Sports

Special Olympics Missouri offers year-round sports training and athletic competition to children and adults with intellectual disabilities. More than 16,900 athletes from around the state, benefit from participation in the program.

Special Olympics athletes are people of all ages that have intellectual or developmental disabilities. They are like other athletes. They train and compete. They learn to win and to lose. They strive to do their best. They inspire us.

In addition to sports, Special Olympics Missouri offers a wide variety of programming for our athletes.

Sports Offered Statewide

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Athletics

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Athletics events range from the 100 meters and hurdle events to the marathon, from the high jump to the long jump, shot put, relays and wheelchair events. Special Olympics also offers events for athletes of lower ability levels to train and compete in basic athletics skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to longer competitive events.

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

Track Events:
100, 200, 400, 800, Meter Run

Relays:
- 4 x 100
- 4 x 400 Meter 
400 and 800 Meter Walk  

Field Events:
High Jump
Long Jump 

Shot Put :
- Women 2.72 kg/6 lbs (8-11 yrs - 1.81 kg/4 lbs)
- Men 4 kg/8.8 lbs (8-11 yrs - 2.72 kg/ 6lbs) 

Mini-Javelin (Turbo Javelin):
- Women 300g (8-15 yrs - 300g)
-Men 400g (8-15 yrs - 300g)

Distance Events:
1500, 3000, 5000, 10,000 Meter

Multi Event:
Pentathlon (100 Meters, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 800 Meters) 

Wheelchair Events:
100, 200 and 400 Meter Wheelchair Race

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Basketball

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Basketball is a favorite among Special Olympics athletes. In addition to team competition, Special Olympics Basketball also offers individual skills competition to allow athletes to train and compete in basic basketball skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to team play. These events include target pass, ten-meter dribble and spot shot. A player's final score is determined by adding the scores together achieved in each of the events.

As in all Special Olympics sports, basketball teams are grouped in competition divisions according to the athletes' and team's ability level, age, and gender.

Events:

  • 5-on-5 Unified® Sports Team Competition
  • 5-on-5 Team Competition
  • Half Court: 3-on-3 Competition
  • Half Court: 3-on-3 Unified® Sports Team Competition
  • Individual Skills
  • Team Skills
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Bocce

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Bocce is a game of skill and strategy. The object is for one team to get as many of their balls (boccia) closer to the pallina (the smallest ball) than the opposing team's closest ball. There may be anywhere from two to four players on a team. Each player is given two balls. Each player must then take turns rolling (lagging) the ball toward the pallina ball, which has already been thrown onto the field. The players are given points for the balls rolled closest to the pallina ball. Players may also throw on the fly (volo), striking the ball to move the point ball. Balls, including the pallina, may also be displaced by the balls of other players.

The Special Olympics bocce program has events for singles, doubles and team competition. As in all Special Olympics sports, athletes are placed in divisions according to ability, age and gender.

Divisions:
Singles
Doubles
Team Competition (4-person)
Unified® Sports Doubles and Team (4-person)

Bowling

Bowling

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Bowling is a longtime favorite Special Olympics sport for all athletes of all ages. Although there are some modifications made for athletes with physical disabilities, most athletes compete under the same rules and circumstances as athletes on a professional tour.

In addition to offering traditional singles and doubles events, Special Olympics offers events for athletes with low ability levels to train and compete in basic bowling skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to match play.

As in all Special Olympics sports, bowling teams are grouped in competition divisions according to the athletes' ability level, age and gender.

Events:

Singles
Doubles
Mixed Doubles
Team
Unified Team
Unified Doubles
Individual Skills
Ramp Assisted
Ramp Unassisted

Flag Football

Flag Football

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General Rules

  • Special Olympics Flag Football is non-contact. In all aspects of Special Olympics Flag Football, rulings shall be made with player safety as the primary consideration.
  • The team roster may contain a maximum of 12 players.
  • Teams shall field 5 players to start the game (required). Teams may continue with a minimum of 4 players, if necessary due to disqualification or injury.
  • Teams will be grouped in divisions based on a classification round of games.
    • Modified Event Traditional Event Unified Sports® Event
    • Individual Skills Competition Traditional Team Competition
    • Unified Team Competition
Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

Golf

Golf

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Like most golfers, Special Olympics athletes are driven by the opportunity to compete. Program planning is designed to develop individual golf skills that enhance performance, allowing the athlete to achieve success in playing the game. Both on the practice area and on the course, Special Olympics athletes participating in golf have gained the respect of their golf peers.

