16 Competitive Team Sports That Do Not Involve a Ball as Their Primary Object

When you hear the word “sport,” what is the first image that comes to mind? A ball? Most likely. And that “ball” will be the one that belongs to your favorite sport. These two words are so related that when we think of one, we automatically or subconsciously think of the other. There are many reasons why we always associate the term “sport” with a ball. As children, among all the toys we had, a toy ball was the one we always spent our time with. For many of us, that is the first toy we were ever introduced to.
But as we know, not all sports are played with a ball. There are many individual and team sports, played professionally or at the amateur level, that do not involve the use of a ball. In this post, we will look at some examples of team sports, played either professionally or at a competitive level, that do not need a ball because there is no “room” for it. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

1. Curling

Martin Rulsch, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  A granite stone

A sport that involves a stone and ice

Curling is a sport played on ice (sounds great). It’s a team sport because playing on ice alone isn’t fun. Just kidding. In this sport, players from one team attempt to carry a round granite stone to its target position by sliding it.

One must slide the stone to the target position closer than one’s opponent’s stone is relative to the target. A curling team consists of four players. Curling has been part of the Winter Olympic Games since 1998, and both male and female athletes participate in the sport. It was first invented in Scotland in the 16th century.


2. Ice hockey

Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  A puck

One of the most famous winter sports

Ice hockey is a very famous sport in countries such as Canada, the United States, Finland, and most of Europe. It is a winter sport played on a field covered in frozen ice.  Ice hockey is a winter sport as it is played on a field covered with frozen ice. The objective of ice hockey is the same as other team sports, such as soccer or field hockey: to score a goal in the opponent’s net. An ice hockey team on the field consists of six players, including the goaltender, who defends the goalpost. As mentioned, the sport has a great fan base in Canada, where it originally evolved over the years. Interestingly, although ice hockey has always been part of the Winter Olympics since 1924, women’s ice hockey was not included until 1998, more than 70 years later.


3. Bobsleigh

Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  an aerodynamic sled

A sport that originated in Switzerland

Bobsleigh is a team winter sport that is played on an ice track. Team composition in this sport depends on the racing event, but usually consists of four members. As mentioned, it is a racing game in which players use an aerodynamic sled to race on an ice track. The team that reaches the finish line first wins the race. The sport was invented in one of the most famous countries for winter sports, Switzerland. It has also been part of the Winter Olympic Games since 1932.


4. Roller derby

Oklarsson, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  Roller skates

A sport revived by women

Roller derby is a contact sport played on a skating track. The rules of this sport are straightforward. It involves an oval-shaped track made for roller skating. The game typically lasts an hour with two breaks of 30 minutes. The sport involves two teams, one of which is made up of defenders, and the other of which is made up of a jammer. The jammer’s job is to complete a lap of the skating track while simultaneously avoiding the defenders who are blocking him. Currently, women athletes have clear dominance in roller derby, although there are many leagues around the world where male athletes also participate.

Women athletes have played an important role in the revival of sport in the last few decades. Flat track derby was invented and is mostly popular in the United States. However, the official governing bodies for both men (MRDA) and women (WFTDA) hold many tournaments in different regions around the world.


5. Ultimate frisbee

Raimond Spekking, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  Disc (or frisbee)

Playing frisbee with friends is fun!

Throwing and catching a disc with friends in an open field sounds great, doesn’t it? Frisbee as a sport, in a nutshell, is all about that. Ultimate frisbee is a team sport played outdoors by two teams of seven players. The premise of the game is simple. The ultimate frisbee field is similar to a rugby field, but it is relatively smaller and has two end zones. In this sport, a goal is counted when a player from one team catches the ball in the opponent’s end zone, which earns one point for that team. The team that scores the first 15 points is declared the winner. Ultimate frisbee is a recognized sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).


6. Relay racing 

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  A baton

Let them pass the baton!

Relay racings falls under the category of track and field events. Relay racings are probably one of the best examples of teamwork and coordination. Relay races have different formats which depend on the distance. 4×100-Meter, 4×400-Meter, 4×800-Meter are some of the relay racing events that we get to see at the Olympic summer games. Usually relay racings are carried by four athletes and it involves 4 legs. The team which finishes the final leg first becomes the winner.


7. TeamGym

Bauken77, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main pieces of equipment –  Tumble, trampoline and floor

Gymnastics team event

TeamGym falls under the gymnastics category and involves three events: floor exercises, tumbling, and trampet, which is essentially a small, square trampoline specifically designed for gymnastics. TeamGym competitions are primarily organized in European countries and are governed by European Gymnastics, a regulating body for gymnastics events in Europe. The team composition consists of men’s, women’s, and mixed teams, with the number of members in each team ranging from 6 to 12. Although it is not yet an Olympic sport, team gymnastics tournaments are widely organized in many countries, including the United States.


8. Tug-of-war

Johnmoore6 at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  A rope

At the Tug-of-War world championships, champions meet champions

Have you ever fallen to the ground in a tug-of-war game after your opponent team suddenly overpowered you, causing you to lose? It happens to everyone. Playing tug of war is a fun activity to enjoy with friends and family because it requires only one piece of equipment: a strong rope and, of course, strength in your arms.

Despite being a great game for enjoying with loved ones, tug-of-war is also a competitive sport. It was actually part of the Summer Olympic Games for nearly two decades, from the 1900s onwards, but it is no longer included. But around the world, many sports organizations organize tug-of-war tournaments where both male and female players participate. The Tug-of-War world championships are organized twice a year by their official governing body, The Tug of War International Federation (TWIF).The tournament features teams representing various countries. Typically, a team in a tug-of-war match consists of 8 members.


