EE Edit@rs · · 10 Comments
Several years ago, a panel of experts sought to answer the controversial question of which sport is the most difficult. The experts used 10 categories to try and figure out which sport requires the most athleticism. The panel included sports scientists on the Olympic Committee, researchers who study human muscle and movement, an athlete who competed successfully at both baseball and football (Brian Jordan), and sports journalists who spend their lives documenting the rise and fall of the best athletes.
To try to objectively rank the 60 sports in contention, the panelists broke each sport down to 10 separate components, as follows:
STRENGTH: The ability to produce force (force=mass*acceleration). Example: NFL defensive linemen or weight-lifters
POWER: The ability to produce strength in the shortest possible time. Example: baseball sluggers
SPEED: The ability to move your body quickly. Example: Sprinters, speed skaters, or NFL wide receivers
AGILITY: The ability to change direction quickly. Example: Baseball shortstops or basketball players
FLEXIBILITY: The ability to stretch the joints across a large range of motion. Example: Gymnasts, divers, or figure skaters
NERVE: The ability to overcome fear and control your body’s stress response. Example: boxers and race car drivers.
DURABILITY: The ability to withstand physical punishment over an extended period. Example: Boxers or football players (especially running backs)
HAND-EYE COORDINATION: The ability to react quickly to sensory perception. Example: A baseball player reacting to a knuckleball
ANALYTIC APTITUDE: The ability to evaluate, reevaluated, and react appropriately to strategic situations. Example: Russell Wilson breaking down the defense before hiking the ball.
Using the 10 categories, the panelists gave each sport a score under each category, with a maximum of 10 points per category. Then, the points are added to a total of 100 points maximum. Note that there aren’t any sports that totaled up to 100 points, but that is the absolute maximum one sport can get.
After all was said and done, here are the results of how the panelists ranked the 60 sports according to which one takes the most athleticism to succeed. Remember, it is not which sport takes the most time to learn to play leisurely, the ranking is according to which sport takes the most athleticism to be good at.
As you can see boxing ends up being the sport which required the most athleticism. Boxing needs a great dealof endurance, strength, power, nerve (control), durability, and hand-eye coordination—it scored 7 or over in all of these categories. It also needed a fair amount of speed, agility, and analytic aptitude—scoring in the 6 range in all these categories. The only category which fell below a 6 is flexibility, which scored a 4.38. This is probably due to the fact that boxing doesn’t quite rely on the joints as much as the actual muscles itself.
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Again, here is the rank of the 60 sports according to the panel of experts, represented in text:
2. Ice Hockey
3. (American) Football
6. Martial Arts
11. Alpine Skiing
11. Water Polo
15. Steer Wrestling (Rodeo)
16. Pole Vault
17. Field Hockey
17. Speed Skating
19. Figure Skating
20. Distance Cycling
25. Freestyle Skiing
26. Team Handball
27. Sprint Cycling
29. Ski Jumping
31. Nordic Skiing
32. Auto Racing
33. High Jump (Track & Field)
34. Long/Triple Jumps (Track & Field)
36. Distance Swimming
38. Sprinting (Track & Field)
40. Calf Roping (Rodeo)
40. Distance Running (Track & Field)
42. Bull/Bareback/Bronc Riding (Rodeo)
43. Middle Distance Running (Track & Field)
45. Sprint Swimming
46. Water Skiing
47. Table Tennis
48. Weights (Track * Field)
50. Horse Racing
53. Roller Skating
So why are the sports ranked the way they are? Well here is a wonderful display of the skills required to play each sport and how much of that each skill is required:
I am actually surprised by how high and low some of these sports ranked. For instance, I thought rugby should have ranked higher. Also, I was surprised to see ice hockey ranked above football. Additionally, martial arts is a very broad term. Some martial arts are extremely demanding and require a lot of athleticism to compete whereas some other martial arts do not require as much.
So what do you think of the rankings? Do you largely agree with it or largely disagree with it? Do you agree that boxing should have been ranked first? Let us know below.
If you want to try your hands at the toughest sport on the list, go join a boxing gym and grab yourself some Everlast boxing gloves. They are great for people who are just starting out with boxing.
If you would like to watch the video version, which is about 1 minute and 15 seconds, then you can watch it below:
Last update on 2023-03-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
This list is such a joke. Rugby behind BASEBALL? hahaha. I’ve played Rugby, football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and I’ve wrestled. To me Wrestling and rugby are right up next to each other, followed by football, then soccer, the basketball… with baseball waaaaay behind
I agree with the above comment. Rugby is to be there at the top. And there are lot of other highly controversial ranks, which defies belief. Perhaps, the methodology needs to be changed. Also, the list seems biased towards American sports
Baseball requires an enormous amount of hand eye coordination as well as power. Plus I’m pretty sure this panel of scientists knows what they’re talking about considering they’ve spent their whole lives studying sports and the human body.
Great article! As a long time basketball player I can confirm the high levels of flexibility rquired to play basketball. But at the same time very high levels of power and athleticism needed. Basketball players are have one of the best jumps among athletes and vertical jurnp is one of the best indicators of power and anaerobic performance.
