Table of Contents
Types of Sports
Soccer is unquestionably one of the most popular if not the most popular sports in the world. With more than four billion spectators around the world, soccer is popular at every level of society from the grassroots level all the way to the professional level. According to soccer's governing body FIFA, more than 265 million people play the sport and there are over 5 million referees. To put it into perspective, this is about 4% of the total world's population.
An extremely important indoor sport, it may come as a surprise to you that an estimated 220 million people play badminton regularly. It involves using racquets to hit a shuttlecock across a net. Today, the game is very popular in Asia with some of the sport's best players coming from the continent.
A team sport usually played by two teams consisting of six players on each team, volleyball revolves around maneuvering a ball over a high net with the main aim being to ensure that the ball doesn't touch the ground on your team's court. It involves serving, tossing, and hitting the ball with your hand and arm. A team is allowed to touch (not catch) the ball three times and must be returned over the net to the opposing team.
With over two billion fans worldwide, field hockey is an extremely popular sport and the national sport of some countries including India and Pakistan. It's a highly technical sport played on grass or watered turf with ten outfield players and a goalkeeper on each team. Players use sticks to hit a hockey ball with the main aim being to put the ball on the opponent's net.
You've probably heard names such as Michael Jordan, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, and Steph Curry. Well, these are legendary basketball players who have played the sport at the highest level and aided in its rise as one of the most popular sports in the world. With its roots in America, it's a team sport usually involving five players on each team with the main objective being to score as many points as possible by shooting a basketball into an opponent's hoops.
As one of the most popular pastime sports in the world, golf is a club-and-ball sport that revolves around players using various clubs to hit balls into a series of tiny holes -usually 18 holes- on a course. The primary objective is to use as few strokes as possible to hit the ball into the holes. The courses are usually lavish and the game involves a high level of skills and intelligence, especially at the highest level. Players have to hit the balls over large distances while anticipating the effects of wind speed, ground elevation, and terrain.
America's and Cuba's national sport, baseball is popular in these two countries than anywhere else in the world but is gradually becoming popular in other places such as Japan. It revolves around hitting the baseball with a bat across the boundary and running around the bases of the game's diamond-shaped field. The game is played between two opposing teams with each team taking turns in fielding and batting. A player from the fielding team throws the ball which a player from the batting team attempts to hit with a bat.
One of the most popular sports in India, Pakistan, Australia, the UK, and South Africa, Cricket is another intriguing bat-and-ball sport that pits two opposing teams of eleven players each, who take turns in batting and bowling. The batting team scores runs by hitting the ball with a bat at the wicket, which is at each end of the field. The bowling team is tasked with trying to prevent the ball from leaving the pitch.
Probably the world's most popular individual sport, tennis is a sport that involves using a racket to hit a ball over a net. Both the single and double versions of the sports are extremely popular with opposing players battling to strike the rubber ball into each other's court. The main aim is to gain points by hitting the ball in such a manner that the opponent is unable to play a valid return. It's a sport that requires skills, speed, endurance, accuracy, and strength. Some of the game's most popular players include the Venus sisters, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
This is one of the most popular indoor sports with over 300 million participants worldwide. Also known as ping-pong, it involves two opposing players or duos on each side hitting a lightweight ping-pong ball back and forth across a table using small rackets. The table is divided by a net and the ball should bounce once on their side of the table. This is a sport that tests the speed, skills, and intelligence of the players and is one of the most popular Olympic sports.
As one of the most popular water sports in the world, kayaking is a racing sport that involves using a kayak to move across the water. Whether as an individual or a team, it involves using double-bladed paddles to take the kayak from a given point to the other with the fastest to the finishing line considered the winner. In addition to being an Olympic sport, there are other kayaking competitions including extreme kayaking competitions and freestyle kayaking world championships.
Another popular Olympic sport, canoeing is almost similar to kayaking with the difference arising from the sitting position of the paddler. It involves racing against an opponent going either downstream or slaloming. Canoeing is usually an individual sport and can be both dangerous and thrilling depending on the sport that is taking place.
