Playing mainstream sports like soccer or basketball is popular with adult athletes for a reason. But why not leave your comfort zone and consider these 18 atypical adult sports if you’re one to buck tradition? They offer something different if you aren’t into traditional sports while still challenging your athletic mettle.

Once you’ve found the sport that intrigues you, you can head to our adult sports directory to see if any of these are available in your area.

Roller Derby Is On The Rise (But Still Not A Mainstream Sport)

Roller derby is no joke. This high-intensity, full-contact sport requires coordination, stamina, and grit.

You play roller derby on roller skates and an oval track. You score points by lapping members of the opposing team. While roller derby is a full-contact sport, there are stringent rules about the level of contact. Contact is primarily with your body (hips, shoulders) and not your elbows or pushing from behind.

women playing roller derby skating around track. Two women clear in foreground with background blurred.'
Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay

Despite not being a mainstream sport, the popularity of roller derby is on the rise, particularly among women, who make up 98 percent of players. The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association currently has 443 member leagues that span six continents. While the sport is dominated by women, it does offer men’s leagues as well as its own governing body, the Men’s Roller Derby Association.

Roller derby can provide a great full-body workout and improve agility, balance, and coordination.

About 2/3 of roller derby players are between 25-34 years old. Approximately 3/4 identify as heterosexual, with the remainder identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other.

The roller derby community tends to be pretty tight-knit, so if you’re looking for a sport with a strong social aspect outside of the game, you might want to check out this sport.

There is one caveat, though. The rate of injury is high. One study showed an injury rate of 79 percent among respondents. Not surprising when you’re flying around a track on wheels trying not to get slammed out of the way! Doesn’t mean it’s not still fun, though.

FootGolf: Like Golf, But With Your Feet

FootGolf is the younger cousin of mainstream sports golf and disc golf, and a close relative of soccer as well. You play FootGolf with a soccer ball on a golf course. The goal is to kick the ball into an oversized hole that resembles a bucket.

Like golf, each hole has a par. The fewer kicks it takes you to land the soccer ball into the hole, the better your score.

Because of its similarities to soccer, FootGolf obviously attracts soccer players. And surprisingly, there is not only an official governing body (the American FootGolf League) but also a FootGolf World Cup. Who knew? Well, now you do! It’s cousin non-mainstream sport, foot pool, where you play a resemblance of soccer on a gigantic pool table, is also gaining some traction.

Two men playing footgolf, with one ready to kick ball in hole.
FootGolf

While pickleball is oft-cited as America’s fastest-growing sport, FootGolf is cited as one of the world’s fastest-growing sports. That means FootGolf could turn into a mainstream sport in the very near future.

FootGolf is a great sport to consider for adult athletes of all ages. It’s low impact, no contact, but keeps you moving and lets you enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors.

Cricket: Mainstream Sport In Other Parts Of The World Than The United States

Two men playing cricket with one hitting and and behind him catching.
Cricket

While not a mainstream sport in the United States, cricket is, in fact, one of the most popular sports in the world. Cricket originates from England and is especially popular in India and Australia.

Like baseball, you play cricket with a ball and bat, albeit a different type of bat and ball. Again like baseball, the object of cricket is to score as many runs as possible. The bowler (pitcher) tosses the ball to the batsman (batter).

The bowler and batsman each stand in front of a set of stumps in the ground called wickets. The two wickets are on a strip of grass pitch set 22 yards apart. The outfielders are positioned outside the pitch.

After the batsman hits the ball, he or she attempts to score as many runs as possible by running back and forth between wickets.

The batsman stands in front of stumps in the ground called a wicket. If the bowler hits the wicket before the batsman hits the ball, it is an out. If the batsman hits the ball as intended, they run toward the bowler.

Cricket requires both physical and mental skills, with players needing to have good hand-eye coordination, strength, and endurance. The sport provides a great cardiovascular workout and can help improve coordination and balance. It’s also a team sport, which can help build social connections and improve communication skills.

