Most Demanding Sports


The Top Ten

1 Motocross Motocross

As a privateer professional rider I can tell you this is the most physically/mentally demanding sport there is. These pro races are 30min plus with your heart rate ranging from a low of 165 and max of 200 or maybe even more depending on the rider. To be able to sustain that max heart rate you must dedicate everything to your training on and off the track. From diet to riding to training everything must be at a 100 percent and these riders put their life on the line every single time they swing a leg over the bike. There's no time outs, no breaks, nothing just racing.

Motocross by far. Swimming is physical but you don't over heat. Soccer is cardio but the game stops ever few seconds/minutes. Motocross is 20 minutes plus of nonstop, over heated, fear of getting seriously hurt, hold on for your life, 52 horsepower fighting fun. Try it and tell me its not hard.

What people have to realize if you want to be good at any sport you have to be ready to work for it. But, what people don't realize to be great you have to go places most people don't want to go. I am a tennis coach and for this sport you have got to put in the hours to be great. You also have to do the right exercises to get the most out your game. With that being said I raced dirtbikes in the late 90's and early 2000's, there is absolutely nothing that asks more out of you than motocross. Not only do you have to be in the best physical shape to control your every move, you have to be in the best physical shape to control a 230 lbs machine that cranks out 60hp trying to rip your arms off. Yes these bikes have 14 inches of travel on the shock absorbers, but for the these 30 foot high big air jumps what takes care of the rest of the fall? Your legs! If you know anything about physical training you would know that at 180-200 hb/m (for twenty minutes) these guys are working. Now I'm sure ...more

As I am a motocross rider myself I can only agree with what others have said as you need balance and strength to control the bike but also mentally aware of what's going on

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2 Swimming Swimming Swimming is an individual or team sport and activity. Competitive swimming is one of the most popular Olympic sports, with events in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and butterfly.

Hardest thing you will ever do. Swimmers train more than any other athletes. Those who aren't swimmers this is how much most good swimmers train. Swimming is usually underrated on lists because people don't understand what it actually takes and they don't know what any good swimmers do to be where they are at.

10+swimming sessions per week that go for well over 2hours each
3-5 gym sessions per week about an hour and a half each session
5 dryland sessions per week 45 mins each session
(while it doesn't make it hard we also stretch for about an hour everyday, which doesn't make it harder but also adds to the time we spend on it)

The amount of training we do is ridiculous and the intensity is worse I know of 8 and 9 year old kids who train 8sessions a week.

And all the sessions which we do are unrealistically hard, we often have people pass out from exhaustion, spew up, finish unable to walk because water doesn't give us a barrier for us to stop when we ...more

Hardest sport I trained in. Even the football players I knew that had to take a swim class said it was much harder than what they did. Think about it, not only are you swimming aerobically for hours, aerobically in between, using every muscle group, You have to hold your breath while you're at it. To swim at a competitive level you have to have skill and technique. Most people don't have the same type of experience when they swim for leisure. Its not even close to what you do when you swim competitively.

I just joined this year as a sophomore. I've done hockey which of course very very challenging and also lacrosse which is demanding as well but swimming is a whole different challenge. You have to use so many muscles and its one of the only sports you get yelled at for breathing. It's an insane sport and I'll never underestimate another swimmer again


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3 Boxing Boxing Boxing is a martial art and combat sport in which two people wearing protective gloves throw punches at each other for a predetermined set of time in a boxing ring..

Until you step foot in the ring you will never understand how tiring boxing really is. Your adrenaline rush pumps your heart rate through the roof for the 12 4min rounds you are in there, and getting hit isn't as easy as it sounds either a good body shot will knock the wind clean out of you and you need to have the strength, will, determination and fitness level to be able to carry your body and mind to the end of each round at the same time as putting everything you have into the actual fight itself.

