Fun, Fitness, and Friendship: The Best 8 Social Sports To Try

With our busy lives these days, it’s tough to fit everything in. You want to go to the gym to stay in shape, you need to hang out with your friends for some social time to reduce stress, and how are you supposed to fit in fun as well? That’s where social sports come in.

What are social sports?

Social sports are adult recreational sports leagues where there is just as much emphasis on socializing as there is on the sport itself. The level of competition varies depending on the sport and the league. Most leagues are geared towards beginners and getting out and enjoying the sport, but socializing is always definitely part of the experience! Whether it’s warming up before the game, friendly banter during the game, or catching up at the pub afterwards, getting to know your teammates (and your opponents) is a huge part of social sports.

Many social sports leagues are coed, but you’ll also find same-sex sports leagues as well.

Check out this article for 17 reasons you should join a social sports team.

What social sport should I play?

You may be a total beginner, but that’s half the fun! Learning the sport will definitely give you some interesting stories to tell over a post-game pint! Here is a list of the top 8 social sports you should try.

  1. Pickleball
  2. Ultimate Frisbee
  3. Dodgeball
  4. Volleyball
  5. Beach Volleyball
  6. Golf
  7. Softball
  8. Kickball

1. Pickleball

Pickleball is considered one of the fastest growing sports in North America. It’s a combination of badminton, ping pong, and tennis, and is played on a hard surface (either a tennis court or a gymnasium) with a low net. You use a paddle that’s about twice the size of a ping pong paddle, and a wiffleball.

The court dimensions are 20 feet across, and each half of the court is 22 feet deep, for a total of 44 feet long. There’s also a non-volley line, and the deeper part of the court is divided in half to accommodate for the serving zone.

Why you should try pickleball

Why is pickleball so popular? It’s a low-impact sport that doesn’t necessarily favor speed and agility – which means it’s great for players of all ages and abilities. You can easily match up players of varying ages and experience levels. It also makes a great coed sport, and it’s non-contact.

No fancy equipment is required – just standard work out wear, and maybe a pair of sunglasses for outdoor games. You do need a pickleball paddle, which is specific to the sport. If you’re joining a league, the nets and balls should be provided.

Strategy is just as important as athleticism. The more you play, the more you’ll start to figure out your own unique style of play.

What you should know before your first pickleball game

The rules were specifically developed to accommodate players of all ages and abilities. It actually evolved from a backyard family game, and that friendliness and camaraderie is still apparent in today’s players. So keep it friendly!

Some of the rules may seem a bit quirky – for example, there’s a no-volley zone in which you can’t smash the ball overhead, and the ball has to bounce a certain number of times before you can hit it overhead. This is to keep the playing field fair for all players.

If you’re a total beginner, don’t go in with the assumption that you’re going to smash the ball at all costs. Try to get as familiar as you can with the rules before your first game, and make sure you ask questions even as you’re playing. Identify yourself as a beginner, and you’ll get lots of help from the veterans on the court.

There’s no referee, players need to self-officiate, so fair play and friendly competition is a big factor for pickleball.

→ Pickleball rundown:
Contact sport: No
Easy to learn rules: Yes
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: No

Get more info here: pickleballkitchen.com

2. Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate frisbee, or just ultimate as it’s more commonly referred to, is similar to football or soccer, in that teams are trying to score goals by getting into the end zone of the field with the ball. Except, in the case of ultimate, instead of a ball, a frisbee or disc is used.

Players can’t run when they’re holding the disc, and they have 10 seconds to throw it.

Ultimate is FAST, and pretty intense. Players need to have good stamina and agility, and also be skilled at throwing the disc.

Why you should try ultimate frisbee

It’s fast-paced and a great workout. There’s also a great sense of camaraderie amongst players. The rules are pretty simple to pick up, especially if you’re already even remotely familiar with the rules for soccer, football, or basketball.

You can play on a same-sex team or a coed team.

What you should know before your first ultimate frisbee game

It’s a non-contact sport, but because it’s so fast-paced, there might end up being some contact between players (which results in a foul). It’s also a self-officiated sport, which means that players need to be honest and fair.

