Sports Offered

For 50 years, Special Olympics has used sports to fight for the rights and abilities of people with intellectual disability. Through the common and simple vehicle of sports, Special Olympics has helped bring about an attitude change in the way people with intellectual disability view themselves and are viewed and treated by others, replacing misunderstanding and fear with respect, acceptance and inclusion.


Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) offers year-round sports training. Training is the essential element of Special Olympics. Our athletes are well-prepared physically and psychologically before they enter competitions by completing mandatory training prior to competing.

Cross-training has become increasingly popular among our athletes and coaches. Many of our athletes compete in a different sport every season -- an athlete who plays soccer in the fall often competes in speed skating in the winter and plays basketball in the summer. All training is offered free of charge to our athletes and their families.


Special Olympics competitions use a unique divisioning system based on age, gender, and ability. By assigning athletes to divisions commensurate with their ability, every athlete is given a reasonable chance to win.

Athletes compete in competitions at the local level and also have the opportunity to go on to sectional and state-level competitions. World Games take place every two years alternating between Summer and Winter Games.

In addition, SOPA offers Unified Sports®, which combines approximately equal numbers of athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to form sports teams for training and competition. The Motor Activities Training Program (MATP) provides comprehensive motor activity and recreational training for people with severe intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities.

Sports Guides, Rules and Information – provided by Special Olympics International.

Age Groups

Team Sport Age Groups will be effective starting with the Fall 2023 season. SOPA-sponsored Team Sports include - Fall Season: soccer, flag football, volleyball; Winter Season: floor hockey; Spring Season: softball, basketball.

If you have questions, please contact your Regional Sport Director.

Medication Information

Please find important information on athlete medication assistance & best practices below:

Fall Sports

Fall Season Rollout

Winter Sports

Winter Season Rollout

Spring Sports


SO SportsIcon athletics Reversed CircleAthletics was an event at the first Special Olympics International Games held in Chicago, Illinois in 1968. Athletics Training Season is usually from March to June. 

2023 Athletics Preseason Coaches Meeting

Video “How To” Step by Step Instructions:

 Continuing Education for Athletics:

Locally Popular Sports

Competitive Cheer

Competitive Cheer Resources – rules, coaching guides, fact sheets, etc.