Weird? Maybe. Fun? Definitely. Here are 9 unconventional sports you should know about… and maybe even try for yourself.
The first sport on our list is being called one of the fastest-growing sports in the world today. Roller derby is a full-contact sport played on an oval track with 5 skaters per team in play at a time. The most interesting aspects: skaters wear old-school quad roller skates, and the sport is dominated by women of all shapes and sizes. The official governing body, the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA), boasts almost 400 leagues worldwide and continues to grow every year. If knocking into people on roller skates and zooming around a track sounds like a good stress reliever to you, maybe you should think about becoming a roller girl. wftda.com
Canyoning combines several outdoor adventure skills into one adrenaline-fuelled sport. As you might guess from its name, it involves navigating through rugged, remote canyon terrain using skills like technical climbing, jumping, swimming, hiking, abseiling and sliding down rushing waterfalls – basically treating your surroundings like a grown-up playground. The adventure sport has become more popular with all ages and skill levels over the last few years, especially in Colorado, Wales, Scotland and Switzerland. Don’t be afraid to give canyoning a try – there are plenty of beginner courses for daredevils out there looking for a new challenge.
If snowboarding isn’t exciting enough anymore, consider learning to snowkite, aka kite surfing on a snowboard. Snowkiters use large inflatable kites to propel themselves on snowboards along snowy surfaces, both uphill and downhill. Some enthusiasts like to push their boundaries with freestyle and big air snowkiting, while others try to break speed records or explore beautiful icy landscapes – even Greenland. The sport has seen a spike in participants over the last decade in beautifully snowy places like Norway, Canada, Iceland and Russia.
Yes – this is real. Muggle Quidditch is a thing, governed by the International Quidditch Association which regulates the official rules for over 300 teams around the world. The mix-gendered contact sport is played similarly to the fictional wizards’ game in the film and book series Harry Potter, with the obvious exception of flying broomsticks (but hey – hoverboards exist now, so who knows…). With brooms between their legs, Chasers run and pass around the “quaffle” (a slightly deflated volleyball) to try and score through one of three hoops, while the beaters play defense by hitting opposing players with “bludgers” (rubber dodge balls). The two seekers can end the game by catching the “snitch” (a sneaky impartial player with a tennis ball in a sock tucked into their shorts). Sounds magical. iqaquidditch.org
The perfect combination of brains and brawn. The sport is fought in bouts of 11 rounds, switching between a 3-minute round of boxing and a 3-minute round of speed chess. Since the first match in Berlin in 2003, chess boxing has become a professional sport that continues to grow in Germany, Great Britain, India and Russia. There’s nothing quite like it out there. The best part: competitors win by either knockout or check mate – whichever comes first. chessboxing-global.com
No, this isn’t a joke. Underwater hockey is an actual sport, and it happens to be really fun. Teams of six players face off at the bottom of a swimming pool, pushing a hockey puck along the pool floor with “pushers”, handheld sticks, to try to score through a 3-metre-wide goal. Play is chaotic and challenging, with finned teammates constantly switching between actively playing and surfacing for air. Since its invention in England in 1954, underwater hockey has spread across Europe, the United States, Australia and parts of Africa and Asia, with world championships held every 2 years.
Bossaball, invented in Spain in 2004, is basically volleyball – but better. Instead of playing on sand or a court, teams of 4 or 5 participants play on a bouncy inflatable floor with a trampoline in the middle. Players can hit the ball over the net with pretty much any part of their bodies, combining volleyball spikes with football dribbling skills and spectacular flips and twirls. Just as important as the game is the music that goes along with it; events and tournaments always include live music or a DJ to keep the party going.
Like many of the other activities on this list, Gaelic football combines elements of several different games into one dynamic sport. Mainly played in Ireland, Gaelic football takes place on a pitch similar to a rugby field, with 15 players on each team. Players move a leather ball through a combination of bouncing, carrying, kicking and hand-passing in order to score through one of two goals. One goal is netted, similar to a narrow football goal, while the other stands above it, similar to goalposts in American football. High scoring like basketball and rougher than traditional football, Gaelic football is definitely a bit complicated, but that’s part of what makes it so exciting to watch. gaa.ie
Originating in ancient India, kabaddi is a sport of speed and agility that’s still popular today. What makes it great is the fact that it’s simple to play: all you need is a team of seven players and an open space to play on. The game is a bit like a team version of tag. A “raider” runs into the opposing team’s half of the field in order to try and tag one or more opposing players. If he or she can do so and then run back onto their side of the field without taking a breath (they must hold their breath while on the opposing side), they get a point. Teams work together to avoid the raider and keep him or her from returning to their side of the field. Though India dominates international competitions, kabaddi is also the national sport of Bangladesh and teams have sprouted up in parts of Europe and Asia.
Article by Gail Wilcoxen
With the various woes besetting many more famous sports, do you feel tempted to try your hand at a game of quidditch?