. Figure Skating

Figure Skating Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Figure_Skating_BlackFigure skating is one of a few judged sports in Special Olympics. It requires a combination of strength, skill and precision. Athletes are able to compete at a specific level based on their individual experience and ability.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Special Olympics recognized figure skating as an official sport in 1977 when it was introduced at the World Winter Games. Special Olympics Illinois added figure skating in 1978.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in figure skating compete locally at an Area Qualifying event or in 2 sanctioned events. Athletes are then eligible to advance to the state level competition at the Winter Games held in Galena in late January or early February.

Figure Skating Events Offered in Illinois

  • Singles Levels 1-6
  • Doubles Levels 1-2

National Governing Body
International Skating Union (ISU)
Web: http://www.isu.org/ 

10. Floor Hockey

Floor Hockey Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Floor_Hockey_BlackSpecial Olympics floor hockey is adapted from the games of ice hockey and ringette. Not to be confused with poly hockey, this floor hockey uses straight wooden sticks and felt rings for pucks. Teams are composed of 6 players including a goalie. Athletes have the opportunity to compete on teams or as individuals in the Individual Skills Competition to develop basic floor hockey skills.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Floor hockey was first introduced as an official sport in 1970 at the World Winter Games. It was introduced in Illinois in 1975.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in floor hockey compete locally at Area Qualifying events. Teams are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the State Floor Hockey Tournament held in Chicago in November.

Floor Hockey Events Offered in Illinois

Traditional

  • Team Floor Hockey

Developmental

  • Individual Skills Floor Hockey (Shoot Around the Goal, Passing, Stickhandling and Shoot for Accuracy)

National Governing Body
Special Olympics, Inc.
Washington, D.C.
Rules can be downloaded at http://www.specialolympics.org/ Illinois

11. Golf

Golf Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Floor_Golf_BlackGolf provides Special Olympics athletes the opportunity to develop their golf skills by participating in Individual Skills Competition and 5-hole competition. Golfers who have the ability to put all of the skills together can participate in 9-hole competition. Unified golf allows for athletes and their non-disabled peers to form teams in 9-hole competition.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Golf made its debut in 1995 at the World Summer Games as an official sport. Illinois began offering golf competition in 1997.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in golf compete locally at Area Qualifying events. Athletes are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the Outdoor Sports Festival held in Decatur in September.

Golf Events Offered in Illinois

Traditional

  • 9-hole competition

Unified

  • 9-hole aggregate team play

Developmental

  • 5-hole competition
  • Individual Skills Competition (Short & Long Putt, Chip Shot, Pitch Shot, Iron & Wood Shot

National Governing Body
United States Golf Association
Far Hills, N.J.
Web: http://www.usga.org

12. Gymnastics

Gymnastics Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Artistic_Gymnastics_BlackGymnastics combines strength, flexibility and artistry. Competition is offered in men’s and women’s events in artistic gymnastics utilizing beams, bars, rings, vault and floor exercise equipment. Rhythmic competition is available to women using rope, ball, hoop, clubs and ribbon.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate. In gymnastics, athletes also compete in specific levels.

Gymnastics began as an officially recognized sport of Special Olympics in 1972 at the World Summer Games. Gymnastics was introduced as a sport in Illinois in 1975.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in gymnastics compete locally at a District Qualifying event. Gold medal winners are eligible to advance to state level competition at the Summer Games held in Normal in June.

Gymnastics Events Offered in Illinois

Women’s Artistic Events

  • Floor Exercise
  • Balance Beam
  • Vault
  • Uneven Parallel Bars
  • All Around

SO_SportsIcon_Rhytmic_Gymnastics_BlackMen’s Artistic Events

  • Floor Exercise
  • Parallel Bars
  • Vault
  • High Bar
  • Pommel Horse
  • Rings
  • All Around

Rhythmic Gymnastics

  • Rope
  • Hoop
  • Ribbon
  • Ball
  • Clubs
  • All Around

National Governing Body
USA Gymnastics
Indianapolis, IN
Web: http://www.usagym.org/

13. Powerlifting

Powerlifting Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Floor_Powerlifting_BlackPowerlifting provides not only a test of strength but also perseverance. Long hours are required to train for competition in this physically demanding sport. Athletes can compete in one, two or three events combined

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate. Powerlifters are further divided into groups based on weight.

Powerlifting was first introduced internationally in 1983 at the World Summer Games. The bench and deadlift events began in 1986 in Illinois with the squat lift being added in 2008.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in powerlifting compete locally at Area Qualifying events. Athletes are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the Summer Games held in Normal in June.

Powerlifting Events Offered in Illinois

  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Squat Lift
  • Combined Bench and Deadlift
  • Combined Bench, Deadlift and Squat

National Governing Body
USA Powerlifting
Columbia City, IN
Web: http://www.powerlifting-ipf.com/

14. Snowshoe

Snowshoe Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Snowshoeing_BlackSnowshoe could be considered the winter equivalent of track with many of the same sports skills being used. Athletes can compete in dash and distance events either on snow or grass depending on weather conditions. This versatility allows for individuals in warmer climates to train and compete in a winter sport despite the weather conditions.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Snowshoe became an official sport of Special Olympics in 1997 at the World Winter Games. In 2002, snowshoe was added to the sports offered in Illinois.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in snowshoe compete locally at a District Qualifying event. Gold medal winners are eligible to advance to state level competition at the Winter Games held in Galena in late January or early February.