While cricket may not be as popular in some countries as it is in others, there are still many opportunities to play and learn the sport. Many local sports clubs and community organizations offer cricket leagues or training sessions for adults. Additionally, there are many online resources available for those interested in learning more about the rules and techniques of the sport.

Whether you’re a seasoned player or a beginner, cricket can be a fun and challenging sport to try. It’s a great way to stay active and meet new people while also improving your physical and mental health. So why not give it a shot and see if cricket is the sport for you?

Ultimate Frisbee, But Really Just Ultimate

Interestingly, the real name of the sport is simply ‘ultimate’. Since Frisbee is actually a registered trademark of toy manufacturer Wham-O, it’s not actually part of ultimate’s name.

Ultimate is also interesting in that it is self-officiated. There are no referees in this game, even at a national level. If you’re looking for a fast-paced team sport that requires a degree of athleticism, ultimate might be for you.

Ultimate follows some of the patterns of mainstream sports like football and soccer. You pass a disc down field in an attempt to score a by passing the disc across the end zone. Like football, there are interceptions that can change the flow of play. Each team is made up of seven players and lasts 90 minutes.

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Because of its fast pace and fairly continuous game play (except when out of bounds), being a conditioned player is certainly beneficial. Think of a soccer game and it’s continuous pace–that’s similar in ultimate. Unlike soccer and football, though, ultimate is a non-contact sport.

While beginner and seasoned athletes can both play ultimate, it should be noted the sport requires a fair amount of speed, coordination, and agility. If you’re slow and out of shape, the better disc sport for you might be disc golf.

There are many social sports networks that offer ultimate as one of their sports, as well as many municipal parks and recreation organizations. Check out our directory to find an ultimate league near you.

Octopush: The Non-Mainstream Sport You Probably Never Heard Of

The underwater game that goes by two names–octopush or underwater hockey–probably isn’t on your radar screen of sports to try. Most likely because you’ve never heard of the sport.

Yet, octopush has been around since the 1950s. It orginated in the UK as octopush, but is better known as underwater hockey in the United States.

Three men at bottom of pool playing game of Octopush
Octopush

The gist of the game, regardless of what you call it, remains the same. Players attempt to get pucks into their opponent’s goal to score the most points. They pass the puck to each other with a stick attached to their glove to move it across the floor of the pool.

Players use breath hold and not any type of scuba equipment to aid in breathing underwater. They can, however, wear mask, snorkels, and fins.

While technically not a contact sport, octopush can get aggressive underwater as players manuever the puck across the floor to shoot goals. Doing things underwater almost certainly adds an additional degree of difficulty, so it’s important to have breath control, endurance, and strength to be a quality octopush player.

And even though you may not have heard of octopush, it’s popular enough to be part of the governing body Confédéra

Rock Climbing: Mentally+Physically Challenging Almost Mainstream Sport

With rock climbing, your body and mind constantly work in tandem. So if you like both a physical and mental challenge, the less traditional and barely out of the realm of a mainstream sport of rock climbing might be a good fit.

Rock climbers can either opt for indoor rock climbing facilities, or venture to the outdoors to climb legit rocks.

There are different types of rock climbing, but sport climbing is the most popular. This involves the climber wearing a harness and climbing a rock where there are permanent bolts and anchors drilled. The climber uses these bolts and anchors to clip their rope into as they make their way up the rock. A belayer is a person who assists the climber from the ground by tightening or slackening the rope attached to climber as they make their way up or down the rock face.

Rock climbing requires intense focus as you need to evaluate where you will place your feet and hands as you climb the rock. Similar to chess, it’s good to see a few moves ahead to ensure you don’t get stuck without a place to next move your hands or feet.

While you focus your mind, you also push your body to its limits, stretching and contorting to fit and balance on awkward ledges and crevices.

The sport of rock climbing is truly niche, with less than two percent of Americans participating in indoor and outdoor climbing combined. However, it is seeing growth, particularly with the option of indoor facilities.

If you’re deathly afraid of heights, you might want to skip rock climbing. But if you look for a challenge in a sport, this is a fantastic one for adult athletes of all ages to explore.