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At last. An accurate article. Whenever there are polls of greatest athletes, most list Michael Jordan as number 1. Highly unlikely. Most “Top athletes” rarely list Boxers, and yet they have to be the greatest all around athletes in the sports world, or there would be many more deaths. I played many sports as a youth, but I found that preparation for a sport required the most time for boxing, which I eventually stayed in (as an amateur). I could play a game with most sports on some level or other, but could never go beyond a round of boxing unless I trained extensively.
Yeah I feel the same way after a couple of years of taking up boxing, and MMA in general. Thanks for dropping by.
Hitting a baseball hard on a line, on the ground, or in the air with speed and carry is extremely difficult. Plus, hitting a ball hard doesn’t guarantee reward. Almost always athletes speak about how having mental toughness is even greater than physical toughness or ability. There are not many sports that can challenge an athletes mental toughness like Baseball does. Think about it, in Baseball we reward players that succeed at just over 30 percent of the time.
Peter Soldos says
And what about the decathlon (Track & Field)? 🙂
written by a white guy and based on laughably subjective (and weird) metrics
Too American centric and it’s a joke. We should be talking about playing the sports in it’s normal time duration for a game. Soccer players won’t be able to play 162 games a year they’d collapse and get injured especially if they are as fat as the baseball players. So why is baseball and (softball? what a big joke) above Soccer or Rugby too? and why are there so many fat baseball players. American footballers rest a lot too and most are fat and Basketball players play a few minutes before resting. Hockey players rotate a lot too and they skate which is much easier than running on foot. None of these sports are above Soccer or Rugby. Try and play it dude.
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What are the ranking sports based on difficulty? ›
According to Sports Virsa, the top 10 hardest sports in the world to play in 2022 are as follows: Boxing (hardest), American football, mixed martial arts, ice hockey, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, wrestling, rugby, and water polo.What is the most rigorous sport? ›
According to several studies about “science of muscles and movement” experts label boxing as the most demanding sport for an athlete. Boxing requires strength, power, endurance, and the ability to withstand huge hits over a period of time.Which sports take the most skill? ›
- Ice Hockey.
- Mixed Martial Arts. ...
- Tennis. ...
- Gymnastics. ...
- Hurling. ...
- Soccer. ...
- Water Polo. Doing many things at once can require vast amounts of skill and that's exactly what the Olympic sport of water polo requires. ...
- Rugby. In at number 10 is the gentleman's game of rugby. ...
|Ranking||Sport||Overall Fitness Rating (%)|
It may be surprising to most people that swimming is number 1 in the list of the most mentally challenging sports in the world. Many professional swimmers fall into a 7-day self-sabotage cycle. This is a period where they may doubt themselves and grow continuous stress on themselves.
- Weightlifting is about bending your body and lifting a heavyweight up. ...
- Rowing involves sitting in one spot and pushing and pulling faster than other rowing teams or individuals around you. ...
- Fishing involves sitting or standing with a rod in your hand and having patience.
It's fairly obvious which sport will use the most strength and power; lifting. If you're training every day by lifting weights, it makes sense that the core areas you develop will be perfect for competitive lifting.What is the hardest skill in all sports? ›
300 average and you'll be one of the best hitters in the game. And for this very reason alone, Popular Science says that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports. First of all, the average speed of a fastball is 90 mph.What is the easiest sport ever? ›
- Table Tennis/Ping Pong.
Soccer, also known as association football, is by far the most popular sport in the world, despite the fact that it may not be obvious in the United States. Soccer is the most popular sport in practically all of Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and Asia.
Which sport requires most athleticism? ›
Unlike most sports, basketball requires an immense amount of athleticism due to its fast pace and constant running up and down the court. The game relies heavily on speed and agility and if you aren't in tip-top shape as a basketball player, you typically get left behind by the competition.
Weightlifting and gymnastics were the two highest rated sports for strength and power. That makes sense. The strength sports ranking list by the expert panel from ESPN provides an alternative list.What sports have the smartest athletes? ›
The researcher, William Daley, says bowlers averaged 129 on a series of standard I.Q. tests. Some other average scores included 109 for tennis players, 105 for basketball players, 103 for football players, 101 for baseball players and 97 for golfers. Daley himself expressed a little shock at the findings.What are the top 3 most physically demanding sports? ›
- Soccer / Football.
To put it simply, SPEED is the ultimate weapon in athletics. I'm sure if you were to ask any athlete what ability they would most like to possess, it would be speed!Which sport is the easiest? ›
- Table Tennis/Ping Pong.
The results revealed that 57% of women found climbing attractive, making it the sexiest sport from a female perspective. In second place was extreme sports (56%), followed by football (52%), and hiking (51%).What sport has the most injuries for girls? ›
If you think cheerleading only involves cute pom-poms and piggy tails, well, think again. Because according to studies, it is by far the most dangerous sport for female athletes, accounting for a number of serious injuries and even fatalities.What is the hottest female sport? ›
- 8 8. Cheerleading.
- 7 7. Poker.
- 6 6. Wrestling.
- 5 5. Gymnastics.
- 4 4. Surfing.
- 3 3. Tennis.
- 2 2. Beach Volleyball.
- 1 1. Track and Field.