The 15 Most Dangerous Sports — and How to Get the Thrill Safely (2023)

The most dangerous sports are not limited to thrill-seekers and adrenalin junkies, plenty of them are more common than you might think. Read on to learn more.

Being active and playing sports is considered part of a healthy lifestyle. While almost any form of exercise is good for your health and well-being, some can end up doing more harm than good. It’s a common misconception that so-called extreme sports are the most fatal — so we’ve highlighted some of the most dangerous sports below.

Suppose you’re thinking about trying any of them yourself. In that case, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor or healthcare practitioner before rushing into something new — you may have an underlying health condition that can increase the risk of injury.

Most Dangerous Sports in the World: 1. BASE Jumping

The 15 Most Dangerous Sports — and How to Get the Thrill Safely (1)

It’s probably not a surprise that BASE jumping is considered to be one of, if not the most dangerous sport in the world. This sport involves jumping off of fixed objects such as Buildings, Antennas, Spans (bridges), or Earth (cliffs) and using a parachute or wingsuit to safely reach the ground.

In 2002, it was estimated that within one year, 1 in 60 participants would die while BASE jumping, now the estimation is 1 in 2,300 jumps will have the same outcome. There is also the risk of injury, which mostly consists of bruised knees, minor head concussions, and ankle sprains or fractures.

2. Rugby — Where Protective Gear Isn't Common, But Definitely Allowed

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Thought to be one of the most violent sports, rugby requires you to wear little to no protective gear. As a result, there are an estimated 100 injuries per 1,000 hours played. These injuries range from small scrapes and bruises to more severe injuries like torn muscles, broken bones, concussions and other head injuries. Certain head injuries can lead to premature death further down the line.

Protective gear may not be required, but you can certainly wear it if you want to continue playing rugby. You could also check out some other team sports that require less physical contact.

3. Free Soloing — Literally Climbing Without Ropes

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Free soloing is a form of climbing that takes place without any ropes, harnesses, or protective equipment … sounds safe, right? This is one of the most dangerous sports in the world due to the lack of safety precautions — generally speaking, if you fall, you die. Injuries aren’t really reported in this sport because those who have injured themselves typically don’t live to tell the tale.

If you’re looking for a similar thrill without the same risk, consider bouldering at your local gym. This is similar in that you don’t have any ropes or harnesses, but a gym provides a controlled environment and the risk of injury from falling is much lower. If you’re looking for height, you can climb with a rope and harness in a climbing gym. Out in the wild, you additionally need a helmet for pieces of rock that might fall onto you.

4. Most Dangerous Water Sports: Surfing

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When things go wrong with water sports, they can go wrong very quickly since bodies of water seem to have a mind of their own and are a true force of nature. Surfing makes the list of most dangerous sports for a variety of reasons.

In terms of risk of injury, it’s estimated that there are1 to 7 injuries per 1000 surfing hours. The risks involved with surfing range from undertows and drowning, to contact with other surfers or rocky shorelines, and even skin cancer. The risk of fatality is estimated to be 2.4 per 100,000 surfers.

If you want to participate in this sport safely, be sure to wear all the protective gear, including a helmet and sunscreen.

5. Free Diving — Better Hold Your Breath

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Free diving is another one of the most dangerous sports in the world, especially among recreational participants. This sport involves diving underwater without using any sort of breathing apparatus, meaning you dive into deep water while holding your breath. In the competitive sphere, the fatality rate is 1 in 50,000 dives, but on a recreational level, this number changes to 1 in 500.

(Video) 15 Most Dangerous Tourist Destinations In The World

Looking to see more of the ocean? Try SCUBA diving instead with a licensed instructor. While this sport doesn’t come without risks, it will allow you to see more of the underwater world without having to hold your breath.

Getting a SCUBA license might be on your bucket list for your next holiday, anyway. Learn more about how to be a responsible tourist while you’re at it: What Is Eco-Tourism? Definition, Examples and Long-Term Impact

6. Football Poses a Risk of Injury, Too

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One of the nation’s most beloved sports is actually one of the most dangerous in terms of injury risk. Football is so common that many people don’t even perceive the danger anymore. It’s common to see injuries like broken bones, sprains, torn ligaments, and concussions, and other head injuries. In fact, it’s estimated that 1.2 million injuries are sustained every year in this sport.

