Cheeky Kid has been watching anime and reading manga for as long as he can remember. Doing so takes him to different worlds.
As the genre name suggests, sports anime are shows that feature sports at the center of their narrative. Some popular sports that are featured include, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and football. These shows usually have more grounded stories that mirror what actually happens in real life, but they have the added twist of dramatic cues and lots of intense action and feats.
Since there’s an abundance of sports anime out there, I’ve decided to countdown the top 10 best sports anime for you to consider and add to your watch list. Believe it or not, many kinds of sports have made it to the anime world, even ones that you might least expect. But one thing is common for all of them; they will make you realize that watching sports in anime isn’t that predictable and boring at all. Actually, most, if not all, will get you hooked on the splendor of sports anime action without you even noticing.
Ten Best Sports Anime
- Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko's Basketball)
- Prince of Tennis
- Yowamushi Pedal
- Eyeshield 21
- Baby Steps
- Hajime no Ippo
- Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
- Slam Dunk
10. Slam Dunk
Featured Sport: Basketball
Coming in at number 10 is a classic sports anime that more than deserves to be on this list. For a few hints, this show revolves around basketball. It has exciting stunts that closely mirrors the real game. Last but not the least, it has drama, lots of action, and a really funny comedic side to it. The anime I’m talking about here is none other than Slam Dunk!
Slam Dunk follows the story of freshman high school student Hanamichi Sakuragi. He was rejected yet again by the girl he was trying to court (the girl already liked someone from the basketball team). So, much to Sakuragi’s disappointment, he lashes out his anger to the sport that made him a failure in love. But, when he meets another girl named Haruko who teaches him basketball, he soon comes to love the sport to woo the love of his heart. There are hurdles to be passed though; the elder brother of Haruko, Akagi, is the captain of the basketball team. Haruko's crush, Rukawa, is also the ace player of the team.
9. Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
Featured Sport: Baseball
Here comes another sport that’s a big staple in the anime world. I say staple because it’s one of the most used sports in anime next to basketball. And that sport is baseball. So, taking the number nine slot is Ookiku Futikabutte, also known as Big Windup!
This show seemingly starts off as a slice of life anime. But then, as it gradually picks up, the tension starts to burst. That being said, the show sets you up for a big windup! And that’s a good thing if I must say. The series is realistic yet very exciting. You'll find yourself rooting for the characters.
The story is about a first-year high school student named Mihashi Ren whose self-confidence and self-esteem was totally crushed during his middle school baseball days. He doesn’t want to pursue baseball anymore, but his new school badly needs a pitcher on the mound. While his attitude comes off as selfish to most, he actually has real talent in controlling the ball and his pitches. This skill might be useless given how ridiculously slow Mihashi’s pitches are, but with Abe directing and supporting him, his skill becomes truly a force to be reckoned with.
8. Hajime no Ippo
Featured Sport: Boxing
With a sport as popular as boxing, there had to be an anime that’s centered on the sport. And there is, we have the boxing anime Hajime no Ippo.
Hajime no Ippo shows boxing at its finest. You’ll see many boxing moves in this show that you never thought existed. This series will show you that boxing is a lot more than frantic and random punches. This show teaches us the importance of perseverance and diligence throughout the action and drama of the story.
Hajime no Ippo is about Makunouchi Ippo’s glorious struggle in boxing and in life. He was bullied all his life and was made to do tasks he never really wanted to do. He was a weakling with no confidence. One day, he is found by a boxer named Takamura while being bullied. He is brought to a boxing gym to recover. There, Ippo finds his opportunity and looks to redeem himself. After much thinking and a few tests and hurdles, he decides to pick up boxing as a career to ultimately change and strengthen his weak self and chase his dreams.
7. Baby Steps
Featured Sport: Tennis
Being such an underrated sports anime, I just can’t pass up on adding this one to the list. For one, Baby Steps is very unique to its genre. It takes a whole new approach in sports anime. This anime focuses on tennis, and here we see a character that takes the zero-to-hero route.
Baby Steps depicts the story of first-year honor high school student Maruo Eiichirou and how he came to pick up tennis as his sport. Prior to everything, he’s only just a student with excellent academic standing and no experience in anything physical. But as he started to feel empty and bored, he decided to give tennis a try, not knowing that he’ll soon become very dedicated to it.
