Hey there, kicking sports fans!
Are you eager to kick off your sporting adventures?
Welcome to our kicking sports list, sorted by popularity.
From skilled kickers to budding newcomers, there’s a game here for everyone to get a kick out of!
Table of Contents
Soccer, also known as football, is the most popular sport globally, with origins dating back over 2,000 years to various ancient cultures. Modern soccer rules were established in England in 1863 with the formation of the Football Association.
The sport is hugely popular in Europe, South America, and Africa, but its fan base extends worldwide.
The most prestigious soccer tournament is the FIFA World Cup, held every four years since 1930. Soccer has been part of the Olympic program since the 1900 Paris Games.
#2 Rugby Union
Rugby Union, a popular team sport with roots in England, dates back to the early 19th century. The game involves running, kicking, and passing a ball to score points.
The sport is primarily popular in Europe, Southern Africa, Australasia, and the South Pacific. Major rugby union events include the Rugby World Cup, held every four years since 1987, and the annual Six Nations Championship in Europe.
Rugby has been an Olympic sport since the 1900 Paris Games but was excluded after 1924; it returned as Rugby Sevens in the 2016 Rio Games.
#3 American Football
American Football, a derivative of rugby, originated in the United States in the late 19th century. The game involves teams utilizing offensive and defensive strategies to advance the ball to the opponent’s end zone.
American Football is most popular in the United States, with the National Football League (NFL) being the premier professional league.
The championship game, known as the Super Bowl, is held annually and is a significant event in American culture. American Football is not currently an Olympic sport.
#4 Australian Rules Football
Australian Rules Football, also known as Aussie Rules or Footy, dates back to the mid-19th century in Melbourne, Australia. The sport, a fusion of soccer and rugby, is highly popular in Australia, particularly in the southern states.
The Australian Football League (AFL), the highest level professional competition, attracts a considerable fan following, culminating in the annual AFL Grand Final. The sport has not been featured in the Olympic Games.
#5 Rugby League
Rugby League, a variation of Rugby Union, originated in England in 1895 due to disputes over player payments. Rugby League is popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, but it has gained traction in other regions.
Events such as the Rugby League World Cup and the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia garner significant interest. Rugby League is not part of the Olympic Games.
#6 Gaelic Football
Gaelic Football, a distinctly Irish sport, has its origins in ancient Irish culture, with references dating back to the 14th century. The sport is played by two teams of 15 players and combines elements of soccer and rugby.
Gaelic football is most popular in Ireland, where the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship is held annually. Although not part of the Olympic Games, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) is the main governing body for the sport.
#7 Sepak Takraw
Sepak Takraw, a sport similar to volleyball, has its roots in Southeast Asia, dating back to the 15th century in Malaysia and Thailand. The sport involves players kicking a rattan ball over a net without using their hands.
Sepak Takraw is popular in Southeast Asian countries, with events like the King’s Cup Sepak Takraw Championship held annually. The sport is currently not part of the Olympic Games, but efforts have been made to include it in future events.
Kickboxing, a contact sport combining elements of boxing and various martial arts, originated in the United States in the 1960s as an evolution of karate.
The sport has since gained global popularity, with several governing bodies overseeing national and international competitions. Major kickboxing championships include K-1, GLORY, and Bellator Kickboxing events. Kickboxing is not currently part of the Olympic Games.
#9 Muay Thai
Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing, is an ancient martial art that originated in Thailand over a thousand years ago. It is a popular contact sport worldwide and is often incorporated into mixed martial arts (MMA) training.
The International Federation of Muaythai Associations (IFMA) oversees the sport, and the annual World Muaythai Championships is its premier event. Muay Thai is not currently an Olympic sport but is included in the World Games.
Taekwondo, a Korean martial art focused on high, fast kicks and jumping or spinning techniques, dates back to the 1940s but has ancient roots in Korean history.
The sport gained international recognition in the late 20th century and has since become popular worldwide. The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and the World Taekwondo (WT) are the primary governing bodies for the sport.
Taekwondo was introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and became an official Olympic sport in the 2000 Sydney Games.
