Get ready, board sports lovers!
Prepare to ride the wave of excitement as we unveil our list of board sports, sorted by popularity.
From experienced shredders to beginners finding their balance, this list has something for every board sport enthusiast!
Table of Contents
Skateboarding originated in the 1940s to 1950s in California, USA, when surfers were looking for a way to “surf” on land when the waves were flat. Today, skateboarding is popular worldwide, with millions of enthusiasts across the globe.
The sport made its Olympic debut in 2021 at the 2020 Tokyo Games. Major skateboarding events include the X Games, Street League Skateboarding (SLS), and Vans Park Series.
Surfing has its origins in ancient Polynesian culture, particularly in Hawaii, where it was a central part of society. The sport is popular in countries with coastlines offering good wave conditions, such as the USA, Australia, and Brazil.
The World Surf League (WSL) holds the annual Championship Tour, and surfing made its Olympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Snowboarding was developed in the United States in the 1960s and gained widespread popularity in the early 1980s. It involves descending a snow-covered slope on a snowboard—a flat board with bindings for attaching boots.
Snowboarding became an Olympic sport in the 1998 Nagano Winter Games. Major snowboarding events include the Winter X Games, FIS Snowboard World Cup, and the Burton US Open.
Longboarding is a form of skateboarding that uses a longer board designed for cruising, downhill racing, and carving. It originated in the early 1950s in California and Hawaii as an adaptation of surfing on land.
Longboarding is popular in the USA and other countries with a skateboarding culture. While longboarding is not an Olympic sport, regional and international longboarding competitions, such as the International Gravity Sports Association (IGSA) races, are held worldwide.
#5 Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Stand-up paddleboarding has its roots in ancient Polynesian culture, but it gained modern popularity in Hawaii in the early 2000s. The sport involves standing on a large, stable board and propelling oneself using a long paddle.
SUP is popular in coastal areas, lakes, and rivers worldwide. The International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) both govern the sport.
SUP is not part of the Olympic program, but the ISA and ICF organize separate World Championships for the sport.
Wakeboarding originated in the 1980s, combining techniques from water-skiing, snowboarding, and surfing. The sport involves riding on a short, wide board while being towed behind a motorboat.
Wakeboarding is popular in the USA, Australia, and Europe. The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) oversees the sport, and the World Wakeboard Championships are held annually.
Kiteboarding, also known as kitesurfing, was developed in the late 20th century, with pioneers such as the Legaignoux brothers and Cory Roeseler contributing to its creation.
The sport involves riding on a board while being propelled by a large kite. Kiteboarding is popular in locations with consistent winds, such as the Dominican Republic, Tarifa, Spain, and Cape Town, South Africa.
The Global Kitesports Association (GKA) oversees the sport, and the annual GKA Kite World Tour takes place across multiple locations.
Windsurfing, a combination of surfing and sailing, was invented in the late 1960s by Californians Jim Drake and Hoyle Schweitzer.
It is popular in coastal areas worldwide, particularly in destinations with consistent wind, such as the Canary Islands and Tarifa, Spain. T
he International Windsurfing Association (IWA) governs the sport, and windsurfing has been part of the Olympic program since the 1984 Los Angeles Games.
Bodyboarding originated in the 1970s, primarily in Hawaii, as an alternative to stand-up surfing. Riders lie or kneel on a shorter, wider foam board while catching a wave, making it more accessible for beginners.
Bodyboarding is popular worldwide, with competitions such as the International Bodyboarding Association (IBA) World Tour and various national championships. While bodyboarding is not an Olympic sport, it enjoys a loyal following and a growing competitive scene.
Skimboarding dates back to the 1920s in Southern California when lifeguards used pieces of wood to glide across the water’s surface close to the shore.
Modern skimboarding involves riding a thin, flat board on a thin layer of water and sometimes catching breaking waves. Skimboarding is popular in coastal areas with shallow waters or tidal pools.
The sport is not part of the Olympic program, but regional and international competitions, such as the United Skim Tour and the European Skimboarding Cup, are held annually.
More Board Sports
- Flowboarding: Flowboarding, sometimes called sheet wave riding, combines elements of surfing, bodyboarding, skateboarding, and snowboarding. It was developed in the mid-1990s in San Diego, California, USA, with the creation of “flowrider” technology, which produces a thin sheet of water on an inclined, rideable surface. Flowboarding is popular at water parks and indoor facilities worldwide. While not an Olympic sport, it has its championship events, such as the World Flowboarding Championships.
- Riverboarding: Riverboarding, also known as hydrospeed, originated in France in the late 1970s. It involves riding a foam or inflatable board on whitewater rapids while wearing fins for propulsion and steering. Riverboarding is popular in areas with fast-flowing rivers, such as the USA, New Zealand, and Europe. While not an Olympic sport, riverboarding events, like the Whitewater Riverboarding World Cup, take place in various countries.
- Sandboarding: Sandboarding, sometimes called dune surfing, has ancient origins with evidence dating back to ancient Egypt. It involves riding on sand dunes using a specially-designed board, similar to a snowboard. Sandboarding is popular in desert areas with large dunes, including Peru, Namibia, Australia, and the USA. While sandboarding is not an Olympic sport, international and national competitions are held, such as Sand Master Jam and Sand Spirit.
- Mountainboarding: Mountainboarding, also known as all-terrain boarding, was developed in the 1990s in the USA and the UK. It combines elements of snowboarding, skateboarding, and off-road biking. Mountainboarding involves riding on a versatile, off-road board with air-inflated tires on rough terrains such as hills, grass, or gravel. The sport is popular in the USA, Europe, and Australia. While not an Olympic sport, the international competition,Mountainboard World Championships, is organized by the International Mountainboard Riders Association (IMRA).
- Streetboarding: Streetboarding, formerly known as snakeboarding, was created in the late 1980s in South Africa. It involves riding on a segmented board connected by a flexible joint, allowing riders to perform fluid, snake-like motions. Streetboarding is popular in urban areas worldwide. Although not an Olympic sport, it is gaining traction in the extreme sports community, with events like the Streetboarding World Championships organized by the World Streetboard Association (WSA).
- Freeline Skating: Freeline skating was invented in 2003 by Ryan Farrelly in San Francisco, California, USA. It involves riding on two-wheeled, independent skates that combine elements of skateboarding, inline skating, and ice skating. Freeline skating is popular in urban areas, primarily in the USA and Asia. Though it is not an Olympic sport, regional and international competitions, such as the Freeline Skates World Cup, are held.
What are the most popular board sports?
The most popular board sports include skateboarding, surfing, snowboarding, longboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, wakeboarding, kiteboarding, windsurfing, bodyboarding, and skimboarding.
How many different board sports are there?
Our board sports list includes 16 unique board sports.