Log Rolling: An American Tradition

Log rolling hit the scene in the late 1800s. The United States was booming with growth and lumber was a hot commodity to help build the nation.

River transport was an easy way to move logs. Logs would free float down river, but this would often cause log jams. To unjam the logs, lumberjacks would jump on top of them in an attempt to get them unstuck. The logs would roll, so the lumberjacks had to learn to balance on spinning logs without falling off. This eventually turned into contests among the lumberjacks to see who could stay on the logs the longest.

woman in purple tank top and black shorts on top of log in water log rolling
Log Rolling

Thus, a new non-mainstream sport was born. In the United States, log rolling is sanctioned by the U.S. Log Rolling Association. Competition, much like in the past, involves staying on your spinning log the longest amount of time without falling off.

More modern log rolling uses a key log, which is a synthetic log. If you’re interested in checking out the sport, lessons are offered in limited areas with pools and open water resources.

If you’re up for a challenge and looking, have a strong sense of balance, and crave a less than mainstream sport, check out log rolling.

Archery: The Less Traditional Sport For Every Body

If participating in a sport intrigues you but you don’t consider yourself athletic, archery could be up your alley. Regardless of athletic prowress, if you have a good sense of focus and concentration, you have a good chance to excel at archery.

The not-so-mainstream sport of archery involves shooting a bow and arrow at a target. The closer you hit your arrow to the bullseye, the more points you score. In order to hit the target accurately and with consistency, focus is key.

The mental challenge of archery far exceeds its physical challenge. The most physical aspect of the sport is pulling back the bow and holding it steady with the upper body. This requires balance and some coordination.

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The nice thing about archery is its inclusiveness regardless of age, body size, or athleticism. Short, tall, skinny, fat, and anything in between are suitable to shoot archery, making it an appealing sport for adult athletes. Fun fact: It was actually one of the first Olympic sports to allow women to compete.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

While rowing is one of the oldest sports around, it still remains out of the mainstream of sports. That doesn’t mean it’s a sport you shouldn’t consider.

Rowing is an excellent full-body workout as it engages your arms, core and legs. It also requires a significant amount of endurance if you plan to row for distance or for speed.

There are two typical rowing formats. One involves holding a single oar with both hands. The other involves holding two oars–one in each hand. And depending on the boat, there may be one to eight rowers inside.

If you participate in competitive rowing, you are rowing to be the fastest to cross the finish line. Age shouldn’t be a barrier to get into rowing, but proper conditioning to maintain endurance will be important to succeed.

Curious About Curling? Learn More About This Non-Traditional Sport

Canada’s national sport of curling has roots in Scotland, where it began as early as the 1500s. While curling is a sport most of us have heard of, it’s not quite considered a mainstream sport.

The basic premise of curling is to slide a stone on ice toward a target in the center of the ice called the house. Two opposing teams of four players each attempt to get their stone closest to the house. The team with the stone closest to the house scores a point. This is typically done over the course of 10 ends, or rounds.

woman on ice curling with stone in her hand getting ready to slide it
Curling

The curling teams work together to get their stones toward the house. One player slides the stone, while others use brooms to sweep the ice. Sweeping frees the ice of any stray particles and ensures a smooth and level slide toward the target. It can also help guide the stone by controlling its direction and speed.

Curling has long been an Olympic sport, and the World Curling Federation notes there is even wheelchair curling as an offering. This makes curling a great sport of choice for those needing an adaptive sport.

Curling isn’t a very physically taxing sport, which makes it a good option for older and younger adult athletes alike, particularly if one suffers joint issues that can flare up during traditional sports. In our directory, you’ll find a ton of curling clubs that offer Learn to Curl sessions perfect for beginners.

Snowkiting: The Love Child Of Skiing And Kiting

You’ve probably heard of kiteboarding or kitesurfing, which involves skiing with a kite on water. Not a mainstream sport, but even less mainstream is snowkiting.

