It’s coming round to Spring and the sun is appearing. You want to get active and play a sport – but you also want to try something new… No problem! We’ve gone deep-diving through London’s athletic community and found a few sports for you to pick up from scratch. Here’s our list.
Unless you have Dutch or Scandinavian connections, you may not have heard of this hoop-based sport. Korfball is a combination of netball and basketball, and is a necessarily mixed-gender game. Teams comprise of 4 men and 4 women, who are then split into different halves of the court and charged with getting the ball through their respective baskets. There are some fiddly rules beyond this, but the basic idea can be picked up by anyone. London has eleven Korfball clubs scattered around its different regions, all cater for beginners and most for juniors. It’s a great way to get to know people, and tends to replace the British sporting machismo with a cooler Scandi touch – very chic.
Expect: Fast-paced games, quick passes, and tall people.
The name doesn’t lie: it is truly ultimate. Due to copyright issues surrounding the commercial product, the ‘Frisbee’, Ultimate Frisbee should really be referred to as just ‘Ultimate’. And it is played with discs, not Frisbees – don’t make that faux pas! The game has similarities to netball, but points are scored in American Football-style end-zones. Competition can range from a fun throw arounds in a park to series tactics, and the game in America is professional and televised live. Playing in London is pretty easy: there are lots of clubs spread across the city, and there are also social “pick-ups”, which are casual games for all abilities. Don’t be fooled: this is serious exercise – but it does have a fun edge.
Expect: Gruelling fitness, close observance of wind directions, and words like ‘stacking’ and ‘handler’.
No, not the cult poker film starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton: it’s a fun summertime sport played throughout the parks of London. You’ve probably come across Rounders at school, but it’s increasingly become a social game for adults and work-colleagues. The basic rules are simple: there are two teams – one batting, one fielding – and one player at a time takes up a bat, hits the ball and attempts to run round a circular set of posts. Easy. The competitive clubs tend to be for women only, but lots of social mixed leagues are developing that are perfect if you have a team of five or more in mind already. It’s generally bad etiquette to be seen to be trying too hard, but shouting an expletive after missing the ball will still look like good team commitment.
Expect: Muted competition, cider-on-the-sidelines, arguments over whether hitters were blocked going round the posts.
Hell on wheels, Roller Derby is the fastest growing sport in the UK – and London lies at the epicentre of this roller revolution. The rules are complicated, but to roughly sum-up: one person races round a track on skates and the other team tries to stop them. It’s full contact, and there’s also plenty of stylin’. Roller Derby has always had keen initiative on getting beginners going from scratch, and you can join ‘Fresh Meat’ training schedules to prep you up to a competitive level. Ladies rosters in London include the London Rockin Rollers, The London Roller Girls and the Croydon Roller Derby. There’s also a men’s team, Southern Discomfort. If you like things punk and alternative, this is the sport for you.
Expect: Bruises, the odd elbow in the side, fierce team spirit.
“If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball.” The sport popularised by the Ben Stiller cult comedy, Dodgeball is a underground hit with London’s young professional community. If you haven’t seen the film, the rules involve throwing rubber balls at the other team and trying to hit them. No need to complicate it further. There are lots of ways to play the game. Go Mammoth and Dodgeball London organise a series of pay-in leagues that last 10-12 weeks; you can join as an individual or a team. There are also a few club teams if you want to go for the long haul. The UK Dodgeball Association lists all joinable teams. Ignore the bumps and bruises – this is as adrenaline-fuelled as it gets!
Expect: Regurgitated film quotes, dancing feet, plenty of socialising.