Want to enjoy the sport and lower your risk? Try participating in flag football instead, as it doesn’t involve tackling.

7. Cliff Diving — An Extreme Sport Where Heighs and the Ocean Are Involved

The 15 Most Dangerous Sports — and How to Get the Thrill Safely (7)

Cliff diving is thought to be another one of the most dangerous sports because it involves jumping from great heights into uncontrolled waters. In competition cliff diving, athletes jump from heights of up to 88 feet and reach speeds of up to 52 mph. They hit the water with 2 to 3 times the force of gravity, so if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re bound to get hurt. It’s estimated that there are 8 injuries per 1,000 hours of cliff diving, most of which occur once the diver has entered the water.

If you want to try it out yourself, stick to well-known and safe cliff diving locations. Be sure to learn about the cliff height and water depth before you go out, and stick to pencil dives — skip the fancy twists and flips.

8. Bull Riding Is One of the Most Dangerous Sports

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Bull riding is a sport that is harmful to both the bull and the human riding them. A study from 2007 found that bull riding has actually resulted in 10 times more injuries than football, which earns it a spot on the list of most dangerous sports in the world. Common injuries from this sport include fractures, neck, knee and shoulder injuries as well as concussions — it’s estimated that over 10 percent of injuries are concussions.

For the sake of the animals and your own health and well-being, consider skipping this sport altogether or try out a mechanical bull for a safer thrill.

Less thrilling, but very wholesome: The Sport of Hobby Horsing: 6 Reasons It’s Awesome

9. White Water Rafting

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A leisurely float down a river doesn’t sound like it would be dangerous but add in rushing water, the risk of being trapped under the boat or crashing into rocks at high speeds, and this thrilling sport quickly makes the most dangerous sports list. Some statistics from New Zealand estimate the risk of injury to be between 100 and 200 per 100,000 people — luckily, fatalities only account for 1 of those injuries.

Still want to give it a go? Head out with a reputable white water rafting company and stick to the lower-grade rapids. You’ll get to enjoy the scenery and adventure without as much risk.

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10. Most Dangerous Winter Sports: Skiing and Snowboarding

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One of the most popular winter pastimes enjoyed around the globe, skiing and snowboarding can actually be considered some of the most dangerous sports. There is anaverage of 41 deaths per year, but because it’s such a popular sport, this is estimated to be 1 per 1 million skiers/snowboarders. In terms of serious injuries (like paralysis and head injuries), the number is an estimated 45 per year.

Don’t let these figures scare you off from getting your thrills on the slopes. If skiing is on your winter bucket list, just ensure that you wear the proper equipment — including a helmet — and stick to slopes that are within your skill level. You can even go skiing in many national parks:

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11. Mountain Biking

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Mountain biking is well-loved, but it’s not without its risk — the most common injuries occur to the neck and head after falling over the handlebars as opposed to slipping off the side. It’s estimated that there are17 injuries per 1,000 hours of mountain biking, though nearly 75 percent are not serious.

Remember to wear your helmet and look out for any obstacles which may throw you off course.

12. Motocross

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Motocross is one of the most dangerous sports out there as it sees higher rates of injuries than other extreme sports. There are a few reasons for this, including that the dirtbike doesn’t provide much safety to the rider, and the sport is performed at extreme speeds and heights.

The most severe injuries involve falling badly or being thrown from the bike. The rate of injury is estimated at 95 per 1,000 participants.

If you want to experience it, research the proper protective gear, and take the courses at your own pace.

13. High-Altitude Mountaineering

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Sports and activities that take place at high altitudes generally tend to be risky, and mountaineering is no different. There’s unpredictable weather, danger from falling rocks, limited margins for error, lack of oxygen, and exhaustion — as a result, it makes the list of the most dangerous sports.

High-altitude mountaineering takes insane amounts of training and discipline. Mount Everest has a fatality rate of 14 percent, which is relatively low compared to Annapurna I (over 29 percent) or K2 (23 percent).