You’ll want to know as many of the rules as possible before you start playing – because of the fast-pace of the game, you won’t get to ask a lot of questions as you’re playing. But you’ll learn as you play too, and the rest of the players will be really helpful – hey, they were beginners once, too!

→ Ultimate Frisbee rundown:
Contact sport: Potentially
Easy to learn rules: Yes
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: Yes

Get more info here: whatisultimate.com

3. Dodgeball

Ah, dodgeball. Memories of elementary school gym class. This was one of my favorite games to play. But the grown-up version is definitely a lot faster… and the language is much more colorful as well!

Dodgeball is played on a hard court, with 6 dodgeballs. It’s usually played inside, but courts can be setup outside as long as there’s nets surrounding the court. No other equipment is required, except maybe tape to mark the court boundary lines. So players can literally just show up in their work out wear and be ready to play!up close picture of a dodgeball

It’s a coed game, with teams requiring at least 2 of the 6 players to be female. It’s fast-paced, but the rules are really easy to pick up. While you don’t need to be a super-fast runner, you do need some level of coordination and agility.

Why you should try dodgeball

Even though you’re not covered a huge surface area, it’s definitely a good workout. There’s some strategy involved as well, so you’re getting a brain and a body workout! It’s a great sport for players just getting into a social sports league, because it’s very social.

What you should know before your first dodgeball game

The main rule in dodgeball is: don’t get hit with the ball! It’s really that simple! Of course, there’s some intricacies to the game as well, such as having to touch the back wall every now and then, and the advantages of catching a ball instead of being hit by it. But, the rules are really easy to pick up.

While technically allowed, aiming the ball at an opponent’s head on purpose is considered really bad sport. There’s a good chance you’ll get hit in the head with the ball by accident, but no one should be aiming at anyone’s head on purpose.

→ Dodgeball rundown
Contact sport: With people, no. With the ball, yes.
Easy to learn rules: Yes
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: No

Get more info here: playdodgeball.org

4. Volleyball

Volleyball is one of the sports that many people have tried because it’s introduced in elementary school gym class. Even if you don’t remember all the rules (and some have changed over the years!), you’re probably still familiar with the bump-set-spike play. Though in elementary school it was probably more like bump-bump-bump.

Player standing on the side of the court, watching the game
Getting ready to play

Why you should try volleyball

Anyone can play volleyball if they find the right setting. Volleyball is one of those sports that can be played at a family reunion with your Aunt Betty as a friendly backyard game, or as a full-on competitive tournament for prize money. It just depends whose on the court. Take the time to find the right league and the right team, and you’ll definitely have a blast.

Volleyball is also a great workout. You’re running, you’re jumping, and you might even be hitting the floor. And if you’re playing in a competitive league, you’ll definitely work up a sweat.

What you should know before your first volleyball game

The basic overview of volleyball is that there are 6 players on each side of the court. The play starts with a serve to the opposing team. Players need to keep the ball in play by not letting it hit the floor, but they are only allowed to hit the ball a few different ways to avoid a ball handling violation.

A forearm pass is known as a pass or a bump, and an overhead pass is known as a volley or a set. There are a number of ways to hit the ball over the net, including an aggressive attack, which can be a spike, a tip, or a roll shot.

If you haven’t played volleyball for a number of years, you’ll want to make sure that you’re up to date on any rules that have changed over the years.

→ Volleyball rundown
Contact sport: No
Easy to learn rules: Basic rules, yes.
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: No.

Get more info about what you should know before your first volleyball game in this article, and click here to read about what equipment is needed for indoor volleyball.

5. Beach volleyball

A lot of people think that beach volleyball is just like indoor volleyball, but on a sand court. Far from it, my friend! Have you ever tried running or jumping on sand? Trust me, it’s a much different game than indoor volleyball. Sure, many (but not all) of the rules are the same. But there’s enough differences that really do make it feel like a different sport.players volleying a volleyball on a beach volleyball court with lake in the background

If you’ve played indoor volleyball, you’ll definitely have an advantage. But even if you’re introduced to volleyball for the first time on beach court, you’re still going to have tons of fun.

