Getting started in sports with a disability.

Beginners exercising.

A certain level of fitness is required in order to engage in sports. Beginners in particular should therefore take care not to do too much at once. Rest periods are just as important as training – because the body needs time to adjust to the new challenges. Tackling these challenges with patience takes determination and discipline. But if you want a lasting and healthy relationship with sports, it’s worthwhile to avoid the extremes of either overdoing it or not making enough of an effort. If you’re interested in learning more about how to get started, you can find information and ideas here.

Take the plunge – take up sport!

Heinrich Popow with a beginner runner

Running coach Heinrich Popow is convinced that people with disabilities should engage in sport regularly – not despite their disabilities, but because of them.

An athlete practises running with a sport prosthesis

Step 1: Medical check-up

Before you commence training, you should ask your GP or therapist to examine you and ensure you meet the necessary physical requirements. Tell your doctor or therapist that you want to engage in sports, and involve them in your decision.

Female athlete plays football with a sport prosthesis

Step 2: Find your ideal sport

What appeals to me? What am I confident I can do? Numerous factors play a role when it comes to choosing a sport. These will often include your level of disability and your personal level of activity. But the most important factor is: What will be fun and keep you coming back over the long term?

Female runner with sport prosthesis on a football pitch

Step 3: Set yourself realistic goals

When you draw up your personal training plan, you should always start by taking your ability and performance into account. But we’re not talking about maximum potential here – we’re talking about the level you feel comfortable and happy with. If you finish one training session looking forward to the next, you’ve probably found a healthy balance. Aiming to make little improvements over time will help raise your chances of success and keep you motivated.

If you’re engaging in an endurance sport, it’s better to increase the duration rather than focusing on maximum speed at first. For some sports, you may need to practise handling your prosthesis or wheelchair first.

Running Clinic participant receives coaching

Step 4: Find your rhythm

If you join a club or a sports group, you’ll generally find there are fixed times for the group training sessions. If you’re starting out alone, it’s a good idea to draw up a weekly plan – making sure it’s manageable long-term. For example, if you want to do endurance sport, you could choose three days a week where you go out and train straight after work. Write down these days in your diary. Once exercise has become a habit, you’ll find it easier to get out there on days when you don’t really feel like it.

Athletic and active in everyday life