More Kicking Sports
- Savate: This French martial art, also known as French Kickboxing, originated in the early 19th century, combining techniques from multiple combat disciplines. Savate focuses on fluid footwork and powerful kicks and is popular in France and Europe. While not an Olympic sport, it is governed by the Fédération Internationale de Savate (FISav).
- Karate: A Japanese martial art developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom (now Okinawa) in the 17th century. Karate emphasizes striking techniques using hands, feet, knees, and elbows. This martial art is popular worldwide and will make its Olympic debut at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games.
- Capoeira: A Brazilian martial art with origins in the 16th century, Capoeira combines dance, acrobatics, and music. Developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil, it is popular in Brazil and abroad. Capoeira is not an Olympic sport but is overseen by various international organizations.
- Hacky Sack (Footbag): An American-origin sport from the 1970s, footbag involves players using their feet to keep a small, round bag off the ground in various tricks. Popular worldwide, particularly in North America and Europe, it is not an Olympic sport but is governed by the International Footbag Players’ Association (IFPA).
- Bando Kickboxing: A martial art from Myanmar, Bando Kickboxing (also known as Lethwei) dates back centuries and focuses on strikes using fists, feet, knees, and elbows. It is popular in Myanmar and has gained attention in the international martial arts community. Bando Kickboxing is not an Olympic sport.
- Shinty: A Scottish-origin sport akin to Ireland’s hurling, shinty dates back to ancient times and involves players using sticks to hit a ball into a goal. It is popular in Scotland and is governed by the Camanachd Association. Shinty is not currently an Olympic sport.
- Hurling: An ancient Irish sport predating Christianity, hurling is played with a stick called a “hurley” and a ball called a “sliotar.” Primarily popular in Ireland, the All-Ireland Hurling Championship is its main event. While not an Olympic sport, hurling falls under the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
- Kabaddi: An Indian-origin contact team sport dating back over 4,000 years, Kabaddi involves players raiding the opposing team’s side of the court while simultaneously holding their breath. Popular in South Asia, it is governed internationally by the International Kabaddi Federation. Kabaddi is not an Olympic sport, but it is featured in the Asian Games.
- Footgolf: A sport combining soccer and golf elements, footgolf originated in the Netherlands in 2009. Played on a golf course, participants kick a soccer ball into a larger golf hole. Popular internationally, it is not an Olympic sport but falls under the Federation for International FootGolf (FIFG).
- Cycle Ball: A German-origin sport from the late 19th century, cycle ball is played by two teams riding bicycles and using their wheels to maneuver a ball into the opposing goal. Popular in Europe and Asia, it is not an Olympic sport but is governed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
- Jianzi: A traditional Chinese sport with over 2,000 years of history, Jianzi involves players using their feet to keep a shuttlecock-like object in the air. Popular in East Asia, it is not currently an Olympic sport but has international competitions under the International Shuttlecock Federation (ISF).
- Bossaball: Invented in Spain in the early 21st century, bossaball is a mix of volleyball, soccer, and gymnastics played on an inflatable court with trampolines. Popular in Europe and South America, it is not an Olympic sport and is governed by the Bossaball Sports Association.
- Bando (Burmese Boxing): An ancient martial art from Myanmar, Bando combines striking, grappling, and weapons techniques. It is popular in Myanmar and other parts of Southeast Asia but is not an Olympic sport.
- Cuju: An ancient Chinese sport dating back to the Han Dynasty, cuju is a precursor to modern soccer, involving two teams kicking a ball through a goal without using their hands. No longer actively played, it is recognized as a historical sport by FIFA.
- Kemari: A Japanese ball game with roots in the 7th century, kemari is a non-competitive sport focused on keeping a ball in the air using feet, knees, and other body parts. Played in Japan mostly in traditional ceremonies, it is not an Olympic sport.
What are the most popular kicking sports?
The most popular kicking sports include soccer, rugby union, American football, Australian rules football, rugby league, Gaelic football, sepak takraw, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo.
How many different kicking sports are there?
Our kicking sports list includes 25 unique kicking sports.