The Special Olympics Golf program is centered on two educational phases designed to encompass all skill levels: learning to swing a golf club and learning to play the game. Athletes may participate in Individual Skills, 9-hole stroke play or 18-hole stroke play.

Special Olympics golf includes five levels of competition. Individual Skills Competition (Level 1) provides a meaningful competition for athletes of lower ability, allowing them to train and compete in basic golf skills. In order for athletes to advance to Levels 2-5, they must achieve a total of 60 points in the Individual Skills Test.

Events:

Level 1 - Individual Skills Competition
Level 2 - Unified Sports Alternate Shot Team Play (9 hole)
Level 3 - Unified Sports Alternate Shot Team Play (18 hole)
Level 4 - Individual Stroke Play Competition (9 hole)
Level 5 - Individual Stroke Play Competition (18 hole)

Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

Powerlifting

Powerlifting

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Special Olympics Powerlifting is about much more than squats, bench presses and deadlifts. It is about barriers, perseverance and success. Training, determination and attitude determine the fine line between success and failure. The bar may test an athlete's physical abilities, but an internal desire to improve - to not settle for less - is the drive behind the strain and dedication of the sport. Special Olympics powerlifters are eligible to compete in three lifts: the bench press, the deadlift and the squat.

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

Events:

  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Combination (Bench press and Deadlift)
Softball

Softball

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Softball is an exciting team sport in Special Olympics. Athletes play slow-pitch Softball, which involves two teams of 10 athletes each. Special Olympics offers individual skills competition to allow athletes to train and compete in basic Softball skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to team competition. These skills include base running, fielding and throwing. A player's final score is determined by adding together the scores achieved in each of the events.

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

Events:

  • Slow Pitch Team Competition
  • Unified Sports® Team Competition
  • Tee Ball
  • Coach Pitch
  • Individual Skills
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Swimming

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Because of the wide array of swimming events offered, Aquatics is appropriate for a range of ages and ability levels. Aquatics competition events are based on a variety of strokes. Special Olympics also offers events for athletes of lower ability levels to train and compete in basic aquatics skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to longer competitive events.

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

Freestyle Events:
- 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,500 Meter 
Individual Medley Events:
- 200 and 400 Meter 

Freestyle and Medley Relay Events:
- 4 x 25, 4 x 50 and 4 x 100 Meter
- 4 x 200 Meter Freestyle Relay 

Unified Sports® Relay Events:
- Freestyle: 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 Meter
- Medley: 4 x 25, 4 x 50 and 4 x 100 Meter

Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

Tennis

Tennis

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Like mainstream tennis, Special Olympics Tennis gives athletes the opportunity to learn and perform a variety of skills that can be played throughout life. In addition to offering traditional singles and doubles events, Special Olympics offers individual skills competition to allow athletes to train and compete in basic tennis skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to match play. These skills include racket bounce, "ups", forehand volley, backhand ground stroke, serve-deuce court, serve-advantage court and alternating ground stroke with movement.

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

For athletes who use a wheelchair or other aid, we offer training and competition in Low Motor Events.

Events:

  • Singles
  • Doubles
  • Unified Sports Doubles
  • Individual Skills
  • Low Motor Skills
Volleyball

Volleyball

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Athletes participating in Special Olympics Volleyball benefit from the camaraderie that comes from competing in a team sport, as well as the training that enables them to successfully serve and return a volleyball.

Special Olympics Volleyball also offers individual skills competition to allow athletes to train and compete in basic volleyball skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to team competition. These skills include volleying, serving and passing.

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

Events:

  • Team Competition
  • Unified Sports Team Competition
  • Individual Skills

Other Sports Offered

While some areas have athletes who train and compete in these sports, that doesn't mean an official SOMO competition is held. Some athletes train and compete as individuals on their own, while others may travel to neighboring states for competition. The areas that "offer" these sports can put you in contact with local teams that train in them. Click their links below to contact your area office. If you want to start one of these sports in your area, contact your area staff.

If you'd like to start a new sport that isn't listed, let us know.