14. Boxing

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It probably isn’t surprising that boxing makes the list of most dangerous sports, after all, it’s common to see boxers with blood and bruises all over their faces. Facial lacerations are the most common injury along with concussions — an estimated 90 percent of boxers will have a concussion at some point.

The rate of injury is estimated to be 45 per 100 boxers. The fatality rate is also concerning, as an average of 13 boxers die each year.

15. Ice Hockey

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Ice hockey is played in 76 countries worldwide and is only continuing to gain in popularity. The statistics do vary based on gender, with men racking up an injury rate of over 18 per 1000 exposure hours during games, and women “only” 12. Concussions are quite common, as are thigh and knee injuries.

Should I Avoid the Most Dangerous Sports?

If you’ve got a rather sensation-seeking personality, there’s not much to dissuade you from taking part in any of the above sports. The above-mentioned statistics aren’t meant to scare you off of trying something new, they’re meant as a guideline to know what you’re getting yourself into. As with any new hobby or activity, doing research is key. Figure out how to do the activity safely, connect with others who have experience, and ensure you have the right protective equipment.

It’s definitely worth noting that, depending on how you do it, participating in most of these sports can actually be less risky than getting in a car, going to work, or even being pregnant. In fact, you actually are more likely to injure yourself walking down the street than you are by participating in some sort of sport. A sedentary inactive lifestyle also harbors risks, for example, read more about why sitting is considered the new smoking. So while we’ve listed the world’s most dangerous sports, keep the context in mind — it’s all relative.

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The 15 Most Dangerous Sports — and How to Get the Thrill Safely? ›

BASE jumping and wingsuit flying are probably the most dangerous extreme sports. But there are plenty of others with high risks.

What is the most dangerous thrill sport? ›

BASE jumping and wingsuit flying are probably the most dangerous extreme sports. But there are plenty of others with high risks.

What is the 1 most dangerous sport? ›

Base jumping is undoubtedly the world's most dangerous sport. The statistics show that there is a far bigger chance of dying base jumping than doing any other activity. Jumping off tall buildings, structures or natural features, base jumpers deploy a parachute to ensure they land safely.

What is the most dangerous sport for females? ›

If you think cheerleading only involves cute pom-poms and piggy tails, well, think again. Because according to studies, it is by far the most dangerous sport for female athletes, accounting for a number of serious injuries and even fatalities.

What sport has high adrenaline? ›

The impact doubles when we're playing high-adrenaline sports such as skydiving, rafting, skiing, skating, and cycling. These types of extreme sports allow you to work on different muscles and burn more calories, which can be good for your overall fitness.

What are the top 10 sports injuries? ›

  1. Patellofemoral Syndrome. The majority of sports injuries involve the lower body, particularly knee injuries.
  2. Shoulder Injury. ...
  3. Tennis or Golf Elbow. ...
  4. Hamstring Strain. ...
  5. Sciatica. ...
  6. Shin Splints. ...
  7. Groin Pull. ...
  8. Concussion. ...

What sport has highest injury rate? ›

What Are the Most Common Sports Injuries? Believe it or not, basketball actually has more injuries than any other sport, followed by football, soccer and baseball. Common sports injuries include hamstring strains, groin pulls, shin splints, ACL tears and concussions.

What is the most safest sport? ›

Analysis: Boys and girls tennis emerged as the safest sports, with very few overall injuries, concussions, time loss due to injuries, surgeries, and catastrophic injuries. Not surprisingly, several contact sports (football, boys and girls lacrosse, wrestling) scored near the bottom.

What are extreme or dangerous sports? ›

It includes skateboarding, surfing, bungee jumping, snowboarding, whitewater kayaking, mountain climbing, and ice climbing. Many would add BASE jumping, heli-skiing, BMX biking, bull riding, and cliff diving to the list.

What sport can a woman beat a man? ›

Ultra running – women have beaten men in ultra running. Pamela Reed was the first woman to win the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, finishing first in both 2002 and 2003. She was also the first person ever to run 300 miles without sleeping.

What is the hardest sport to go pro in? ›

The 5 Hardest Sports to Make it to the Pros In (Statistically)
  • Ice Hockey. If you enjoy the majesty of gliding over the ice and the thrill of smashing into other adults, you might want to pursue a career in hockey. ...
  • Baseball. ...
  • Soccer. ...
  • Basketball.

