10 weird team sports to try

Whether you’re looking to increase your fitness, add sparkle to your social life or both, our pick of team sports from the UK and beyond could be just the inspiration you need.

1. Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate frisbee

Forget leisurely spinning a disc in the general direction of a friend (or your dog) in the park. "Ultimate" takes it to a whole new level, with two teams of seven trying to get the flying disc into the endzones of a field the size of a football pitch. Often featuring mixed-gender teams, the game is non-contact. Players are not allowed to run with the Frisbee. There’s no referee - this is part of the ‘Spirit of the Game’, or Ultimate’s emphasis on sportsmanship and fair play.

Health benefits

At competitive levels, Ultimate requires speed, agility and endurance, but it’s easy to learn. It has benefits similar to high-intensity interval training, burning plenty of calories and increasing your resting metabolic rate.

Get involved

United Kingdom Ultimate (UKU)

2. Water Polo

Water Polo Players

Like Ultimate, water polo pits two teams of seven against each other. The difference, of course, is that it’s played in a swimming pool. Codified in 1877 in Scotland, water polo comprises four eight-minute periods of play, making for a fast-paced, physical game.

Water polo is a high-contact sport, similar to football, and requires great levels of stamina: in a typical game, players swim up to three miles and burn almost 500 calories.

Health benefits

Players benefit from increased cardiovascular strength, stamina and core strength, as well as improved flexibility and muscular strength. A major benefit of playing in water is that joints and muscles are cushioned, meaning water polo can be a lifelong sport for those willing to put in the effort.

Get involved

British Swimming and the ASA

3. Handball

Handball

It may have a low profile in the UK – although this was boosted during the London 2012 Olympics – but the Eastern Europeans have long been big fans, and professional handball players in France, Denmark and Norway command six-figure salaries. Players attempt to score in the other team’s goal by passing and running with the ball; matches consist of two 30-minute halves.

Health benefits

Handball is fast-paced and requires speed and stamina, leading to an effective aerobic and strength workout. Players can burn about 600 calories per hour and can cover several miles in a game. Handball also sharpens mental focus and teamwork skills, with many clubs offering social events off the pitch.

Get involved

England Handball
Scottish Handball

4. Lacrosse

Lacrosse Player

Lacrosse has its roots in indigenous Canadian culture; back then, games could last up to three days and involved 1,000 players duking it out on a field that was anywhere between 500 and 3,000 metres long. The modern game made its way to the UK in 1867. Players carry a long stick (a ‘long crosse’) equipped with a mesh net that is designed to catch, hold and throw the ball, ideally into the other team’s net. The women’s game tends to be non-contact, while the men defend their side through stick checking, body contact and positioning.

Health benefits

Handball is fast-paced and requires speed and stamina, leading to an effective aerobic and strength workout. Players can burn about 600 calories per hour and can cover several miles in a game. Handball also sharpens mental focus and teamwork skills, with many clubs offering social events off the pitch.

Get involved

English Lacrosse
Lacrosse Scotland
Welsh Lacrosse Association

5. Muggle Quidditch

Muggle Quidditch

Yes, it really exists, and there are broomsticks, but sadly minus the flying. Muggle Quidditch, based on the game played in JK Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series, first made its appearance in Vermont in the US in 2005, and there are now 30 teams in the UK. It’s a mixture of rugby, dodgeball and handball. Each team has one keeper, two beaters, one seeker and three chasers, all of whom are required to carry a broom between their legs at all times. Volleyballs represent the quaffle and dodgeballs the bludgers. The golden snitch takes the form of a ‘snitch runner’ dressed in yellow who is free to go far beyond the confines of the pitch – but is forbidden to climb trees or buildings.

Health benefits

Muggle Quidditch requires a decent amount of energy and stamina. However, tackles are limited and teams are mixed-gender, making it a fairly inclusive (and fun) sport to play. Matches are between 20 and 50 minutes long.

Get involved

QuidditchUK

6. Korfball

Korfball Match

Korfball, an indoor, mixed-gender ball game that is a mixture of basketball and netball, is very popular in the Netherlands, Belgium and Taiwan. The UK has yet to fully embrace it, but there are a decent number of teams, particularly in the South East. Four men and four women vie to shoot the ball through the opposite team’s basket and are not allowed to dribble, run or walk with the ball. The sport is non-contact, with ‘duels’ only allowed between members of the same sex.

Health benefits

Korfball may be non-contact, but it’s a highly active, fast-paced game that offers a good cardiovascular workout.

Get involved

England Korfball
Scottish Korfball Association
Welsh Korfball

7. Hurling / Camogie

Camogie Players

Originating in Ireland 3,000 years ago, this sport is called hurling when played by men and camogie when played by women. It’s a field sport played with a wooden stick (the hurley) and a small, hard ball (the sliotar). The ball can be hit while on the ground or in the air, and you can only run with the sliotar if it’s balanced or bounced on the hurley. After taking four steps, players must pass, score or throw and recatch the sliotar.

Health benefits

Hurling/camogie is called the ‘fastest game on grass’, so it offers considerable aerobic benefits, especially given that the pitch is between 130 and 145 metres long. Games also present a good muscular workout for the back, arms and legs.

Get involved

GAA Britain

8. Sepak Takraw

Sepak Takraw

This sport of Southeast Asian origin is sometimes called ‘kick volleyball’ and has been played since at least the 15th century. It’s a low-energy, high-skill game in which players use their feet, knees, chest or head to get the rattan ball over the net.

Health benefits

As with most sports, there are cardiovascular benefits, but sepak takraw’s main advantage is that it improves coordination, reaction time and core muscles. It is often used as a training exercise for footballers and other sportspeople. Everyone can play: young or old, men or women.

Get involved

UK Sepak Takraw Association

9. Walking Basketball

Walking Basketball

As the name suggests, this is a slower-paced version of basketball that is suitable for everyone, but is particularly aimed at the over-50s. It’s only been in existence since November 2013, the brainchild of two Surrey residents who were inspired by a walking football match. The rules are mostly the same as traditional basketball, with the obvious exception that players are restricted to a walking pace.

Health benefits

This is a great non-contact sport for older people who want to increase their physical activity and don’t fancy joining a gym, or for those recovering from injuries who want to ease themselves back into activity. There are social benefits too: you meet likeminded people and work together to win games.

Get involved

Visit www.facebook.com/walkingbasketball for information on your nearest centre, or email co-founder Bridget Hayward at [email protected]

10. Unicycle Hockey

Unicycle Hockey

This is a sport for all ages – as long as you’re a decent unicyclist, that is. There are five players on a team and no dedicated goalie, so it’s a team effort to keep the opponents’ ball (usually a tennis ball) out of your goal using an ice-hockey stick. You must have both feet on the pedals when engaging with the ball and no offensive contact is allowed between players. This fast-paced game is most popular in France, where there are more than 50 registered teams. There are 11 in the UK.

Health benefits

Unicycling requires balance and control, which comes from strong core muscles – one of the sport’s key benefits. It’s also fast-paced, with much pedalling from one end of the court to the other, so does give a decent cardiovascular workout.

Get involved

UK Unicycle Hockey League

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