Why you should try beach volleyball

You’re outside, and you’re going to get a great workout! It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and stay active. Plus, telling people that you’re a beach volleyball player is a great way to earn some instant respect!

What you should know before your first beach volleyball game

Leagues are structured in a number of different ways: for example, you can play with two people, three people, four people, six people, coed or same-sex. So you have a few options to try.

Make sure that you wear sunscreen, and also bring water. This is important for all players, but especially for those who aren’t used to exercising outside.

Don’t be intimidated by those teeny tiny bikinis that you see female beach volleyball players wear in the Olympics – just wear what feels comfortable for you, such as shorts and a t-shirt or tank top. Some people may wear their bikinis to play, but that’s a personal preference, not a requirement.

Also, you should know that you’re going to get sand EVERYWHERE. I’m not kidding about this – EVERYWHERE. Just be prepared.

→ Beach volleyball rundown
Contact sport: No
Easy to learn rules: Basic rules, yes
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: No. But lots of moving around

Get more info here: fivb.org/EN/Beachvolleyball

6. Golf

Though it may have been depicted as an ol’ boys sport a few decades ago, golf is now a popular sport for all ages and genders. It may not be a fast-paced game, but it definitely requires fitness, skill, and concentration.

Why you should try golfman helping woman golf

Golf is a great form of low impact exercise. Even if you’re riding in the cart, you’re going to be walking around, swinging at the ball, bending over to pick up the ball, and lugging your golf clubs around. It’s also a great sport for anyone who has gone through an injury, and needs to participate in no-contact sports.

And the scenery on most golf courses is beautiful! The perfectly manicured greens are backdropped by the natural environment of the area, whether it’s forest, meadows, ocean views, or mountain ranges.

There’s also a huge social component to golf. There’s a reason why business meetings are held on the golf course! There’s lot of opportunity to chat within your playing partners, or with other golfers on the course (as long as you’re not holding up the game, of course). Then there’s always catching up at the clubhouse after the game as well.

Exercise, nature, and socializing – what more can you ask for in a sport?

What you should know before your first golf game

If you’re just starting out, resist the urge to go out and buy all the best equipment. There is A LOT of gear on the market, and you’ll want to make sure that the sport is right for you before you invest in all the newest equipment. See if you can borrow or rent equipment for your first couple of games, so that you get a feel for the different types of clubs.

Make sure you do some kind of warm up. Even though golf is low impact, the motions are very repetitive, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re loose and limber before you start.

There’s a lot of etiquette to golf, so make sure you familiarize yourself with any rules and etiquette before your first game. There’s also a lot of lingo, so you’ll probably want to brush up on some key terms as well.

→ Golf rundown:
Contact sport: No
Easy to learn rules: Yes
Expensive equipment: Potentially
Lots of running: No

Get more info here: golf.com

7. Softball

Softball, or its more aggressive version, baseball, is another sport that you probably learned back in elementary school. Depending on where you grew up, you may have even played pick-up games with your friends. Even if you weren’t playing full games, you were probably playing hitting or throwing games.

Softball is very similar to baseball, but a little less aggressive. It’s played with a bigger ball, and a smaller bat. There are 7 innings in softball, as opposed to 9 innings in baseball. Also, the infield (the playing area where the bases form a diamond) is smaller than in baseball. In softball, the bases are 60 feet apart, while in baseball they’re 90 feet apart.a softball bat leaning on a helmet and a pile of 4 softballs, with home plate in the background

Why you should try softball

Softball is a great sport for your first social sport league, as it’s non-contact and the pace isn’t too intense. If you’re just learning the rules, you’ll have plenty of time to ask questions in-between plays.

There’s also lots of time for the social part of the game! Don’t get me wrong: you don’t just stand around and chat for the whole game. But, because each team takes turns being at bat and being in the field, you have lots of opportunity for talking with your teammates.

