Top 10 Most Demanding Sports
As a privateer professional rider, I can tell you this is the most physically/mentally demanding sport there is. These pro races are 30 minutes 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 100 percent and these riders put their life on the line every single time they swing a leg over the bike. There's no timeouts, no breaks, nothing, just racing.
I have played almost every sport there is: swimming, football, track, tennis, basketball, hockey, etc. These are walks in the park compared to motocross. Football involves 5 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of rest. Swimming is a minute or two all out.
Motocross, on the other hand, is 10-30 minutes of going as hard as you can, and never letting up. There are a thousand and one things to think about when racing, and skipping one of them might end up losing you the race, or putting you in an ambulance. There is no off season. You are running and lifting the day after the season ends in order to be in shape for next season.
The horrible thing is, it is never enough. No matter how good of shape you are in, you are still gasping for air the second the helmet comes off, trying to uncurl your cramped hands that are dripping in blood from blisters popped and skin torn off from just holding on.
God help you if you ever go down with any significant speed. The best way to demonstrate crashing on a dirt bike is to literally jump out of a moving car. Even then, you aren't getting run over, landed on, burned, or falling for 10-30 feet out of the air.
The fact that I escaped 16 years of this sport with no significant injuries besides concussions amazes me to this day. Motocross is by far the hardest sport on the planet. There is no doubt in my mind.
Swimming is most definitely the most demanding sport. I have been swimming for just over a year, and have worked my butt off, and am now at the level of swimmers who have been at it for years. Compared to other swimmers, our practices are relatively easy, and they are not easy! Swimming uses every single muscle at the same time.
Every set, you move your arms like lightning, every race, your legs feel like they are going to snap off. In a set, even if you are the fastest on the team, you swim a 200 sprint with limited breaths, and guess what, once you finish, you get 5 seconds rest and have to go and do it again, faster this time, than the absolute fastest you can go.
Swimming is not just going back and forth, just like track is not just running around in circles. Swimming is the most physically taxing sport around because of you feel like you are about to die, go beat your best time in a 100 free. And if you miss the best by one hundredth of a second, you break down in tears because you have worked so hard... just to shave off .01 seconds.
Many, if not most, swimmers break down in tears multiple times. And I am still at a relatively low level. Swimming is the most demanding sport for sure.
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 strategize like a chess player planning five moves ahead except with your 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 you're doing it right, you shouldn't get used to it in the first place. Boxing is not your grandma's sport.
Boxing is by far the most physically and mentally demanding sport I have ever taken part in. It takes guts just to go to the gym and deal with the punishment from the workouts, let alone stepping into the ring. It's not like UFC at all. Only striking is allowed, and it'll put a beating on your body and mind both short term and long term.
People don't realize how demanding this sport really is. You work for 30+ hours each week, and never have an "off season". Most people can't walk in a straight line, or even do a single push up. Gymnasts do standing flips on 4-inch wide beams, and flip higher than you can even imagine.
You see basketball players sitting out with ice packs all over because they sprained an ankle. When gymnasts get hurt, they put some tape on, and go right on flipping. Also, I don't know if it's just where I'm from, but every time we did any type of physical activity, the gymnasts come off on top. Above the football players, above the soccer players, and above the basketball players.
Gymnastics is certainly more demanding, mentally and physically, than any sports most people would think of.
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 one competition I took a bad landing on the 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.
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.
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.
The number of times a skater falls before mastering a jump and achieving consistency is too many to count. The average person can barely skate, let alone learn a double axel or a quad toe loop!
I am really sad right now. Why is skating 24th!
Figure skaters experience more g-forces than an F-18 pilot and hit the ground more often than a rodeo bull rider! They can do one-legged squats all day long, while marines can barely do 10.
It is a beautiful combination of elegance and speed, and brutality and strength. Top-level athletes train like Olympic sprinters, lift like Olympic lifters, and are capable of being able to take the force equivalent of being hit by a small car multiple times in a match.
Rugby involves strength, endurance, speed, agility, knowledge, and so much more in order to be successful in the game. Not to mention the extreme amount of injuries and concussions many players end up playing through.
Soccer is not demanding at all! Soccer is full of all these tryhards that think they are so good. Rugby is way better because it's more entertaining, physical, and more unpredictable. In soccer, all you do is pass the ball back and forth for 90 minutes.
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 your 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 the field because I'm a goalie, so for all the goalies, are you throwing yourself in front of a ball going 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.
I have been playing ODP water polo for the past month. It is easily the hardest sport one could possibly imagine playing. For example, I am only 13 and my ODP program requires 3 hour plus practices 3 or 4 times a week. It is exceptionally arduous, and very underrated as water polo players do not receive the credit that they deserve for partaking in such a difficult sport.
It is physically and mentally demanding, for one participating in water polo is always swimming or treading water (treading water being the closest thing to a break one could get in a water polo game) and mentally demanding because one must have a strong mentality to be able to do the things required of them. Despite the fact that my overall physique is good, I often struggle to leave the pool when a heated game has come to a close.
