most popular sport in india

India’s passion for sports runs deep, with a myriad of games captivating the hearts of its diverse population. From the adrenaline-fueled cricket matches to the intricate tactics of kabaddi and the swift agility of badminton, the Indian sporting landscape is a tapestry woven with passion and enthusiasm.

Like the diverse culture in India, the sports played in India are diverse. People in India like to participate in various sports. Plus they love to watch the most popular sports in India as a fan.

In this article, we delve into the 15 most popular sports in India, uncovering the essence of each sport and their impact on the nation’s cultural fabric.

Here is the list of the 15 most popular sports in India: 

Sr.NoSports Name 
1Cricket
2Football
3Kabaddi 
4Hockey 
5Badminton
6Tennis
7Wrestling
8Boxing
9Wrestling
10Chess
11Motorsports
12Shooting
13Athletics 
14Volleyball 
15Squash

Below are the details of the 15 most popular sports in India: 

1. Cricket:

Cricket holds the position of being the most-watched sport in India, owing its popularity to the fervent interest of the citizens and the remarkable achievements of Indian teams in international cricket tournaments.

The sport has been propelled into the limelight through the efforts of various sports channels and brands that actively promote it, thereby capturing the attention of the masses. Undoubtedly the crown jewel of Indian sports, cricket is more than just a game; it’s a religion.

The fervent support for the Indian cricket team, the legacy of cricketing legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, and the euphoria of matches, be it IPL or international fixtures, make cricket an integral part of the Indian identity. 

India boasts a lineage of extraordinary cricketers who have left an indelible mark on the world stage. Icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, and MS Dhoni have solidified the country’s cricketing legacy.

In the present day, Virat Kohli commands an unparalleled fan base, making him the most prominent cricketer on the global scene. The cricketers of today have ascended to the status of role models and renowned figures, their lives and achievements under constant scrutiny.

Cricket stands out among the most popular sports in India. The kind of records and performances Indian players are giving is making noise all around the World.  

2. Football: 

Conversely, football reigns as the planet’s most popular sport, a phenomenon mirrored in India. Football has traditionally enjoyed a substantial following in states such as Kerala, West Bengal, Goa, and the northeastern states (Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, and Sikkim).

Although cricket’s shadow looms large, football maintains a strong presence in certain regions, particularly in West Bengal, Kerala, and the northeastern states. The popularity of Indian Super League and national team matches underscores the sport’s significance. Hence, football is counted among the most popular sports in India. 

Although, Ronaldo and Messi have created an immense buzz with their performance in Football globally. But in India, it was Sunil Chhetri who started the trend to make football a significant sport in India.

Sunil Chhetri is a revered figure, who leads the Indian national football team as its captain. Globally, India holds the 101st rank in FIFA’s World Rankings. The flourishing Indian football leagues are providing a platform for homegrown talents while also attracting international stars.

As the roar of passionate fans reverberates louder, football’s popularity scales new heights, erasing boundaries and fostering unity among people of diverse origins.

3. Kabaddi: 

Emerging from rural origins, kabaddi has transformed into a global spectacle with leagues like Pro Kabaddi League captivating audiences. Kabaddi is considered one of the most popular sports in India.

The blend of strategy and physical prowess makes it a favourite among both players and spectators. Kabaddi, a contact sport with its origins in ancient India, has transformed from a traditional village game into a globally recognized sport.

Earlier village people used to play Kabaddi as a form of exercise. Military candidates used to perform Kabaddi to increase their physical and mental strength. 

Moreover, it has four forms in India: Amar, Siranjeevi, Huttuttoo, and Gaminee, with Chiranjeevi being the prevalent international variant. India’s dominance in Kabaddi is highlighted by its gold medal wins at the Asian Games from 1990 to 2014.

The Pro Kabaddi League, inspired by the Indian Premier League and featuring Bollywood star-owned teams, has garnered a substantial following since its inception in 2014. The Kabaddi Pro League has gathered a great audience across India and people are now fans of Kabaddi.

