54 Different Types of Sports Played (Individual and Team Sports)

An image collage of the different types of sports played.

No matter where you look in the world, one common thread that ties us all together is the loves of sports. That does not mean everyone loves the same sport, but due to the huge variety of sports that are played and enjoyed, everyone has their favorites. So, what exactly constitutes as a sport?

Sports are physical activities involving feats of strength, agility, dexterity, etc. that seek to pit opponents against each other for the sake of competition.

The competition can sometimes involve two individuals or two teams or several members and can range from the playful (Badminton) to the dangerous (Professional Boxing). Sports have been an age-old tradition in most societies and carry enormous prestige to the point that some of the richest people in the world, even today, are professional athletes, earning hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements and advertising deals.

However, at its core, any sport is about demonstrating physical and mental prowess over the opponent.


A family kayaking.

Kayaking is a sport involving rapidly traversing distance over bodies of water in a kayak, which is a small boat resembling a canoe. It can be an individual sport but is considered a popular team sport.


Two athletes in a bobsleigh.

Bobsleighing or bobsledding is a winter sport in which teams of two or four make their way down pathways that twist and turn. They do so in a bobsled and are timed so as to determine which person accomplished it faster. In the Winter Olympics, this is a popular Olympic Sport.


Man canoeing downstream.

As this is a popular Olympic Sport, canoeing is usually done in one of two types of competitions; which are canoe sprint or canoe slalom. Both involve going downstream and competing against other individuals doing the same to see who traverses the waters first. This is also an individual sport and doesn’t involve teams


A single skier skiing down a mountain.

Skiing is a sport involving traversing icy or snowy mountainous terrain on skis and performing stunts while doing it. A variation called ski jumping is very popular as a popular Olympic Sport.


A single surfer on a wave in the ocean.

Surfing is a surface water sport in which the wave rider has to anticipate the wave and make his or her way through it. Waves suitable for the sport are found in the ocean and can rise several meters high, endangering the surfers. It is considered a popular individual sport in several coastal areas.


A diver snorkeling and searching the ocean bed.

Snorkeling basically refers to swimming through a body of water with a diving mask. It is a popular activity near resorts and is usually accompanied by proper wetsuits and aquatic gear.

Olympic Swimming

A swimming competition.

Considered as one of the most challenging sports and requiring years of training to master, Olympic swimming has become one of the most popular Olympic Sports. The ascension of Michael Phelps as one of the most decorated athletes has contributed to that fact. It is an almost exclusively individual sport.


A rowing team seen from above.

Considered one of the most taxing sports, this involves using a rowboat to travel from one point to another through the water. Rowing can be done in large bodies of water like rivers or coastal beaches. Though, not exclusively an individual or team sport, it is considered a popular Olympic Sport in the team category.


An aerobics class in progress.

While not strictly a sport because of the lack of competition, Aerobics can be considered a popular physical activity that involves team effort and is mostly performed in groups. It involves various stretching exercises and training.


An archer pulling on the bow stretched to release.

Archery has been a popular individual sport for some time and is often considered a measure of one’s skill and accuracy. It involves shooting an arrow into a target. It has bred legendary tales like William Tell and Robin Hood. This is a popular Olympic Sport.


A gymnast on the bar.

Gymnastics is considered a sport of skill and form rather than that displaying brute force or speed. It is based on keeping certain physical forms or twisting the body into different shapes rather than scoring a goal or a boundary. It is a popular individual sport and an Olympic Sport with a lot of popularity.

The sport has several variations like trampolining, which involves the use of trampolines, and tumbling, which involves both artistic gymnastics and trampolining. The term Olympic gymnast carries several positive connotations with it including physical beauty.


A boxer punching a bag.

Boxing is one of the most popular sports in the world, and also an exclusively individual sport. It involves two athletes punching each other in the upper body until the match is over, someone either taps out, gets knocked out, or lasts until the end of the rounds.

Though not a particularly popular Olympic Sport, several boxing legends like Mohammad Ali have gained fame through winning Olympic Gold Medals. It is a particularly violent sport that can cause brain damage and severe injuries to the face and body.

