Summer Sports

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  • Aquatics

    Special Olympics offers many summer sports for athletes with intellectual disabilities. As warm weather arrives, athletes and coaches turn their training from bundle-up winter sports to the short sleeves and swimsuits of summer.

  • Athletics

    Athletics encompasses sprints, longer runs, high jump, long jump, discus, shot put and other track-and-field events. Relay races build teamwork and provide a thrilling race for spectators.
    See the Athletics Coaching Guide

  • Badminton

    Hand-eye coordination meets quick footwork in a well-played badminton match.

  • Basketball

    Teamwork is the key to success in basketball. Special Olympics athletes train frequently throughout the season to ensure they work together well.

  • Bocce

    Bocce is one of the favorite Special Olympics sports around the world. It takes a delicate touch and a sense of strategy to do it well.

  • Bowling

    Bowling was among the sports offered at the 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens, Greece and in the 2007 Games in Shanghai, China. Although Special Olympics has World Games events every two years, thousands of other Special Olympics sporting events happen every year all around the world.

  • Cricket

    Played mostly outside the United States, Special Olympics Cricket is popular in India and other Asia Pacific nations.

  • Cycling

    Special Olympics often brings experts to help athletes learn more about their sports. A program in Japan in 2009 did just that as part of an expansion of the country's cycling program.

  • Equestrian

    It's hard to find a sport that better displays the natural grace of man combined with the pure strength of an animal. When that perfect harmony between man and nature is met, equestrian sporting events can showcase poetry in motion.

  • Football

    As it is throughout the world, football is the most popular Special Olympics sport.

  • Golf

    Special Olympics golfer Oliver Doherty of Ireland works his way out of a trap.
    Photo by Matt Brown

  • Gymnastics

    Hard work, endless practice, a moment to shine and the thrill of flying through the air... It's a far cry from the terrible conditions many with intellectual disabilities face throughout the world. Special Olympics is working to bring hope and opportunity to the millions we haven't reached.

  • Rhythmic Gymnastics

    For some athletes, this sport provides a chance to combine the beauty of music with the joy of motion, the perfect union of artistic expression.

  • Handball

    It's a sport like no other that seems to be a blend of many. The sport sometimes called team handball is a dazzling and fast-paced test of coordination, timing and endurance.

  • Sailing

    Conquering the open water with and anyone brave enough to compete with her was one of our founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s favorite pastimes.

  • Softball

    Scott Camen, a Special Olympics athlete from Wisconsin, is part of a softball team mixing people with and without intellectual disabilities. Unified Sports teams provide great competition and social opportunities for all involved.
    Photo by Dave Stock Photography

  • Volleyball

    When it comes down to game day, the preparation, practice, and teamwork come together in a series of decisive moments. It's like life, and it's a part of life that all Special Olympics participants share.