7 Team Sports in the Olympics

Most of these sports are more famous outside of the Olympics. As a rule, they must be played with at least three athletes a side.
7 Team Sports in the Olympics

Last update: 17 November, 2019

When talking about team sports in the Olympics, we’re referring to sports in which there are at least three participating athletes per team, during the entire course of the game. Learn more about them in the following article.

Which team sports are practiced in the Olympics?

Let’s dive into team sports in the Olympics. Some of them include basketball and soccer, which are very popular outside of this competition that takes place every four years.

Basketball in the Olympics

Basketball is a sport in which two teams consisting of five players face off against each other with the objective of throwing the ball into a basket – hence its name. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1936, although it was created in 1891 in the United States. It was on display during the 1928 Amsterdam Games.

Olympics handball


Handball is a sport in which two teams of seven players (six field players and one goalkeeper) play against each other with the objective of using their hands to throw the ball into the opposite goal post. This discipline first appeared in the Olympics in 1936, it was also present in the 1972 and 1976 games.

Soccer in the Olympics

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. However, it’s not very prominent in the Olympics. Soccer is played with 2 teams of 11 players (10 outfield players and 1 goalkeeper). The sport is played on a 100-meter long rectangular field.

The ball can be manipulated with the feet or the head. Touching the ball with the hands is not allowed. When it comes to the Olympics, soccer has been featured since the competitions first editions. Women’s soccer was introduced in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Field hockey

This is another well-known sport on an international level. It consists of two teams of 11 players (1o field players and 1 goalkeeper). The objective of the game is to introduce the ball into the opponent’s goal. Sticks are used to move the ball across the field. Mouthguards are worn in field hockey.

Field hockey

Synchronized swimming: a team sport in the Olympics

Synchronized swimming or artistic swimming is a discipline that combines dance and gymnastics with swimming. Swimmers have to make elaborate rhythmic movements both inside and outside of the water.

Although synchronized swimming can be practiced individually, most competitions take place with teams of eight to ten team members. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1984.


Volleyball is another Olympic sport that’s worth mentioning. It’s played by two teams made up of six players each. Volleyball is played on a rectangular court, separated in the middle by a 2.43 meter net for men and 2.24 meter net for women.

The objective of the sport is to pass the ball to the other side of the court using a maximum of three touches between the players of the same team. While volleyball was featured in the 1924 games in Paris, it had to wait for 40 years to become official – Tokyo 1964.

Water polo

The last sport we’d like to share with you is water polo. As the name implies, it’s played in a pool between two teams of seven (six players and one goalkeeper). The ball is moved around the pool with the hands. The objective of the sport is to throw the ball into the opponent’s goal.

Waterpolo olympics

Players aren’t allowed to step on the floor of the pool, they must stay afloat for the duration of the game. Each water polo match consists of four seven-minute periods.

It’s also important to keep in mind that there are other team sports in the Olympics such as 4 x 100 swimming, running and rowing. 

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Grant, M. E., Steffen, K., Glasgow, P., Phillips, N., Booth, L., & Galligan, M. (2014). The role of sports physiotherapy at the London 2012 Olympic Games. British Journal of Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2013-093169

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.