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Ever wondered what fuels the Netherlands’ energetic spirit?

It’s not just their tulips or windmills!

Soccer leads the pack in Dutch sports, but there’s so much more to explore.

Unveil the top 11 most popular sports in the Netherlands in our list.

Most Popular Sports in the Netherlands:

  1. Soccer
  2. Field Hockey
  3. Volleyball
  4. Tennis
  5. Cycling
  6. Ice Skating
  7. Speed Skating
  8. Swimming
  9. Gymnastics
  10. Equestrian
  11. Basketball

#1 Soccer

soccer
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: Late 1800s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from the Netherlands: Johan Cruyff (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the Netherlands: 1.2 Million

Soccer is undoubtedly the most popular sport in the Netherlands. The country has a rich history and tradition in the sport, being home to renowned clubs and exceptional talent.

The Eredivisie, the Dutch premier soccer league, attracts millions of fans each week. Iconic clubs like Ajax, Feyenoord, and PSV are widely followed and celebrated. Johan Cruyff, one of soccer’s all-time greats, hails from the Netherlands and remains a legend in the hearts of Dutch fans.

The Netherlands’ sizable impact on international soccer, including their memorable runs in the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, solidifies the nation’s deep connection with the sport.

#2 Field Hockey

Field Hockey
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from the Netherlands: Teun de Nooijer (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the Netherlands: 250,000

Field hockey holds a special place in the heart of the Netherlands. With its fast and skillful gameplay, it attracts both players and fans alike.

The Dutch national field hockey teams, both men and women, consistently rank among the world’s best. Teun de Nooijer, a celebrated Dutch field hockey player, has left a lasting legacy with his incredible skills and achievements.

Numerous international championships, including Olympic gold medals, have solidified the Netherlands’ status as a dominating force in field hockey, inspiring future generations of players and enthusiasts.

#3 Volleyball

Volleyball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from the Netherlands: Ron Zwerver (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the Netherlands: 125,000

Volleyball is a beloved sport in the Netherlands, both indoor and beach variants, capturing the nation’s competitive spirit and promoting teamwork.

The Dutch Volleyball Federation oversees various leagues and competitions, drawing fans from all over the country. Ron Zwerver, an Olympic gold medalist and world champion, stands as an icon for aspiring Dutch volleyball players.

The 1996 Olympic gold win in Atlanta by the Dutch men’s volleyball team remains a proud moment in Dutch sports history. Volleyball continues to maintain its popularity and pride in the Netherlands, attracting players and fans alike.

#4 Tennis

Tennis
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: Late 1800s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from the Netherlands: Richard Krajicek (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Players in the Netherlands: 570,000

Tennis in the Netherlands is more than just a sport; it’s a display of camaraderie and skill. Dutch tennis players have made their mark on the global stage, showcasing talent and finesse.

The Royal Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association manages various tournaments and leagues, drawing widespread interest. Richard Krajicek, a former Wimbledon champion, is a testament to the Netherlands’ prowess in tennis.

With the country hosting prominent events like the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, tennis continues to enjoy its significant place in the Dutch sports landscape, inspiring players and fans.

#5 Cycling

Track Cycling
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: Late 1800s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Cyclist from the Netherlands: Joop Zoetemelk (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Cycling Enthusiasts in the Netherlands: 13 Million

Cycling is an integral part of Dutch culture, both as a sport and a sustainable mode of transportation. The Netherlands’ flat landscapes and extensive cycling infrastructure make it a cyclist’s paradise.

The Dutch excel in international competitions, with Joop Zoetemelk being the most renowned, having won the Tour de France in 1980. Events like the Amstel Gold Race keep the spirit of competitive cycling alive in the nation.

With a strong focus on promoting and supporting cycling, the Netherlands continues to produce top-notch cyclists while cherishing the leisurely rides across its scenic vistas.

#6 Ice Skating

Ice Skating
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Skater from the Netherlands: Sven Kramer (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Ice Skating Enthusiasts in the Netherlands: 4 Million

Ice skating is an immensely popular sport in the Netherlands, particularly during the winter months. Natural and artificial ice rinks dotted around the country provide picturesque settings for enthusiasts to enjoy.

Dutch speed skaters dominate international competitions, with Sven Kramer being one of the most decorated and famous. The Elfstedentocht, a legendary long-distance ice-skating marathon held rarely when conditions permit, is a much-awaited event in Dutch culture.

With the rich tradition of ice-skating and their unmistakable success on the global stage, the Netherlands continues to celebrate and foster this beloved winter sport.