I have watched boxing for years and not until I stepped in the ring did I understand how tough it was. It is both physically demanding and mentally draining on two levels. Mentally you have to strategies like a chess player planning five moves ahead except with you whole body and mentally on another level you have to be psyched up for taking a punch or two or three or more. Total exhaustion in 30 minutes

I'm a boxer and I'll tell you right now it's not a few punches then you move on; you need serious time and effort to get in the right shape and you need to be motivated and dedicated. Once you get used to the training you just go ahead and make it harder or switch some things and if your doing it right you shouldn't get used to it in the first place. Boxing is not your grandma's sport

This is the most demanding sport. You need Speed, Strength, Mentality, Endurance, Stamina, Hard Work etc. As a boxer myself I have to train everyday improving. It demands the most

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4 Cross Country

Cross country is definitely one of the most demanding sports. It's not what most people think it is, it's not just running around. It's about pushing you until you collapse, until you're throwing up, until your knees just can't take it anymore. Also, it's most definitely not just running, it's called cross country, you run through slippery mud, you run up hills, you run through the bumpiest trails you can find. It's demanding and takes the strongest (both physically and mentally) athletes. - Felicia22

Tough sport for sure. In high school as a freshmen I missed my pace by 2 seconds on a two mile pace run. Coach made me run another mile with the seniors / varsity at their pace. I never missed my pace again unless I was passed out or puking. -)

Was doing a very challenging cross country with my high school team at high altitude, one runner collapsed, I got an asthma attack and my coach throws the inhaler at me and says "don't stop till you collapse". Finished amongst first 20 (out of over 100 runners)

I did XC at my MIDDLE SCHOOL and someone training in that military came in as a co-coach. That basically explains how demanding this sport is.

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5 Water Polo

I want everyone to go look at what's in the two spot. Swimming. I'm a year-round swimmer and water polo player. I used to be terrible at swimming, I played water polo, died the first few practices, then got better. You know why? Because water polo is a lot harder and you need a lot more endurance. Do you have to keep your head up in swimming? No. Is someone constantly scratching, kicking, trying to exploit you weaknesses in swimming? I think not. And while all that is happening, are you trying to score goals? No. Honestly, I don't know much about field because I'm a goalie, so for all the goalies, are you throwing your self in front of a ball going at at least 18 miles per hour (Or 60 if you're against that one guy from Croatia)? No. So don't start saying swimming is harder, it's not.

Water polo players practice longer and harder than swimmers. I know because I did both. Add to that, the fact that you are now playing a team sport against another team, in a pool in which you cannot touch the bottom (so you are in perpetual motion), and you are racing back and forth with your head out of your water, and you have a far more intense sport than swimming.

Not very popular sport so underrated but for as a relative novice I still train for 10 hours a week. The sport requires determination and the ability to sprint the length of the pool every 30 seconds with the only rest bite being treading water against your opponent and jumping up in front to stop them pass/ receive the ball. I can barely climb out at the end of a match.

Water polo is way more physically demanding than swimming, boxing and cross country

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6 Wrestling Wrestling Wrestling is a combat sport involving grappling type techniques such as clinch fighting, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds.

Wrestling is by far the hardest sport I have ever done. I myself am obviously a sport fanatic and I have played soccer, football, and track. Wrestling beats all of those in terms of how demanding it is. In football and soccer you get a break in between each quarter, and when you are tired you can rely on your team mates to keep going. In wrestling it is an individual sport and you have to tough through the whole match (es).

Wrestling is and should be the #1 most demanding sport, it's a one on one match from the very beginning! Matches are a constant struggle to over power and out position your opponent. And for the constant training need to keep us with sport.. You need to be in top physical condition to Wrestle. Plus the constant struggle of watching what you eat & drink to maintain weight for competitions. There is no team that can pick up the slack and your not riding a motorized machine! It's all you! What you put in you get out!

I have played basketball, baseball, track and field, swimming and currently play football and wrestling. I can tell you by far the hardest are swimming and wrestling in many aspects. For wrestling you have to have incredible endurance, know and practice moves, watch your weight, lift weights to have good strength, speed to execute moves and complete them, and most of all have mental toughness to fight all the way through to get the win.