Softball is an interesting mix of team sport and individualism. For example, when your team is in the field, there will be times when teammates will rely on each other for the play (think of the fielder catching the ball and throwing to first base to get the batter out). There will also be times when a player is totally responsible for the play (like catching a pop-fly).

There’s also when a batter goes up to bat – they are 100% on their own out there! Their team is definitely cheering them on, but it’s between the batter and the pitcher at that point. This can be somewhat intimidating (especially for your first few games), but it can also be exhilarating. It’s that awesome mix of nervousness and excitement! And definitely a confidence-booster.

Softball is a great sport for beginners because it’s non-contact, and you can have players with a wide range of skills and experience playing on the same team. It also makes a great coed sport.

What you should know before your first softball game

You should know that there are two types of softball: slow-pitch or fast-pitch, and you should definitely know which one you’re signing up for! Slow-pitch, as the name implies, has a slower pitched under-handed ball that has to have an arc.

In fast-pitch, the ball is pitched much faster, even though it’s still thrown underhand. Pitchers get an amazing amount of speed from their underhand pitches!

You should also make sure to warmup and cool down properly for each game. Softball is considered an anaerobic sport, which just means that instead of constant movement that keeps your heart rate elevated (like running or biking), there are more periods of waiting for the play, followed by explosive movements during the play.

Think about a player up at bat. They’re patiently (or nervously) waiting for the pitch, then they swing as hard as they can, then they sprint as fast as they can to first base. Phew! They have a few moments to catch their breath, then they have to anticipate the right time to run to second base.

Softball is a great game, both physically and for some mental strategy as well!

→ Softball rundown:
Contact sport: No
Easy to learn rules: Yes
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: No. More like sporadic running

Get more info here: teamusa.org/usa-softball

8. Kickball

Like some other social sports, kickball is a mix of different sports all rolled up into one fun low-key sport. Well, usually low-key – as with any sport, kickball can still get pretty competitive.

Kickball is a combination of softball, soccer, and dodgeball. It’s played on a smaller softball field, with a large, soft, kickball (it’s similar to the type of balls used for dodgeball).a guy in jeans kicking a dodgeball at home plate on a baseball diamond

Why you should try kickball

Kickball is probably one of the most laid-back social sports, so it’s a great game to try. It’s usually a lot easier to kick a big red rubber ball than it is to swing at a ball with a bat, and because the bases are closer together, you don’t have to throw the ball as far. Or, for that matter, run as far either!

Keep in mind, though, that just because it’s laid back doesn’t mean it’s not competitive! As with any sport, it all depends on the rest of the players in the league.

There’s usually a really strong post-game activity that’s part of kickball as well, so the social component is an important element of a kickball league (some leagues consider flip-cup a mandatory post-game ritual.

What you should know before your first kickball game

The rules for kickball are actually pretty simple. The pitcher rolls the ball to the kicker. It has to bounce at least twice. Once the kicker contacts the ball, he or she runs towards first base.

There’s three ways a runner can get out:

  1. If the ball is caught by a player on the opposing team before it hits the ground (like a pop fly in softball).
  2. If the ball is thrown to the first base player before the runner gets there.
  3. If the runner is tagged by the ball (meaning the ball hits them).

Some league rules may not allow for throwing the ball at the player directly, so definitely check with the league rules before your first game. Also, make sure you avoid throwing the ball at the runner’s head – even though it’s a soft ball, it can still hurt quite a bit when thrown with enough speed and power. And especially since the player will be running in the opposite direction, and probably won’t even see the ball coming.

Similar to softball, a team scores a point when a player rounds all the bases and crosses home plate.

→ Kickball rundown:
Contact sport: No
Easy to learn rules: Yes
Expensive equipment: No
Lots of running: No. More like sporadic running

Get more info here: kickball.com

So, there you have a great list of 8 social sports you should try. Give one a try, and remember, there’s absolutely no pressure to stay with the first sport you try! You may find a sport you love, or you might want to keep trying out different sports. It’s totally up to you. The most important thing is that you get out, meet some new people, stay active, and have lots of fun!

How to find a social sports league to join: socialsportsnetwork.com

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