It has a great group of remarkable players of Kabaddi. Hence, kabaddi is now listed as the most popular sport in India. 

4. Hockey 

With a glorious history marked by Olympic gold medals, field hockey is deeply embedded in India’s sports culture. Icons like Dhyan Chand have left an indelible mark, and despite recent challenges, the sport retains a dedicated following.

Hockey stands as India’s national sport and is regarded as the most popular sport in India. Although, there are not many official details regarding hockey as a national sport. But it is seen as the national sport of India. 

India’s rich hockey history, including celebrated players like Dhyan Chand, Udham Singh, and Dhanraj Pillay, has contributed to the sport’s significance.

After a golden period marked by multiple international victories, India’s hockey performance has experienced a decline, with the last Olympic gold medal in 1980.

In 2016, after a 36-year hiatus, the Indian men’s hockey team won a silver medal in the Champions Trophy and reached the Olympics’ knockout stage.

In the 2022 Commonwealth Games, India secured silver in men’s hockey, despite a 0-7 loss to Australia in the final. Not only this India has set more such records internationally which include incredible individual performances.  

5. Badminton: 

Badminton has surged in popularity in India under the administration of the Badminton Association of India, propelled by skilled Indian shuttlers excelling on the global stage.

Prakash Padukone, the first Indian to attain the world No.1 ranking, set the precedent. Even now Prakash Padukone is seen as a renowned badminton player in India. He comes across as an inspiration to many young badminton players. 

Renowned badminton figures like Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Lakshya Sen, Kidambi Srikanth, and HS Prannoy have not only gained domestic acclaim but also international recognition, contributing to the sport’s growth in the nation.

The rise of players like Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu has propelled badminton into the limelight. India’s success on the international stage has cultivated a thriving badminton culture across the nation. Both these female players of badminton have a huge part to play in Indian Badminton sports.

Their records and performances made a difference in badminton which cultivated badminton as one of the most popular sports in India. 

6. Tennis: 

Tennis, universally celebrated, holds a substantial fanbase in India as well. The nation has witnessed the ascent of numerous tennis players who’ve earned international acclaim and showcased their prowess in some of the most prestigious tennis tournaments and grand slams.

Sania Mirza, a name that needs no introduction, stands out. The Indian former professional tennis player and erstwhile world No. 1 in doubles, boasts an impressive record of six major titles – three in women’s doubles and three in mixed doubles.

Garnering recognition as India’s No. 1 player in both categories by the WTA, Mirza has indelibly etched her name as the most accomplished female Indian tennis player to date. No doubt that Sania Mirza was the prime source to make Tennis the most popular sport in India.

She has contributed to this sport immensely. Sania was the first female player of Indian sports to mark this height of success. She has been the source of great admiration and inspiration to other young female candidates in India to take up a sport as a career.

Till today Santa Mirza is contributing to tennis with her excellent performances. Overseeing the tennis landscape in India is the All India Tennis Association, which came into existence in 1920, diligently nurturing and promoting the sport across the nation.

7. Wrestling: 

Wrestling, one of the oldest sports worldwide, boasts a rich history in India. The sport’s trajectory has been marked by a surge in popularity, resulting in numerous medals for India in major tournaments. Indian wrestlers have elevated the stature of Indian wrestling by securing medals at every Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games. 

Renowned figures like Bajrang Punia, Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Vinesh Phogat, Sakshi Malik, and Geeta Phogat have become prominent names in Indian wrestling, with the sport receiving an additional boost from Bollywood hits like “Sultan” and “Dangal.”

Moreover, Rooted in tradition, wrestling boasts a rich legacy. Indian wrestlers’ achievements in international competitions, coupled with traditional wrestling events like Kushti, keep the sport vibrant. Wrestling was already the most popular sport in India.

But after the great success of Dangal, Wrestling came into the limelight. Dangal played a huge role in creating awareness about wrestling in the audience. Since then many people have started liking and playing wrestling as a  sport. 

