Sports Names: A Guide to Types of Sports in English

Bodhi Ramosreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process8 min
Created: Mar 24, 2023Last updated: Jan 29, 2024

Sports have created notable bridges between language, culture, and community. Whether it’s baseball or basketball, football or cricket, we enjoy the thrills and exhilaration of watching players demonstrate their formidable skills. But how familiar are you with other sports names in English? Knowing how to refer to various disciplines clearly will undoubtedly boost your confidence when talking about or discussing them. This guide aims to provide an overview of various categories and types of sports in English.

List Of Sports In English

Sports are physical activities that involve the skillful execution of rules, which is a recreational endeavor – undertaken by individuals or teams. Depending on the specific discipline and the contest level, the aim here ranges from having fun in the game to competing against opposing players or teams.

The sports name list in English includes everything from traditional disciplines like soccer, tennis, basketball, and baseball to new trends, such as netball, skateboarding, and surfing. It is constantly being expanded with new activities as people continue to explore and push the limits of physical performance.

Categories of Sports Names

While the number of games and sports is endless, the majority can be divided into several categories or groups. Commonly featured categories include individual and team sports and either indoor or outdoor games.

  • Individual disciplines. These are games or competitions where the winner is determined by individual performance. It involves tactics and skills but does not require players to interact as a team. Examples include running, swimming, and martial arts disciplines, such as Judo or Karate.
  • Team sports. On the flip side are disciplines that involve two sides competing against each other with designated roles – strikers, defenders, etc. Soccer, basketball, and baseball are all team sports that require tactful strategizing from both sides. These games require a team effort and well-defined strategies for any side to emerge victorious.
  • Indoor games. Although many sports can be played indoors and outdoors, some just make sense when confined within large spaces. Tennis, badminton, and volleyball are often performed indoors in a specially designed sports hall or gym arena.
  • Outdoor Sports. While indoor disciplines generally involve smaller movements and fewer players, their outdoor counterparts are usually quite the opposite. Football, rugby, or cricket often require vast fields with large chunks of land, along with any available grass or pitch.

Of course, we can point to many other categories like extreme or water sports, but this brief overview should be enough to get you started with the basics of the terminology in English. The next step would be to dive in deep and explore the names of sports within each category, assessing how to discuss them confidently!

Individual Sports Names List

Although it’s possible to participate in many disciplines for fitness or purely recreational purposes, athletes often aim to compete. This is true in various individual sports, which require physical and mental strength and intense training over the years. Below, we will provide a list of sports popular in competitive fields.


One of the more popular individual sports is a track running – sprinting or marathon. Professional runners often refer to it simply as ’running,’ while each type has its own unique definition:

  • Sprint – races between 100 and 400 meters.
  • Marathon – a distance that covers 42 kilometers (ca. 26 miles).

These can be classified again into further categories, such as sprints, middle-distance races, and varying lengths. The most famous example of a running competition would be the Olympic Games, with athletes from all over the world aiming to cross the finish line.


Like running, swimming is an endurance sport focused on efficient movements in a pool. One of the main distinguishing features is the use of varied strokes, a combination of breathing and arm movements requirements for speed. Furthermore, swimmers tend to be classified according to distance – from short, like 30-50 meters, up to long races, like 800 meters.


Whether on a stationary bike or on the dangerous roads of mountain trails, cycling is one of those sports involving individual competition. This represents much more than just pedaling – you need to manage your energy efficiency and use proper techniques for increased speed. Moreover, athletes require intense training, energy-boosting diets, and smart strategizing.


Tennis is an excellent sport for both physical fitness and competition. It involves two opponents (or four when playing doubles) throwing or hitting a bright yellow ball across the court. A player must ’return’ it over an elevated net, focusing on precision and agility. 

Competitions are held indoors and outdoors, with surfaces ranging from clay to hard and grass. Notable examples include the Wimbledon tournament, considered one of the world’s oldest, providing a truly remarkable sporting experience for professional athletes!


Another example of a major individual sport is golf. This involves a set of clubs and balls with professional players aiming to hit the ball in fewer shots across an expansive field or course. The scorecard shows how many strokes each player had taken between all 18 holes; finally, their total sum is evaluated against the scores other competitors earned.


Team Sports

As mentioned before, team sports involve two sides competing against each other with designated and specific roles. Rules, strategies, and tactics all come into play when determining victors, particularly at the highest level of competitiveness. We will provide sport name examples below.

American football

American football is a team sport with two sides competing in an intense effort to progress an oval ball downfield toward each other’s goal line. The game’s main attractions are its strategic aspects and physical endurance tests, involving men of acute speed, skillful agility, and great individual performances.


