If you’re a die-hard sports fan, or just looking for a new game to play, there are some captivating sports around the world you might not have heard of before. Many lesser-known sports are still worth following as they increase in popularity and offer a refreshing change of pace from the mainstream. From the obscure to the unconventional, here’s 6 unique sports that will entertain and inspire you.
- Underwater Hockey
Underwater hockey, originally known as Octopush, was invented in England in 1954 by Alan Blake, a founder of the newly formed Southsea Sub-Aqua Club. He needed something that would improve the swimming and diving skills of its club members, and this was the result. The sport is recognized by the International Olympic Committee and is organized by the Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS).
Two teams of six players each compete to push a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into an unmanned goal using a short stick. They only wear fins, gloves, and snorkeling masks. The objective is to score a goal in the opposing team’s goal tray while holding your breath. As players come up for air, they depend on their teammates to continue gameplay before diving back in. Because there’s no auditory or physical teamwork involved, players must be skilled swimmers and have a high level of fitness and instinct to play.
Underwater Hockey has reached over 40 countries, with world championships being held each year. It’s widely popular overseas, so the U.S. has a lot of work to do to compete at a higher level.
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- Formula 1
Formula 1 (also known as F1), is the most esteemed motorsport in the world, originating in England in the 1950s and standardized by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). Even though F1 is famous and more mainstream, it isn’t one that involves physical activity, which is unique in the sports world. Younger crowds are just now picking up on the excitement of F1 news, as the Netflix streaming platform released Formula 1: Drive to Survive, a documentary that follows real drivers behind the scenes.
It involves racing single-seater cars around a track at high speeds (over 200mph), with drivers competing for the fastest time around predesignated laps. It’s first and foremost an endurance and reaction-based sport — races are a minimum of 190 miles long and typically take 90 minutes. That’s 90 minutes straight of 2 to 4Gs of force as they drive at 100 to 300 km/hour, making hairpin turns and navigating around other cars. In fact, the force is so strong that braking alone requires strong leg muscles. To top it off, cockpits are incredibly hot, typically 50 degrees Celsius, while drivers are stuck in a sealed fire protective suit. This leads to extreme heat exhaustion, making it even harder to react effectively on the track.
Formula 1 is known for its technology and innovation, with teams constantly developing new cars and strategies to gain an edge over opponents. The sport is financed through huge sponsorships from companies like Shell, Rolex, and Petronas and participation from automobile moguls like Aston Martin, Mercedes, and Alfa Romeo.
Quidditch, the fictional sport from the Harry Potter series, has become a real sport played by thousands of people worldwide. A college out of Middlebury, Vermont decided to bring this game to life in 2005, and it quickly spread to other campuses across the US.
Two teams of seven players each ride broomsticks and try to score goals by throwing a ball, called a Quaffle, through hoops on an oval field. The sport has adopted several rules from the J.K. Rowling books, such as the use of Bludgers to disrupt play and the Golden Snitch, which ends the gameplay when caught. However, some of its adaptations are separating from the fictional version, as the sport is seeing kickback and trademark infringement speculation from Warner Bros.
The first Quidditch World Cup was held in 2007, and in 2010, the International Quidditch Association (IQA) was formed. The world cup happens every couple of years, with over 25 countries competing for the title.
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- 3×3 Basketball
3×3 basketball is a fast-paced and more compact version of traditional basketball. It’s also known as Streetball in urban areas, as this is where it originated. The Fédération Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) introduced 3×3 basketball competitions to a wider audience in the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore.
3×3 basketball involves two teams of three players each, playing on a half-court with a single basket. The game is played to 21 points, with baskets worth one or two points. Players enjoy this style of basketball because it showcases their individual talents with fewer players on the court. With such responsibility, basketball players look to enhance their gameplay with basketball court shoes that feature extra ankle support, cushioning, and grip.
Because 3×3 basketball has become an Olympic sport, watchers are on the edge of their seats from the hard-hitting action of tricks (like crossovers, slides, and footwork) and intense competition. Without all the strict rules of regular basketball, players can pour on the entertainment and play for the love of the game.
Kabaddi is a contact sport originally played in South Asia, with roots dating back over 4,000 years. If you like strategy games, tag, wrestling, or being a human dodgeball, then you’ll love the physical and mental athletics involved in this ancient sport.
Kabaddi is physically demanding, requiring strength, agility, and technique. The game has two teams of seven players taking turns to send a Raider into the opposing team’s side. The Raider must touch one or more opponents and return to his side without being tackled, all while holding his breath. Whoever is touched is out. If the Raider doesn’t make it back over to his side, he’s out. Players rack up points between two 20-minute halves, and the winner is declared after the time is up.
Kabaddi is now an international professional sport for men and women. Backers of Kabaddi have aspirations of seeing the game added to the Olympics. Its appeal lies within its rich history and swift rise to recognition in 2014, with 435 million viewers supporting it.
- Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw, also called kick volleyball, is a sport that incorporates elements of volleyball and soccer. It was mainly played in the royal court of Malaysia over 500 years ago, but also has Thai and Chinese influences.
Sepak Takraw consists of two teams of three players, playing on a court with a net in the middle. The objective is to hit a rattan ball over the net and into the opposing team’s court without the ball hitting the ground. Each game set is played to 21 points, and the winner is the team that wins at least 2 out of 3 sets.
Sepak Takraw, a long-standing Southeast Asian sport, has gained popularity worldwide due to its high-velocity volleys and acrobatic moves. If the sport continues to spread in the United States, it’s likely to be picked up by more mainstream competitive arenas.
These are just a few of the amazing and unusual sports to follow across the globe, from urban streets to fictional worlds, or from British waters to South East Asian royals. You can stay up-to-date on the progress of each sport and its athletes, as well as get real-time information and behind-the-scenes insights on social media and sports news outlets. The more people tune in and support these unique sports, the further they will spread. This will give future sports fanatics something new and different to work toward.