You probably haven’t even heard of snowkiting. The only difference between kiteboarding and snowkiting is the latter involves skiing with a kite on snow instead of water.

Snowkiting is a physically challenging sport that involves an insane amount of balance. Not only do you have to balance your body on the board, but you also have to manuever the kite with your hands as it propels you forward. Do all this without landing flat on your face or rear, and you’re a winner at snowkiting.

snowkiter surrounded by snow and mountains with cloudy sky
Snowkiting

Snowkiters traverese terrain that ranges from frozen fields to snowy hills to frozen lakes. If you’re clumsy, snowkiting probably isn’t the sport for you as it requires a lot of physical strength, ability to maintain control of the kite, quick thinking as you cross uneven terrain, and a high level of focus. Snowkiting provides a great full-body workout for those interested in fitness as part of their sport routine.

If you want to check out snowkiting, get a lesson first. Because of the level of danger this sport involves, it’s not one you should jump into without some guidance.

Disc Golf: Not Quite A Mainstream Sport, But Still Popular

If you’re a standard golfer, you may have run into disc golf at some of the courses where you play. Some golf courses include disc golf in their course. There are also disc golf courses in parks and other open spaces.

Instead of your standard golf club and balls, disc golf is played with frisbee-like discs (but not frisbees–there is a difference). You attempt to throw your disc into a metal basket on a low pole to score points.

According to the Professional Disc Golf Association, disc golf became a formal sport in the 1970s. There are nearly 10,000 disc golf courses worldwide, with the majority of those being in the United States.

Disc golf is a great not-quite-mainstream sport for adult athletes to consider if they are looking for a low-impact way to exercise, enjoy the outdoors, socialize, and have some fun. This sport is a great option for both younger and older adult athletes who are injury-averse. Confederation Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques (CMAS), an international federation that represents underwater activities. 

Bossaball: A Lesser Known Sport Where You Can Get Your Groove On

Bossaball
Bossaball

Think volleyball. Now turn it up a notch. You play bossaball on a large inflatable court that’s divided by a net–like volleyball. The twist is there is a trampoline on either side of the net. Bossaball is anything but a mainstream sport, but looks insanely fun.

Players bounce on the trampolines as they hit a soccer ball over the net to score. Unlike volleyball, in bossaball you can also use your feet, which is where it brings in an element of soccer. Like volleyball, the ball is dead when it hits the ground.

The sport of bossaball is only about 20 years old and was conjured up by a Belgian national tennis player who was living in Spain. Besides playing tennis, the Belgian also played in soccer matches and was a music DJ on the side. On a trip to Brazil, he was inspired after seeing soccer, capoeira, volleyball, and dancing on the beach. So he decided to combine them all to create bossaball.

Music plays in the background as players bounce on the trampolines, sometimes in full flips, as they hit the ball over the net in an attempt to score points. Bossaball requires agility, coordination, and endurance. A little rhythm doesn’t hurt, either.

Because of the high endurance/cardiovascular aspect of bossaball, it’s likely better suited for adult athletes on the younger end of the spectrum.

While bossaball is played all over the world, it’s most popular in Europe.

Quidditch: The Completely Made Up Sport That Became An Actual Sport

Born from the Harry Potter series of books and movies, quidditch was completely made up by author J.K. Rowling. In a case of life imitating art, quidditch became a real-life game and even boasts an International Quidditch Assocation (IQA).

Players “ride” broomsticks as they try to score points by throwing a ball called a quaffle through a series of three hoops down the field. While navigating down field, the quaffle carrier has to avoid hits from dodgeballs called bludgers. If hit, the player has to drop the quaffle and circle back to their own goal before re-entering play.

Young woman with all in her hand in grassy field playing quidditch
Quidditch

Besides scoring points by throwing the quaffle through the hoops, players can also score by snatching a snitch tag (or long football sock with a tennis ball inside) off a player called the snitch runner.

As ridiculous as this anything-but-mainstream sport sounds, it is physically challenging and requires a fair degree of athleticism and strategy. Quidditch is also a full-contact sport where you can tackle, so keep this in mind if you’re considering playing.