Featured Sport: Baseball
It’s baseball yet again, but this time, I present to you one of the longest sports series that actually has an ongoing timeline. That’s Major for you! It’s not just a sports-themed anime, it also presents heavy drama and some comedy on the side. The captivating storyline and spectacular character development are its most effective points. Did I even mention the baseball action?
Major is about the life and career of Goro Honda. He picked up his love for baseball from his father who’s a really great baseball player. But, as his personal life and the sport he loves gets intertwined in a lot of twists and knots (including triumphs and tragedies), he musters up all the strength to go on and stay strong through the sport he loved the most—baseball.
5. Eyeshield 21
Featured Sport: American Football
Standing proud at number five on this list is an anime that’s all about American football. Yes, that would be the sport with all the intense bumping. If I were to describe Eyeshield 21 in one word, then that word would be crazy! The action in this show is so crazy that it’s also very entertaining and humorous. Pairing up with that craziness is the intensity which you’ll never get tired of watching. I knew from the start that American football would be very physical and rough, but I never thought it could get any crazier than that (which is an exceptionally great thing for this series).
Eyeshield 21 follows the story of Sena Kobayakawa, a high school boy who has gained exceptional speed from all his errands and running he did while being bullied. This talent of his was discovered by the devilish bat-like captain of the Devil Bats American football Team, Youichi Hiruma. While Sena was initially just asking to be the manager of the team, he soon finds himself running across the field as the legendary Eyeshield 21, dedicated to bringing the whole team to victory.
4. Yowamushi Pedal
Featured Sport: Cycling
As unusual as it might seem, there’s a sports anime about bicycles and cycling in general. Yowamushi Pedal is actually a feel-good anime that combines the excitement of sports and the peculiarity of competitive cycling. This sport might seem very odd at first, but this show doesn’t fail in trying to cater a brand new and positive perspective towards the sport. The attitude of the main character isn’t as competitive as other protagonists on this list. His attitude shows that playing sports can truly be an opportunity to create new bonds and enjoy the sport for what it truly is—and probably snag some victorious moments while doing so.
Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku who craves anime stuff and wants to join the anime club in his new school. Since he never really had any friends in middle school, he wanted to change this and have some in high school so that he can have some companions to share his hobbies and interests with. Due to his obsession on anime, he travels a very lengthy way with his mommy bike (which actually isn’t suited for long trips and steep roads) to Akihabara, the otaku paradise. With this scenario happening all the time, he unknowingly develops a remarkable talent for cycling, which in turn gets him into his school’s very own bicycle racing club.
3. Prince of Tennis
Featured Sport: Tennis
Personally, Prince of Tennis is one of the first sports anime I’ve watched with a different, albeit sensational, formula at its core. This formula refers to the type of action that might seem out-of-this-world at first yet feels very doable in real life. This kind of action is so spectacular and eye-catching that it’ll make you hold on to your seat until the end of the show. And that’s Prince of Tennis in a nutshell.
The Prince of Tennis is none other than young tennis genius Echizen Ryoma. Despite his age, Ryoma has won a lot of tennis championships already. But no matter how hard he tries, he could never defeat his father. For now, Ryoma enrolls in a school with an outstanding tennis team—Seishun Gakuen. And so, with a great team to play with and lots of obstacles to pass, Ryoma tries to become stronger in order to become one of the best and be able to finally defeat his father.
Featured Sport: Volleyball
Rushing in as the second best on this list is a sports anime that’s remarkably brilliant in terms of its overall plot and the fact that it’s very well-rounded. Action is major part of it, but the storyline and having a strong focus on teamwork and perseverance is a highlight as well. In fact, Haikyuu shows off its brilliance in a really fascinating and enjoyable way while making the viewer feel attached to the players and sharing insightful lessons that are learned in the domain of sports.
Haikyuu follows the story of Hinata Shouyo as he aspires to be a little giant in the field of volleyball. Unfortunately for him, his middle school didn’t have an interest in volleyball, so he resorted to playing the sport with the girls’ volleyball team, the neighborhood old ladies playing volleyball for recreation, and occasionally asking a few friends to toss the ball for him. During middle school, he managed to enter a competition with a sloppy makeshift team only to be defeated miserably by the team led by the King of the Court, Tobio Kageyama. After that experience, he vowed that he would find a high school with a legitimate volleyball team and defeat Kageyama once and for all. But on his first step in high school, during his trip to the volleyball court, he meets the rival of his life trying to join the same volleyball team he is planning to join.