Snowshoe Events Offered in Illinois

  • 50 Meter Race
  • 100 Meter Race
  • 200 Meter Race
  • 400 meter Race
  • 800 Meter Race
  • 1600 Meter Race
  • 4X100 Meter Relay

National Governing Body
Special Olympics, Inc.
Washington, D.C.
Rules can be downloaded athttp://www.specialolympics.org/

15. Soccer

Soccer Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Soccer_BlackSoccer (football) is the world’s most popular sport. Athletes have the opportunity to compete on teams of 5 including a goalie, as well as in Individual Skills Competition which develops basic soccer skills.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Soccer became an official Special Olympics sport in 1979 at the World Summer Games. It was introduced in Illinois in 1977.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in Soccer compete locally in Area Qualifying events. They are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the Summer games held in Normal in June.

Soccer Events Offered in Illinois
Traditional

  • 5-on-5 Team Competition

Developmental

  • Individual Skills Events (Dribbling, Shooting, Run and Kick)

National Governing Body
Federation Internationale d Football Association (FIFA)
Zurich, Switzerland
Web: http://www.fifa.com/

16. Softball

Softball Facts

SO_SportsIcon_Softball_BlackSlow pitch softball involves teams of 10 athletes each. Individuals who wish to play softball but do not have a team can participate in Individual Skills Competition to develop basic softball skills. Team competition is also conducted using a Tee Ball format for those with lower skill abilities or those who are just beginning to learn the sport.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Slow pitch softball began in Illinois in 1977. It was officially recognized as a Special Olympics sport in 1983.

Teams or individuals in Illinois who participate in softball compete locally at Area and District Qualifying events. Gold medal winners are eligible to advance to state level competition at the Outdoor Sports Festival held in Decatur in September.

Softball Events Offered in Illinois
Traditional

  • Slow Pitch Team Competition

Developmental

  • Tee Ball Team Competition
  • Individual Skills Competition (Base Running, Throwing, Fielding and Hitting)

National Governing Body
Amateur Softball Association (ASA)
Oklahoma City, OK
Web: http://www.softball.org/

17. Speed Skating

Speed Skating Facts
SO_SportsIcon_Short_Track_BlackSpeed skating is a lifetime fitness sport for athletes of all ages. It provides competition that showcases strength and coordination.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Speed skating was developed as a sport in Illinois and internationally in 1977.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in speed skating compete locally at Area Qualifying events or in 2 sanctioned competitions. Athletes are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the Winter Games held in Galena in late January or early February.

Speed Skating Events Offered in Illinois

  • 111 Meter Race
  • 222 Meter Race
  • 333 Meter Race
  • 500 Meter Race
  • 777 Meter Race
  • 1000 Meter Race

National Governing Body
International Skating Union (ISU)
Web: http://www.isu.org/

18. Tennis

Tennis Facts
SO_SportsIcon_Tennis_BlackA lifetime leisure sport, tennis provides athletes the opportunity to learn and perform a variety of sports skills. Tennis competition is offered in singles and doubles at various ability levels ranging from traditional tennis to Individual Skills Competition to develop basic tennis skills. Athletes also have the opportunity to compete with their non-disabled peers in Unified doubles.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Tennis began in Illinois in 1986. It was recognized as an official Special Olympics sport in 1987.

Athletes in Illinois who participate in tennis compete locally at Area events. They are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the State Tennis Tournament held in Frankfort in August.

Tennis Events Offered in Illinois
Traditional

  • Match Play in singles and doubles

Developmental

  • Short Court Match Play in singles and doubles
  • Individual Skills Competition (Forehand Volley, Backhand Volley, Forehand Ground Stroke, Backhand Ground Stroke, Serve Deuce Court, Serve Advantage Court, Alternating Ground Strokes)

Unified

  • Unified Match Play in doubles

National Governing Body
United States Tennis Association (USTA)
Forester Center, W.V.
Web: http://www.usta.com/

19. Volleyball

Volleyball Facts
SO_SportsIcon_Volleyball_BlackVolleyball provides the opportunity for athletes to learn the sports skills of the game as well as working with others. Individuals who wish to participate in volleyball can compete in Individual Skills Competition to develop basic volleyball skills. Athletes also have the opportunity to compete with their non-disabled peers on teams in Unified volleyball.

As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are grouped into competition divisions according to ability level, age and gender when appropriate.

Volleyball began as a sport in Illinois in 1977. It was officially recognized as a Special Olympics sport in 1983.

Individuals and teams in Illinois who participate in volleyball compete locally at Area Qualifying events. They are then eligible to advance to state level competition at the Fall Games held in Rockford in October.

Volleyball Events Offered in Illinois
Traditional

  • Team Volleyball

Developmental

  • Modified Team Volleyball
  • Individual Skills Competition (Forearm Pass, Overhead Set, Serve)

Unified

  • Unified Team Volleyball

National Governing Body
Illinois High School Association (IHSA)
Bloomington, IL
Web: http://www.ihsa.org/