8. Boxing:

A major contributor to the soaring popularity of boxing in India is none other than MC Mary Kom. Her remarkable achievements, including six World Championships, an Olympic Bronze, and victories in both the Asian and Commonwealth Games, have not only elevated the sport’s status but have also become a source of inspiration for numerous aspiring athletes.

Mary Kom has been a great asset to boxing. Which made boxing the most popular sport in India. The ripple effect of Mary Kom’s success is evident in the emergence of a new generation of sportspersons who are drawn to boxing.

The movie Mary Kom also gained immense success and accolades from all over the nation. The likes of Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar, and Sarita Devi have further enriched the sport’s legacy, making it a prominent facet of India’s sporting landscape.

Indian boxers have made their presence felt in international arenas, channelling dedication and skill into a sport that commands respect.

9. Table Tennis:

Table Tennis, acclaimed as the fastest racquet game globally, has captured the imagination of Indian youth. Its appeal lies in its ability to enhance reaction times, making it a favorite among the younger generation.

The sport encompasses various categories, including cadet, sub-junior, junior, and senior, accommodating players of all ages. Notable Indian players have made their mark on the international stage, with Sharath Kamal, Manika Batra, and Sathiyan Gnanasekaran standing as icons in the world of table tennis.

Their achievements have further bolstered the sport’s allure and drawn attention from enthusiasts across the nation.

Plus Indian boxers have made their presence felt in international arenas, channeling dedication and skill into a sport that commands respect. Table Tennis’s humongous achievements have made it the most popular sport in India. 

10. Chess:

The allure of chess, an indigenous game, has flourished remarkably within the borders of India. Chess is counted as the most popular sport in India. Its popularity can be attributed to the intellectual prowess required to navigate its intricate strategies.

The emergence of former World Champion Viswanathan Anand as a grandmaster has significantly elevated the profile of chess in India and garnered international recognition.

Anand’s remarkable journey to becoming a grandmaster has sparked fervent interest among young individuals, adolescents, and budding chess enthusiasts, all captivated by his illustrious reputation on the global stage. 

Guiding the development and administration of chess in the country is the All-India Chess Federation, an essential entity responsible for nurturing and fostering the growth of the game across India.

With its blend of intellectual stimulation and strategic finesse, chess stands as a testament to the power of the human mind and has woven itself into the fabric of India’s diverse and passionate sporting culture.

11. Motorsports:

Indian sports enthusiasts have long been captivated by motorsports, a fascination that has grown significantly over time.

The surge in interest can largely be attributed to the global racing spectacle of Formula One. Motorsports have been the most popular sports in India with large awareness across India. 

In 2005, driver Narain Karthikeyan’s inclusion in the Jordan Formula One team marked a historic moment as he became the first Indian to compete in the event.

Although Narain didn’t secure a podium finish during his time with Jordan, the limitations of his vehicle relative to other top teams played a substantial role.

Following suit, Karun Chandhok joined HRT Formula One in 2011, becoming India’s second Formula One driver. He eventually gave way to a reserve driver after a series of subpar performances.

Notably, India boasts its own Formula One team, Force India, which achieved remarkable success in 2017, clinching fourth place and amassing 187 points for the first time.

Beyond Formula One, India proudly houses Mahindra Racing, a MotoGP team. Rally driver Gaurav Gill also stands as a prominent representation of the country in motorsports, having achieved acclaim for his rallying expertise.

His crowning achievement came in 2013 when he became the first Indian to seize victory in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. 

12. Shooting: 

Shooting is one of the most popular sports in India. With notable achievements that have brought the nation’s name to the forefront. An iconic moment came in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Abhinav Bindra clinched India’s first individual gold medal in Rifle shooting.

The country has also celebrated the successes of other Olympic medalists like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Gagan Narang, and Vijay Kumar. Notably, the spotlight has recently shone on accomplished female shooters Chandro Tomar and Prakash Tomar, whose stories have inspired countless individuals to take up this sport. 

