9 Great Sports To Try In 2024

by | Dec 14, 2023 | Training

This year, why not shift the way you socialise and incorporate some sports? A case for us getting on the field, right here: studies show that playing sports improves concentration, boosts happiness and can help you stay fit and trim (if that’s what your goal is). If you want to try sports, know that you’d only be doing yourself good, since sports is linked to leadership and can even boost your self-confidence.

Not only that but having a set place to lay down some whoop-ass every week gives you a scheduled play date that doubles as cardio or healthy weight training. Most sports challenge you in various ways, including enhancing proprioception and fine-tuning those fast-twitch muscle fibres that enable you to go longer and harder. Here, top sports to try that you’ll easily be able to take up if that’s your new-found goal.


Padel sports to try image by manuel-pappacena on Unsplash

Ask anyone if they’ve heard of padel (pronounced exactly like the tool used to move a floatation device through water) and they’ll probably say yes!

That’s quite exciting because, for sports and court enthusiasts, the game is a fun spin on tennis and squash. Think of it as a tennis match without the stuffy dress code and a lot like squash but without the constant sound of balls against the wall. The result? A social, fun game that’s fast-paced and breaks the rules enough to make it cool.

If you were to try padel, you’d quickly understand why it’s so popular and addictive: having a fenced-in arena means the ball is almost always in play, while simply hitting very hard won’t necessarily score you points the way it would in tennis or squash.

And yes, the oft-touted refrain (dare we say slogan?) “fastest-growing sport in the world” might be true: Padel is gunning for Olympic status already, with tournaments and courts cropping up all over.

READ MORE: It’s Time To Try Padel: The New Social Sport Everyone’s Talking About


volleyball sports to try image by vince-fleming on Unsplash

Everyone’s favourite beach-side sport doubles as a great pastime to take up, since volleyball gets your heart rate soaring and is a very social sport to try. Per one study, recreational volleyball players who played only twice a week showed “positive cardiovascular fitness and health-related adaptations, which may contribute to the reduction of the risk of developing lifestyle diseases.”


two women playing netball

Netball, the girls’ go-to sport, has come a long way. From being the extra-curricular activity you loved at school, to the investment in netball has seen the emergence of professionalism in the sport. Now, pro netball spans multiple watch-worthy leagues here in SA and beyond. It’s also a great way to stay active, even though you’re out of school. Clubs and leagues abound, so join one and get active.

READ MORE: Everything You Need To Know About Levelling Up Your Netball Game


Image by My Profit Tutor on Unsplash woman playing soccer sports to try

Women’s soccer, once a difficult sport to navigate in South Africa, is opening up. More and more women are going pro, even heading to clubs overseas to step up their game and earn full salaries. There’s the steady growth of tournaments on our shores, like the Hollywoodbets Super League, thankfully watchable on SABC Sport.

And there’s more than enough reason to get in on the action yourself. It’ll up your endurance; clutch for anyone looking to score a new PB; since soccer involves tons of running (about 10km per game, according to one estimate). Aside from building killer quads, the sport has major brain benefits, too. You’ll sharpen your cognitive function, improve motor control, and fine-tune your decision-making abilities. To elevate your game, follow these training tips from the pros.


woman swimming as sports to try image by filip-filkovic-philatz on Unsplash

Usually when you say the word “swimming” your knee-jerk reaction is to imagine all the reasons you typically avoid pool workouts: chlorine-tinted hair, soggy towels in gym bags… However, water provides 12 to 14 percent more resistance than air, so swimming can blow your current dry-land routine out of the water when it comes to cardio conditioning and total-body toning!

The real key to a strong swimming workout: move past your sea turtle pace and into a fast, kilojoule-obliterating one. How? By maximising your strokes for more power and efficiency. Once you get stronger and faster in the pool, you’ll wind up a lot leaner when you get out.

READ MORE: 3 Kilojoule-Obliterating Swimming Workouts


Image by barbara-rezende on unsplash sports to try

If you live in a coastal city with waves (and let’s be honest; South Africa is positively riddled with ride-worthy waves), this is one sport you need to pick up to make the most of the ocean. Not only is surfing a great sport with multiple health (and mental health) benefits, but it’s also addictive. Surfers are known to be the most chill people out there and who doesn’t need some of that zen right now? To get started, find a beginner-friendly break in your area and get yourself a few lessons (your school will provide the equipment). You’ll build killer arm strength, enviable glutes and quads, and abs of steel once you’ve caught enough waves. Even just paddling makes for excellent cardio.

READ MORE: These Swimming Hacks Will Make You Less Afraid Of The Water


weightlifting sports to try image by John Arano on Unsplash

From the annals of history, lifting heavy loads has always been a showing of strength, and for good reason. But racking up weights and being able to lift heavy does more than show the gym you didn’t come to play. Regular weightlifting boosts heart health and lowers blood pressure. It nixes fat reserves and fires up muscle growth. Plus, if you move through the proper range of motion, consider your flexibility and mobility improved, too. Then there’s how it improves your bone mineral density, protecting you in the long term against osteoporosis. The sport of weightlifting is growing in SA, with more and more women stepping up to the plate to show their strength. Keen to get in on the action? Check out these benefits of the sport and get the inspiration to start.


sports to try hockey  image by John Torcasio on Unsplash

If you played this sport at school, why not take it up again? It’s a killer social sport and is high-intensity, with tons of running that’ll help you score a new PB. It ups endurance and stamina, too. Social and league clubs abound so why not take up something new and different and meet new people that’ll share your passion?

READ MORE: 14 Sports Documentaries That Will Inspire You To Be Your Best Self

Mountain biking

woman cycling off the beaten track with her mountain bike
Photo by Natalie R. Starr

A short ride from South Africa’s concrete jungles, you’ll find tons of rough and ready terrain, begging to be explored. And the women of South Africa are taking them on in droves. Per the South African Women’s MTB Survey, presented by Liv, the number of women who are new to mountain biking is growing from 7.1% in 2018 to a lively 16.74% in 2022. Over 51% of female mountain bikers are heading to the trails on bikes to get outdoors and a further 34% cite the social aspect as their main motivation.

Either way, getting on the trail on your trusty bike is great all around. According to Idaho Sports Medicine Institute, you’ll rack up your cardio points while improving your strength and endurance. It’s also a great way to nix stress and anxiety since being outdoors contributes to feelings of peace and contentment. The potent mixture of benefits makes for a great reason to get riding and build up on a new skill.

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