12 Of The Best Sports Things To Do That (Mostly) Don’t Relate To The World Cup
We get it, it’s that time again. It happens every four years, but feels like it is a constant presence because the time passes so fast. 2022 is another World Cup year, only it’s a bit of an odd one because it would usually have been wrapped up by now. Due to some stipulations from regulatory bodies and the temperature of Qatar in the summer months for 2022 the tournament is being played in winter. Obviously, “it’s coming home” (fingers crossed) but that doesn’t mean it’s your only sports-related option. This is London after all. Whether you want to test your own footballing abilities, channel your inner Spiderman and see how fast you can scale a wall, or do anything else you’re covered. So yes it’s the World Cup, but there’s also plenty of other sports things to do in London.
1. Toca Social
As much as you might be trying to get away from the beautiful game at the moment, you’ll probably still want a booking at Toca Social. As one of the newest additions to the O2, it has quickly become one of its most popular venues. Its name doesn’t give away much, but it is the world’s first interactive football and dining experience. That doesn’t mean being expected to hit a half volley whilst you’re tucking into a meal, as much as that would be impressive. Instead, it is a concept that sees you challenged to a set of football games relating to your ability to hit the target, or in some cases, avoid hitting certain targets. No matter your level of footballing ability, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. Whilst you play, the drinks will flow, and you can choose from a range of cocktails, milkshakes, and non-alcoholic options – including a boozy break served in sports bottles. After you crown the champion of your group, you can continue the drinking or even grab yourself a bite to eat.
2. Use A 5 A Side App (like Footy Addicts)
We promise this is the last football one. If you’re feeling inspired at the moment and fancy a kick about yourself, this one’s for you. Gone are the days of having to actually organise a game yourself. Instead, you can now jump on an app like Footy Addicts, and they’ll do all the heavy lifting. You don’t even need to organise a full team, you can opt to join a one off game as a solo player. There’s no long term commitments either, you could play one game and then hang up your boots, never to play for a team again. You could also obviously organise regular games for a team of your own creation. The joy of this, much as with football, is that you have the freedom to play your way.
3. Ice Skating
Now on to something a bit more seasonally appropriate – ice skating. Who doesn’t want to glide around the ice and get into the winter spirit? Or, in some cases, who doesn’t want to cautiously hug the edge of an ice rink to avoid any embarrassing (potentially drunken) falls as kids whizz past you as they skate backwards? Either way, it’s basically a tradition in the run up to Christmas to visit an ice rink, and in London, you’re spoilt for choice. Especially around the holiday season. You could visit Skylight at Tobacco Docks, the first rooftop ice skating rink in Europe, and have skyline views as you skate as well as food for two & a bottle of wine to share included with your ticket. Alternatively, you could check out these 10 ice rinks, which could also tickle your fancy.
4. Shooting Range
You might be wondering why a shooting range is on a list of sports things to do. The answer is if it’s good enough for the Olympics, then who are we to disagree? Your next thought might be “but guns are illegal in the UK”, and in most cases, you are correct, but there are a few instances where guns can be used legally. The most accessible way is by going to a registered shooting range where you will have professional instructors walk you through and oversee the experience. No matter where you are in London, there’s likely a shooting range not too far from you. Don’t be shy, enjoy the thrill of a shooting experience and test your shot to see who the top gunslinger is amongst your mates.
5. Whistle Punks Axe Throwing
This one, we can admit, is a bit borderline. Is it a sport? Is it not? Who actually cares? Let’s just call this one sports adjacent or a “sports thing to do”. Regardless of what you categorise it as it’s bloody(not literally) axe throwing! You’re basically being given the chance to channel your inner Viking and launch axes down a course. Granted, you will probably be absolutely shocking at it when you start, but with sessions being 70 minutes and an instructor on hand, you’ve got plenty of time to hit the bullseye. By the end of the session, you’ll be throwing axes as freely and confidently as Thor throws Stormbreaker.