#7 Speed Skating

Speed Skating
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: Early 1900s
  • 🌟 Most Famous Speed Skater from the Netherlands: Ireen WΓΌst (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Speed Skating Enthusiasts in the Netherlands: 2 Million

Speed skating enjoys a devoted fanbase in the Netherlands, with the country consistently excelling in international competitions. The sport combines speed, technique, and endurance, captivating audiences with thrilling races.

Dutch speed skaters, like the remarkable Ireen WΓΌst, repeatedly reach top rankings in the Winter Olympics and World Championships. The KPN Dutch Championship Marathon and Sprint follow a rich tradition and showcase the nation’s passion for the sport.

The Netherlands’ consistent success on the global speed skating stage underpins the country’s dedication and expertise in nurturing elite athletes.

#8 Swimming

Swimming
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: 19th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Swimmer from the Netherlands: Pieter van den Hoogenband (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Swimming Enthusiasts in the Netherlands: 1.5 Million

Swimming holds a significant place in the Netherlands’ sports culture, with the country bordered by water and its citizens enjoying a strong affinity for aquatic activities.

The Dutch are globally renowned for their swimming prowess, and Pieter van den Hoogenband, a triple Olympic gold medalist, is widely celebrated for his incredible achievements. National swimming competitions like the Open Dutch Championships bring together the best swimmers in the nation.

With a strong focus on training and promoting swimming, the Netherlands continues to make waves in global aquatic sports, fostering a passion for swimming in the country.

#9 Gymnastics

Gymnastics
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: 19th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Gymnast from the Netherlands: Epke Zonderland (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Gymnastics Enthusiasts in the Netherlands: 300,000

Gymnastics plays a prominent role in the Netherlands’ sports culture, offering a blend of grace, strength, and precision. The Dutch have produced several top-tier gymnasts, gaining global recognition for their skills and prowess.

Epke Zonderland, the “Flying Dutchman,” became a national hero after winning the Olympic gold medal on the horizontal bar in 2012. The Royal Dutch Gymnastics Federation oversees various domestic competitions, drawing gymnasts of all levels across the nation.

With an unwavering dedication to training and development, gymnastics in the Netherlands continues to flourish, captivating audiences and inspiring future generations.

#10 Equestrian

Equestrian
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Equestrian from the Netherlands: Anky van Grunsven (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Equestrian Enthusiasts in the Netherlands: 500,000

Equestrian sports hold a special place in the Netherlands, showcasing the bond between humans and horses and the country’s commitment to animal welfare.

Anky van Grunsven, a highly decorated dressage rider, is among the Netherlands’ most famous equestrians. Competitions like the Royal Dutch Equestrian Sports Federation (KNHS) Championships draw both participants and spectators from across the country.

With a focus on developing exceptional talent and promoting equestrian events, the Netherlands continues to make its mark on the international equestrian scene, forging a strong connection between the sport and its people.

#11 Basketball

Basketball
  • πŸ“… (Estimated) Year of Introduction in the Netherlands: 20th Century
  • 🌟 Most Famous Player from the Netherlands: Rik Smits (Dutch)
  • 🌍 Estimated Number of Basketball Players in the Netherlands: 100,000

Basketball may have its roots in North America, but it has gained a passionate following in the Netherlands. The sport offers a fast-paced and exciting spectacle, resonating with the Dutch love for competition and team spirit.

The Dutch Basketball League serves as the premier men’s professional basketball league in the country. Fans are drawn to the electrifying matches and energetic atmosphere. Rik Smits, fondly known as the “Dunkin’ Dutchman,” had a successful NBA career, inspiring young Dutch basketball players.

Basketball continues to grow in popularity in the Netherlands, creating opportunities for local talent to shine and providing entertainment for fans of all ages.

FAQ

What is the most popular sport in the Netherlands?

Soccer, or football, is the most popular sport in the Netherlands, deeply embedded in Dutch culture, attracting a large following, and fostering a strong national pride.

What is the national sport of the Netherlands?

The national sport of the Netherlands is soccer (football), which holds a significant place in the country’s cultural and sporting landscape, widely cherished by fans and players alike.

What are the most watched sports in the Netherlands?

The most watched sports in the Netherlands are soccer (football), followed by field hockey, cycling, speed skating, ice skating, volleyball, tennis, swimming, gymnastics, equestrian, and basketball, each boasting fervent fan bases and viewership across the country.

I'm a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. I run stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton, took part in the German Mini Golf Championships, started learning 'real' Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

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