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What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?

author image Sara Tomm
Sara Tomm began writing in 1971. She holds certificates in the medical, physiological and nutritional principles and treatment modalities for eating disorders. As a weight-management consultant, Tomm authored educational materials relating to the medical, psychological, environmental and social aspects of eating disorders, nutrition and physical fitness. She studied at Columbia University, Henry George School of Social Science, Farmingdale State College and Suffolk Community College.
What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
There are several variations of the top 10 most physical sports Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

There are several variations of the top 10 most physical sports; each variation depends on the criteria used to compile the list. Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, also known as ESPN, put together a panel of experts that included sports scientists, academicians, a two-sport athlete and sports journalists to rate a comprehensive list of 60 sports using 10 required skills as their basis for comparison. Six of the skills relate to the physical aspects shared by the listed sports: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility and durability.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Boxing Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Boxing takes first place as the most demanding sport on ESPN’s list. When two boxers enter a ring, they must be in excellent physical condition and have the stamina to withstand physical battering for four to 15 rounds. Boxers require agility and speed to avoid blows to the body and head that accumulates points in favor of opponents, and enough strength and power to make their own blows count.

Ice Hockey

What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Ice Hockey Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Ice hockey involves high-speed skating and aggressive, often brutal, body contact. The physical intensity of the game limits each player’s time on the ice to 30- to 80-second intervals followed by 4- to 5-minute rest periods in between. Ice hockey’s fast-moving pace is not only physically demanding, it contributes to the game being considered one of the most dangerous sports, according to International Medical Insurance.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Football Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Football players hit and tackle one another with tremendous force as they advance across a 100-yard-long field to get a ball across the opposing team’s goal line. This physically challenging sport requires endurance, strength, speed and agility.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Basketball Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images

Two teams with five players each, score points by throwing or shooting a ball through the opponent’s basket. Speed is essential for players to move quickly across a basketball court while bouncing or dribbling a ball. Multiple split-second changes in direction require agility and stamina.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Wrestling Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

In a 2006 interview appearing in Kent State University’s “The Burr,” WWE wrestler Nick Nemeth defined the outcome of a wrestling match as predetermined, but stated the action leading up to the scripted conclusion is real, physically demanding and often painful. Wrestlers are well-coordinated athletes, in top physical condition and able to withstand moves, such as body slams, limb twisting, punches and being hit with tables and chairs.

Martial Arts

What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Martial Arts Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The entire body is a tool in martial arts. Breaking bricks and boards with body parts, executing fast-paced moves involving kicks, punches and blocks while maintaining proper stance and balance, requires agility, flexibility, speed, endurance, strength and concentration. Martial arts are physically demanding, but determination outweighs athletic prowess.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Tennis Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

An exhausting, fast-paced, hard-hitting tennis match with players racing back and forth to hit the ball before it strikes the ground or after one bounce, can last from 35 to 40 minutes or five to six hours. Players must have strong arm and thigh muscles, tremendous stamina, endurance, strength, power, speed and agility to keep up with the grueling pace.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Gymnastics Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Gymnastics involves tumbling and acrobatics, routines performed on bars, wooden beams, with balls and hoops or on trampolines. Participants in gymnastics require strength, rhythm, balance, flexibility and agility to perform and compete in this sport.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Baseball Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images

Porter W. Johnson, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Physics, Illinois Institute of Technology, estimates a pitcher throws a baseball 30 to 45 meters per second -- 67 to 100 miles per hour. A baseball hit by a batter travels up to 134 miles per hour, and a batter runs bases about 22 miles per hour. These three physical characteristics of baseball, pitching, hitting and running, require endurance, speed, strength and stamina.


What Are the Top 10 Most Physical Sports?
Soccer Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

A soccer game is played for 90 minutes by two teams of 11 players. Using only heads and feet to maneuver the ball, team members aim to get the soccer ball into their opponent’s goal. This sport requires participants to possess the physical attributes of endurance, speed and agility.

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