1. Kuroko no Basket (Kuroko's Basketball)
Featured Sport: Basketball
We’ve finally arrived at the top of this list. Playing with a high level of intensity capable of defeating the best of the best, the cast of Kuroko no Basket (specifically the Generation of Miracles) are marching around the court showing off skills that can be considered near-perfect and unbeatable.
Out of all the sports anime that exist, this is the best of them all for me. All the stunts in this show are insane! They might seem impossible and really god-like in terms of execution, but the show never fails to make you feel that the moves are actually very possible to do (but really very difficult). So, with those crazy stunts in play along with the unique attitude of the characters, this show easily fends off the competition not just in basketball but even in this list. That is why it is crowned number one.
In junior high school, there existed a basketball team with a line-up of five prodigies that crushed any opponent that came their way and claimed victory in every match they played. That team was the Generation of Miracles of Teiko Middle School. Years passed and the members of the Generation of Miracles have gone to separate high schools. But unknown to most, there actually exists a phantom sixth player from the Generation of Miracles whose legacy is just about to unfold. That player is Kuroko Tetsuya, and the school he chose to lead to victory is Seirin Gakuen.
Recommended Volleyball Anime
The success of Haikyuu! can be a bit surprising considering that volleyball is not the most popular sport featured in anime. There are only a few other sports anime that feature volleyball. Here are some recommendations.
- Attack No. 1
- Attacker You!
- Attack on Tomorrow
Recommended Basketball Anime
Basketball is particularly popular within the sports genre. As such, there is a fair amount of basketball anime out there. Here are some anime recommendations for those that need their basketball fix.
- Buzzer Beater
- Dear Boys
- Dash! Kappei
Recommended Sports Anime With Romance
Many of the entries on this list focus on sports teams in a high school setting. This common anime setting is often seen in romance series. It's no surprise that these two genres can occasionally merge. Here are some anime series that feature sports and romance.
- Cross Game
- Over Drive
- Princess Nine
Questions & Answers
Question: How long did it take you to finish watching all ten anime?
Answer: Frankly, I don't keep track of the time I spend watching anime. Just consider the following: 1 Anime Episode = 24 Minutes. Let's say an average anime has 12 episodes, then 24 Minutes x 12 Episodes x 10 Anime = 2880 Minutes (48 Hours)
stan u-kiss and laboum on August 18, 2020:
and also captain tsubasa, kaleido star and yuri on ice
IFlaReZeD on July 17, 2020:
I personally would have added Tsurune & Diamond No Ace to this list, because they're honestly amazing, but that's just my opinion.
hinatastoes on July 02, 2020:
Haikyuu should definitely be number one. I understand that Kuroko no Basket is supposed to seem impossible and 'god like' but Haikyuu is realistic. Also, it focuses on more than just the main character so we get more story to it (and backstory).
EijunIsLegend on June 21, 2020:
ace no diamond definitely should've been on there. its like one of the top 5 best sports anime ever made.
adiroy2 on June 12, 2020:
haikyuu should be on top. and slam dunk is legitimately way way better than kukoro no basket. kukoro is just a remake of the concepts that slam dunk introduced. interms of basketball, even ahiru no soar Is better than kukoro no basket.and talking about sports, where the hell is Free! and its s2 and s3
Idk on June 11, 2020:
I dont know why everyone is getting mad about certain things being placed elsewhere or not being on the list. This was their opinion on their Top 10 favorite sports anime. Of course you might not agree with, because peoples opinions differ. This comment section needs to chill out. If your so pissed make your own top 10 list.
yonko aizen on May 12, 2020:
wtf?! haikyu better than hajime no ippo and slam dunk?
423567 on May 12, 2020:
i agree with most of these but Ace of Diamond should've been here.
UselessKorokoPOWERPWER on May 09, 2020:
Koroko is so bad it should not be top 10 Haikyuu is 10 times better.
jupiterrrr on May 07, 2020:
.... where's Yuri On Ice tho?