The hardest sport

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7 Full Triathlon

To do this sport, one has to also do two of the others on the list and then run on top of that. The only power comes from you the athlete. No motor on the bike. Longer races require sustaining high effort levels for hours on end. No 5, 10 or even 30 minute effort and done.

You must train like a swimmer and train for distance running- equally as hard as swimming and bike on top of it. You must've an expert on 3 areas.
Nothing I mean nothing compares to the fitness of a trial athlete! How many swimmers can run!?!? Very few.

Three to four months intensive training for an event that lasts several hours. Tough but worth it when you cross that finish line.

People underestimate triathlon. you have to dedicate yor life for it and one slip up could ruin your race. Unless you have competed before you wont understand the physical and mental exhaustion it takes in order to compete at a high level, you have to train for three sports at a high level. Also you have to keep going for ages its not like football when you run 10m and stop over and over until your subed of plus you have teammates to rely on if needed but triathlon its down to you and there is no stopping during a race

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8 Rowing

As an active rower, in high school to say the least, I feel it is my duty to inform those on the demands of rowing. I will acknowledge that no one sport can truly be proven the "most physically demanding" as it will vary for each person, but I can say with absolute certainty rowing is a living nightmare. Races range from small 500 meter sprints (these are rare and for beginners), to 6000 meter races (this is a fall race such as HOCR). On races from 2000 meters and under, rowers start off unlike any other athlete would in their right mind. Rowers sprint all out as hard as they possibly can, typically getting in 40+ strokes per minute to start off. In each stroke, rowers have to be pulling not just their weights worth through the water, but the weight of an extra coxswain, along with a 200+ pound boat. In the start alone, rowers would need to race at 40+ strokes each minute for about 30 seconds. To put this into perspective, this is like squatting your body weight + 40 or so pounds 20 ...more

I'm an active member of my high school crew team and all I can say is that once you get on a rowing machine, you are almost always guaranteed to feel like death afterwards. This sport requires more mental, muscular, and endurance power than any other sport I have ever played (which is quite an extensive list including, swimming, track and field, lacrosse, soccer, basketball, etc.). Rowing is the sport in which I am most physically challenge and am forced to use all of the power I have left in my body and then some. In rowing, once you believe you can't go any more, you have to continue on for the 8 (in an 8+ shell) other people in your boat. My favorite and most realistic quote I have heard regarding this brutal yet wonderful and amazing sport is, "when you can no longer row with your legs, row with your heart". I am sure to keep this in my mind during each 5000 meter test we do on the erg as I feel that I am dying with 3000 meters to go. Crew feels like death to your body, but almost ...more

Rower's cross their aerobic threshold within the first 20 strokes of the race. Then they have 200 more strokes to go. A typical top level crew will train 600-800 hours a year for a 6 minute race. At the end of a race, if you can get out of the boat then you didn't race hard enough. People think rowing is poetic, but they're wrong. Rowing is not poetic. Inside the boat, each rower is pushing him or herself to the point of passing out and poetic movements are the last thing on their minds. The only thing each rower wants is to put their opponent in so much pain that they give up and quit. That is how a rowing race is won- enduring more pain than your opponent and not giving up. This endurance of pain is what makes rowing the most demanding sport.

Think about waking up and being on the freezing cold water at 5am every morning. Then rowing on the water for two hours straight, shredding your glutes and lower back, and getting screamed at by a coxswain who has to steer the boat of 8 people. This is definitely the most mentally and physically demanding sport.

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9 Rugby

It is a beautiful combination elegance and speed, and brutality and strength. Top level athletes train like olympic sprints, lift like olympic lifters, and are capable of being able to take the force equivalent of being hit by a small car multiple time in a match.

Rugby combines strength- speed, cardiovascular endurance and mental toughness/ bravery to create what would surely be in the top 5 behind motocross, boxing, bull riding and rowing.

Played semi pro and always took a week to recover. However daughter is an elite gymnast and it is tougher and you have to be braver.

