While everyone wishes they could suit up for the Portland Trailblazers, there’s only so much the average citizen can do in the sports world. Although, knowing what are the most challenging sports to play can help you understand what you can avoid or shift your focus to.
Let’s Get Physical: Football & Rugby
Physicality is one aspect that makes some sports challenging. As much as you’d like to believe you could get up after a 250-pound linebacker hits you at full speed, most of us would remain in the fetal position after such a blow. Between the physical risks of getting through a season injury-free and the mental acumen required to read defenses, stepping on the gridiron remains one of the most challenging things to do.
You may not have to memorize a playbook as thick as a phonebook (if they still make those) as a rugby player, but it may be one of the only sports more violent than football. It takes a special type of person to become a rugby player, and Ross Gellar isn’t him.
Two-in-One: Ice Hockey & Water Polo
Any sport requiring you to do another activity to play said game automatically puts you atop the list. Water polo and ice hockey share that because you must tread water for water polo and learn to ice skate before becoming a hockey player.
Anyone that’s had to tread water for an extended amount of time will tell you how grueling the experience is. Now, add on hurling a ball with every might of your being while shouldering your opponents, and you have a nightmare of a sport.
While you could play water polo without experience—although you’d probably last 10 minutes—there is no possibility that anyone could succeed on a hockey rink on a whim. You’re better off testing your slapshot skills on a multi-sports simulator, allowing you to stay on your feet without slipping and sliding.
You could also throw soccer into the mix, considering that running continuously for 90-plus minutes while kicking a ball would be impossible for anyone who isn’t in peak shape.
Mind Over Matter: Baseball & Golf
Golf and baseball go together because they rely more on the mental aspect of sports rather than the physical component. Of course, it takes physical talent to perform well at each, but it’s more about handling the frustrations of each sport.
In terms of one thing being the most difficult thing to do in sports, hitting a 100 mph fastball has to be on the podium. Getting over the fear of a baseball decking you in the noggin is enough of a struggle—let alone making contact.
Golf is the ultimate sport that tests your patience and temper. Hitting a stationary little white ball should be easy-peasy. Yet, you might be able to throw the ball farther than you hit it if you’re new to the game.
Survival of the Fittest: Boxing & MMA
If you want sports that combine the physicality of football, the endurance of water polo, and the mental challenge of golf, you’ll get mixed martial arts and boxing. Mixed martial arts may be more taxing than boxing on your body, but boxing isn’t called the “sweet science” for nothing. A boxer must know the perfect time to connect with a precise blow to knock their opponent out, or they play the long game of mentally and physically besting their foe.
Everyone will argue that their sport of choice is more demanding than others, but there’s no question that these are the most challenging sports to play.