The sport is divided into several weight classes such as featherweights, welterweights, middleweights, and heavyweights.

It is a measure of the agility, dexterity, and strength of the athlete as well as his or her intelligence.

Variations such as kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts also exist.


Running is a very old sport.

Running from one spot to the other, no matter the distance is a very old sport. It measures speed first and foremost and can be a team or individual sport. However, it is one of the most popular sports in the world and is most commonly identified as an individual sport.

Many variations of this sport exist, such as sprints, which measure speed over short distances, marathons, which measure endurance as well as speed, etc.


A cyclist on the track.

Cycling involves making use of a bicycle, one specifically built for racing or otherwise, to travel from one spot to the other in record time. The sport has variations such as marathons and sprints, just like running, but the distance is considerably larger than that covered during running. The sport can be played with both individuals and teams, but is most well known as a popular individual sport.

Discus Throw

A discus throw player.

Discus throws involve throwing a discus as far as possible. It is a measure of strength as well as skill and is considered to be one of the oldest and most popular Olympic sports in existence. Hercules is said to have taken part in one of the first-ever Discus tournaments ever held, during the Olympics.


Bets on horse races are very common.

Equestrianism is more colloquially known as horse racing. It is usually played on local circuits and involves riding several laps of the racecourse. It is a popular sport known for betting, so much so that the colloquialism “betting on all the horses in the race” was born from it. It is a popular individual sport.


Fencers in a match.

Fencing is a combat-related sport that is akin to sword fighting. It involves trying to find an opening in the defense of the opponent and penetrating it. The sword is named a saber and a foil helmet is worn during the sport. Naturally, the sport is played individually and is a measure of skill and agility rather than strength.

Figure Skating

A figure skater performing tricks

Figure skating involves skating on a surface of ice or akin to that of ice. It involves skating with figure skates and performing tricks and dancing to demonstrate one’s skill of balance on the ice. It is an individual sport, but a duo or trio can also perform together. This is a popular Olympic sport as well.

Martial Arts

Martial artists in position.

Martial arts are codified systems of combat that are used to disarm, harm, or even kill opponents. In the case of sports, they are used to disarm and render opponents defenseless. Several exist including Judo, Kung Fu, Jujitsu, and Taekwondo.

They can involve fighting with your bare hands or with different types of weapons as well. Various martial arts tournaments around the world test the skill, strength, agility, and dexterity of various players.

Most recently, mixed martial arts tournaments have allowed the use of several different types of martial arts in the ring at once.

Martial arts usually consist of a popular individual sport and very rarely includes team sports. Among them, Judo and Taekwondo are popular Olympic Sports.

Long Jump

An athlete performing a long jump.

Long jump or broad jump is an event involving jumping across as far a distance as possible from the take-off point. This includes the triple jump and the horizontal jump. It is a popular individual Olympic Sport.

Pole Vault

A pole vaulting event.

Pole vault involves running and jumping with the help of a pole over increasing heights. The sport is exclusively individual and is a favorite at the Olympics.


Incredible weights lifted.

Powerlifting is a form of weight lifting that involves lifting the heaviest weights possible in three maximum attempts. These include squats, bench presses, and deadlifts. The sport includes various weight classes and is a popular individual sport.


Finishing wrestling move.

Wrestling is a global sport. It has several variations such as sumo wrestling in Japan, professional wrestling in Europe and America, and Kabaddi in South East Asia. The sport involves using physical strength and skill to pin down opponents and overpower them.

The sport measures strength, skill, and agility. It has several weight classes and is a popular individual sport as well as a popular team sport. It is also among the most popular Olympic Sports.


A baseball game.

Known as America’s national pastime, it is one of the most popular sports in the world and is a well-known team sport. The sport involves hitting the baseball with a bat across the boundary and racing around the bases of a diamond-shaped pitch.

The game involves two opposing teams and nine players on either side with an Umpire to enforce the rules. The biggest tournament is called the World Series. Its primary audience resides in the USA, Japan, China, and Latin America. Baseball has penetrated into pop culture and has had several films made about it.


A basketball game in progress.