6. Home Run House
Taking things away from the more unconventional sports things to do, but still on the theme of something you may not have tried is baseball. Not the full fledged game though, that looks intense. Instead, pit yourself against a pitching machine at Home Run House. They have collaborated with America’s Major League Baseball(MLB) to deliver the most authentic baseball experience you can get. All abilities are welcome at the batting cages, the aim is to have fun, not win yourself a pro sports contract. As such, you can dial the pitching machine up or down to suit the experience that you want to have. You should come out with a better batting ability as the technology on offer is used to track performance by the pros. If you don’t, at least you’ll have had a laugh and potentially a release of frustration on those occasions you do manage to smash the ball back in the direction it came from.
7. Mini Golf
Mini golf, crazy golf or whatever you want to call it, is an elite activity. World Cup alternative or not, you should be taking on the challenge of mini golf – especially when you have all these options. Traditional golf can be a little, predictable, shall we say. You can see the course in front of you and your only obstacles are the natural ones, which in theory, are pretty easy to avoid. Crazy golf just ups that challenge in the best way. One, the courses are much smaller, so no need for long walks (although the buggies do look quite fun). Two, the obstacles usually appear to be plucked straight from the mind of the Joker – you could be required to make a putt that requires your ball to bounce across drum skins. Three, you can drink the whole way through. Doesn’t really need any more selling does it?
8. Driving Range
Okay, now it’s time for you to forget that we just spoke about mini/crazy golf. Well, maybe you do. If you want what arguably looks like the most fun part of golf without the faff, a driving range is the option for you. The best part of golf is actually hitting the ball. Granted, the aim of the game is to ideally hit it as few times as possible to get it in the hole, but that doesn’t stop the hitting element from being the most engaging part of it. So rather than worrying about hitting the fewest number of shots, hit as many shots as you want – in fact, the more, the better you should get. The driving range is, of course, the perfect place for that, just tee up and swing for the fences until you’re satisfied (or run out of balls).
9. Go Karting
Go Karting is a sport right? F1 counts as one, and by that logic, so does go karting since it’s essentially the same premise, typically just on a smaller scale and with slight nuances between the two. So gear up (sorry we had to do it) and put your skills to the test. You don’t even need to be a petrolhead to enjoy these, just a smidge of competitiveness. Even if you think you’ll be relatively tame on the track, as soon as you get a little taste of just how fast the karts can go, you’ll be gunning to fly down the straights and take the top spot. There are several locations in London (and just outside of it) you can take to the track, TeamSport has the most locations dotted around London but be sure to check out all of these tracks too.
10. F1 Arcade
This kind of tags onto go karting, but also slightly deserves its own mention. It’s another of those sports adjacent things to do. F1 Arcade is a first of its kind experiential venue that gets you as close to being in an F1 driver’s seat as possible in London. The venue features 60 motion F1 simulators that make use of physics that emulates 2022 vehicle specifications as well as official licensing. In theory, you will be able to not only simulate driving an F1 car you’ll get to pick out the specific car you want to drive, and each will drive slightly differently. You’ll receive only the finest service with some world class food and drink options to go alongside a Grand Prix experience. F1 Arcade opens its doors on November 24, and if you head over to their site, you can make a booking now.
The difference between climbing and bouldering is a small but significant one. Climbing, more typically referred to as rope climbing, involves protective gear that includes a rope – no surprises there. Bouldering, on the other hand, scraps that and instead only requires climbing shoes and a crashpad. Bouldering also typically has walls that aren’t as high, for obvious reasons. Regardless, both are great workouts, and you can check out nine of our favourite venues in London that offer climbing and/or bouldering.
Last but not least, we have trampolining, technically not a sport, but it is probably the closest you’ll get to being able to do a backflip. That’s close enough to an element of gymnastics for us to run with it. You can find yourself flipping in no time too, whether you want fitness classes, family friendly fun, or just a huge space lined with trampolines and free jumping equipment, there’s definitely a place for you. This works as a fun day out as a family or as a way to get active without it feeling like you’re actually working out. Bonus points for this one, as a lot of them offer sessions specifically for children, children and adults with disabilities or special education, alongside general sessions.