Also often referred to as football, soccer is the world’s most popular team sport, with millions of players. Essentially, two sides compete in an intense match, whereby the team scoring more goals emerges victorious. The major governing body is FIFA, currently present in over 200 countries worldwide with international competitions, including the famous World Cup and UEFA Champions League.


Next to football, basketball is a globally renowned sport with many competitive universities, professional leagues, and amateur teams. The game is generally played by two five-player sides that pass the ball around to score baskets within predetermined hoops. 

The fast tempo and physically challenging nature make it one of the most loved team sports. The major leagues include North America’s National Basketball Association (NBA) and international competitions like FIBA-sanctioned basketball tournaments. 


This physically demanding sport requires two sides of six players to hit a larger ball across the net suspended within an indoor court. Its complex and fast-paced nature permits volleys to be sent back and forth with a strength requirement for successful teams. The game has great appeal, with rising popularity over the centuries. It is also an Olympic sport, and governing bodies like FIVB host several international competitions.

Ice Hockey

Ice hockey is particularly popular in Canada and the USA. It is played on an ice-skating rink and contains two teams of six players each; five outfielders and a goalkeeper. Teams battle it out with the help of a stick and puck, essentially trying to hit the latter into their opponent’s goal net.


This is one of the more physical outdoor sports, which has been an ancient tradition for many countries in Europe and Oceania. Similar to American Football, Rugby features two groups fighting intensely over a ball, but the rules are far less complicated while it is mainly a contact sport. With two teams of 15 members each, the aim is to move an oval-shaped ball up and across the pitch – ultimately ending in one team’s ‘try zone.’


Popular in the US and Japan, baseball is a team sport involving batting or pitching from one side. It generally consists of two teams with nine players competing within four innings. Here, the nine batters have to hit a small leather ball their opponent’s pitcher throws, trying to score points or ‘runs’ to break each inning.

Learn Sports Names and Terminology with Promova

Do you want to increase your knowledge of the English language regarding name types of sports? The Promova app can coach you step-by-step on words related to this topic – it provides thematic lessons, a dictionary section, and tests to measure your progress. With contextual usage, quizzes, and flashcards galore, you’ll master the terminology with ease. Download it now for your Android or iOS device and improve your vocabulary quickly!

If you want to put your newfound knowledge into practice, why not join our Promova classes? Our experienced and certified tutors will help you master the language and provide extra practice in speaking, listening, pronunciation, and other aspects. Plus, the first lesson is free, so there’s no better time to start!


Sports, regardless of language or country of origin, unite people. They create a platform for discussion and active participation that helps bond like-minded individuals in an uplifting manner over enjoyable activities. Knowing the terminology and sports names in English will undoubtedly open doors to enjoying them and connecting with a much bigger audience.


Do sports names differ between English and other languages?

In some cases, like in baseball and basketball, the words are almost universally recognizable. In others, such as archery or cycling, terms might require language-specific vocabulary. Therefore, it is essential to ensure you know the English sports terms to communicate meaningfully with others.

Do I need to know about all sports?

Not necessarily; the main idea is that knowing common terminology related to sports and games will help you feel more confident when talking about them. As mentioned before, the key is selecting a subject that interests you and diving deeper into its details instead of covering all fields exhaustively.

How to learn more sports terminology?

Engaging with others in conversations or events is a helpful way. You can also search for information online and create a library of different terms you might encounter as part of your journey – it only takes practice, focus, and drive! With Promova, you can also create personal word lists and improve speaking on this topic in Conversation clubs.

What additional resources can I benefit from?

If you’re looking for a visual approach, flashcards and websites such as Quizlet or Memrise often provide a user-friendly way of discovering games names and other terminology in English. Authentic materials such as interviews with sports professionals can also be a great way to learn more without necessarily cramming and memorizing the terms.


Tyler RoseMar 5th, 2024
Great article! It provided valuable insights into the topic.
PromovaAug 3rd, 2023
The article emphasizes the significance of physical fitness and regular exercise by promoting sports participation. Engaging in sports provides an enjoyable and effective way to stay physically active, which is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. Through sports, individuals can improve cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, flexibility, and coordination. The article encourages readers to embrace sports as a means to achieve fitness goals, highlighting how different sports cater to varying fitness levels and preferences. Additionally, the social aspect of sports, such as playing with friends or joining a team, can enhance motivation and adherence to regular physical activity, leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle.
odel esseAug 3rd, 2023
how does the article address the importance of physical fitness and regular exercise through sports?