Basketball is a popular team sport in which two teams of five players each compete against each other. The objective is to score as many points by shooting the basketball through a hoop. It is played on indoor courts and is part of the Olympic Games.

The game has penetrated into pop culture and has produced legendary athletes like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.


Tennis racket and ball.

Tennis is a popular racket and ball game that involves maneuvering a ball around a netted tennis court. The sport involves skill, accuracy, speed, endurance, and strength. It is a popular individual sport as well as a popular team sport, with two opposing players in the former and a duo of opposing players in the latter.


A badminton player about to serve.

Badminton involves a racket that that is used to hit a shuttlecock around a netted court. Unlike a tennis court, the net is raised above the ground here, and the play is far less aggressive.


A bowling ball rolling down alley.

Bowling involves knocking down pins with a ball in an alleyway. It is a recreational activity that has reached massive popularity in the western hemisphere. The sport measures skill more than anything else. The goal is to knock down all the pins at once or in the least number of tries.


A cricket match in progress.

Cricket is a bat and ball sport that involves hitting a ball bowled at high speeds towards the edge of the circular field. Each team has eleven players, and the game is played in several formats such as Test Cricket (5-day cricket) One Day International (1-day cricket comprising of 50 overs), and T20 international (a single game comprising of twenty overs).

It is one of the most popular sports in the world with over two and a half billion fans around the world. Though not very popular in the western hemisphere, cricket has gained a huge following in England, the Caribbean, South Asia, and South Africa.


Curling is a traditional stick.

Curling involves players sliding stones over a sheet of ice towards a target area that is divided into four concentric circles. This is a popular Olympic sport and has an estimated 1.5 million players around the world. It is a team sport involving 4 players per team, and 2 per team in mixed doubles.


A dodgeball match in progress.

Dodgeball is a team sport in which players on two teams throw balls at each other to try and hit a part of the body. This is done while avoiding being hit themselves. Dodgeball can be a game involving minor to major physical injuries and tests endurance, speed, and agility.


A football stadium.

It is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the world with over four billion fans worldwide. The FIFA World Cup, the world championship event of the sport is one of the most highly watched events of the year. The athletes in football are among the richest and most influential in the world.


A golf match.

Golf involves hitting a ball with a golf club into a small hole. The game traditionally involves playing on lavish courses and hitting balls into 18 different holes. It is considered a game of skill and focuses as well as intelligence since it involves hitting balls over large distances and anticipating the effect of wind speed, terrain, and ground elevation on the shot.


A handball maneuver in progress.

Handball is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each, throwing the ball in the air using their fists around a court. Each match consists of two thirty-minute periods. The goal is to not allow the ball to fall on the ground on your side of the court. This is a popular Olympic sport as well.


A hockey match in progress.

Hockey is an extremely popular sport, with over two billion fans around the world. It is the national sport of both Pakistan and India and is considered a game of skill, endurance, and strength. It involves two teams of eleven players each maneuvering a ball around a court with two goals and is a popular Olympic Sport.

Ice Hockey

An ice hockey match intensifies.

Ice Hockey is a very different sport from traditional hockey and involves maneuvering a hockey puck around a court with two goals on a hard, ice-like surface. It is known to be fast-paced and measures a player’s endurance, speed, and strength. It is a popular sport in Canada, the Nordic Countries, Russia, Europe, and the US. This is a popular Olympic sport in the Winter Olympics.


A kickball match about to begin.

This is also known as soccer-baseball in most of Canada. It is a league game that is similar to baseball and was invented in the US. It involves maneuvering a ball in a softball diamond with three bases.  It is a team sport.


A lacrosse match happening.

Lacrosse is a team sport that can be played both indoors or outdoors. It involves using a lacrosse stick to carry and pass or catch a ball and shoot it into a goal. It is a team sport and is played between two teams. It is a popular team sport in the United States.


An intense polo match.

Polo is a team sport that is played while mounting horses. It is one of the oldest known team sports. It originated in Manipur, India, and is very frequently played in South Asia. It is played between two teams of 3 or 4 and involves a field with two goals.


A man playing raquetball.