Rugby is one of the only sports in existens, which you ca play with any talents. If you can are sprinter, have a great stamina or can tackle quite well, even if you are somewhere inbetween those talents, there is still a position for you to play. Rugby is a sports for any human being

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10 Track (Pole Vault)

You just don't know how hard it is until you hit 15' and above. Any thing lower than 15' I can see it being number 10 or below. But anything higher than 15' should be in top 3. The mental game is crazy, weather is a jerk 9/10 times, when you fall it hurts... A lot, and you fall a lot trying to get on bigger and longer poles. Plus it's a complete full body workout.

Requires incredible upper body strength, core strength, speed and balance. This is hands down the hardest sport, but probably will not win the vote because so few people understand it. Those who do will agree with me.

Son does it and all these sports are hard but running at full sprint with a 16' pole and trying to place it in a small box and then jumping completely upside down. Takes a little bit of crazy.

My daughter did this

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The Contenders

11 Cycling

Should be up higher. I transitioned from martial arts to downhill mountain bike racing. My saving grace was the level of fitness from karate. However I soon learned there was a lot more work. I was on my bike an average of 4-6 hours a day. Training was any combination of riding trails with jumps to hitting the gym for 2-3 hours. Sprints were the hardest: 45 seconds of riding as fast as you could from a standstill. The goal was to do as many as you could. The races, specifically downhill, are usually two and a half to eight minutes long. The format is simple, you take a lift to the top of a mountain with your bike. The course is pre marked (you usually have a day or two of practice) with a timer at the start gate up top and another timer at the finish at the bottom. The rider with the fastest or least amount of time wins. Here's the catch: ANY obstacle can be found on the course from small bridges and drops to long, rocky sections and jumps the size of buses. Of course, speed is key ...more

It's not a finish and get a medal sport. You only glory with a podium. It's not an entry level sport like triathlons. Even the beginner class or cat 5 is legit and you have to be in very fit just to not get dropped at the level. The advancement system beyond cat 5 insures that each class only has guys that had success in the previous group so the difficulty at each step up increases dramatically. It's not like a triathlete that is going for a personal best and tends to be weak except for the elite level guys. Cycling is full of strategy and structure and requires in depth training even to be a beginner.

"To train you do baselines where you ride until you literally fall off your bike and all other interval training almost always ends in vomit. Not to mention riding over 100miles for a race averaging 20mph or more"

Do an xc mountain bike race and you’ll know hoe it’s the perfect combination of fitness and skill, also delivering on the technical aspect at max heart rate multiple times. I don’t think many other sports need you to push this hard just to survive the course rather than competing

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12 Speed Skating

Speed skating is very demanding and intense training. Being a former speed skater. Plus you fall on the ice that hurts and you can easily get cut by your blades if you fall, and sliding into the wall hurts as well. The training for speed skating on a national level is basically a every day practice.

The leg and core strength needed is insane to speed skate. Couple that with the endurance needed and all the training for correct form to use all that leg strength. It's intense throwing yourself on the edge of a skate leaning against gravity while rocketing through a corner.

13 Figure Skating

I figure skate, it is honestly one of the hardest things to do, especially the first few times when you fall

Figure skaters see more g force then a f 18 pilot, and hit the ground more often then a rodeo bull rider! and can do 1 legged squats all day long, marines can barely do 10!

Figure skaters are known to out do marines in 1 leg squats, they see more G force then an f18 pilot, they hit the ground more times then a bull rider, and usual;ly train 2 to 3 straight hours a day!

14 Dance

Dance isn't just ballet, Dance has aspects of fencing, cheer, and even tumbling. Dance commonly utilized lifts and stunts, as well as tumbling passes, and acrobatic tricks. In ballet alone you can always become better. Ideal turnout is 180 degrees or more, with flagged and pointed feet that can touch the ground. You must use every muscle while making it look like it's effortless. You can always leap higher or turn longer or balance longer, get your leg up higher, hold your core, move faster etc. now those things are some of the main aspects you try to obtain in ballet along with preforming and telling a story. To maintain skills, I am unprofessional competitive dancer only dance about 17-20 hrs a week while other competitors practice 25 hrs a week. I even dance 6+ hrs straight some days with small drink and food breaks lasting about a minute or two. Many dancers, even when they know it might not be the right thing, have to dance through pain, broken feet and ankles, sprained wrists ...more

Imagine the endurance needed to do football. Imagine the strength needed to do wrestling. Imagine the flexibility needed to do gymnastics. Now combine all three, and then try to make them look absolutely effortless. That's dance. Oh, and once you turn 10 or 11, throw a couple pointe shoes into the mix. That's pointe. I dance for 14+ hours a week, and still go to school, and still have enough strength to do other sports. It's an amazing and incredibly hard sport/art. Honestly surprised this isn't higher on the list.

