Shop RNIB Donate now

Sport and leisure

Blind and partially sighted people can get involved in all kinds of sports. No matter your age or ability, you can try your hand at football, rock climbing, rugby, athletics or archery. Find out about the different opportunities available and how you can get involved.

A young person looking over their should as they paddle a kayak down a river.

There are some sports which are especially adapted for blind and partially sighted young people.

See Sport Differently

We know the positive impact sport can have on people’s lives and that people with sight loss participate and excel in sport and physical activity at all levels. But we also know there’s work to do, as many people with sight loss are unable to access and therefore enjoy sport.

We're working with British Blind Sport (BBS) to raise awareness among the two million people with sight loss in the UK, and across the sports sector, about how more blind and partially sighted people can get involved with sport and feel the benefits.

Discover the variety of sporting opportunities

Angling and fishing

Many blind and partially sighted people enjoy angling as both a recreational activity and competitive sport. Modifications to equipment and special aids are available to overcome most difficulties encountered by anglers with sight loss, many of whom are members of local angling clubs.

Angling Trust has eight regional officers for disabled people. You can find out more on the Angling Trust website.


Techniques for teaching/coaching archery are based on descriptive instruction and contact demonstration. Equipment required is the same as for fully sighted archers but there are a number of extra aids available if necessary. These vary but those commonly used are a block and board for positioning the feet and a vertical stand which grips an adjustable horizontal point of flexible material, for example, paint brush bristles for guiding the position of the hand of the forward aiming arm. Electronic aiming aids have also been developed but are yet to be adopted extensively.

You can find out more on the British Blind Sport Archery and Archery GB websites.


Track and field events have been practised by blind and partially sighted people for many years and there are established activities at many sports clubs, schools and colleges for people with sight loss.

Performance standards have improved rapidly in recent years and in some track events in the UK, blind and partially sighted athletes not only compete against each other, but also take part in the same events as sighted competitors.

For some events, the rules are adapted and appropriate aids are used; for example, the totally blind athlete has a guide who runs alongside, using a length of rope or cord to help with direction. The runners and guides communicate verbally so that the runner can receive information on the position of his/her rival competitors. Athletics competitions for people with sight loss are held at regional, national and international levels every year.

For further information please visit England athletics, Scottish athletics, Welsh athletics or Northern Ireland athletics websites.


Bowls is one of the most popular games for people with sight loss in the UK and many clubs have blind and partially sighted members.

Few adaptations to the rules are necessary, though the method of play varies slightly. Once you have learnt the techniques of the game, it is possible to play with minimal assistance from sighted partners and/or opponents. Responsibility for developing the game at national level rests with the game's national governing bodies. Several national tournaments for blind and partially sighted people are organised annually. For details of these and of clubs and coaching techniques, contact your respective national association. Promotion of the game for people with sight loss is also achieved.

Visit Visually Impaired Bowls England, Scottish Association for Blind Bowlers (SABB) websites or contact Northern Ireland Visually Impaired Bowlers (NIVIB) on 02891 455 774 or at [email protected].


The British Canoe Union (BCU) supports the promotion of canoeing for all people with disabilities. Its coaching scheme offers training in methods for introducing blind people to canoeing; teaching techniques can be introduced in a swimming pool. The minimum requirement for the safety of a canoeist in an organised group is to be able to float in a life jacket, with confidence, after capsizing.

There are aids to help blind and partially sighted people to maintain a sense of direction when canoeing, such as a bell or bleeper attached to a sighted person's canoe. In general, the most effective aid is a sighted canoeist in the immediate vicinity giving vocal directions.

For further information please visit the British Canoe Union website.


Blind Cricket is played with a size three football containing ball bearings. The teams are composed of players from up to five different sight categories B1, low partial, B2, B3 and B4. B1 is totally blind, and the sight categories then move upwards in levels of sight. Each sight category is subject to different rules and compensations in order to make the playing field as level as possible. For example, a B1 player receives two bounce bowling and is allowed to catch opposing batsmen out one bounce. B1 players also have to bowl around a third of their side’s overs and each team must field at least three B1 players.

If you are interested in the rules of Blind Cricket, then it is best to look at the website where a full and in-depth insight can be gained. What it is important to say here is that the game boasts an extremely lively circuit with vibrant clubs who can offer cricket to a range of differently interested parties. Competitions exist for both experienced and less experienced players to take part in, as well as a national league and Twenty20 cup competition and a lot of development events and matches there is also the BBS Primary Club national knockout cup, this is the premier competition in UK blind cricket.

The game boasts a friendly and sociable atmosphere with each club offering something unique to the game. Most people would cite the camaraderie, the social atmosphere, and the opportunity to share experiences with other visually impaired people as major reasons for playing the game.