Kabaddi: Another Popular Asian Sport Making Its Way Across The Globe

men on dirt field in semi circle playing kabaddi
Kabaddi

First, one player chants “Kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi” continuously as he or she makes their way across a square court into defender territory. This player, the raider, tries to tag as many opponents as possible without getting caught before running back to their own territory within 30 seconds.

The raider cannot stop chanting “kabaddi” the entire time he or she is manuevering.

Kabaddi originates from India, and is also the national sport of Bangladesh. While you may not have heard of kabaddi in the United States, there is actually a national team.

Kabaddi is played with two teams of seven players. The defenders, or “antis” on the team opposing the raider, mentioned earlier, attempt to stop the raider from returning to his or her home court. Antis do this by tackling or grabbing the raider. So yes, kabaddi is a full-contact sport.

Physical restraint is legal in this game, but pulling hair or clothes is not. There are two 20-minute halves in kabaddi with a five minute break in between.

Because it is physically demanding, kabaddi is probably best suited for adult athletes who skew on the younger side of adulthood. It requires speed, agility, strength, strategy, and mental focus. If you like all of the above, and physical contact, check out the non-mainstream sport of kabaddi.

Feel The Need For Speed? Check Out Jai Alai

Coined the fastest sport in the world by the Basque government, jai alai is a high-speed game from Spain. Jai alai was actually one of the most popular sports in the United States in the 60s and 70s, but it’s popularity as a mainstream sport began to diminish after that time.

Jai alai players wear a curved wicker basket attached to their hand, called a cesta. They use their cesta to throw a small hard ball called a pelota that travels nearly 200 miles per hour. This rate of speed earns jai alai Guinness World Record honors of the “fastest projectile speed in any moving ball game.”

vintage poster of men playing jai alai
Jai Alai

Game play is on a 175 foot long, 50 foot wide three-walled court. The scoring and rules are simple. Throw the pelota to hit the face of the wall. The opposing player has to catch the ball after one bounce before they then throw the pelota. Don’t catch the pelota? Opponent scores a point. Games go to seven or nine points.

Jai alai matches are both in singles and doubles, similar to tennis.

Because of the high speed of the pelota, jai alai can be dangerous. If you like that thrill, and you like high-intensity, have good hand-eye coordination, jai alai is worth exploring. For you adrenaline junkies, this is a good one.

Field Hockey: Not Just For The Ladies (But Mostly)

Field hockey shares some similarities to its sister sport (and mainstream sport), ice hockey, except you play on grass or turf. Like ice hockey, field hockey players use sticks to move a ball (instead of a puck) downfield to score goals.

Field hockey has more players than ice hockey–10 field players and a goalie per side. The game requires speed and coordination and is a good heart-pumping workout.

While field hockey is typically played by girls or women in the United States, there are a few men’s teams out there. Internationally, men’s field hockey is more widely available.

It’s a bit easier to find an adult field hockey league than some of the other sports in this list. You can visit the APS directory to search for a league in your area.

Croquet: From Aristocracy To The Masses

croquet match on grassy field with two players in background
Croquet

When one thinks of croquet, it usually involves visions of the elite frolicking on perfectly manicured lawns dressed in their Sunday best. While croquet used to be a game of the English artistocracy, times have changed.

Croquet is a great game for adults of any age to play since it’s low impact and doesn’t require a high level of athleticism.

The goal of croquet is to hit wooden balls through a series of wickets (hoops) using mallets. Teams are made up of one or two players. Players move the balls through the mallets in a pre-defined order to score points. The first team to score 14 or 26 points, depending on how many wickets in the game, wins.

Typically, you play on grass so it’s a fantastic way to be active while enjoying a beautfiful day outside. Croquet requires a combination of strategy, precision, and hand-eye coordination. But it’s pretty low key, so it’s a fun game to play while socializing.

Conclusion

There you have it–a whole new set of less-than-mainstream sports to try. Drop a comment and let us know which ones you want to try, or perhaps already have.