Sav on May 03, 2020:
KnB and Haikyu! are too good. Will always be number 1
unknown on April 25, 2020:
yall to pressed about someone opinion. I dont agree with most of this stuff but I still respect the effort he put in to make this list
unknown on March 30, 2020:
geez any KnB fans here? cause I don't see any.....
frostifire on March 15, 2020:
Prince of Tennis has been my ultimate favorite for years! It inspired me to play in high school and I went on to win the League Championships! Definitely the best in my opinion. It is not that popular in America so it's unheard of, but give it a try! It's cute, funny, believable, and it becomes a part of you
hello on March 08, 2020:
the fact that yuri on ice isn't on this list is highly disappointing as well as the fact that kuroko no basket is first
Dron on February 18, 2020:
Where is diamond no ace ? Its one of the best sports anime with best character development and its not even listed in your top 10.
Yeti on February 05, 2020:
Where the hell is Captain Tsubasa! All my male school mates were watching that stuff like mad!
Roan on January 29, 2020:
Haikyuu, ace of diamond, prince of tennis
adrenalin on January 21, 2020:
you should have included diamond no ace in this list
yo waddap on January 01, 2020:
yo wtf? i can't believe you just put slam dunk as num 10 while kuroko no basket got to be num 1? like seriously what the hell? are we still talking about sports anime?
Ultro on December 25, 2019:
Major is the best
Kian Matta on December 23, 2019:
Why the hell is Slam Dunk number 10!?
Slam Dunk Is Better Than Kuroko Basketball. It must be Number 1!
Intracein on December 06, 2019:
Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun~~~!
Stupidshit on December 05, 2019:
The highest selling sports manga Slam Dunk is only no.10 while KnB who plays 20% basketball and 80% bullshit is no. 1 what a joke.
Alex on November 21, 2019:
Slamdunk....deservs no. 1spot........
TheXev on August 17, 2019:
I'm with Scottie, WTF is Ace of Diamond. As time goes on and the anime continues, it will simply proceed to burry all older baseball animes.
Jazzy mike on August 08, 2019:
Just watched the yowamushi pedal trailer again and I almost shed a tear. Yo pedal for number 1
Marie Heartfilia on August 02, 2019:
I think Free! and Prince of stride should be at the top.
Scottie on July 31, 2019:
Ace of diamond should be at the top
AnimeGuy on May 28, 2019:
What about Yuri on ice
yo animegurl on March 19, 2019:
why isn't prince of stride in this list? nor tsurune?
Gustavo on December 31, 2018:
It may not be a "sport" in the traditional sense of the word, but Chihayafuru excells in feeling like one, in fact, one of the best.
Chihayafuru circles around a card game called Karuta, despite being a card game there's so much action and exciting moments. The characters are lovable and the drama is great too.
Good recommendation if looking for something that you maybe hasn't heard about.
Jim on November 20, 2018:
Is there any running sports anime?
cherifer on October 27, 2018:
why is hungry heart wild striker not included in the list?
HabibKenn on October 14, 2018:
I think Diamond no Ace should be in the top 3
kav on September 19, 2018:
I already finished watching these anime a long time ago. I think I already watched almost all the sports anime out there and these ones here are also at the top of my list, but there are more amazing anime I've watched that I really love.
xyz on September 15, 2018:
Baby steps is a fine anime (currently on episode 15 of season 2 )
and diamond no ace could have been a better option in the list of 1 to 10
EEEE on August 31, 2018:
Prince of Tennis should be the number one!
It is all about friendship and achieve the teams goal.. and I super love it! You gonna love all the teams.. very entertaining and heart warming anime :love:
Niqabi_otaku on August 14, 2018:
I do not agree with kuroko no basket as no.1 sports anime just because what I love aboit sports anime is the intensity and the logic behind every move they make in the game. Kuroko no basket doesn't lack the first aspect but falls short of the second. If we wanted to watch something unrealistic we would be watch fantasy genre n not sports.
Me on July 31, 2018:
Everyone forgets the og sports anime Captain Tsubasa. Also, I really don't agree with the top 1 on this list. Kuroko no Basket is kinda stupid. Despite this, I would have felt worse if Inazuma Eleven was on this list, cause that one is really dumb. Not major problems with the rest besides the fact that Captain Tsubasa should definately be here.