My daughter is only 6 and trains 10-15 hours a week. All while in school. She also stretches daily on top of that. Dancers train and work all year for 4 dance comps per year. Dance comps full of quick changes, performing in front of others, relying on and being in a team, and being judged. It's a fun but stressful thing. Full of excitement and also disappointment.


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15 Soccer Soccer Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball. The goal is to score the ball on the other team's goal.

Soccer requires a lot of physical and mental preparation. The hardest part of a season is actually pre season because is all about getting in shape and building that team chemistry before season starts. In soccer you might just see 22 players on a field running up and down the field with a ball for 90 minutes and in knockout stages like in the World Cup recently 120 minutes, but what about their training; a soccer player doesn't just puts a uniforms on and heads down to the field and play, it takes a lot of stamina, y'all should see our full field sprints, suicides, running up and down hills, all our drills a also require running full speed, also them laps I once had a coach that would makes us do 10 laps around the field and we weren't jogging neither. Also doing some sort of frog squats around the field really killed me but it's all beneficial because you need strong legs and endurance to play a soccer game.

Soccer extremely physically demanding mentally. Your body needs to be able to explode well, reach high speeds, and maintain those high speeds. 45 minute halves with about a 10 minutes half, time and constant running. My current coach will sub out players if they stop running, because you don't stop. You legs have to be powerful for the distance, sprints, passes, crosses, and shots, so the training and preparation is grueling. Mentally you have to be either all in or out. You can't back down, especially if you're a goalie. You must know when to pass, where to pass, how to set up plays, and get open. Plus you're sprinting while doing this, and when they ball gets stolen, sprint harder.

Soccer requires back and forth movement and constant speed. Especially physically demanding for goalies. They have the hardest job on the field due to speed requirements and reflexes.

Lost of running. And few subs

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16 Gymnastics Gymnastics Gymnastics is a sport involving the performance of exercises requiring strength, flexibility, balance and control.

I've been working out 20 hours a week plus since the 6th grade; before that it was 12-16 hours a week since before the 1st grade, and I have buddies at other gyms that workout more than me still. This is a complete year round sport, we don't take breaks and we never stop working out. When the skin rips off your hands from swinging on high bar or rings, you stuff chalk in them to stop the bleeding and keep going. I remember at 1 competition I took a bad landing on floor (first event of the comp.) and shredded most ligaments in my foot (didn't know what I did at the time) and finished the entire competition on what felt like a broken bone in my foot. Point being, most people underestimate this sport, when in reality it's high risk, high impact, and extremely demanding.

I mean really, Elites train for 6-8 hours a day, every day of the week for most of their lives. They get their conditioning programs from the navy. The mental and physical strength, along with skill you need for this sport is insane.

Mentally and physically, competitive gymnasts are the toughest kids. They run faster because burning leg muscles doesn't bother them - they don't quit. They can kick any kid's butt at pull-ups or push-ups. They do things that the human body and mind really doesn't want them to do - including pushing through the fear of flying backward over and over on a balance beam that is 4" wide. If it was easy they would call it swimming or motorcross.

I feel like I’m this sport you have to be physically and mentally strong and be able to do anything you put your mind to! I’ve been a gymnast for ten years and I’ve finally slowing down but that’s ten years of new things almost every day and I am still able to do that now. I know I’m acting as if I'm in my twenties but I’m only a young teen and most teens retire as it’s so much physical strain but I have now become a coach to retain my love for this sport and to teach others how amazing gymnastics is!

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17 Football Football American football is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end.