The current playing clubs at a national level are Kent Spitfires, Lancashire Lions, London Metro, Northants Steelbacks, Somerset VICC, Surrey VICC, Sussex Sharks, Yorkshire VICC. Developing teams exist in a lot of areas too, such as Durham, Berkshire, Hampshire, Nottingham and Derbyshire.

The league and Twenty20 rules and regulations are governed by BCEW (Blind Cricket England and Wales) and the BBS and Primary Club KO Cup by BBS (British Blind Sport).


Blind Football is a fast paced 5-a-side football played by visually impaired athletes using a ball with a noise-making device inside. It is played on a smaller pitch surrounded with a rebound wall. The sport is played with no throw-ins and no offside rule, which ensures non-stop action. Matches are played over two halves of 25 minutes each, plus 10 minutes for half-time. Blind football matches involve two teams with four outfield players and a goalkeeper. The outfield players are visually impaired (VI) and wear eyeshades to ensure fairness. The goalkeeper may be fully or partially sighted.

The game was only introduced as a Paralympic event in 2004. There is more dribbling and short passing than in mainstream sport, and crowds remain quiet during play to ensure that players can hear the ball, their teammates and opposition players.

British Blind Sport runs the national 5-a-side football league for visually impaired players. It also hosts football development days throughout the country and an annual national schools tournament (for under 18s).

The FA run both an England Partially Sighted team and an England Blind team football. These teams compete at the European Championships and the World Cup.

You can read more about blind football at:

Ajmal's story

Ajmal plays in the Blind English Football team. He says:

“I've been playing football since I was 4 and I started playing in tournaments when I was at school. When I went to Royal National College (RNC), I joined the team and started playing in competitions. The RNC football coach is also the coach of the English blind football squad and he selected me for the team.”

“It would be great if more people could get involved. At the moment we only have four club teams in the UK while Spain has 80 and Brazil has over 600.”

“There are 12 of us in the national squad and we are always looking for new talent. Try and play as much as you can when you are at school.”

You can watch footage of David Beckham playing blind football on YouTube.

Going to the football?

Audio description at sports venues and Soccer Sight aims to bring football commentary to blind and partially sighted people at every professional club in England and Wales. There's also audio description at some sports venues.


An increasing number of blind and partially sighted people play golf. They use the same equipment and play almost entirely to the same rules of Golf as fully sighted golfers. The one notable exception is that a blind golfer is allowed to ground the club in a hazard without penalty.

All blind golfers are assisted by a sighted guide who ensures the club head is correctly positioned behind the ball, provides a description of the hole and the distance to hit the shot. The golfer then plays the stroke. The handicapping system in golf allows blind golfers to play and compete with fully sighted golfers.

Horse riding

Riding is greatly enjoyed by people of all ages and an increasing number of riding schools now provide training and facilities for disabled people, including those who have sight loss.

Instruction for beginners may vary but usually begins in an indoor arena with the instructor giving verbal directions. As riders become more proficient, they can begin riding outdoors. In the early stages, you may use a long rein, and this could be attached to a leading horse with the learner rider on the following horse. Some blind and partially sighted people have learnt to ride with a high degree of independence and accomplishment.

You can find out more on the Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) website.

Judo and martial arts

Judo and martial arts are becoming steadily more popular with people with sight loss. There are now groups in some schools, clubs and colleges for young blind and partially sighted people. An increasing number of individuals are pursuing the sport in local clubs and some have reached high grades.

There is now a permanent national Judo squad from which teams are selected to represent Great Britain in international competitions.

For further information please visit the British Judo Association and English Karate Federation websites.


Similar to table tennis, Polybat has been specifically designed for totally blind people. Polybat uses a rectangular table with raised edges and a wooden bridge stretching across the centre, from side to side, with enough room for the ball (small, with plastic beads inside) to pass underneath. Bats are square pieces of wood with a handle extension and the ball is struck from end to end, each player trying to defend their own sunken goal and score points by dropping their ball into the opponent’s.

Polybat can be fast and exciting and can be played as singles or doubles, either for fun or as an organised competitive sport.

For further information please visit the English Table Tennis Association website.

Rifle/pistol shooting

People with sight loss participate in small-bore rifle or pistol shooting with aiming devices to assist them. BBS, the governing body for acoustic shooting, offers advice concerning the availability and development of aiming aids and about the sport generally.

For further information please visit the National Small Bore Rifle Association and British Blind Sport (BBS) websites.


There are rowing clubs throughout the UK that have members with sight loss. In competition, individual blind and partially sight people can race with a sighted team or in teams where the only sighted member is the cox. Rowing is one of the few sports in which people with sight loss can compete with sighted people on equal terms.

For further information please visit the British Rowing website.