This is a popular team winter team sport that revolves around making timed runs in narrow, twisting, iced, and banked in a sleigh that's gravity-powered. The timing is essential in determining which team was faster.
Snorkeling is essentially a sport that revolves around swimming through a body of water while wearing a diving mask. This is an individual sport that's generally popular in coastal areas with competitors required to wear proper aquatic gear including a wetsuit. Snorkeling is, however, more popular as a recreational activity than as a competitive sport.
Sometimes referred to as crew in the United States, rowing is an ancient sport that's believed to be one of the most taxing sports in the world. As the name suggests, it involves rowing a boat from one point to another using an oar to generate force to move the boat through the water. Athletes generally race against each other either as a team or individually and are very straining both physically and mentally.
Originating from a combination of soccer and rugby, American football is a team sport that's hugely popular in North America and is played by two teams of 11 players on a rectangular pitch with goalposts at each end. The players wear padded gear and helmets for their safety. Each team can score points by advancing the oval ball into the opposition's end zone in what is known as a touchdown or by kicking the ball through the opposition's goal for a field goal. The most important and famous American Football event is the Super Bowl.
This is a full-contact team sport that involves running with an oval-shaped ball in hand just like in American Football but with a different set of rules. The two teams can either have 15 players each or seven players each and is played on a rectangular pitch with H-shaped goalposts at both ends.
Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat but is today a competitive sport that involves using a bow to shoot arrows. It has been a mainstay at the Olympic Games since it made its debut over a century ago in 1900.
Athletics is a group of sporting events that involves competitive running, jumping, and walking. It is the backbone of the Olympic Games with the 100 meters race being one of the most-watched events.
This is a combat sport whereby two people wearing protective gloves throw punches at each other for a given amount of time in a square ring. Boxing is a standard feature in most international games and is overseen by a referee over a series of three-minute intervals called rounds.
Cycling is a competitive sport where competitors use bicycles to compete from one point to another. The sport is generally categorized into various races including track racing, road bicycle racing, mountain bike racing, and many more. The most popular cycling event is the Tour de France, which is an annual cycling event held in France.
This is a competitive sport whereby two or more players bare-handedly throw small but missile-like sharp-pointed objects called darts at a round target called a dartboard. The points are scored by hitting various marked areas on the dartboard with the primary aim being to hit the center of the board known as the bull's eye.
Widely known as horse riding, this is a sport that includes many disciplines including riding, vaulting, and driving with a horse. It generally involves riding a horse for several laps on a racecourse and is very popular in the world of betting.
This is a combat sport that's almost akin to sword fighting. The sword-like object is known as a saber and the fighters wear a helmet known as a foil. The primary aim of this sport is to score points when the weapon makes contact with an opponent. This is a sport that measures the skills, intelligence, and agility of the fighters.
Sanctioned by the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA), F1 is the highest category of international auto racing where competitors race using single-seater racing cars in a series of races known as Grand Prix. The results of each particular race are tallied using a point system to determine the winner each year. Some of the most popular athletes of this sport include current champion Lewis Hamilton and former driver Michael Schumacher.
This is a target sport in which a participant rolls a ball with the main aim of hitting pins or a target in an alleyway. The goal is to know the pins with one throw or with the least number of throws. This sport is quite popular as a recreational activity in the United States.
This sport involves a player sliding stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area that's divided into 4 concentric circles. It's a team sport in which two teams of four players compete against each other by taking turns to slide away the polished granite rocks known as rocks. The main aim is to earn as many points as possible and points are scored based on how near the stones are to the center of the house at the end of each area.
This is a physical exercise sport that revolves around having balance, strength, agility, coordination, endurance, and flexibility. It involves twisting the body into various forms and is a very popular individual sport at the Olympics.