Which is an extreme sport? ›

extreme sports, also known as action sports or alternative sports, sporting events or pursuits characterized by high speeds and high risk. The sports most commonly placed in this group are skateboarding, snowboarding, freestyle skiing, in-line roller-skating, street lugeing, and BMX and mountain biking.

What is physically the hardest sport? ›

#1: Boxing

Chosen by ESPN as the hardest sport in the world—and routinely landing on the top 10 lists of the toughest sports in the world by other prominent rankings—boxing is universally recognized as a crazy-hard sport. It requires a ton of physical fitness, agility, speed, cardiovascular fitness, and skill.

What is the most intense sport? ›

According to several studies about “science of muscles and movement” experts label boxing as the most demanding sport for an athlete. Boxing requires strength, power, endurance, and the ability to withstand huge hits over a period of time.

What sport has the hardest stamina? ›

Top-10 Endurance Sports
RankingSportRating (%)
4Water Polo84.1
6 more rows

What sport requires the most fitness? ›

This article discusses the SPORT which requires the greatest demands of fitness.
Water Polo is your Fittest Sport.
RankingSportOverall Fitness Rating (%)
1Water Polo80.3
2Rugby 7s79.6
3American Football79.3
4Ultimate (Frisbee)79.3
50 more rows

Is adrenaline illegal in sports? ›

Yes, epinephrine is prohibited in-competition as a stimulant on the WADA Prohibited List.

Which sport breaks most bones? ›

Bones that are most commonly fractured are located in the wrist, hand, ankle, foot, and collarbone. They can break when too much pressure is placed on them, such as from a direct blow or bad fall. Because of this, bones are particularly vulnerable to fractures in contact sports, such as football and lacrosse.

What sport is easiest on the body? ›

Swimming is perfect for all levels and ages because it is less stressful and one of the safest sports. It helps maintain your weight and improves overall fitness and the capacity of the lungs. It also promotes socialization as many clubs offer classes where you can join and meet other people.

What sport is least athletic? ›

They're the ones who told us that boxing is the most demanding sport -- and that fishing is the least demanding sport. We identified 10 categories, or skills, that go into athleticism, and then asked our eight panelists to assign a number from 1 to 10 to the demands each sport makes of each of those 10 skills.

What are the rarest injuries? ›

Rare injuries and conditions include eye injuries, dental injuries, neck and cervical injuries, and dehydration and heat illnesses.

What is the most injured body part? ›

Conversation. The most injured body part is the back - 23% of workplace injuries are back related. The next is the fingers!

What is the most painful injury known to man? ›

So Regan goes on to say that it's widely accepted that breaking your femur is the most horrific, painful injury there is.

What is the highest concussion sport? ›

Football. Football is where most high school concussions happen by a wide margin. About half of those concussions in high school football occur during running plays. About 31% occur when a player is being tackled by another player, and 23% happen to a player as he tackles an opponent.

What is the hardest sports injury to recover from? ›

5 Top Sports Injuries that Can Take Months to Heal
  • Torn ACL. The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major knee ligaments that is essential to leg movement and knee stability. ...
  • Torn Achilles Tendon. ...
  • Complex Bone Fracture. ...
  • Hamstring Strains. ...
  • Shin Splints. ...
  • Sports Injuries Treatments in San Antonio, Texas.

What sport has the most fans? ›


The sport has roughly 3.5 billion fans worldwide and 250 million players across 200 countries around the world. The next most popular sports in the world are cricket (2.5 billion fans), basketball (2.2 billion fans), and field hockey (2 billion).

What is the #1 sport in the world? ›

Soccer, also known as association football, is by far the most popular sport in the world, despite the fact that it may not be obvious in the United States. Soccer is the most popular sport in practically all of Europe, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Central America, and Asia.

What is the safest Olympic sport? ›

A study of injuries occurring in Olympic competition ranks Fencing as having one of the lowest injury rates, making it one of the safest Olympic sports.

What sports have the most injuries for kids? ›

Overall, the injury rate was higher in boys' sports compared to girls' sports, and 3.5% of all injuries were fractures, and these mainly occurred in boys' baseball, basketball and football. Overall, just over 6% of injuries — most often from wrestling, girls' basketball and boys' baseball — required surgery.

