25 Sports You Can Do Barefoot

25 Sports You Can Do Barefoot

Poland v Brazil - FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017

Rodrigo of Brazil controls the ball in front of Witold Ziober of Poland during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017 group D match between Poland and Brazil (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

25 Sports You Can Do Barefoot

When it comes to the sports you can do barefoot; there’s no telling how many there really are. The beauty of human ingenuity and creativity means that anything is possible. This is of course, with some glaring exceptions; you cannot go ice-skating barefoot for example.

Here we shall take a look at my top 25 Sports You Can Do Barefoot:

  1. Running
  2. Soccer
  3. Swimming
  4. Yoga
  5. American Football (Placekicker)
  6. Rugby
  7. Gymnastics
  8. Beach Volleyball
  9. Waterpolo
  10. Water Skiing
  11. Bowling (Indoors)
  12. Skateboarding
  13. Rodeo
  14. Driving
  15. Hiking
  16. Slacklining
  17. Martial Arts
  18. Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
  19. Surfing
  20. Wrestling (Greco Roman, Sumo Wrestling)
  21. Olympic Weightlifting
  22. Walking
  23. Golf
  24. Sky Diving
  25. Rock Climbing

Let’s take a look at each of them. While I was doing some additional research, I came across some unlikely sports too. They brilliantly highlight the curiosity of the human spirit and the things we will do for fun.

For all these activities there are three ways we can go barefoot?

  • Barefoot: No shoes
  • Barefoot: With Barefoot shoes
  • Barefoot: With Minimalist Zero drop shoes

Most of the sports we will be looking at will be barefoot no shoes

25 Sports You Can Do Barefoot In Detail

  • Running:

Barefoot running no doubt is the first on the list. It may probably be the most popular, I have written about it at length in my other articles check them out here. Running in its own right a straightforward way to stay in shape, there are numerous running clubs and charity events you can get involved with to support a good cause. Barefoot running can be a lot of fun especially if you do it as a group. You can do this with any form of barefoot you choose.

  • Soccer:

Depending on where you are, it either called Soccer Or Football. We will just call it soccer and not split hairs. Yes indeed playing soccer barefoot can be a lot of fun. As a child growing up, I must confess that I played many a game with no shoes on whatsoever. It does tend to toughen up your feet mind, but at that age, I didn’t care. Now the variations are beach football, which originated from Brazil and is recognised by FIFA and UEFA the main international governing bodies worldwide.

  • Swimming:

Swimming and its variations are usually always done barefoot. This takes into account when it is combined with other events like the triathlon, Iron-man, free diving or other endurance events.

  • Yoga:

For thousands of years, yoga had been practised in its country of origin India. It is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical tradition. Now a common practice all over the world it even has different variation like hot yoga. You predominantly do Yoga barefoot.

  • American Football (Placekicker):

Back in the 70s and 80s, there ware a handful of notable kickers. Tony Franklin, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles, was the first barefoot kicker in the NFL. There was also Jeff Wilkins of the St. Louis Rams. They both opted to do their placekicking for field goals in American football shoeless.

It gave them a better feel, accuracy and distance when kicking for field goals. It is seldom done nowadays though, the shoe companies have got it dialled in now so more barefoot kickers in American Football.


  • Rugby:

I call playing rugby barefoot; rugby made even tougher. Can you imagine getting into the scrum with no shoes just? Seems like a lot of fun too, but yes people do play and enjoy barefoot rugby. There is also a variation called touch rugby.

Barefoot Rugby

  • Gymnastics:

Gymnastics…the graceful yet demanding sport has always been practised barefoot or close enough. I have sat through many an Olympic Gymnastic event watching as the individuals from different countries compete. All with the aim of getting maximum. With National pride and honour as well at stake of course. No one ever wears shoes for that, barefoot all the way.

  • Beach Volleyball:

Beach volley originated in Santa Monica California in the early 1920s. By the 1930s it was played all over the world and is only played barefoot. This sport that started as a family pastime has now gone mainstream. Beach Volleyball became an Olympic fort in the 1966 Atlanta Games.

Beach VolleyBall Barefoot

Beach Volleyball Russia V Sweden                                                                                                                 Photo: OIS/IOC

  • Waterpolo:

Waterpolo is as tough as it gets when it comes to water sports. In the early days, it was even more violent with players known to have fights like they still do today in ice hockey. Rules came into play in 1897 to calm the violence down. But eventually, the faster more sedate less violent European rules has become the basis of the standards by which the game is played today.