As a player for my school soccer team, I have had to pull through a lot of tough stuff. When a player receives the ball, they have 0.5 seconds to figure out their best passing option. This forces a ton of mental strain, not to mention the fact that one wrong move, and you could screw up the game.
Another reason this is, in my opinion, the most demanding sport is the fact that when a player has a breakaway, they must run as fast as they possibly can (an average of about 20 yards in 4 to 5 seconds on my team). During practices, coaches like to work on their players' core and upper body. This includes around 50 push-ups for us, 30 sit-ups, and 2-minute wall-sits after all training. This also plays a big factor in the reason that most teams have super tough try-outs and practices.
Soccer is extremely physically and mentally demanding. Your body needs to be able to explode well, reach high speeds, and maintain those high speeds. There are 45-minute halves with about a 10-minute half-time and constant running. My current coach will sub out players if they stop running, because you don't stop. Your 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 the ball gets stolen, you sprint harder.
As a high school wrestler myself, I can tell you that wrestling is definitely the hardest sport you can get yourself into. I understand how Motocross can be very intense and cause a lot of adrenaline, and swimming requires a lot of conditioning and hard work on your body. However, I can tell you right now why I believe wrestling is so much harder and should be number one.
To start off with wrestling, there is the common saying that most young people say nowadays which would be that wrestling is gay. I won't deny it does get kind of weird at times in certain positions, but like my coach says, "Don't make it gay." But anyways, just to clear the air.
Wrestling is one of the sports where you have to manage your weight the most. I know wrestling isn't the only sport in which you have to manage your weight obviously, but this is the least of it, and to be honest, it's not that easy especially when you are trying to go down in weight or cut weight which can be so physically enduring. During the season, I was off weight by .4 pounds and my coach made me work so hard that I had lost almost 2 pounds in 20 minutes.
Now obviously, different people in wrestling may have different opinions on difficulty, but at the high school I go to, the exercise we are put through could be considered torture. They make us do sprints until we literally cry, and I can't even tell you how many times the coaches have worked us so hard we puked.
Then, people may say, "Oh well, the matches are only like 3 or 6 minutes so it's not that hard." Well guess what, it's a lot more complex than that. First of all, you are literally throwing around someone of your weight and that takes a lot of strength, which is why when you see wrestlers in the Olympics or just any wrestler in around the 130-150 pound weight class, they are pretty shredded. If you need an example of a really big guy in wrestling, look up Brock Lesnar.
If you still think that a wrestling match would be... more
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 be an expert in 3 areas. Nothing, I mean nothing, compares to the fitness of a triathlon athlete! How many swimmers can run? Very few.
Having trained for many sports and then adapting to triathlon, this is by far the toughest. I raced Ironman 70.3 in 2014, Full Ironman Zurich in 2015 and now training for Ironman Maastricht in 2016 - it is so hard and so demanding. The time and commitment is insane - I now look back at when I trained for just a marathon and it seems so easy compared to multi-discipline sports.
You can never master skateboarding because the amount of skills, tricks, and spots are endless. There is so much more to it than standing, pushing, and jumping. People think skateboarding is simple. It's about timing, skill, balance, consistency, and skateboarding is so technical. You need a big set of balls to skate, big gaps, leaps, and just facing fears is huge. Skateboarding should be in such a better place than 25th.
There are so many technicalities, and you have to get everything perfect, or you're going to fall hard. You need balance, consistency, board control, and a lot of courage.
Half-pipe skating uses almost every muscle in your body. Aerobically, it's equal to boxing. Five minutes of half-pipe skateboarding is equivalent to two full games of rugby league.
All big muscles are used to their maximum in skiing competitions, and I'm not just talking about downhill here.
Nordic skiing is the most physically and mentally demanding sport. There is literally nothing harder.
Have you tried it? It is hard.
Rowers 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.
Rowing is definitely one of the most difficult sports out there, both physically and mentally. It's certainly the sport with the highest pain-to-gain ratio. Let me just say that the erg is the worst machine of all time. I want to break it, but it always kicks my ass.
The ergometer (rowing machine) displays how fast and powerful your every stroke is, so there's no hiding or pretending your effort. It requires every muscle in your body, and your body to be in sync with those of your teammates. You're dying while going backwards for 2000 meters, what more can I say.
In my mind, cross country is one of the hardest sports around, not football, not soccer, not basketball. None of those add up to cross country. It's not only a physical state but a mental state too. I'm just starting my freshman year and I've run in junior varsity but a 5k. I really realized that point in your life when you've been running for 2 miles in a meet and you're coming up on the finish and you realize you don't feel anything, nothing at all.
At that point, the last 100 yards to go, you dig down deep and push as hard as you can. That moment, nothing matters but finishing, you can hear the screams of the crowds. Peace, that's peace. It's like you're gliding over the course, peace. That's the best part of running and few people know how it feels but when you do know how it feels, you know. No matter how much the football players talk trash, you know they have no clue what hard is until they run with you.