Nekomaru on July 23, 2018:
Free isn't on the list because it's a borderline yaoi anime. It doesn't live up to the epicness that is Kuroko, Haikyuu, Major or Eyeshield 21.
milo on July 12, 2018:
Yumashi pedal is the best and Kuroko no Basket the worst
CPartha on June 25, 2018:
without adding Diamond no Ace, Overdrive and One Outs, the list of sports anime can never be complete....sorry to say, but it is the TRUTH
❤️The Greatest Decoy, Hinata❤️ on June 24, 2018:
Haikyuu is #1!
Himanshu on June 22, 2018:
@NO thanks for Buzzer beater I love basketball
Gippeum Min on June 22, 2018:
How about free? it's a great anime also
Sharat on June 18, 2018:
Diamond no ace is also a good sports anime
Sports4Life on June 05, 2018:
Haikyuu isn’t really romance is it? I can’t see anything in the first 11 episodes
Hi on June 02, 2018:
Why isn't Free! on this list?!
Leo on May 20, 2018:
I really don't understand the hype on Kuroko, for me, in terms of story, execution and realism, Haikyuu is a lot lot better.
L on May 12, 2018:
What about Yuri on ice
Anime_lover on May 05, 2018:
Oh and also CHIHAYAFURU
Anime_lover on May 05, 2018:
Oh if you guys love anime a lot try other genres as well
I like trying different ones each time.
According to me I feel that FREE and PRINCE OF STRIDE should be added .But thanks for the list .I have already watched 4 of them and look forward to checking out the others
Crystal on May 05, 2018:
To Mr. Jack
It would be appreciated if you keep comments like that to yourself .I don't think you want all girls in the world campaigning against you, would you??
No haters on March 25, 2018:
What the hell is with all the hate? This is the author opinion! If you want to share your opinion, do in a way that isn’t rude, or make your own goddamn list!
NO on March 21, 2018:
what about Buzzer Beater
Jack on March 12, 2018:
UGH having women in anime sports is so fucking unnecessary and annoying. Why can't it be all male?? I'm not gay but I just want to watch guys. I really enjoy that but that's normal.
YO on March 10, 2018:
Sorry is one out
YO on March 10, 2018:
All out ( Baseball) is deserved to have a place here as this list is incomplete
The author make baseball a sport not only use muscle but brain too
Someone Over the Rainbow on February 04, 2018:
This list is pretty good but...WHERE IS THE SWIMMING ANIME FREE! ON THE LIST????
Nobody on December 28, 2017:
ok,ok,ok I get you guys but... You may keep your opinion but.. this is only an opinion of the author, I get it if you don't really like it. But, please... understand me... Its just the opinion of the author. I kinda loved the Kuroko no basuke series, and I know some people hate it, I saw a comment that it being 1st is false, And... If you guys have your own no.1 sports anime in your own opinion. You guys should not deny the author's opinion for it is THEIR opinion, And Its not your FRICKING right to JUDGE them.
Ray on December 11, 2017:
Where is all out
Anonymous on December 08, 2017:
Where the hell is Yuri on Ice
anonn on December 05, 2017:
-Just watched Baby Steps... not my cup of tea.
-Prince of tennis is also pretty boring, Maybe just watch the first season if you really like tennis.
I would add to the list:
-Hungry Heart Wild Striker (Soccer)
-Initial D (Racing)
-Hikaru no Go (Igo)
H A on November 27, 2017:
Slam Dunk should be number 1, not number 10.
lmao on November 13, 2017:
i don't get why KnB is always top of the list. I mean it's great and all, but others on the list are even better. Guess people like to jump on the bandwagon since it's basicallt the most popular
Haha on November 09, 2017:
Haikyuu is the best anime of sports. It is realistic.
adpdl on October 12, 2017:
You could try Cross Game and Taisho Baseball Girls. I'd allo recommand Keijo for being ridiculously fun and surprisingly good, if you don't mind permanent fan-service, that is.
whatever on October 06, 2017:
no cross game?
well on September 13, 2017:
Slam Dunk , Hajime No Ippo FTW!!