Handball is an indoor team sport in which two teams of six outfield players and a goalkeeper each pass a ball using their hands with the primary objective being to throw the ball into the opponent's goal. A normal match lasts for two halves of 30 minutes each with the highest-scoring team considered the winner.
Quite different from conventional hockey, ice hockey is a contact team sport that's played on an ice-like surface. The players wear skates and are tasked with using their hockey sticks to maneuver the rubber puck into an opponent's net to score goals. This is a very fast-paced and physical sport that pits two teams of five outfield players and a goaltender each. This sport is very popular in Canada, the United States, Russia, and Nordic Countries.
This is a combat sport that's generally categorized as a modern Japanese martial art. The main objective is to take down an opponent to the ground, subdue an opponent with a pin, or immobilize the opponent with a choke or joint lock. Thrusts and strikes by hands and feet are part of this sport.
Mainly popular in Commonwealth countries and predominantly played by women, netball is a ball sport that pits two teams of seven players each against each other. It's played on a rectangular court with raised goal rings at each end. The players are tasked with passing the ball down the court before shooting through the ring for points.
Originating from recreational aerobics, sports aerobics is a competitive game that revolves around high-intensity and complex movement patterns with participants expected to perform various elements of difficult movements. It is mostly performed in groups and involves strength and agility.
This is an individual or team racing sport that involves the use of your entire body to move through the water. As one of the most popular Olympic sports, it can take place in a pool or open water with various competitions including individual medley, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, freestyle, and relay. Michael Phelps is one of the most decorated swimming athletes in the world.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Also known as cage fighting, MMA is a full-contact combat sport that involves grappling, striking, and fighting on the ground. It incorporates various combat sports including boxing, kickboxing, judo, and jiu-jitsu among many others. It's a very brutal sport with little to no rules.
Part of the modern decathlon, discus throw is a hugely popular track and field event in which a participant throws a heavy disc with the primary aim being to throw it farther than other competitors. It's one of the most popular sports at the Olympics and the legendary Hercules was considered among the first participants during the early Olympics.
One of the oldest organized sports in North America, Lacrosse is a team sport played using a lacrosse ball and stick. The players are tasked with trying to get the ball into the net. They are allowed to run, carry, pass, catch, and shoot the ball with the net of the stick. The team with the most points at the end of the game is considered the winner.
As the name suggests, the main aim of this sport is to dodge the ball. It's a team sport in which players of two teams attempt to throw balls and hit opponents while trying to avoid being hit themselves. The primary aim is to hit and eliminate an opponent by hitting him/her with the ball. It also involves catching a ball thrown by an opponent or forcing them into making mistakes such as stepping outside the court.
One of the oldest team sports in the world, polo is a horseback sport where two teams of four mounted riders each try to hit a ball with long-handled wooden mallets with the main aim of scoring through the opposition's goal. The game usually lasts for two one hour periods known as chukkas.
This is a combat sport that revolves around grappling, takedowns, pins, locks, and clinch-fighting among other fighting techniques. It can either be genuinely competitive or for entertainment with WWE being the highly popular form of entertainment wrestling. This sport can take different forms and styles but the main aim is to overpower an opponent with skills, strength, and agility. It is done in several weight classes and is one of the most popular Olympic sports.
Another track and field sport on this list, javelin is one of the oldest Olympic sports. It involves running with a javelin and throwing it as far as possible. The thrower is allowed to run within a predetermined area as a way of gaining momentum.
This is a racket and ball sport in which two players or duos play against each other in a four-walled court. The primary aim is to alternate in hitting the small rubber ball with the rackets in such a way that the opponent is unable to play a legal return. Played in over 185 countries, this is one of the most popular games with over 20 million players across the world.
This is an action sport that involves riding and performing various tricks using a skateboard. Hugely popular among youths as a recreational activity, skateboarding is also an art form, especially in the entertainment industry.
A competitive water sport played between two teams consisting of 7 players each, water polo involves passing and throwing the ball with the main aim of scoring into the opposing team's goal. The team that ends with the most goals at the end of the 4th quarter wins the match.
