10 Most Popular Sports in India

Sports has been a part of human culture for centuries now. All of us have tried playing sports at least once in our lives.

Having a sport in your daily life protects you from a number of health problems like obesity, high blood pressure and it also helps you strengthen your immune system. Each sport has its peculiarity.

But the one thing common in all sports is the passion displayed by each player. It’s impossible to ignore the energy and enthusiasm of a sports fan or a determined player. It’s almost contagious.

So here’s a list of the Most Popular Sports followed by people in India to help you choose one for yourself.    

Why Sports?

Sports helps build an individual’s character as well as physical attributes. Having an athletic and flexible body is an advantage throughout your life.

And sports make it fairly easy to achieve that. Sports can also be a stellar career option. Though it needs high levels of dedication and hard work to make it in a particular sport.

Also due to the uncertain nature of sports, it’s always fun to watch as well as, play. Since it’s always going to come down to one thing: passion. And having a passion for anything in life helps us stay motivated and have something to look forward to.

List of 10 Most Popular Sports in India

1. Cricket

Cricket 10 Most Popular Sports in India
Image Source: ICC Cricket

Cricket has pretty much become a religion in India now. In fact in a survey conducted by the ICC it was found that literally 90% of the Cricket fans in the world are Indians. But how did it become so popular?

Cricket found its way to India in the early 1700s through the British. The first Indian Cricket club was founded in 1848 and the rest, as we all know, is history.

Over the years the Indian Cricket industry has gave birth to numerous legendary players like Sachin Tendulkar, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, MS Dhoni, Rahul Dravid and many more. The Indian Cricket industry might now be one of the richest industries in the world.

But the competitive team of India had to do wonders over the years to make this industry what it is. The Indian cricket team has won the ODI World Cup twice. First time in 1983 and a second time in 2011.

India has also won the T20 World Cup in 2007 and the ICC Champions trophy in the year 2013. Along with that the Indian Premier League (IPL) also became a worldwide success.

It started its first season back in April 2008 and has only flourished ever since. IPL also made room for Indian youth to get exposure at the national level. Due to all of this, Cricket has been the apex sport in India for decades now.

Also Read: Top 10 Richest Sportsperson in India

2. Football 

Football 10 Most Popular Sports in India

Football, also known as “Soccer”, has been one of the most silently followed sports in India.

Indians love watching and playing football but due to India’s Football team not having the right exposure and awareness, most of them tend to follow European football over Indian football.

Though recently, introduction of the Indian Super League managed to increase the football popularity in India by a considerable amount.

And recently when India’s Football maestro Sunil Chhetri became second highest active international top scorer of all time behind Cristiano Ronaldo, it attracted a huge bulk of the Indian youth to start supporting Indian football teams.     

India has two major football leagues namely I-League and Indian Super League that have been co-existing since the introduction of ISL in 2014.

The I-League started its first season back in 2008 and is the now the top division football tournament in India. It has 11 teams competing for the trophy in a round robin manner.

Whereas ISL has 10 teams competing with each other in a similar format to the I-League. The next ISL season is about to start in October, make sure to follow it and get behind one of the teams

3. Kabaddi     

Kabaddi 10 Most Popular Sports in India
image Source: Hindustan Times

“Le Pangaa” has been on our Televisions for a long time now. There are a very few people who don’t know about the Pro Kabaddi League yet. The competition started its first season back in 2014.

People were thrilled by the game’s adrenaline rushing nature and nail-biting turns and twists and the game went viral in a matter of weeks.

Everyone were hooked to their screens throughout the first season and the Kabaddi players that prevailed throughout became famous and popular.

Each season people have the same enthusiasm, if not more. And they support their teams with as much spirit as any other sports fans. Kabaddi was one of the few sports that originated in India.

The game was basically found in the Tamil region of India and then spread on to the South East Asian countries through traders.

It’s an extremely energetic physical-contact game where in each team takes turn to ‘raid’ the other teams. The ‘raider’ tries to tag as many players as they can and come back in their own half without losing breath.

