10 Unusual Extreme Sports To Explore

These little-known sports will give you an adrenaline surge.

27/09/2016 15:52 | Updated 29 September 2016

Your friendly five-a-side football game or post-work workout not quite doing it for you? Looking for a sport that’s just a bit more exciting, more extreme, a sport that makes people look at you with the respect (or horror) you’re never going to get from admitting to enjoying a weekend round of golf?  

If you’re searching for a sport that combines unusual skills, an adrenaline surge  and the very real risk of injury every time you compete, read on... 

1. Underwater hockey 

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Not the ideal spectator sport perhaps, which may be why you’ve never heard of it. But underwater hockey, or Octopush, has a British Association boasting an impressive 107 clubs from Aberdeen to Cornwall. So no excuses.

Underwater hockey was invented in the early 1950s by divers bored of doing lengths to keep fit. Players don a mask, snorkel, fins, and water polo hat, then use a small stick, “about the size of a spatula” to push the 1.2 kg puck into the opposing team’s goal at the end of a 25 metre pool.

The British Octopush Association claims it’s “the supreme aerobic game” because “all other sports allow the participants to breathe as they play.” (Certainly an interesting definition.)

“In underwater hockey, players breathe through their snorkels on the top of the water before diving down to do battle with their opponents. Some players can stay down for a long time indeed, but the real skill of the game is judging when to dive. It can take just a few seconds to tackle an opponent and pass the puck to a colleague, and then return to the surface for a well-earned breath!”

Teams are made up of 10 people, but only six are allowed in the water at one time. This results in fast substitutions which “resemble tag wrestling”.

2. Base jumping  

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For the ultimate adrenaline junkie, BASE jumping involves throwing yourself off seriously scary heights with a packed parachute to press before you hit the ground. Wingsuit flyers - a subsection of BASE jumpers - don a winged suit that allows them to control their movement and swoop like a bird of prey, reaching speeds of up to 200mph.

Due to the lower altitude (ie, the ground is nearer requiring nerves of steel, quick reflexes and luck) BASE jumping is considerably more dangerous than skydiving from a plane. Warning: BASE jumping is illegal in many countries, except at organised events.

3. Extreme ironing. Oh yes.


”Extreme ironing combines the thrill of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt. Iron on!” exclaims the Extreme Ironing Facebook group

To compete, go to a remote location, carrying your ironing board (no mean feat in itself) and (unplugged) iron and some of your wrinkly clothes and - you guessed it - get stuck into the ironing.

Ironists, as they call themselves, have recorded their sporting prowess hanging from cliffs, water skiing, underwater and in caves. Check out this video and crease up. It certainly beats doing the ironing while watching telly. Their mission? “Taking ironing to the edge.” Boom!

4. Wife-carrying

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Wife-carrying originated in Finland, land of bonkers’ sports competitions like Air Guitar Championships, the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships and Swamp Soccer Championships. A competition is held there every year in July, when men have to haul their ‘wives’ over a 253.5m course through water and up and down hills. The prize is your wife’s weight in beer.

Closer to home, in Dorking no less, the 9th annual wife carrying competition took place this March. This year one competitor decided to carry two wives, one on each shoulder.  As you do. He finished last to win a Pot Noodle and a can of dog food. 

5. Volcano boarding 

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Snow boarding too tame for you? How about hurling yourself down a live volcano on a plywood or metal board wearing a protective jumpsuit and goggles? The most popular volcano boarding location is Cerro Negro in Nicaragua but it’s also on offer at Mount Yasur in Vanuata, islands west of Fiji, where eruptions occur daily.

The bad news is you have to hike up the volcano, before sliding down at speeds of up to 80mph. The worse news is you risk nasty grazes from rough volcanic ash, breathing poisonous gasses, or being hit by flying molten lava. Fun!

6. Unicycle hockey

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You can find your nearest club through the tongue-twister Union of UK Unicyclists.  Balancing on a one wheel bike is hard enough without trying to score goals with a wooden stick. There are five players per team, with a roaming goalie. Putting your stick through someone’s spoke is a foul - and painful, one imagines.

And when you’ve conquered the challenge of cycling on one wheel - how about doing it up a muddy, boulder strewn track? MUni (mountain unicycling) involves riding over different and challenging off-road terrain.

7. Slacklining

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Quite literally balancing on a strip of one inch wide nylon held taut between two anchor points. You can practice between trees and there’s a UK Slackline Assocation with a ‘slack map’ showing different groups across the country.

Highliners walk over bendy, bouncy lines strung over stomach-churning heights. Check out this viral video of  Spencer Seabrooke claiming the free solo world record by walking (and grunting)along a line spanning a 64-metre gap. He’s 290 metres off the ground. And he’s not wearing a safety harness.  

8. Canyoning

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White water rafting but without the raft. Wearing a wet suit, helmet and buoyancy aid you bob down rapids and jump off jaw dropping waterfalls. Adventure Britain has details of locations in the UK.

9. Zorbing

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Invented in New Zealand (home of bungee jumping too), zorbing involves rolling down a steep hill in a large transparent plastic ball at speeds of up to 35mph. You can zorb solo, with friends and on water. You can find UK locations here.

10. Cliff-diving

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If you’re looking to test your diving skill with something more exciting than the top board, cliff-diving could be your thing. First you have to clamber up a precipice, then gauge where to dive to avoid rocks, and finally have the courage to launch yourself into the sea.

On the plus side, there are beautiful locations worldwide. Red Bull Cliff-Diving contests take place around the world - including Pembrokeshire on 11 September.

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