Moreover, a Bollywood film has been made based on their story which gained huge popularity. Whenever there is talk about shooting sports in India.

Abinav bindBindrathe first name that comes to everyone’s mind. Not only because of him but shooting is counted among the list of most popular sports in India due to several other extraordinary performances too. 

13. Athletics:

The realm of athletics encompasses a variety of individual sports, including Long Jump, High Jump, Javelin Throw, Hammer Throw, 100-meter race, Hurdles, and Relay races. Marathon was the first competition that started as an athletic competition in India.

The popularity of athletics is substantial, especially within the school and university domains. Among the esteemed athletes who have garnered recognition are iconic figures such as Milkha Singh, Anju Bobby George, P.T. Usha, and Hima Das, whose achievements have left a mark on the public consciousness. 

Athletics sports soared huge attention when Hima Das won a medal in a track event at an IAAF competition. She was the first female in India to achieve this medal. Hima Das also won a gold medal at the 2018 IAAF World U20 Championships.

Another iconic movement of Indian Athletic Sports: When Neeraj Chopra won the men’s javelin throw gold at the 2016 IAAF World U20 Championships with a world junior record mark. He was the first javelin thrower to win a gold medal for his country.

He set a record for throwing the javelin at 87.58 meters to make India win at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Abhinav is the second player in Indian sports to get an Olympic gold medal for India.

With more athletes coming in large numbers to participate in the competition. Ever since Athletics has become one of the most popular sports in India. 

14. Volleyball:

Since the inception of the Federation of India (VFI) in 1951, Volleyball started gaining popularity in India. Volleyball holds a significant place in both urban and rural India as a recreational sport. It is one of the most popular sports in India.

The country’s prowess is evident as India was ranked 27th globally and 5th in Asia in 2013. In the 2003 World Youth Championship, India showcased its capabilities by securing the 2nd position. Moreover, in 2021 India was ranked in ninth position in the Asian Volleyball Championship.

Overseeing the sport is the Volleyball Federation of India, while the Pro Volleyball League, akin to the IPL, was established with the intent of further popularising the sport across the nation. The Pro Volleyball League has played a huge role in making volleyball the most popular sport in India. 

15. Squash:

Squash is a sport that thrives in India’s recreational scene. Governed by the Squash Rackets Federation of India, the sport has produced notable players who have made their mark on the global stage.

One such standout is Dipika Pallikal Karthik, who achieved a top-10 World ranking in 2012. Dipika Pallikal is the female contender to have achieved this feat in the Indian Squash record. In addition, Saurav Ghosal was also the first male player from India to be among the top 10 highest-ranked players.

The accomplished players like Joshna Chinnappa and Saurav Ghosal, have further bolstered India’s presence in the world of squash. Moreover, squash has been on the list of the most popular sports in India. 

Conclusion

The kaleidoscope of sports in India reflects its diverse culture, passion, and resilience. All the most popular sports in India. Whether cricket’s overwhelming popularity to the niche appeal of shooting and chess, each sport contributes to what defines India’s sporting landscape.

The nation’s passion for these games isn’t just about competition; it’s about unity, aspiration, and the pursuit of excellence. In addition, sports bind the nation together whether it is win or loss. The charisma and enthusiasm of the most popular sports in India have only risen over the years. 

FAQs

Which sport is regarded as the most popular sport in India? 

Cricket is one of the most popular sports in India. The people of India have immense love and admiration for cricket. Moreover, every street in India is used as a  ground to play cricket. With the huge popularity of Virat Kohli and other iconic players. India has been popularly known for its cricket globally. 

Which sport is named the national sport of India? 

Hockey is regarded as the national sport of India. Its origin is from India and it is one of the most popular sports in India. 

In India, which state excels in sports?

In India, Haryana is regarded as one of the top sporting states. It has a strong existence in sports like kho-kho, judo, kabaddi, boxing, and wrestling.

Also, check out the most popular Olympic sports

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