Skip To Content
  • Go for Gold badge
  • Tokyo Olympics badge

37 Olympic Sports Oversimplified For Anyone To Understand

"It's like soccer, but with your hands."

The Summer Games are here...again. The 2020 Olympics are now the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, and here are all the games you need to know.

Stick figures performing Olympic sports
Kimberrywood / Getty Images

What? Short on time? Don't worry. We'll make this simple:

1. Archery

Paul Gilham / Getty Images

Everyone does their best Robin Hood impression and aims for a bull's-eye.

2. Athletics

Track runners breaking out from the starting line
Adam Pretty / Getty Images

If it takes place on a track or field, it's athletics. (Running, jumping, throwing, etc.)

3. Baseball

Baseball player holds a bat ready to swing
Mark Brown / Getty Images

If you have ever played Backyard Baseball on your Game Boy, you got this.

4. Softball

Softball player winding up pitch
Harry How / Getty Images

Like baseball, but underhand throws so fast that it looks like the pitcher is gonna throw out their shoulder.

5. Basketball

LeBron James dunks basketball in USA jersey
Christian Petersen / Getty Images

A little known sport probably inspired by Space Jam: A New Legacy.

6. 3x3 Basketball

Men practicing basketball
Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Images

Basketball, but pretend two teammates got caught in traffic and couldn't make it on time.

7. Boxing

Two men boxing
Alex Livesey / Getty Images

Two people throw punches to try and score points.

8. Canoeing

Man canoeing in white waters
Adam Pretty / Getty Images

All the fun of a canoe, but your arms feel like they are going to fall off trying to get the best time.

9. Cycling

Man cycling
Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Imagine your parents' "back in my day" long bike ride to school.

10. Equestrian

Horse leaps over hurdle with jockey on their back
Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

Horsies jumpin' things while others judge. (Spoiler: Every horse is a winner.)

11. Fencing

Two people fencing with thin swords
Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Trying to score points because hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

12. Field Hockey

Woman shooting goal in field hockey
Tom Pennington / Getty Images

A summer version of ice hockey.

13. Soccer (Footie)

Soccer player tackling another player for the ball
Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Score a goal with your feet. Mildly popular sport...might catch on one day internationally.

14. Golf

Man swings golf club in front of Rio 2016 sign
Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Mini golf, but you use more than one club. No windmills either. Bummer.

15. Gymnastics

Simone Biles on jumping on beam
Carmen Mandato / Getty Images

Simone Biles asking everyone else who is competing for second place. (Like athletics, gymnastics has multiple games like dance, vaults, etc.)

16. Handball

Man throwing ball during handball game
Lars Baron / Getty Images

Soccer but with your hands.

17. Judo

Judo takedown
Elsa / Getty Images

It's like watching UFC, but just a lot of throwing and takedowns (which I actually prefer).

18. Karate

Woman practicing karate
Juan Naharro Gimenez / Getty Images

People contemplate whether or not to sweep the leg.

19. Modern Pentathlon

Runners shooting pistols
Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

Fencing, freestyle swimming, show jumping, pistol shooting, and cross-country running. I'm not joking — it's all of these games wrapped into one sport.

20. Rowing

Four women rowing
Daniel Kopatsch / Getty Images

Stroke! Stroke! Stroke! Like canoeing, but as a team.

21. Rugby Sevens

Rugby player diving for a try
David Rogers / Getty Images

A lot of backward passes and a lot of hitting...I gave it a good try. *elbows*

22. Sailing

Sailing board splashing in the water
Richard Langdon / Getty Images

Sailors leaning off the sail to get the best speed.

23. Shooting

Row of men shooting at targets
Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

Aim and fire. America has 54 more medals than any other country...maybe we're a little too good. -_-

24. Skateboarding

Skate park at the Tokyo Olympics
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Young ones shredding some rail...or something. Fun watch, though.

25. Sport Climbing

Two women scaling climbing wall
Jenny Evans / Getty Images

Scaling a fake mountain with speed and without falling.

26. Surfing

Surfer riding waves and a mountain in the backdrop
Clive Rose / Getty Images

Get totally pitted in the waves, and look cool doing it for the judges.

27. Table Tennis

Two men playing table tennis
Ian Walton / Getty Images

An extreme rec room activity or what I like to call "mini tennis."

28. Tae Kwon Do

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

A lot of jumping and spinning and kicking. A less bloody Mortal Kombat.

29. Tennis

Man serving in tennis game
Julian Finney / Getty Images

Giant table tennis.

30. Triathlon

Swimmer crying as she runs across finish line
Adam Pretty / Getty Images

Swimming, biking, and that order.

31. Volleyball

Volleyball player making a diving save
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

Underrated sport that involves hitting ball back and forth over net.

32. Beach Volleyball

Woman serves beach volleyball
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

Sandy volleyball.

33. Weightlifting

Man lifts weights
Toru Hanai / Getty Images

Lift more weights, get more gold.

34. Artistic Swimming

Two people swimming
David Ramos / Getty Images

Aquatic dancing gets weird.

35. Diving

Two men diving backward and head first
Dylan Buell / Getty Images

A sport where you don't want to make a splash.

36. Swimming

Swimmers dive into their respective lanes
Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images

Water racing, but like, a dozen variants.

37. Water Polo

Water polo player throws ball
Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Aquatic handball.

Which game are you looking forward to this summer? Comment below!