Sport is health. And little by little, we are all becoming aware of them. So with over 250 officially recognized sports on offer , we have plenty to choose from. The diversity of sports is immense.
And although all of them are beneficial for health since they allow the practice of physical activity, with all the benefits that this brings both physically and emotionally, there are some that, without a doubt, are more popular than others.
Whether for cultural reasons, because they are the ones that are more mediatic at a professional level, because they encourage more sociability and camaraderie or because they are simply more fun, there are sports that are practiced by millions of people .
But, what are these sports that are most popular and have the most practitioners? In today’s article you will find the answer to this question, as we offer you a ranking of ordered sports.
- We recommend you read: “The 18 types of sports (and their characteristics)”
What is the sport that most people practice?
It must be made clear before beginning that the figures that we indicate are indicative , because despite the fact that we have obtained them from specialist sources in demographic studies, it is difficult to know exactly how many people practice a sport, since it is no longer just that many of them they do it in a non-federated way, but it is difficult to determine what minimum regularity is required to consider someone as a practitioner of that sport.
Even so, what is clear is that the figures are quite representative and that, therefore, the actual order of popularity is very similar to the one we offer in this list. We will start with the least practiced (which is still a lot, since we have already said that there are more than 250 official sports) and we will finish with the king of sports. Let’s go there.
- We recommend you read. “The 6 benefits of physical activity”
20. Hockey: 3 million
We start our list with Hockey. We have not found data to differentiate between practitioners of the grass and ice modalities, so with the permission of the most expert, we include them in the same group.
It is a popular sport around the world that is followed by more than 2,000 million people , although it is practiced by “only” 3 million people. Hockey is a sport in which two teams compete to introduce a puck-shaped ball into the opposing goal on a grass or ice surface, depending on the modality.
19. Boxing: 7 million
Boxing is the most popular and practiced sport included in the martial arts . Although due to the dangers involved, it is important to do it in a federated way. According to the data that we have been able to rescue, 7 million people practice boxing.
It is a contact sport in which two opponents fight in a ring (with the fight divided into rounds) using only their gloved fists and hitting each other only above the waist.
- To know more: “The 25 types of martial arts (and their characteristics)”
18. Padel: 8 million
Paddle tennis is a sport of Mexican origin that is gaining a lot of popularity recently, as it can be practiced without much physical preparation, although the professionals are obviously true athletes.
8 million people in the world play paddle tennis, a racket sport that is played in pairs on a track surrounded by transparent walls whose objective is to bounce the ball on the field twice, using rebounds on said walls.
17. Handball: 18 million
Handball is another of the classic sports . It is a sport that is played inside tracks in which two teams face each other, each of them made up of seven players. The objective is to transport the ball with your hands to the rival field, using connections between teammates, to score in the goal. It is estimated that 18 million people in the world practice it.
16. Cricket: 20 million
Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world in terms of audience, being surpassed only by football. In fact, it is estimated that over 2.5 billion people regularly follow cricket matches , with it being extremely popular in the UK, India, Australia and South Africa.
It is practiced, yes, “only” by 20 million people. It is a bat-and-ball sport played on an oval-shaped grass field in which two teams of 11 players each must hit to make runs.
15. Surfing: 26 million
Another one of the classics. Surfing is a water sport that requires a lot of physical preparation that consists of performing maneuvers on a board in the middle of the waves of the sea, riding them and making turns using their strength. It is estimated that 26 million people in the world practice it, which is a lot considering that its practice is very limited not only to coastal regions, but also due to the climatic conditions of the area.
- We recommend you read: “What are monster waves? Myth or Reality?”
14. Futsal: 30 million
Futsal has its origins in traditional football , although in this case the teams are made up of five, the court is smaller, the surface on which it is played is solid and it is played indoors. Beyond this, it consists of circulating the ball around the field using only the feet to score in the opposite goal. Approximately 30 million people in the world play it.
13. Golf: 60 million
Golf is one of the most popular sports in the world, especially in Western Europe, East Asia and the United States. More than 450 million people are followers of this sport and, of these, about 60 million practice it more or less regularly.
Golf is a sport that is practiced outdoors, on fields that make up large expanses of grass. Its objective is to introduce, by hitting with sticks, a ball in each of the holes along the course in the fewest possible number of strokes.
12. Baseball: 65 million
Baseball is one of the king sports of the United States. And despite being followed almost exclusively in this country (it is also relatively popular in Japan), this does not prevent it from having more than 500 million followers . And of these, 65 million practice it regularly.
