What are Major Sports Played in India, Sports in India

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Sports and physical education are necessary components of human development, Playing any sport has a positive effect on the overall development of personality of a person. It enhances a person’s sense of achievement, national pride and patriotism. Sports in India include indoor as well as outdoor games. Sports development in India started since the ancient period where remains have been found in Indus valley sites which indicate that people played board games using dices and marbles. Hunting, swimming, boating, boxing etc. were some of the major sports played and nurtured in India during ancient times. Yoga was a traditional practise in Indian culture. Every community practiced yoga in India to achieve spiritual and mental peace.

Games like Archery, chariot racing, wrestling, horse riding, military tactics etc. were played in ancient times, on a large scale. The guru-shishya parampara was prevalent in those times where the teacher taught the student and the student in return gave dakshina to the guru for his teachings. Games such as chess, playing cards, polo, martial arts etc. had originated in India and spread to other parts of the world where they were further developed. Games such as chess were being played in India since the times of Mahabharata where they were known as Chaturanga. Kerala’s ancient martial arts Kalaripayattu is similar to modern Karate,

Major Sports Played in India


The most popular sport played in India at national level is cricket. India has hosted multiple cricket world cups and won two 50 over world cups and 20 over T-20 tournament. Cricket in India is governed mainly by the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) which is a full member of ICC. Cricket was introduced in India by British sailors in the 18th century and the first cricket club was established in 1792. The major first class tournaments played in India include the Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy. Indian cricket team has evolved as a number one team across all the formats. Indian Premier League (IPL) is one of the largest domestic T-20 tournament played in the world.

The Indian diaspora is present in nations such as Australia, England and South Africa where as large turnout of fans is there whenever India plays in these nations. Many Indians considers cricket very close to their heart and keep a close watch on player performances.


men Hockey is considered as the National game of India. Indian hockey team has proved itself from time to time to be one of the best teams in the world. India’s hockey team was the first Non-European team to be a part of the International Hockey Federation. In 1928, the team won its first Olympic gold medal and until 1960, Indian team remained unbeaten in the Olympics, winning 6 medals in a row even during colonial suppression. The men’s team has won medals several times in World Cup, Asian Games and Asia Cup. Major Dhyan Chand, known for his extraordinary goal scoring skills is considered as the greatest player in the history of sports.


Tennis has significant following in India and is counted among the popular sports of India. India has produced a number of tennis players who have achieved international recognition. All India Tennis Association is the governing body for tennis in India. Tennis was brought to India by the British army and civil officials. In 1960s, the sports had witnessed a golden era. India has won several grand slam titles in singles and doubles both in men’s and women’s categories.


Chess has risen popularly in India in the last few decades mainly due to chess grandmaster and former 5-times world champion Viswanathan Anand. The All India Chess Federation is the governing body of chess in India. The game originated in India in the ancient times. There are 65 Indian grandmasters from India. In last several years, India has tasted success at world youth championships. The chess federation of India has played an important role in identifying new talents and ensuring quality competition at the domestic level. The All India Chess Federation has also hosted a number of major world events in India such as the world Junior championship, commonwealth championship and Asian Team championship. Though Indian chess players have made a name for the country but the Golden period of chess is yet to come in India.


Wrestling developed in Indian sub-continent during the Mughal period by combining Persian wrestling style and native Indian style. Wrestling is also known as Dangal in India. India won its first Olympic medal in 1952 which was won by KD Jadhav in 1952 summer olympics. Other wrestling medals were won by Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Sakshi Malik etc. Wrestling in India is governed by Wrestling Federation of India. Over the years, female wrestling has greatly been enhanced. Geeta Phogat and Babita Phogat are the two famous names who won gold medals for India in 2014 Commonwealth games.