What is a non extreme sport? ›

One feature of how sport is defined is the distinction between extreme and non-extreme sport. BASE jumping is an example of an “extreme sport” because it involves a high degree of risk, whilst swimming is classified as “non-extreme” because the risks involved are minimal.

What is a 3 sport athlete? ›

A multi-sport athlete is an athlete who competes or trains two or more different sports. Most of these athletes played two or more sports from a young age – especially in high school – before deciding to usually concentrate on just one sport professionally.

Are extreme sports healthy? ›

Extreme sports can help you achieve peak physical health in a number of ways. For one, the fitness required for an extreme sport means you will work different muscle groups compared to the gym, as well as improving your stamina, strength, and flexibility.

Is cheerleading a dangerous sport? ›

Another recent study found that cheerleading is the most dangerous sport for females because of the high risk for concussions and “catastrophic” injuries, which are classified as injuries that result in long-term medical conditions, permanent disabilities or a shorter lifespan.

Can girls beat guys in a fight? ›

Whether you're male or female you don't need an extraordinary amount of strength or power to strike and defeat your opponent, instead, you need proper technique, agility, and speed. A female fighter who dominates proper technique remains calm and in control of herself, can overpower a larger and stronger male.

What sports are male dominated? ›

For example, football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, boxing and hockey are examples of male-dominated sports because they are thought of as being more “masculine.” On the other hand, gymnastics and figure skating are thought to be female-dominated sports because they are more “feminine.”

What is it called when a man beat a woman? ›

Domestic violence is often used as a synonym for intimate partner violence, which is committed by one of the people in an intimate relationship against the other person, and can take place in relationships or between former spouses or partners.

What's the hardest sport to go d1 in? ›

The hardest major sport to play in college? For boys, it's wrestling (2.7 percent), then volleyball (3.3 percent) and basketball (3.5 percent). For girls, it's a tie between volleyball (3.9 percent) and basketball (3.9 percent). And that's for Divisions I-III.

What is the thrill of extreme sports? ›

The adrenaline rush increases the acceleration of blood flows to the muscles and brain, relaxes the muscles, and lastly helps with the conversion of glycogen into glucose in the liver. For every extreme sports athlete, this adrenaline rush is never enough since they are always seeking stronger emotions.

What are the top 10 most dangerous sports answers? ›

We characterize a sport as being dangerous based on how deadly it is, so our top ten listed here are BASE jumping, mountaineering, wingsuit jumping, skydiving, free mountain climbing, motorbike and auto racing, big wave surfing, bull riding, and combat sports.

What is the most adventurous sport? ›

Here, we have listed the top 15 adventure sports in India that should be on your bucket list:
  • White Water Rafting.
  • Parasailing.
  • Scuba Diving.
  • Mountain Biking.
  • Trekking.
  • Rock Climbing.
  • Bungee Jumping.
  • Paragliding.
Oct 24, 2019

Should kids do extreme sports? ›

It's a matter of brain development. Scientists have found that the part of the brain that guides impulse control and weighs risks isn't fully mature in teens. Participating in extreme sports helps kids Learn when to take risks. extreme sports puts kids at risk of serious injuries.

What sport has no injuries? ›

Swimming sustained the fewest injuries for both boys and girls.

What's the most dangerous state in the US? ›

Frequently Asked Questions. 1. Which is the most dangerous state in the US in 2023? As of 2023, the state of Alaska is considered the most dangerous state in the US due to its high level of crime rates.

How dangerous is horse riding? ›

Horseback riding causes more than 6000 accidents per year

Riding (and yes, riding is a sport!) is the most likely to land you in hospital. Riding a horse is more risky than skiing or racing, according to a study by American researchers (source :Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open).

What is the world's most popular sport? ›

Football is the world's most popular sport because it has the most fans (3.5 billion) and players in almost every country in the world.

What is the most stressful sport to play? ›

According to Sports Virsa, the top 10 hardest sports in the world to play in 2022 are as follows: Boxing (hardest), American football, mixed martial arts, ice hockey, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, wrestling, rugby, and water polo.


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