With the Covid-19 pandemic changing the way many of us do things, more people are looking for solo sports. Keeping fit used to be a case of hitting the gym, playing football with your friends or maybe even signing up for yoga classes.
But with social distancing the new normal, solo sports have seen a resurgence. Getting outdoors is, of course, a great reason to take up a new hobby, as is keeping fit.
As a guy, you might be looking for a sport that you can play alone, but that allows for a bit of flair, or to look cool.
But depending where you live, it might not always be that simple to do all of these solo sports. So, we’ll rank them based on equipment needed, ease of access and cool factor.
Cycling is big right now, and mountain biking is the wild cousin to road biking. Less chance of asphyxiation by car fumes, more chance of slamming into a tree. However, if you live close enough to a good outdoor trail, mountain biking is a thrilling solo sport that only requires one thing. Oh, and a helmet is probably a good idea too.
Equipment needed: You’ll obviously need a mountain bike, good ones start from at least £200 – 6/10
Ease of access: So long as you’re not deep in the city, there is probably a trail somewhere near you – 6/10
Cool factor: No lycra = cool – 7/10
Bouldering and rock climbing have become very popular in recent years. And provided you have some decent upper body strength, you can start rock climbing anywhere. There are also climbing walls in most major cities, and you can even start with brick walls, buildings or even trees. Rock climbing is also a seriously good workout making it easily one of the great single player sports.
Equipment needed: You can start with just you, but eventually it’s a good idea to invest in ropes, a helmet and some chalk (free to £100+) – 5/10
Ease of access: You can climb anything, anywhere, not just rocks – 8/10
Cool factor: Once you get good, rock climbing can be very impressive – 8/10
This solo sport saw a major renaissance in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics, where it made its debut. There is no question that done right, this is easily one of the coolest street sports. All you need is some flat ground and a bit of courage, and you’re good to go. Also, skateboarding is no longer the preserve of moody teenagers. Increasingly skateboarding has a more diverse crowd attached to it, and yes it is definitely a top sport to rack up your cool traits.
Equipment needed: A skateboard obviously…Aim to spend at least £70 on your first deck – 7/10
Ease of access: Got a paved street near you? – 9/10
Cool factor: When you start, probably a 2. But once you’re more confident, easily a 10/10
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
Getting out on the water is a fabulously relaxing way of exercising. And, if you’re not much of a fan of getting wet, SUP, or stand up paddle boarding is an excellent way to enjoy it. If you have an accessible body of water near you, from a river or lake to the sea, SUP is a great fun solo sport. And, with a pretty minimal learning curve, you can be out there in no time. This ease of access and low bar to entry makes it one of the best individual sports.
Equipment needed: Inflatable SUPs are pretty affordable these days. £300+ – 8/10
Ease of access: Not everyone is by the sea or a lake.. – 5/10
Cool factor: A stylish way to get around on water? 7/10
Never mind the old joke about coming out of the closet by telling your parents you’re a roller blader. Nowadays you’ll find people from all walks of life roller blading, or skiing on tarmac. It’s a nifty way to get around, and once you get good, you can add some flair too.
Equipment needed: Yup, roller blades (and maybe knee guards and a helmet at the start) £50-100 – 6/10
Ease of access: Theres a street near you, right? 9/10
Cool factor: Open to debate, but I’d say a solid 6/10
Another sport you can play yourself on the open water, kayaking is the more traditional way of exploring (as opposed to SUP). And these days you can pick up a decent inflatable kayak for a bargain price. Again, you’ll need access to water, but it’s a great workout too.
Equipment needed: Inflatable kayaks are easy to find and quite affordable £200+ – 8/10
Ease of access: Access to the water is important of course.. – 5/10
Cool factor: You don’t kayak to be cool… Which is kinda cool. 7/10
One more board sport for your list, but surfing is a great solo sport. And probably one of the coolest sports on here. Yes, you need access to the sea, and sea with decent regular surf. So that means it’s not for everyone. But, it’s a thrilling and addictive solo sport for sure.
Equipment needed: A surfboard can be picked up from around £200 – 8/10
Ease of access: You need the coast, and decent waves, so this one is tricky for some – 3/10
Cool factor: I mean, really…. – 10/10
If you’ve ever dreamed of being in the Tour de France, you’ve probably thought about getting a road bike. Yes, it is great fun bombing around on a sleek bike, and if you’re really serious you’ll invest in the lycra too (which docks a few cool points here, sorry). But road biking is a great sport to do alone (or with friends) and is great exercise too.
Equipment needed: At least £300 for a decent road bike – 8/10
Ease of access: You can hit the roads anywhere really – 8/10
Cool factor: Lycra? 5/10
OK let’s get down to the basics now. Swimming is, of course, something anyone can do in the water. Wild swimming is technically any kind of swimming in a non-man made environment. So this means swimming in lakes, rivers, the sea or whatever. Great exercise, an easy sport to do on your own and fun too.
Equipment needed: Just your swimming trunks, and a towel… – 2/10
Ease of access: Almost anywhere there is water that is safe to swim in – 5/10
Cool factor: It is just swimming, so no cool points here – 4/10
Call it running, jogging, fast walking… Whatever you want. This is a solo sport that is so easy that these days everyone does it. It’s great exercise and you can literally do it anywhere, whatever your fitness level.
Equipment needed: Running shoes? £30+ – 3/10
Ease of access: Step out of your front door and start running boy! – 10/10
Cool factor: Yes, jogging is cool – 7/10
Parkour or free running
If you’ve ever seen someone doing parkour, you probably thought, oh shit that guy looks cool. Free running as it’s called is the act of navigating the urban environment by jumping, running, rolling and climbing. You can start with simple running and climbing, progress to jumps and all sorts of other clever transitions. And, crucially, you can do it anywhere.
Equipment needed: Just yourself and some trainers. 1/10
Ease of access: Literally anywhere… 1/10
Cool factor: Very. 10/10
Let’s be honest here, this is a dangerous solo sport. Free diving means diving under water without the aid of breathing apparatus. Experts can dive deep and hold their breath for up to ten minutes, although this takes a lot of training – and again – it can be VERY dangerous.
Equipment needed: Nothing – 1/10
Ease of access: Open water such as the sea, ideally – 5/10
Cool factor: Danger? Breath control? Very cool… 10/10
The best solo sports?
So there you have it, our list of the best solo sports that anyone can try.
Which is your favourite? Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below.