Mae on August 30, 2017:
Gosh you people this is just the opinion of the writer of this page that this is set of list is his/her best sports anime, duh. Would ya respect that and keep your own opinion to yourselves...
Wend on August 13, 2017:
Why is everyone complaining about Baby Steps and PoT? They are both amazing series. On the other hand, why is Kuroko no Basuke number 1? That's absolutely false. Unless it just happens to subjectively be your favorite there's no way it should be first. Objectively speaking it's writing is t great, it's characters are pretty one dimensional and bland. And it's pretty to look at but that's about it.
ShreePoudel on July 06, 2017:
Free and Ace of diamond should be on the list
Felurian on June 17, 2017:
Lost all respect when I saw Baby Steps on the list.
a on April 06, 2017:
Hey! wheres the Yuri On Ice???
animeFan on March 28, 2017:
The moment I saw Kuroko on the first place and Prince of tennis included, the list lost meaning to me.
Anna on March 23, 2017:
haikyuu is the best!!! Hinata is so cute!!!
JaviDi on March 14, 2017:
Diamond no ace is best anime of baseball
Pantherlily on March 11, 2017:
Haikyuu should be in front of Kuroko no basket.
sparspeix on February 19, 2017:
pingpong the animation is seriously my fav anime of all time haha
Aa on February 13, 2017:
Am i the only one wondering why pingpong the animation is left out?
CJWrites on February 11, 2017:
To everyone talking about Free, I felt like they didn't take the sport seriously. It was more about friendship and character development.
Its like I like Yuri on Ice better as an anime but Haikyuu definitely does better as a sports anime.
Haikyuu Fan on January 29, 2017:
Haikyuu should be first on the list
followed by prince of tennis
and third one should be kuroko no basketball
Even if the prince of tennis s a bit unrealistic it stills gives off the feeling of wanting to be watched you know what i mean like you just cant stop watching it welll or me . Idk about you but for me i think prince of tennis deserves being on the list cause ven now that i finished watching it i still cant help the feeling of wanting to watch more
V on January 18, 2017:
Ace Of Diamond ???
Tsu on January 16, 2017:
idiots complaining how kuroko no basket not realistic.....its a anime....and a awesome one.
Q on January 13, 2017:
? on January 11, 2017:
seriously i love kuroko no basket!!!! and why would people complain how its not realistic!
xox on December 21, 2016:
PRINCE OF STRIDE: ALTERNATIVE
Kp on November 08, 2016:
It's time for Keijo to be no 1...lol
fizz on October 26, 2016:
ADD:definitely one outs, ping pong the animation, and update to include yuri on ice on the list.If you got space put diamond on ace
would kick out prince of tennis(entertaining and fun, but is still long, repetitive and can be boring if you aren't fully driven by its characters), Ookiku Furikabutte(very solid and entertaining, a pleasure to watch, but I don't find anything truly special or fresh with it), Major(Personally I hate major because I think the mc is a real jackass for at least half the franchise, but idk if he grows out of it because I only watched 3 seasons, so take that hate with a grain of salt), baby steps(very awesome and great mc and story, but not every moment was enjoyable(one game really really irked me, so I couldn't stand to watch many episodes of that game))
kkkk on October 20, 2016:
Omg finally people are agreeing with me!!!! Ace of diamond/diamond no ace should be on the list
shin on October 05, 2016:
What about inazuma 11
Mimi on September 29, 2016:
Where is Free? Free! is not on the list.
Midna on September 23, 2016:
Honestly Haikyuu!! should be in the number one spot.
Vinod on September 01, 2016:
In terms of sports I put Eyeshield 21 above Kuroko no Basket. Prince of Tennis is one big boring anime, I felt like I wasted my time.
Dan on August 19, 2016:
Kuroko #1 ? lol that thing is the most unrealistic sports anime I ever saw
XxMayGamerxX on August 19, 2016:
KUROKO NO BASKET IS LIT! I CRIED WHEN I LISTEN TO FANTASTIC TUNE AFTER THE ANIME END.
Bankai on August 19, 2016:
Haikyuu should be #1... Kuroko is no realistic
Polavarapu on August 06, 2016:
Haikyuu should be #1
Dredz on July 26, 2016:
Sorry... Haikyuu should be #1