Water polo barefoot

RIO 2016, Water Polo, Men, Croatia V Serbia,                                                                                       Photo: Getty Images

  • Water Skiing:

Barefoot water skiing originated from Florida in 1947. It is water skiing with no shoes on as you have probably already guessed. Just like with standard water skiing, you can do tricks, slalom and jumps in competitive settings.

  • Bowling (Indoors):

Not to be confused with its close cousin Bowls. Or the cricket equivalent bowling. Tenpin bowling as it is also known can be done barefoot.

Barefoot bowling

  • Skateboarding:

Barefoot Skateboarding is done even competitively. It is indeed a sport that is practised for the thrill of it. Especially in the warmer poorer parts of the world where access to footwear is limited.

Barefoot skateboarding

  • Rodeo:

Some Rodeo riders prefer to ride barefoot. They are the exception of course, but it is known to happen. In the outbacks of Texas and Rodeo country for sure.

  • Driving:

Driving Barefoot is allowed in all states in the US. With the exception, Alabama, where you are mandated to, wear shoes to ride your motorcycle. It is a common misconception that you have to wear shoes to drive.

  • Hiking:

You can indeed go hiking Barefoot. I have written an article in great detail check it out here. In these instances, barefoot sandals with socks or barefoot shoes like five-fingers can be used.

  • Slacklining:

Slacklining is when you walk or balance along on a suspended length of flat webbing that is tightly suspended between two anchors. In some cases, it could be between two trees. Slacklining is a lot like slack rope walking and tightrope walking. It is different from tightwires and tightropes because of the webbing used instead of rope. You usually do this barefoot or with sock-like shoes.

Slacklining Barefoot

  • Martial Arts:

There are a lot of Martial Arts that are practised barefoot. With its origins in ancient fighting systems from all over the world. The most popular of kung-fu, kickboxing, judo, taekwondo and karate.

Barefoot Martial Arts

  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA):

Mixed martial arts is an exciting full-contact combat sport that permits striking and grappling, standing and from the ground. It borrows techniques from other combat sports and martial arts. Made famous by the UFC in recent years it is practised barefoot.


  • Surfing:

Surfing as a sport is when you ride breaking waves toward the shore, typically using a surfboard. Surfing originated in premodern Hawaii and Polynesia, where it was practised by everyone. Today it is enjoyed all over the world where ever there is a wave to catch. There are even indoor machines that create waves for you to learn on.


  • Wrestling (Greco Roman, Sumo Wrestling):

Wrestling is a combat sport that uses grappling techniques like clinches, throws and takedowns, joint locks, pins and other grappling holds. The sport is thousands of years old and is either for sports or entertainment. Sumo wrestling is only done barefoot.

  • Olympic Weightlifting:

This is a staple event in the Olympics and is done shod with shoes. Athletes attempt a maximum-weight single lift of a barbell loaded with weight plates. However, there are many instances where weightlifting is done barefoot like CrossFit in some instances.

  • Walking:

One of my favourite things to do is walk, more so barefoot or with barefoot shoes. But there is a competitive sports side to it too. There is a 20km walk race in the Olympics too

  • Golf:

Golf is another sport that can be played barefoot. It’s an age-old sport that has been played for many centuries. The modern game originated in the 15th Century in Scotland.

Barefoot golf

  • Sky Diving:

The ultimate thrill-seeking sports that you can get involved in is skydiving. The more extreme amongst us do it barefoot too. Give it a try if you dare. You will have to condition your feet and get used to it enjoy it. Have a look at my other post on foot strengthing exercises here

  • Rock Climbing:

The last one on the list is a natural contender for barefooting. Even though rock climbing shoes are zero-drop and could be considered as barefoot shoes too.

Benefits of Barefoot Sports

As you know the benefits of barefoot training and activities and plentiful. I have another post that goes into more details about the benefits of barefoot walking and by extension, barefoot sports, have a read here

Wrap Up

We have looked at some of the sports and sporting activities you can do barefoot. Many of them can be done as an extension of the things you can do on your barefoot journey. I’m sure there may be a few more that I must have missed, but these will get you started. Whichever one you do already or choose to try out have fun as you do.

Related Questions

Is It Illegal To Be Barefoot? There are no laws, no health codes and no insurance codes in the united states that prevent anyone from being barefoot. Driving barefoot, for example, is not illegal in any of the US states, with the exception of Alabama. Alabama requires that you wear shoes to ride your motorbike. It is a common myth that there are some restrictions on things we can do barefoot.

Why Is It Good to walk Around Barefoot? Walking around barefoot allows you to get a better sense of balance., connection to the earth and sense body positioning. The correct use of our feet by forefoot walking and not heel striking enhances your sense of well being. It also lessens the impact on your joints like knees, hips and ankles.