The defenders try to stop the raiders from going back into their own halves. A point is awarded for each player that the raider tags or when a team is successful at stopping the raider from going back. 

Kabaddi is a very rough game and shouldn’t be played without the right equipment and supervision or it could lead to serious injuries. But if you have both those things ticked, it’s one of the best sports to get your adrenaline rushing.

4. Badminton

Badminton 10 Most Popular Sports in India
Image Source: Hindustan Times

Who hasn’t heard of the great P.V Sindhu? Or Saina Nehwal? If you haven’t, they are the pioneers of the Indian Badminton industry right now. P.V Sindhu became popular recently in 2017 when she rose to the rank of No.2 in the list of best Badminton players in the world.

And Saina Nehwal has been the ambassador for Indian Badminton for longer than we can remember.

There are many more Indian Badminton players that have achieved many feats in their careers.

Badminton is a racquet sport where in a shuttle cock is hit using a racket. The professional shuttle cocks are mostly made of feathers.

But there are plastic and artificial shuttle cocks available in the market for non-competitive matches.

Points are scored in badminton by making the shuttle land in the opponent’s half. Matches are played on a rectangular mat divided into two halves by a heightened net.

The game can be played in teams of two or individually. The Premier Badminton League competition has drastically increased the popularity of Badminton in India.

Legendary players like Lee Chong Wei, Srikanth Kidambi, P.V Sindhu, Carolina Marin, Saina Nehwal and many more, compete in this tournament.

5. Wrestling

Wrestling 10 Most Popular Sports in India
Image Source: teamusa.org

Recently due to the blockbuster film Dangal, Wrestling gained critical acclaim across India. The movie based on Phogat sisters’ journey from small time wrestlers in Haryana to winning medals for India at an international level, motivated a huge bulk of Indians to try their hand at wrestling.

Those who couldn’t be as good at it, started supporting the sport and the Indian wrestlers.

Though the first time India was actually intrigued by Wrestling was when Sushil Kumar Solanki won the 2010 world title. And then went on to win a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics.

Wrestling is a contact sport played on a synthetic mat. There’s also an Indian variant of the sport played on dirt floors. The Indian variant is known as ‘Dangal’, ‘Kushti’ or ‘Pehelwani’.

The current most prominent Indian Wrestlers are Sushil Kumar, Sakshi Malik and Vinesh Phogat.

All of them have achieved huge milestones in their career and they aren’t even done yet.

Sakshi Malik has won a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics and a  silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Vinesh Phogat became the first ever Indian female wrestler to win Gold in both Asian and Commonwealth games. All things considered India might not be at its apex in Wrestling but we are surely working our way towards it.  

6. Lawn Tennis

Tennis 10 Most Popular Sports in India

Lawn Tennis is a variant of the sport, Tennis where the players play on a rectangular marked lawn divided into two halves by a net. Popular Indian Tennis players include Leander Paes, Sania Mirza, Mahesh Bhupathi and many more.

Tennis is a racquet sport where in a hollow rubber ball is hit using a racquet. Mostly the tennis balls are covered in a thin and soft fur coating.

Points are scored by hitting the ball in such a way that the opponent can’t return the ball in a legitimate manner.

For years the pioneer of Indian Tennis industry were Sania Mirza and Leander Paes.

Sania Mirza has won a total of six Grand Slam titles in the doubles category and was deemed to be the no. 1 Indian women Tennis player by the WTA (Women Tennis Association).

Leander Paes, on the other hand, has won eighteen Grand Slams titles in the doubles category in his stellar tennis career. He was deemed to be the most successful Indian Tennis player in the doubles category. 

Also Read: 10 Most Popular Board Games in India

7. Boxing

10 Most Popular Sports in India
Image source: mid-day.com

The award winning film ‘Mary Kom’ has had a huge contribution in popularising Boxing in India.

Subsequently the individual that the film was based on was also a very important factor that explained to the world that if you have the passion and will, pretty much nothing is impossible.

Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte , the first ever Indian female boxer to have won a gold medal in the Asian Games 2014, was from a very small village in Manipur. But her years of hard work and determination lead her to world domination.