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Alpine Skiing

Areas Offered:
North, St. Louis Metro

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This exciting winter sport challenges the athlete's ability and coordination while racing down a mountain at speeds of up to 64 kilometers per hour. The events offered are designed to accommodate every ability and competition interest. Three different ability levels of athletes compete in the downhill, slalom and giant slalom events. For each of these categories, the courses are set for advanced, intermediate or novice ability athletes. Beginners and athletes with lower ability levels can participate in the 10-meter walk, glide or super glide.

Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

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Equestrian

Areas Offered:
Central Area, St. Louis Metro Area

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The official Special Olympics Sports Rules for Equestrian shall govern all Special Olympics competitions.  As an international sports program, Special Olympics has created these rules based upon Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) rules for equestrian. FEI or National Governing Body (NGB) rules shall be employed except when they are in conflict with the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules for Equestrian or Article I.  In such cases, the Official Special Olympics Sports Rules for Equestrian shall apply. 

PART 1--GENERAL RULES

SECTION A--OFFICIAL EVENTS

The following is a list of official events available in Special Olympics.

The range of events is intended to offer competition opportunities for athletes of all abilities. Programs may determine the events offered and, if required, guidelines for the management of those events. Coaches are responsible for providing training and event selection appropriate to each athlete’s skill and interest.

  • 1. Dressage
  • 2. Prix Caprilli
  • 3. English Equitation (required as a preliminary test)
  • 4. Stock Seat Equitation (required as a preliminary test)
  • 5. Western Riding
  • 6. Working Trails
  • 7. Showmanship at Halter/Bridle Classes
  • 8. Gymkhana Events
    • a. Pole Bending
    • b. Barrel Racing
    • c. Figure 8 Stake Race
    • d. Team Relays
  • 9. Drill Teams of twos and fours
  • 10.Unified Sports Team Relays
  • 11.Unified Sports Drill Teams
Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

Floor Hockey

Floor Hockey

Areas Offered:
Kansas City Metro Area

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Floor Hockey is adapted from the games of ice hockey and ringette. It is the only team sport in Special Olympics Winter Sports. Unlike Alpine or cross country skiing, Special Olympics Floor Hockey gives athletes who live in warm climates the opportunity to compete in Special Olympics Winter Sports. Floor Hockey is played in a rink, but the surface is made of wood or concrete, not ice. The teams are composed of six players, including a goalie. The athletes use wooden poles (without blades) as the sticks and the pucks are large felt discs with an open center.

Special Olympics Floor Hockey also offers individual skills competition to allow athletes to train and compete in basic floor hockey skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to team play. These events include shooting, passing and stick handling. A player's final score is determined by adding the scores together achieved in each of the events.

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

Events:

  • Team Competition
  • Unified Sports Team Competition
  • Individual Skills
Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

Showshoeing

Snowshoeing

Areas Offered:
Kansas City Metro

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Snowshoeing is very similar to athletics and shares the same excellent cardiovascular workout as cross country skiing. Special Olympics Snowshoeing offers events for athletes of every ability level. Individual events offered in snowshoeing range from the 100 meter races to the 5K. In addition to these traditional events, Special Olympics offers events for athletes of lower ability levels to train and compete in basic snowshoeing skills. The development of these key skills is necessary prior to advancing to longer competitive events.

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

Events:

  • 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 Meter Race
  • 5K and 10K Race
  • 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 Meter Relay Race
Rules and Coach Info

Important Forms and Links:

Interested in coaching this sport? 
Contact your local office

Francis Howell's Zack Nevels goes for the ball during a soccer game for the Special Olympics at Missouri State University

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Soccer

Areas Offered:
SW Area, STL Metro, KC Metro

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Soccer (football) is probably the world's most popular sport for children and adults alike. 

Playing soccer requires very little equipment. Because it is easy to learn, soccer is appropriate for a wide range of age and ability levels. Athletes who participate in soccer are able to improve their overall physical fitness through training and competition. Because it is a team sport, athletes learn first hand the benefits of playing as a team. This promotes communication, camaraderie and friendships.

Events:

  • 11-A-Side Team Competition 
  • 11-A-Side Unified Sports Team Competition
  • 5-A-Side (Modified) Team Competition
  • 5-A-Side (Modified) Unified Sports Team Competition
  • Individual Skills
Rules and Coach Info