Generally a recreational activity, paragliding is a competitive sport where participants known as paragliders fly in the air by making their way from a point of elevation to lower ground. Of course, this sport involves skills and the agility to maneuver fly while sitting in a harness suspended below a fabric wing.
Also known as kiteboarding, kitesurfing is an extreme sport that involves harnessing the power of the wind with a large but controllable power kite while propelling it across water, snow, or land. This sport brings together some aspects of sailing, windsurfing, surfing, snowboarding, and skateboarding.
Also known as parachuting, skydiving is an air action sport, which involves participants exiting from an aircraft with the main aim of returning to the ground with the help of the gravitational pull. While participants can compete against each other or in hybrid formation, it's widely considered a solo recreational sport.
This is a track and field sport in which participants use a combination of speed, strength, and agility to leap as far as they possibly can from a specific take-off point. This sport is historical and has been part of the modern Olympics since its inauguration in 1896.
This is a sport involving an individual, pairs, or groups performing on an icy surface while wearing figure skates. The participants perform various ticks and dance moves while wearing figure skates while maintaining their balance on the ice, which can be quite challenging if you aren't skilled at it.
Also known as boardsailing or sailboarding, windsurfing is a water surface sport that brings together various aspects of sailing and surfing. This is a recreational sport that has gained a huge following in North America and involves riding or racing on the water surface using a sail that's attached to the board.
Skiing is a competitive or recreational sport that involves gliding on an icy mountainous topography while performing various stunts. Most skiing events are organized either by the International Ski Federation or the International Olympic Committee. This is one of the oldest sports and has been around for over 500 years.
Unlike skiing in which a participant is aided with two ski poles, snowboarding is a recreational and competitive sport in which a participant descends a snow-covered slope using a snowboard that's attached to the participant's feet. This sport involves balance, speed, and agility. This sport is considered dangerous given the precarious terrain but is still one of the most popular winter Olympic sports.
This is a strength sport that involves lifting the heaviest weight possible in three maximum attempts. The participant should bench press, squat, and deadlift the weights and is almost similar to the strongman competition. It has different weight classes with participants expected to lift the heaviest weight possible in their weight classes.
Also known as pole jumping, pole vaulting is a hugely popular track and field sport where an athlete uses a long and flexible pole to jump over a bar at increasing heights. It's a very popular Olympic sport.
Primarily done in the ocean, surfing is a popular water surface sport that involves a wave rider having to anticipate the huge waves and make his/her way through the waves. Keep in mind that the waves can rise several meters high, which can be very dangerous to the surfer. Despite that, it remains a hugely popular water sport, especially in coastal regions.
Also known as soccer baseball, kickball is a league game that borrows its many aspects from baseball. It revolves around one team trying to score by returning the ball from home base to the field and then circles the three diamond bases while the opponent attempts to stop them by tagging them out with the ball before they can return to the home base. This sport is a highly popular playground sport, especially in Canada even though it was invented in the United States.
This is a bat and ball sport played between two teams. It revolves around striking and fielding a small, round, hard leather-cased ball with a metal, a wooden or plastic bat with a rounded end. It derives most of its elements from baseball and a score is made when a player successfully runs around the four bases of the field.
Another racquet sport on this list, racquetball is an indoor sport that involves hitting a hollow rubber ball against the wall until an opponent misses. It's almost similar to squash but with a different set of rules.
Also known as parakiting or parascending, parasailing is a recreational sport that involves being towed behind a boat while attached to a sail or a kite. The harness is attached to the boat and is towed by a rope. As the boat moves forward, the participant is carried into the air and has little or no control over the parachute or where it lands. You shouldn't confuse it with paragliding.
As a sport, sailing revolves around various competitive sailing formats and is organized by various sailing federations and yacht clubs around the world. Racing matches can include a fleet of sailing vessels, teams, or pairs. Competitions may include point-to-point contests, setting speed records and most races are held within specific classes which may depend on the type of vessels used.