Badminton is another popular sport in India developed by British in mid 1800s. Indian players such as Saina Nehwal , Srikanth Kidambi and PV Sindhu are famous badminton players. It is considered as the second most popular sport played in India after cricket. Badminton is managed in India by the Badminton Association of India, India has won Olympic medals in Badminton in the 2012 London Olympic games and 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Other Sports

Other sports played in India include archery, shooting, long jump, athletics etc. Adventure sports such as skating, paragliding, skiing etc are also played on a large scale in India by many people. Government has also made several efforts by instituting schemes and programs to promote sports in India, Events such as Khelo India games have also gone a long way to promote development of sports in India. Inculcating a nature of playing sports at home, schools, colleges and work places is essential to inculcate the spirit of sports in people. The sports ecosystem is affected by various issues in India.

Issues with Sports in India

Mismanaged Sports Authorities

There is a lot of corruption in sports authorities in India. Authorities of sports such as cricket, hockey, weightlifting are under attack due to corruption charges. It is commonly seen that sports authorities are manipulated by politicians. Controversies surrounding Commonwealth Games of 2010 and IPL fixing scandal have tainted sports administrators in India.

Social and Economic Inequalities

Denial of access to sports facilities such as stadiums, training grounds etc. due to poverty, concentration of sports facilities in urban areas etc. has resulted in inadequate development of sports persons in the country. There is lack of encouragement to girls, lack of opportunities for poor people which also affects the growth of sports.

Lack of Focus on Sports

From early on, Indian families are more focussed upon studies and academics than sports. Focus is on getting marks and achieving academic excellence rather than development of sports skills and career in sports. Sports career is not a priority for Indian parents and kids. It is a common belief that one needs to study hard to achieve success and sports ruin one’s life.

Poor Infrastructure

Lack of facilities at the grassroots level is a major issue. Schools and colleges lack in infrastructure that can encourage other sports during school and college life. The concept of school sports is absent in India. Coaches are absent at the local level that can nurture or groom talent. Any natural talent is suppressed at the local level.

Lack of Recognition to Other Sports than Cricket

Cricket continues to dominate Indian sports ecosystem. Sports other than cricket are not considered as worthy of career option because they neither appear financially lucrative nor glamorous. Other sports do not have strong presence in India in terms of coaches, infrastructure, stadiums etc.

Lack of Cohesive Policy

There is not a good policy for the development of sports sector in India. Sports policy planning is inadequate in India due to lack of resources and no planning body. There is not a specialised body that works in full enthusiasm to promote the development of sports in our country.

Future of Sports in India-Need for Reforms

Several measures have been taken by the government to promote the development of sports in the country. These are

•Sports education should be promoted at the school and college level so that interest of children at early ages should be developed. It must be ensured that parents do not keep their children away from sports.

• More programs such as Khelo India campaign should be promoted to promote school and university level competitions to inculcate a spirit of sports development in the country’s youth.

• Corruption in sports bodies should be eliminated to provide good governance because of which sports facilities, education, infrastructure etc. can be developed at a rapid pace and sports can develop fast in developing country like India

• There must be a uniform regulatory body for the development of sports in India so that any governance issue does not arise. Politicisation of sports authorities should be stopped to end discrimination in these authorities on the basis of political backing, An independent regulatory authority will be in the best interest of sports persons, coaches, teams playing sports in India.

• Sports related uniform guidelines shall be constituted so that fraudulent methods in sports can be eliminated.

• Infrastructure should be developed at all the levels starting from the local level to promote sports development by providing better infrastructure facilities to sports persons and emerging talents.

•Sports leagues which are of professional nature should be started on the lines of Indian Premier League and Pro Kabaddi League so that international players can participate and share their experiences to make local talent more enhancing.


Development of sports in future requires participation of all state holders which includes the government, private bodies, regulatory bodies, players, school level coaches, colleges, national as well as international sports experts so that Indian sporting ecosystems can be strengthened. For a country of over 1.3 billion people, the current sports infrastructure is not sufficient. There should be world class infrastructure to utilise the availability of talent in India. There must be incentives for sports funding and creation of infrastructure at the national, state and local level. A sports commission should be established to nurture the sports ecosystem. Dispute resolution mechanisms and strict protocols should be setup to ensure a fair sports environment. If sports will be promoted, India will be able to create a glorious future for its athletes.

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