You know this is biased when the first comment is try biking instead and see how hard it is. Football is a game of seconds. You give everything in your body and every ounce of toughness that you call your own for 6 second seconds at a time. Those 6 seconds add up real fast. I wouldn't say football isn't a sport I'm sure you've never stepped on the gridiron of a high level football team

I would love for some of you people to play football. It's a hell of a lot harder than people think. It hurts. It's tough. Its hard. Its demanding you have to loft to help you. You have to know all the plays. If your a linemen you have to know all the plays and like 4 different positions and ways for each play. Running backs wide receivers and quarterbacks get hit all the time. Just because they have pads on doesn't mean it doesn't hurt

This is an extremely demanding sport because of the Mental and Physical toughness required to play it. As a player, I can tell you this. A) Its extremely hot. Under all of the pads (especially upper body) and on a hot day, the Oxygen you intake seems to turn to pure heat. B) Its rough. Football is not a sport for the weak and faint hearted. C) Its Exhausting. Though in between plays is a break, when the ball is actually in play, it is Physically and Mentally agonizing.

Change the names please

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18 Hockey

How is swimming harder than this? Hockey requires incredible strength. The durability you need along with the finesse to shoot and pass accurately is incredible. I play high school hockey and practice is every day. Before you even think about checking or shooting, you need to skate well. Forwards, backwards, side to side and you need to skate very fast all while trying to control a puck and not get killed.

How could you forget hockey? I'm not even in high school hockey or anything yet and we have hockey at least 5 times a week and dry land training. Not to mention it costs $700 to play it. Then there's gear expenses, and you have to pay for hotels in out of town tournaments.

Hockey is the hardest team sport that is played in the world. Not only do you have the speed of the game and the blades on your feet, you also have 6'5 250 lb men that can come at you with incredible speeds. While all this is going on, you have to focus on keeping a little rubber puck under control. If you're a goalie, you have to deal with 90+ mph shots, some reaching nearly 110 mph, as well as sometimes having your vision blocked by opponents. Not to mention all the times someone has caught a skate blade in the neck and nearly bled out.

Not like any other sport where you can jump right on and give it a try. Can't play hockey until you can skate & it's definitely one of the fastest sports...speed & decision making. Lol, dancing is rated even higher than this?!

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19 Snocross

This category should be with motocross, it takes a lot of endurance and strength to hold on to those machines at top speeds, hitting jumps and half the time can't see where you are going with snow blinding the riders.

Should certainly be in the same category of motocross #1. Athletes train the same and during racing, the stamina, the physical demand is the same if not more!

The majority of motocross Rider do Snocross in the Winter. According to me, that was 2most harder sport

I agree, Snocross is just as much demanding as Motocross and should be included with motocross as Most demanding sport!

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20 Tennis Tennis Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent or between two teams of two players each.

this is the most demanding sport you need to work on every single muscle in your body and be mentally strong and have to have great endurance and work out every day for 10 hrs to become the best and you have to be able to return 140 miles per hour balls coming at you. you watch the players and you think its easy and they have no emotions but that's not what it is at all and you have to start at a very young age. this sport should be at the top of the list.

Tennis is the most demanding sport. I am only 14 and take all AP classes. While doing this I train up to 40 hours a week including mental and physical training. The gym and running is a must and my diet is completely revolved around tennis. Every weekend I am shoved into a sectional or national tournament with 5AM warm ups and up to 5 matches a day. I have been doing this for 10 years and am still only on the level to play college. Tennis takes movement, endurance, coordination, and extreme strategic skill.

Tennis has a high learning curve before real enjoyment of the sport. Once at the level of a pro, mental toughness becomes the significant factor of winning. Being able to focus and play with aggression for hours sometimes five hours with wee little breaks makes this the most demanding sport.

I voted to say no. No to that this sport is the most demanding as u take breaks every second and I've played to tennis and is no sweat compared to motocross or any other sport does it even count as a sport

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Top Remixes

1. Cross Country
2. Swimming
3. Track (Pole Vault)
1. Swimming
2. Water Polo
3. Full Triathlon



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