Dance isn't just ballet. Dance has aspects of fencing, cheer, and even tumbling. Dance commonly utilizes lifts and stunts, as well as tumbling passes and acrobatic tricks. In ballet alone, you can always become better. The ideal turnout is 180 degrees or more, with flexed 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, these things are some of the main aspects you try to obtain in ballet along with performing and telling a story. To maintain skills, I, as an 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 and ankles, pulled muscles, soreness, illness, etc. because even missing a few days of your routine will set you back in your hard work and artistry. When dancing, you must always have the proper expression or emotion you are trying to convey in order to give a great performance; no matter what you are feeling, you have to fit the dynamics of the dance much like an actor on a set.
Cycling is 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 very fit just to not get dropped at that level. The advancement system beyond cat 5 ensures 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.
Cycling should be ranked 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 involved. 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 - the faster you go the less time on course. At the world cup level, racers can reach speeds over 40 mph. To say you have to be mentally and physically fit is an understatement.
Most professional athletes miss an inning or a game if they pull a muscle or break a finger. Downhill racers have won races with broken hands, collarbones, and ribs.
Rock climbing is a very vigorous and physically demanding sport. You must have tremendous strength, particularly in the back, shoulders, hips, and arms. Of course, some climbers may not realize that being mentally prepared is just as important.
For instance, you must have full body awareness, such as knowing where your feet and hands are before you make your next move. Also, you must be able to focus on recurring challenges while trying to maintain your balance and get into the perfect position for your next move. And all this for up to 8-10 hours a day when on tour.
Whether it's Mount Everest or the local climbing gym, there is always a challenge. Climbing takes endurance, strength, and mental focus. When most people first start climbing, they usually get worn out within the first 2 hours because it's such a demanding sport.
People see rock climbing as a fun, easygoing sport, which it can be until you see the true colors behind it. Scaling 2000-foot mountains and going on multiple mountaineering journeys and trips is where this sport lies.
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 may not be the most demanding sport, but it certainly deserves to be in the top 5 on this list. Let's look at the physical, psychological, technical, and strategic demands.
Physical: Tennis combines anaerobic and aerobic exercise to an extremely difficult level. In any match where opponents are at a similar skill level (singles players being at least low intermediate or doubles players being high intermediate), pacing yourself during and between points is crucial. Two-hour matches are not uncommon in these situations, and in the pros, this can often extend to 4-5 hours. But despite the crucial need for endurance, tennis requires fast sprints and constant direction changes in almost every point. It's one thing to be able to run for an hour or two. It's another to be sprinting half the time. And if you think that the breaks between points allow you to 'recover', think again. Sprints are anaerobic, which means breathing is limited. Recovery from this takes time, and tennis players simply don't have that time. You're gasping for breath and, boom, here comes another serve.
Psychological: I wonder how many sports have as many embarrassing mental breakdowns as tennis. Tennis is extremely technical, and if one in 50 elements in a stroke is off, be it the bend in your knees or the pressure in your foot, things go wrong. But it's often difficult to tell just what is wrong because there are so many factors. You watch, clueless, as your game falls apart. What's more, no matter what pressure you're under, you feel unbelievable pressure. If you're down, you have to find a way back in a game that seems lost. But if you're up, you know that lead can disappear with ease. You have to maintain focus as your opponent messes with their emotions and skills, trying to find a way to get back in it. For some, singles have extra psychological stress as you have no support, while for others, doubles can have crippling pressure for fear of weighing your partner down or... more
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.
Snocross should certainly be in the same category as motocross #1. Athletes train the same, and during racing, the stamina and physical demand are the same, if not more!
I agree, Snocross is just as demanding as Motocross and should be included with Motocross as the most demanding sport!
Try being a midfield player in lacrosse and run about 20 fast breaks in total. You'll realize that when cradling a ball and carrying a helmet and pads with you, things are going to get really tiring. It fully works your upper body, and at the same time, you need to run like a horse. It should easily make the top 10 in this list, beating basketball and soccer by far.
Midfielders run all game long while carrying up to 7 pounds of equipment. They have to control the ball, dodge, shoot, all while being hacked at by metal poles.
Oh my gosh, how is golf more demanding than this?
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. It's hard. It's demanding. You have to loft to help you. You have to know all the plays. If you're a lineman, 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) It's 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) It's rough. Football is not a sport for the weak and faint-hearted. C) It's exhausting. Though in between plays is a break, when the ball is actually in play, it is physically and mentally agonizing.
I have raced snocross, which was the toughest thing I have ever done... until I tried endurocross. Ten laps of snocross racing was easier than four laps on an endurocross track.
How is this not #1 when the races are so long? It's hard to think of anything more demanding in one continuous period.
It's the same as motocross, but the races last a lot longer, between 3 hours and sometimes up to over 6 hours.