Game On: Learn about the divisioning process that differentiates Special Olympics from other sport organizations.

SONC offers three types of basketball competition: individual skills, 3-on-3 team, and 5-on-5 team.

Individual skills competition allows Special Olympics athletes to develop sports skills in a competitive format designed as a stepping stone for athletes to team competition. The indvidual skills offered for basketball are passing, dribbling, and shooting.

3-on-3 basketball team competition is played on a half-court with three players a side (six player on a roster maximum). Games are played with two ten-minute halves with a running clock. The winner is determined by who has the most points at the end of full time, or the first team to 20 points.

5-on-5 basketball team competition is played on a regulation basketball court and follows North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) rules, with some modifications. Games are played by four eight-minute quarters with a running clock. The winner is determined by the team with the most points at the end of full time.

Always communicate with your local coordinator if you are interested in submitting registration for an event.

Fall Tournament/Invitational Registration Forms

Local program coordinators should submit entries along with the remainder of the Fall Tournament registration.  Click here for a full list of Fall Tournament registration forms. These forms will be available closer to the event date.

Assessment Forms

For coaches’ use only – do NOT submit with event registration.

SONC Fall Tournament

SONC Fall Tournament will be held November 1-3, 2019 in Charlotte. At that time, skills competition and 5-on-5 team competition will occur; 3-on-3 competition will be held in 2020.  Individual skills competition will be offered every year at the state level.

New Hanover County Multi-Sport Invitational

New Hanover County is hosting a multi-sport invitational on Sunday, October 6th!  This invitational will feature basketball, bocce, soccer and tennis competition and will be held in various locations throughout Wilmington.  Basketball will be held at Williston Middle School located at 401 S 8th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401.  Currently, this invitational is only open to invited programs.  Form more information contact

Unified Sports Recreation Basketball is occurring at college campuses around the state. NC State, UNC Wilmington, Methodist University and Winston-Salem State University have programs currently underway.

For more information on Unified Sports basketball, check out this video from SOI and ESPN.


Athletes and partners also have the opportunity and are encouraged to participate in various local invitationals. Check the basketball sport calendar for upcoming invitationals being hosted by local programs.

Local programs are also encouraged to host and invite neighboring counties to participate in invitationals, scrimmages, or leagues.  Click here for some basic steps on how to get started.  If you are interested in hosting an invitational you can also contact the sports department at

About Basketball: As a dominant sport in the Tar Heel State, it should come as no surprise that basketball is also a mainstay in the Special Olympics North Carolina program. Players take up basketball at all ages and at all abilities, from young players learning to handle the ball and keep it under control while dribbling to older, more experienced players who have the moves and know the strategies to play challenging ball. 

Differences of Special Olympics Basketball:  Special Olympics Basketball offers a series of adaptations of FIBA rules that are optional when conducting team competitions. Some of these adaptations include adjusting the length of the game, allowing a player to take two steps beyond what is ruled by FIBA as traveling, allowing the free throw shooter 10 seconds to release the ball, enforcing a rule that allows only five seconds of closely guarded play in frontcourt, and rewarding two free throws beginning with the seventh team foul in each half.  

History: Basketball implemented its own state-level tournament in 1982. 

By the Numbers:   

  • 1991 was a busy year for Special Olympics North Carolina basketball.  Ken Bryant, a Basketball Development Team member was selected to be an official for the 1991 International Summer Special Olympics Games in Minneapolis, MN. 
  • 1991 was also the year that the program director Patton McDowell chaired the International Summer Special Olympics Games Men’s Basketball Tournament screening committee in Minneapolis. 
  • Ninety-five local programs currently compete in basketball in North Carolina. 

Sport Development Teams (SDT) are responsible for assisting with local and state-level programs and competition, educating coaches and officials, and promoting active engagement among athletes throughout the year.  Click here for more information.

Gaston Collins

Celeste Frazier

Lewis McLean

Michael Quade

Certified Clinicians receive additional training in presentational skills to conduct training schools in their community.  In order to become a Certified Clinician one must have a Special Olympics North Carolina level 2 sport certification in this sport.

Howard Barber

Kathy Odell

For more information on becoming an SDT member or a Certified Clinician, contact

Find out if this sport is offered in your community

Become an athlete or unified partner

Special Olympics North Carolina offers sports training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports to children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Learn more on how to become an athlete.

Become a Unified partner and play on a team alongside athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Become a Coach

Combine knowledge and passion for a sport by becoming a Special Olympics North Carolina coach to lead athletes in preparing for local and state-level competition.

Become a Volunteer

Serve a crucial role at Special Olympics North Carolina by volunteering at our office or one of our many events throughout the year. Check out our home page for these volunteer opportunities.

Share Your Sport Knowledge

Officiate for Special Olympics North Carolina by donating your time as a sports official.  Contact for more information.

Sport Development Team members (SDT) are active volunteers who channel their passion and knowledge for a sport into effective leadership for local and state programs.  

Certified clinicians supplement the SDT by providing coaches training in their community.  Click here for trainers.

For more information on getting involved, contact