Design and Implementation of an Adapted Soccer Program for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities


  • Danielle Lang
  • Emily Munn
  • Mary Grayson Nix
  • Sheri Brock
  • Melissa Pangelinan


The most popular sport globally is soccer (Barak et al., 2019; Stolen et al., 2005). Even in short bouts of play, soccer can increase physical activity and overall health (Stolen et al., 2005). Unfortunately, many individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) encounter barriers that prevent their participation in sports and contribute to lower physical activity (Martin, 2013). The Unified Soccer Program through Special Olympics enables many individuals with IDD to participate in soccer, but players need to have basic skills (e.g., kicking a stationary or moving ball, trapping, dribble, etc.) and intermediate skills (e.g., positions, rules, interacting with teammates, etc.) for meaningful participation (Barak et al., 2019; Baran et al., 2013). Unfortunately, many individuals with IDD may not possess or have opportunities to develop these soccer skills, especially if they have transitioned out of school and can no longer access physical education and other school-based programming. Thus, an adapted soccer program was developed to teach fundamental soccer skills to adults with IDD. Here, we describe the basic curriculum for the adapted soccer program and behavioral supports developed to enhance learning and participation. Examples are also provided of individual modifications that were implemented to facilitate success for program participants with varying levels of communication, intellectual abilities, and physical abilities.





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