What is the most athletic sport?

During the month of September, Olympic.ca will be exploring “What makes the perfect athlete?” The goal is not to craft a definitive answer, but to acknowledge great athletes and achievements in sport – Canadian and international – throughout the month and welcome fans to discuss their favourite heroes and moments. 

What is the most athletic sport?

Who better qualified than a sports writer who spends the better part of his days sitting in front of a computer screen to tackle this age-old question?

In the interest of fairness, good science and fun, I’ve come up with seven categories (Stamina, Strength, Physicality, Accuracy, Agility, Speed and Reflex), ranking each one from 1 to 10 (highest), to help me in my search. After some pondering, I finally narrowed down my findings to 11 familiar (and not so familiar) sports that I believe express best the essence of athleticism.

Read: Top 10 all-time individual achievements in sport


A staple of athleticism, the track and field event is comprised of ten disciplines spread out across two days of competition: the 100 metres, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 metres, 110 metres hurdles, discus throw, javelin throw and 1500 metres. Traditionally considered the most complete athlete in the world, the winner bests his competitors by obtaining the highest marks overall. Mastering one discipline is hard enough, imagine 10.

Stamina: 8 | Strength: 8 | Physicality: 7 | Accuracy: 5 | Agility: 7| Speed: 8 | Reflex: 5


Once considered barbaric and fringe, MMA or Mix Martial Arts is now regulated and mainstream. UFC, its most popular entity, combines an array of different fighting disciplines such as boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, sambo, wrestling, muay thai, karate and judo. Diversity and execution are key here.

Eduardo Rocha, Jake EllenbergerStamina: 9 | Strength: 7 | Physicality: 9 | Accuracy: 8 | Agility: 7 | Speed: 7 | Reflex: 7


When you take a second and break down what hockey actually entails, it’s kind of mind blowing. Think about it. Grown men keeping balance on metal blades dangling and shooting a puck using a stick while going full speed and being chased by other 200 lbs hockey players looking to crush you – all of it on ice. Athletic much?

Stamina: 7 | Strength: 7 | Physicality: 8 | Accuracy: 7 | Agility: 8 | Speed: 8 | Reflex: 8


Think baseball meets lacrosse, only you’re hitting the ball while sprinting as well as catching barehanded. Barehanded! As if that weren’t challenging enough, players have to balance the ball on the end of their stick after three strides. It’s known as the fastest sport on grass for a reason.

 Stamina: 8 | Strength: 5 | Physicality: 7 | Accuracy: 7 | Agility: 8 | Speed: 7 | Reflex: 8

American football

Possibly the most physical sport of them all. When played at its highest level, football hits high on all my athletic categories. While certain positions differ, requiring more speed, strength or agility, there’s no denying the importance of all seven categories in order for a team to achieve success at a high level.

Dominique Williams, Tommie CampbellStamina: 6 | Strength: 7 | Physicality: 9 | Accuracy: 8 | Agility: 8 | Speed: 8 | Reflex: 8

Water Polo

Anyone that has played water polo on a competitive level knows how physically demanding it can be. And that’s not even accounting for what goes on underneath water level out of sight from refs.

Aleksandar Ivovic, Krisztian BedoStamina: 9 | Strength: 8 | Physicality: 8 | Accuracy: 7 | Agility: 7 | Speed: 7 | Reflex: 7


Specifically the all around competition crowning the best overall gymnast. Athletes must showcase their diverse athletic abilities on six different apparatus (floor, vault, pommel horse, rings, parallel bars and horizontal bar) making this event one the most challenging in the world.

Stamina: 8 | Strength: 9 | Physicality: 9 | Accuracy: 8 | Agility: 9 | Speed: 7 | Reflex: 8

Ironman Triathlon

Combining a 3.86 km swim, a 180.25 km bicycle ride and a full running marathon (42.2 km) all in a single day with no rest, the Ironman Triathlon is considered one of the most gruelling sports event an athlete can take part in. Obviously endurance and speed are massive components to this sport. Not so much with the accuracy and reflexes though.

Christian RitterStamina: 9 | Strength: 6 | Physicality: 7 | Accuracy: 3 | Agility: 4 | Speed: 8 | Reflex: 4


NBA players are nothing if not athletic. It takes a special kind athlete to have the capacity to power through several defenders and finish off a play with finesse and accuracy.

BKN Nets Raptors BasketballStamina: 7 | Strength: 6 | Physicality: 6 | Accuracy: 9 | Agility: 8 | Speed: 7 | Reflex: 8


Canadians got a taste of the physical grind rugby players go through this summer during the Women’s World Cup in France with Canada taking silver. The sport mirrors a lot of the qualities required in football, minus all that useless padding.

Stamina: 8 | Strength: 8 | Physicality: 9 | Accuracy: 7| Agility: 8 | Speed: 8 | Reflex: 7

Gaelic Football

A mix of basketball and soccer, this Irish sport is the reason why traditional football didn’t make the cut. You’ll understand once you watch the video.

Stamina: 8 | Strength: 6 | Physicality: 7 | Accuracy: 8 | Agility: 8 | Speed: 8 | Reflex: 8

Honourable mentions


Stamina: 8 | Strength: 6 | Physicality: 7 | Accuracy: 9 | Agility: 6 | Speed: 7 | Reflex: 8


Stamina: 8 | Strength: 7 | Physicality: 6 | Accuracy: 5 | Agility: 6 | Speed: 9 | Reflex: 8

Figure skating

Stamina: 6 | Strength: 7 | Physicality: 7 | Accuracy: 7 | Agility: 8 | Speed: 8 | Reflex: 7

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts on what you believe to be the most athletic sport through our comment section and/or Facebook.