And since then many more Indian professional Boxers have emerged from various parts of the country to achieve huge milestones.

Boxing is a combat sport, where in two players fight each other for designated amounts of time known as ‘Rounds’. Points are calculated based on the amount of punches and elbows landed and defended, hugs and knockdowns.

This is a very subjective way of determining points and hence many times Boxers tend to believe that they were denied victory in an unfair manner. But though controversial, this is the only method of calculating points in Boxing.

Over the years Indian Boxing Industry has created many talents. One of them was Vijendra Singh. Vijendra Singh briefly reached the No. 1 Rank in the AIBA (Amateur International Boxing Association) List of International Boxers in 75kg category.

Hence Boxing is a budding industry in India and seems to be growing continuously with talents getting unveiled from even the most remote places in the country.  

8. Field Hockey

Filed Hockey
Image Source: NDTV Sports

Field Hockey is one of the variants of Hockey where in the players manoeuvre a ball with their respective hockey sticks to try and score goals.

Rules are pretty similar to Football except for the fact that the players can’t touch the ball with any part of their bodies.

The ball used in Field Hockey is a small and hard, plastic ball and could cause serious injuries if the required safety equipment aren’t worn during a match.

Field Hockey is the National sport of India, though it isn’t followed as much as one would presume.

The Indian Field Hockey team was the first ever non-European hockey team that became a part of the International Hockey Federation. Over the years, the Indian Men’s hockey team has won eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the Olympics.

Field Hockey team strategy game just like Football or Rugby and it needs perfect team chemistry and clinical strikers in a team to score goals.

It’s a considerably rough game compared to some sports and hence having a referee to call fouls would be a great way to avoid on-field squabbles.

9. Motor-Sports

Motor SPorts 10 Most Popular Sports in India
Image source: gamesplayer.usa

In India Motor-sports have been the most silently followed sports since the year 2000.

The Indian audience are in awe of the driving maneuvres in the Moto GP or the Formula 1 races and a huge bulk of the Indian population loves watching the bikes and cars speed away for glory.

Narayan Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok were the first ever Indian drivers to participate in a Formula One tournament. India also launched its own Formula 1 tournament named Indian Grand Prix back in 2001.

The Indian Motor-sports team hasn’t achieved many milestones and the best position that they have been able to grab was fourth, in the Formula One Constructors Championship 2016.

But nonetheless a huge amount of the Indian audience follow the Formula One tournaments.

Motor-Sports have a lot of variants and the most prominent one are the circuit races where in the cars or bikes have to complete a designated number of laps, in the same circuit, before others to win.

It’s really mesmerizing to watch all those cars and bikes zoom across each other in excellent maneuvers.

Hence, a great sport to sit back and watch after a hard day of work or maybe on a lazy Sunday afternoon because we promise you, you will be hooked in a matter of minutes.       

10. Basket-Ball

Basketball 10 Most Popular Sports in India
Image source: Sportzwiki

Basketball has been a very popular sport in the Western countries and is certainly increasing its popularity in India nowadays.

The UBA Pro Basketball league that started in back in July 2017 has provided a platform for all the Indian Basketball fans and players altogether.

The UBA consists of two divisions, North and South. Each division contains four professional Basketball teams that are pitched against each other.

Each team plays a certain number of games (changes every season) in a round robin manner and then the top 2 teams in each divisions are deemed to be the quarterfinalists.

The UBA has played 4 seasons yet and the tournament has been only increasing popularity from its first season itself.

The Indian men’s national basketball team has won three gold medals and one silver medal in the South Asian Games

Names like Satnam Singh, Amjyot Singh, Ajmer Singh, Anitha Paldurai and Geethu Anna Jose have been the most prominent in the Indian Basketball Industry.

Wrapping up, these were the most popular sports followed in India. Though we have tried to cover as many of the sports as we can there are still a few sports that couldn’t make it in this list due to their popularity.

So if you didn’t connect with one of the sports in this list please do tell us, in the comment section below, which sport you’d like to see getting featured in the future articles. That’s all for now, see you at the next article. 


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