In recent years, sailing has greatly increased in popularity within blind and partially sighted people, mainly through the support of the sport’s governing body, the Royal Yachting Association. RYA Sailability is the UK development charity and exists to ensure that adults and children with any form of disability can participate in the sport at the level of their choice. Hundreds of sailors enjoy the opportunities offered by the organisation since its inception in 1973. RYA Sailability, provides boats, equipment, advice and training opportunities so that everyone can enjoy the freedom, challenge and pleasures of getting afloat.

The Rona Sailing Project runs a variety of sailing courses. Based on the River Hamble near Southampton, the project is able to offer the opportunity of sailing on one of its offshore sailing vessels. It is suitable for totally inexperienced or experienced people with sight loss who would wish to try sailing on large, safe sailing yachts with an experienced sighted crew to assist. You will fully partake in everything aboard. Expectations are meeting new friends and self-fulfilment.

Further information can also be found on the Blind Sailing International website.

Skiing and snowboarding

Skiing for blind and partially sighted people began in the cross-country (Nordic) style only. However, training techniques and aids were developed for downhill (Alpine) skiing; for example, two guides position themselves either side of the skier, with all three gripping a light metal bar. The trio of skiers move down the slope in a synchronised fashion, changing course by verbal direction.

As pupils become more skilful, the pole is dispensed with and the skier relies on verbal instruction from one guide only. Such one-to-one instruction has meant that people with sight loss have become very proficient downhill skiers in a short time. Instruction has now improved for both skier and guide with the use of radio contact between the two. The number of blind and partially sighted people taking part has steadily grown.

Further information can be found on the Disability Snowsport UK website.


Swimming is a very popular and accessible sport for blind and partially sighted people. Many swimming pools welcome swimmers with sight loss during public sessions and, in addition, often provide special sessions for organised groups (sometimes with other disabled people).

There are an increasing number of regional, national and international competitions held every year for blind and partially sighted people. British Blind Sport (BBS) hold a swimming gala every year in Worcester for blind and partially sighted people of all ages.

For international and national swimming competitions and training, it's best to contact the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association).

Table tennis

For many partially sighted people, table tennis can be played without any adaptation to equipment or modification to rules.

British Table Tennis Association for the Disabled

Contact through the website at


Blind Tennis is played on either a badminton court or a standard tennis court using a short tennis racket and an adapted spongy ball that makes a noise when it bounces. Balls can be either black or fluorescent green to give maximum contrast with the colour of the sports hall. The standard rules of tennis apply with just a few modifications.

LTA (Lawn Tennis Association)

email: Contact form available on website


Metro Blind Sport

email: [email protected]


Sporting Organisations

Activity Alliance

Enable organisations to support disabled people in sport and also support disabled people to find opportunities to get active. For further information visit the Activity Alliance website.

British Blind Sport

British Blind Sport aims to ensure that sport and leisure facilities are accessible to every blind or partially sighted person in the UK, with the intention of improving their physical health and self esteem. Adults and children are encouraged to participate at whatever level they choose be it grassroots or up to international competitive level. Sports include: Archery, Athletics, Cricket, Football, Goalball, Shooting, Ten pin bowling.

For further information visit British Blind Sport, call 01926 424247 or email [email protected].

British Paralympics Association

The British Paralympic Association (BPA) are the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) for Great Britain and are responsible for the selection, preparation, entering, funding and management of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team at the Paralympic Games. Find out more about the ParalympicsGB team on the British Paralympic Association website.

Metro sport

Metro is a London based Sports and Social Club for blind and partially sighted people of all ages. Members include many of the UK’s top international sports men and women, as well as those who are new to sport or who want to enjoy less competitive activities. For further information visit the Metro blind sport website.

Disability Sport Wales

The Disability Sport Wales National Community Development Programme is a joint initiative between Sport Wales, the Federation of Disability Sport Wales and the 22 local authorities across Wales. The scheme is aimed at developing quality community based sporting and recreational opportunities for disabled people throughout Wales. For details on Volunteering opportunities visit the Disability Sport Wales website.

Please note: All organisations mentioned on this page are not endorsed or recommended by RNIB. Other organisations are available which offer similar opportunities.

Scottish Disability Sport

SDS is the Scottish governing and co-coordinating body of all sports for children, athletes and players of all ages and abilities with a physical, sensory or learning disability. Their vision is to make sure sport and physical activity in Scotland are welcoming and inclusive for participants with disabilities. For further information visit the Scottish Disability Sport website.

Disability Sports Northern Ireland

Work with people with physical, sensory and learning disabilities of all ages and with schools, disability groups, sporting organisations and clubs to ensure that everyone can benefit from the health, social and education benefits of sport and active recreation. For further information visit the Disability Sports Northern Ireland website.

Tell us your sporting stories

If you have a passion for sport, why not tell us about it? Email us at [email protected].