9. Kabaddi

Fars Media Corporation, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment –  It requires no equipment.

A contact sport originating in India

Kabaddi is one such team sport that has grown tremendously in the last decade, especially in Asian countries. Kabaddi is a contact sport that involves tackling and blocking, which are two of the main elements of the game. In this sport, a team consists of seven players, comprising defenders and raiders. The concept of Kabaddi is akin to the game of tag that we all played during our childhood, but it is undoubtedly more intense. A player scores a point by eliminating as many opposing players as possible by touching them without being tackled by the defending team.


Let’s Dive into Water Team Sports

In this section of the post, we will explore some of the team sports played in water. Water activities excite many of us, and playing sports in the water makes it even more enjoyable. While there are numerous water sports played professionally around the world, only a small number fall under the team sport category. Let’s explore a few of them below:


10. Canoeing

Jonas de Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Main piece of equipment – Canoe or Kayak

They paddle to win it!

Canoeing, or kayaking as it is known in some countries, is a water sport that involves paddling a canoe, a narrow boat, with a paddle. The race is typically conducted in a flowing stream. Team members are only permitted to use a single paddle. Due to its sharply pointed edges, a canoe requires team members to carefully position and adjust themselves to maintain stability and pace throughout a race. The number of participants in canoeing competitions varies from tournament to tournament. For example, the Canoe double event in the Olympic Games involves two team members, while the Kayak four 1000m race involves four.


11. Synchronized Swimming

Main piece of equipment –  It requires no equipment.

Dancing in sync underwater

Synchronized swimming is an artistic swimming team sport in which swimmers perform eye-catching and stunning synchronized routines in the water. The routines feature choreographed dance movements performed both underwater and on the surface of the water. Swimmers perform complex bodily movements that require immense coordination and teamwork. The underwater dance moves, as well as those that require the whole team to be in sync, are what make this sport unique from other water sports. 

Synchronized swimming has been a part of the Olympic Games since 1984, and athletes compete in both individual and team competitions. Teams consist of four to eight members. In its early days, the sport was known as “water ballet.”


12. Rowing

Main piece of equipment – A boat

Boating in unison

Rowing is a water sport that involves a team of rowers racing in a boat against other teams. The number of rowers in rowing competitions ranges from two to eight, depending on the type of event. Rowing originated in England in the 18th century and is now widely organized in many countries around the world, especially in Europe. The sport has been part of the Olympic Games since the early 19th century.


Teams on Wheels: Team Sports in Auto Racing and Cycling

Throughout the rest of this post, we’ll delve into team sports within the realm of car and bicycle racing. Car racing sports like Formula 1 and NASCAR are considered team motor racing sports because the maintenance of sports cars and ensuring they are race-ready requires teamwork and coordination among various individuals.

On the other hand, racing competitions such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Cycling Team Time Trial are team sports where teams collaborate actively and collectively to win the race against other teams. The winners in both these racing events are determined based on their finishing times. We will delve into the specific details in the following paragraphs.


13. Formula 1

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105731165@N07/, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The F1 teams

Car racing sports, such as Formula 1, involve teams known as ‘F1 teams’ that assist the main driver. From an outsider’s perspective, Formula 1 races may appear to be an individual sport. However, it is undeniably a team sport, as without the assistance of the team, it would be impossible for a race car driver to compete at this level. The Formula One teams also have their own distinct names. For example, F1 champion drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell are both members of the F1 team “Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team,” which is based in the UK. In addition to performing tire changes during the race, team members have to ensure that the car is “ready to drive” before major competitions.



D Ramey Logan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stock car racing sport

Similar to Formula One racing, NASCAR teams also compete in various competitions that fall under the category of stock car auto racing. NASCAR is an American corporation that oversees and organizes racing events in the stock car racing category. NASCAR organizes various racing series, including the Cup Series and Xfinity Series, in which NASCAR teams compete against each other. Currently, more than 15 NASCAR teams compete in various racing events, including 23XI Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, and Joe Gibbs Racing, to name a few. The car racing company was founded in 1948 by William France, who worked as a mechanic during the 1930s.


15. 24 Hours of Le Mans

Endurance car racing event 

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a car racing event that originated in France. The racing event aims to evaluate the endurance of drivers who participate in the car racing event. The racing competition is held annually in the city of Le Mans, France. As its name suggests, the race lasts for 24 hours. The participating team consists of three members who take turns throughout the 24 hours to drive the car. They also take care of the car’s maintenance to ensure it can endure the entire race. The team that covers the greatest distance within a specified time period is declared the winner.


16. Cycling Team Time Trial (TTT)

Jarrett Campbell, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A Cycling team sport 

Team time trial cycling is a bicycle racing team sport with roots in Europe. This cycling event is significantly different from individual bicycle racing events. A team in a TTT racing competition typically consists of nine members, often referred to as “raiders.” The racing event is a time trial, meaning the team that completes the course in the shortest time wins. In this case, the team’s finish time is recorded when the fourth member crosses the finish line. In other words, the precise moment the fourth member crosses the finish line is considered the team’s finish time.


Well, with that last one, we come to the end of this blog post. From the examples of the above-given sports, we can be certain that there are many team sports that are played without involving a ball as the main object. Team sports are fascinating to play and experience, regardless of whether they involve a ball as their main object. Seeing a group of people working towards a common goal while competing against another passionate team is something that we all enjoy. All of the games mentioned above have these elements at their core.


Also see:

In The Words of Pros: 8 Ways Team Sports Help Build Confidence

Technological Advances That Have Changed the Way Sports Teams Are Managed


Tags: Sports Curiosity

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