Track and Field State Models

Steps to Creating a Para-Division

1.. Agree to a model
2. Decide on the number of divisions
3. Agree on the methods to move an athlete through to the state championship meet
4. Decide what events will be offered
5. Decide what field weights will be thrown and what standards will be adopted
6. Define what constitutes a Para-Athlete

Many states have already integrated adapted track and field into their extracurricular programs. The following states have successfully implemented adapted track and field events: New Jersey, Washington, Louisiana, and Florida.

Division Suggestions

In the simplest model the Para-athlete division is divided into a male and female wheelchair division. In some states, the male and female division is further divided into a division for athletes with lower extremity disabilities and a second division for athletes with a disability affecting both the lower and upper extremities. The primary goal is to provide an opportunity to compete but a secondary goal for some states is to level the playing field so that athletes with like disabilities compete against one another.

New Jersey
  • Any athlete from a member school can participate at the state meet and can earn medals but no team points are awarded at the dual or group championship levels.
  • Georgia option: limit the state meet athletes to the top 8 per event
  • Any athlete from a member school can participate at the state meet. This model is similar to the Louisiana model (below) but teams with Para-athletes vie for the State’s integrated team championship trophy.
  • Any athlete from a member school can participate at the state meet
  • State sets standards for races and field events contested. If an athlete meets the standard he is awarded points
  • If one athlete competes 1 point is awarded. If two athletes compete, 2 points are awarded to the winner and 1 point to 2nd place. If three athletes compete, the points awarded are 3, 2, 1 for first, second, and third respectively
  • A team cannot win the state title with these points but it can tie for first place

General Rules

  • Students with a permanent, physical disability may be eligible to participate on their school team
  • Students must meet all Florida High School Athletic Association’s eligibility requirements
  • All athletes qualified for the adapted events must compete in a standard wheelchair, a throwing chair or a racing wheelchair
  • Students will be members of the school’s track and field team and will compete at all the school’s meets (regardless of the number of wheelchair competitors)
  • The top eight qualifiers over the entire track season in each event will advance to the FHSA State Track and Field Meet

Adapted Shot Put Rules

  • All competitors must put the shot from a “chair” (manual wheelchair, throwing chair, power chair). Scooters and “standing chairs” will not be allowed
  • The upper most part of the cushion/seat on any chair may not exceed 75cm/29.5in
  • The chair will be considered and extension of the athletes body. For example: any part of the chair touching the top of the stop board is a foul
  • There will be two classifications for both boys and girl
  • A coach may assist the athlete entering the circle
  • One buttock cheek must remain in contact with the seat during the throw
Suggested Classifications

Class 1: Athletes with any disability of the lower extremities (spinal cord injury, amputation, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, orthopedic injuries), for example: severe permanent injuries in the knee, ankle, and hips

Class 2: Athletes with any disability that affect’s lower and upper extremities (cervical spinal, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury). Class 2 athletes are eligible to compete in Class 1, however, if they choose to compete in Class 1, they cannot compete in Class 2.

Shot Put Weights
Boy’s Class 1: 8.81 lbs

Boy’s/Girls Class 1 & 2: 6 lbs

Adapted Track Rules
  • The track chair shall have two rear wheels and one front wheel
  • The track chair frame shall not extend in front of the center of the front wheel hub
  • The track chair may have no mechanical gears or levers that would propel the chair. The steering must be hand operated. No electronic steering is allowed
  • No part of the track chair or frame may protrude past the furthest point of the rear wheel
  • Athlete’s lower limbs must be secured to the track chair. Any touching of the ground by the lower limbs results in disqualification from the event
  • Competitors are responsible for the proper functioning of the track char. No event shall be delayed for equipment failure prior to an event
  • The maximum diameter of the rear wheel and inflated tire is 70cm. The maximum diameter of the front wheel and inflated tire is 50cm. Each rear wheel may have one hand rim
  • Athletes may only propel the chair forward by pushing on the wheels or hand rims
  • All competitors must wear gloves and a bicycle helmet that meets ANSI standards
  • The center of the front axle may not extend over the starting line
  • The finish of the race occurs when the center of the front axle crosses the finish line
  • In the 200m, competitors must stay in their designated lane. Touching or crossing the lane line for more than 10 consecutive feet is a disqualification
  • Athletes may not touch or obstruct another competitor during an event. Obstruction of an athlete will result in disqualification
Equal Access Model


  • Athletes compete at dual, group, and at the state level, but do not deliver points to their team to win a meet
  • Athletes invited to the state meet based on a timed final or field event performances
  • Athletes do not achieve points but do receive medals and can set state records


  • Athletes achieve track and field high school letters through scoring points
  • Athlete can score points for the team
  • Team can score points from disabled athletes
  • Athlete can score points at state, receive medals and set state records

Best Practices

  • As scoring model is a fully integrated model
  • The para-athlete is contributing member to the team
  • The coring model encourages coaches and schools to recruit athletes into their program
Scoring Model Options

Based on athlete numbers

  • Points given based on the total number of participants
  • The one plus one: a single athlete would receive a point (or the number determined by the state) and a medal. Two athletes= 1 point and 1 medal, Three athletes= 2 athletes get points and medals, etc.
  • Scoring would be based on the system used by the state in the traditional model if full heats or flights exists.

Based on achieving a minimum standard

  • Athlete has to achieve a minimum standard in the competition in order to achieve a point. This is used to encourage a high level of competition.

Wheelchair Category

  • Student athletes participating in the wheelchair events within the wheelchair division receive points
Advancement to the State Championship
  • Ranking list: top eight athletes invited to the state meet
  • Qualify through the state’s traditional model
  • Meet a qualifying standard during the course of the season (time frame and type of meet to be defined)
  • Number of high school events the athlete must compete in to advance
  • Based on numbers of participants, the competitions may need to be held at set time and day within the state meet structures opposed to within a class or division.

Best Practices

  • Wear school uniform
  • Meet high school eligibility requirements (may be modification on age, due to previous surgeries or illness)
  • The athlete is responsible for all equipment
  • Number of competitions that an athlete must compete in to be eligible to advance to state

Determination of Team Championships

  • A team trophy given to traditional teams and one for the combined scores of the disabled athletes and the traditional athletes from the same school
  • If the points scored be a disabled athlete enables his/her team to tie or exceed the highest team point total of another team(s) then the team with disabled athlete will be declared to co-champion and the other team(s) without the disabled athlete will be declared the outright champion. This applies to the runner-up position as well as the regular season, district, regional, and state meet
  • Traditional system of awarding team trophies based on the combination of traditional and disabled athlete points
  • The top performing individuals in each category will compete for the State Championship and that individual finishers will receive medals and score points within the wheelchair division and the top boys team and top girls team will receive a championship trophy for wheelchair track and field. 

Due to the limited amount of competition against other athletes or the limited amount of expert coaching , some states might allow athletes to attend competitions, camps or clinics under the auspices of USA Paralympic Track and Field.


Guideline Table of Contents





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