Racquetball is a racquet sport that is played with a hollow rubber ball in an indoor court. It involves hitting the ball against the walls of the court until someone misses. It is a popular individual sport in the US and measures an athlete’s endurance, speed, and strength.


A match of rounders.

Rounders is a bat and ball game that is played between teams. It involves hitting a small leather-cased ball with a round metal bat. The players can score by running around four bases on the field. It is most similar to baseball

Rugby/American Football

A high stakes rugby play.

Rugby refers to various team sports played in teams that are competing against each other. They involve maneuvering a rugby ball around a court with two goals; however, the maneuvering involves hands and feet. The sport is considered to be violent and involves pushing and shoving players to get control of the ball.

Its variation in the US is called American Football, but has different rules and significantly more padded gear and helmets. The world championship of rugby is called the World Rugby League, while the most important American Football event is called the Super Bowl.


Squash tests a player’s endurance.

This is a sport played by two opponents or duos of opponents in a court with four walls. The objective is to hit the ball with the racket against the walls in the playable areas. The game is a very popular individual sport that involves tests of strength, stamina, and speed.

Table Tennis

A table tennis match.

Table tennis, or ping pong, is a sport in which two opposing players, or duos of opposing players, maneuver a small ball around with their rackets around a small netted court. The sport tests skill and speed at its core and is a popular Olympic Sport.


A volleyball match.

Volleyball is a popular team sport that involves maneuvering a ball around a netted court by using just the hands while not allowing the ball to touch the ground. Players are not allowed to hold the ball at any moment, just to throw it around the court with their hands and their fingers knotted with the opposing hand.

Water Polo

A water polo match.

Water polo is a team sport that is played between two opposing teams. The objective is to score goals by throwing the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The sport is played in the water.


A kitesurfing enthusiast.

Kitesurfing or Kiteboarding involves combining several sports like wakeboarding, snowboarding, and windsurfing. It involves using a kite suspended by the wind to maneuver yourself around a body of water while onboard. It is an individual sport.


Paragliding with a parachute.

Paragliding is a recreational sporting activity. It involves using paragliders to maneuver your way in the air and make your way from a significant elevation down to the ground. The sport is individual and involves skill and agility rather than endurance, strength or speed.


A couple parasailing.

This is also known as parascending or parakiting and is a recreational kiting activity where you are towed behind a boat or a similar vehicle while attached to a kite or a sail. It is a popular activity around resorts and is an individual sport.


A group of skateboarding teenagers.

Skateboarding is a popular individual sport among the youth. It involves different competitions of speed and skill while on a skateboard. The individual competitions can involve doing tricks in the air, navigating around a track, demonstrating speed, etc.


A Skydiver hurtling through the air.

Skydiving is a recreational sport that involves jumping out of a plane from a significant height with a parachute. The sport involves skill and stamina and is considered extremely dangerous. Rigorous training occurs before skydivers are first allowed to perform it and the sport is a test of skill and endurance.


A snowboarder performing a jump.

Snowboarding involves maneuvering around icy and mountainous terrain on a single snowboard. It is different from skiing in that it doesn’t have two skis or ski poles. The sport is featured heavily in the Olympics and involves skill and speed. It is considered dangerous due to the terrain it is mostly set in.


A windsurfing enthusiast.

Windsurfing is a water sport that combines several elements of surfing and sailing. It consists of a board that is usually 2 to 2 and a half meters in length. It involves maneuvering or racing through a body of water using the sail attached to the board.


An athlete throwing javelin across the field.

It has been played in the Olympics since the Ancient Olympic Games. It involves running with a javelin and throwing it as far away as possible. It involves transferring your momentum into the javelin from the run. It is a popular individual sport.

Sports are played around the world in the name of fitness, recreation, rivalry, physical domination, etc. Some have even described them as mankind’s solution to competing against each other without killing each other.

However, sports have also become some of the greatest catalysts to bringing nations of the world together like the Olympics and the World Federation Wrestling Games, or the FIFA World Cup. They inspire patriotism, love for one’s country, and sportsmanship that translates into friendship.

A close up of ski goggles.

15 Different Types of Goggles