It is a sport played on a square grass field (with regions of sand) in which two teams, each made up of nine players, compete to hit the ball thrown by the opponent with a bat and travel the bases out of the field before the opponent recovers the batted ball.
11. Ski: 130 million
Skiing is the snow sport par excellence . Surely we should include snowboarding in another section, but we have not found data to differentiate them. Therefore, both snowboarding and skiing form their own pack. 130 million people practice one or the other.
Whether using a single board (snowboard) or two (ski), the objective of this sport is to slide on the snow of a mountain, using the own force of gravity to move over the snowy surface.
10. Badminton: 200 million
We reached position number 10 and, with it, a surprise. Badminton, despite not being popular in the media, surpasses the previous sports that we have seen. Nothing more and nothing less than 200 million people in the world practice it.
It is a racket sport that is played inside a court with a field divided in half by a net located above ground level. The goal is to get the shuttlecock (not played with a conventional ball, but with a very light cone-shaped one) to touch the surface of the opponent’s court.
9. Ping-pong: 300 million
Ping-pong, also known as a board game, is a racket sport in which you must make the ball bounce twice on the opponent’s ground. According to a study carried out by NASA, due to the incredible speed of reaction required, it is the most complicated sport at a professional level . Even so, its popularity means that 300 million people practice it in the world and that 40 million of them are professionals.
8. Tennis: 300 million
We are already in the top positions, so the heavyweights are coming. Tennis could not be missing from this list, although it is curious to see how it is tied with table tennis in terms of practitioners. Even so, due to its popularity and international media level (1,000 million people follow it), we have put it ahead.
Tennis is a sport that is practiced on rectangular courts of grass, clay or synthetic material whose objective is to hit the ball with a racket and get it to pass over the dividing net and bounce twice on the rival field.
- Maybe you’re interested: “The 15 most common injuries among tennis players”
7. Basketball: 400 million
Another one of the titans. Basketball is followed by more than 820 million people in the world and has one of the highest follow/practice rates, since almost half of its followers play it . Globally, it is estimated that 400 million people play basketball.
As we well know, it is a sport in which two teams (of five players each) compete to, using their hands, introduce a ball into a basket. Their matches are divided into four periods.
- Maybe you’re interested: “The 15 most common injuries among basketball players”
6. Cycling: 518 million
Cycling is a strange case. Well, despite being very little media (you have to be very fond of seeing the tours), it is very practiced. So much so that it not only surpasses titans such as tennis or basketball, but is practiced by more than 518 million people in the world. And its popularity is growing, because you don’t have to adhere to any regulations, just take your bike and pedal .
5. Chess: 605 million
A debate is coming, for sure. There is a lot of controversy about whether chess should be considered a sport or not. Here we do not consider it as such, since there is not that degree of physical activity that promotes health, although there is a clear component of mental training. Be it a sport or a game, the truth is that chess is incredibly popular : more than 605 million people play it regularly.
4.Running: 621 million
Even less media than cycling but more popular. Runner fashion is here to stay. Or so it seems. And it is that the number of people who go jogging regularly is increasing enormously, although we must mention that it is surely the worst sport for health , since we usually practice it on the pavements of cities, with all the impact that this can have in the joints. Be that as it may, 621 million people practice running.
- To know more: “The 12 main dangers and risks of running”
3. Volleyball: 800 million
We enter the top 3 and we find, without a doubt, a surprise: volleyball. Being especially popular in Western Europe and North America, volleyball is a sport that, being practiced by anyone when they go to the beach, has more than 800 million more or less regular practitioners.
At the official level, volleyball is a sport that can be played both on the beach and on indoor synthetic surface courts . It consists of two teams (of six players each) that compete to bounce a ball on the surface of the other field, being divided from the other by a net at a height of 2.5 meters.
2. Soccer: 1,000 million
The king sport. It is the most popular sport in the world, since we are talking about more than 4,000 million people who are soccer fans . And of them, more than 1,000 million practice it, which makes it the most practiced team sport.
And of these 1,000 million, there are 265 million federated soccer players who compete every (or almost) weekend. It is a sport that is played on a 100-meter-long grass field in which two teams (of 11 players each) compete to, by moving the ball with their feet, introduce the ball into the rival goal.
- We recommend you read: “The 10 most common injuries among soccer players”
1. Swimming: 1.5 billion
There is only one sport more practiced than football. And it’s swimming. Surprising or not, it is, by far, the sport with the most practitioners: 1,500 million people. This is practically 2 out of every 10 people in the world .
But don’t we all swim in summer? It is not necessary to be in a professional environment, but thanks to the fact that it is the sport most linked to the recreational and social field (going to the pool or the beach with friends), it is also the most practiced.