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6 awesome individual sports to try your hand at

They mightn’t get the recognition, but individual sports are what get most Irish people active

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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Think soccer, rugby, Gaelic football and hurling are the only things that reside on the Irish sporting psyche? Well, better think again, because statistics released by the Irish Sports Council for 2013 showed that people here are four times more likely to be involved in an individual sport as compared to team sports. What’s more, the gap is widening, and there are now nearly twice as many Irish people partaking in individual sports than was the case in 2008.

So, with that in mind, why not browse through our selection of five lesser-played sports that you could have a go at, and try something diferent!

1. Martial arts

Yeah, a bit general, but there’s so much to choose from there’s no point in just picking one! Karate, judo, krav maga, jiu jitsu, capoeira- these are all great options. And the beauty of it is, as evidenced by the huge growth in popularity of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) contests, they all include really versatile and interchangeable skills. What’s more, all these disciplines give you a great practical grounding in self-defence. Learn how to get involved in Martial Arts here.

2. Kayaking

An exhilarating thrill sport for some, a relaxing leisure activity for others, kayaking is another really versatile sport that can suit all types of people. If you’re someone who’s always looking for the next adrenaline rush, there’s nothing better than shooting down some white-water rapids with just your paddle and your wits keeping you on course. 

Pictured: Looking for a high-octane experience? Then kayaking could be your thing. Image by

Then again, if you prefer to take things handy, kayaking on lakes and gentle rivers can be a really tranquil experience, and it often leads you to some spectacular scenery in places you’d never thought to visit before. Read up on the ins and outs of kayaking here.

3. Gaelic handball

This may seem like a change in pace compared to the previous two sports, but given the fast-reacting, frantic nature of Gaelic handball it’s really anything but! Despite not having as high a profile as other Gaelic games, there’s a great tradition of handball in Ireland, and with courts in over 130 locations nationwide there could well be one near you. Best of all, it’s probably the cheapest sport in the world to play- all you need is a ball and a wall! Find out how to get stuck into Gaelic Handball here.

4. Squash

Tennis’ little-known cousin, this is another fast-paced game that’s played on indoor courts. It requires great speed and agility, and is brilliant for developing hand-eye coordination. It may be a lesser known sport in an Irish context, but loads of sports and leisure clubs house indoor courts, and if you get really good you could emulate our own David Ryan who’s currently on a Harvard scholarship as a result of his slick squash skills. Think Squash is for you? Learn how to take it up.

5. Sailing

We are a maritime nation after all, we might as well get some use out of all that water! Sailing teaches you a whole bunch of useful new skills- everything from tying knots, to navigating and good practice regarding water safety. Again, Ireland has started to blaze a nautical trail in competitive sailing recently, with stars like Annalise Murphy, Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern all performing admirably in international competition. Find out more on

6. Badminton

Badminton is a little bit like tennis, but with different shaped nets, balls and rackets. It’s easy enough to pick up the rules, so it’s a good option for beginners. There are clubs all over the country. It’s a great way to hang out with friends, plus it will help you get fit! Read up on how to take up Badminton here.

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Published November 7th, 2014
Last updated January 8th, 2016
Tags sport health fitness
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