Participating in sports during middle school is a great way for students to stay active, build friendships, and develop important life skills. If you’re a parent looking for the best sports for your middle schooler to try, this comprehensive guide outlines the top options based on popularity, benefits, and overall enjoyment.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Team sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball, and flag football are great options for middle schoolers along with some individual sports like swimming, cross country, tennis, and track and field.

Most Popular Team Sports


Soccer, also known as football in many countries, is one of the most popular team sports played in middle schools around the world. It is a fast-paced game that requires teamwork, agility, and strategic thinking.

Soccer helps in developing various skills such as coordination, endurance, and communication. According to one report, soccer is the fifth most popular sport for boys and the fourth most popular sport for girls in high school.


Basketball is another highly popular team sport played in middle schools. It is a dynamic and exciting game that requires a combination of physical skills such as coordination, speed, and endurance.

Basketball also enhances cognitive abilities such as decision-making and problem-solving. Basketball is one of the top five most played team sports in the United States. 


Volleyball is a team sport that is commonly played in middle schools, both as a recreational activity and as a competitive sport. It is a game that requires teamwork, coordination, and agility.

Volleyball helps in developing skills such as timing, spatial awareness, and communication. Volleyball is one of the fastest-growing team sports in the United States. 


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Flag Football

Flag football is a modified version of American football that is often played in middle schools. It is a non-contact sport where players wear flags that are pulled by opponents instead of tackling.

Flag football helps in developing skills such as agility, hand-eye coordination, and strategic thinking. It is one of the most popular team sports for both boys and girls in the United States. 

Best Individual Sports


Swimming is often considered one of the best individual sports for middle school students. Not only does it provide a full-body workout, but it also helps improve cardiovascular endurance and muscle strength.

Additionally, swimming is a low-impact sport, making it suitable for students of all fitness levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced swimmer, there are various swimming strokes and techniques to learn and master.

Participating in swimming competitions can also boost confidence and teamwork skills. If you’re looking to stay fit and have fun, diving into the world of swimming could be a great choice!

Cross Country

Cross country running is another excellent individual sport for middle school students. It offers a unique opportunity to explore the outdoors while improving physical fitness. Running long distances can help build stamina and endurance, as well as improve mental focus and discipline.

Cross country races often take place in scenic locations, allowing participants to enjoy the beauty of nature while challenging themselves. Being part of a cross country team can foster camaraderie and a sense of belonging.

Lace up your running shoes and hit the trails for an exciting cross country adventure!


Tennis is a fantastic individual sport that combines physical agility, mental strategy, and hand-eye coordination. Whether playing singles or doubles, tennis offers an engaging and competitive experience. It helps improve reflexes, balance, and overall body coordination.

Tennis can be played at any skill level, making it accessible to beginners as well as more experienced players. Playing tennis also teaches valuable life skills such as sportsmanship, determination, and problem-solving. So grab your racket, find a court, and get ready to serve up some fun!


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Track and Field

Track and field encompasses a wide range of individual sports, including sprints, long-distance running, hurdles, high jump, long jump, and throwing events. It offers a diverse set of challenges that cater to different interests and abilities.

Track and field events can help improve speed, agility, strength, and coordination. They also foster a sense of healthy competition and teamwork, as individuals contribute to their team’s overall score.

Whether you excel in running, jumping, or throwing, track and field provides an opportunity to showcase your athletic talents and push yourself to new limits.

These are just a few of the best individual sports for middle school students. Each sport offers unique benefits and opportunities for personal growth. Ultimately, the best sport for you will depend on your interests, abilities, and personal goals.

So, explore your options, try out different sports, and discover the one that brings you joy and fulfillment. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and stay active!

Other Great Options


If your middle school offers golf as a sports option, don’t overlook it! Golf is a fantastic sport that requires precision, focus, and patience. It’s a great way to spend time outdoors and improve your hand-eye coordination.

Plus, golf can be enjoyed at any age, so it’s a skill that you can continue to develop throughout your life. 


Gymnastics is a challenging and exhilarating sport that offers a wide range of benefits. It improves strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. It also promotes discipline, perseverance, and self-confidence.

Whether you’re a beginner or have some experience, gymnastics is a sport that can be tailored to your skill level. 


Wrestling is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, agility, and mental toughness. It teaches discipline, perseverance, and the importance of teamwork. Wrestling is a great way to build confidence and improve overall fitness.

Many middle schools offer wrestling programs, but if yours doesn’t, you can check with local wrestling clubs or organizations for more information on how to get involved.


Lacrosse is a fast-paced and exciting sport that combines elements of basketball, soccer, and hockey. It requires speed, agility, and hand-eye coordination. Lacrosse is a great team sport that promotes communication, teamwork, and strategic thinking.


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Remember, these are just a few of the many sports options available for middle school students. Each sport offers its own unique benefits and challenges. Ultimately, the best sport for you is the one that you enjoy and feel passionate about.

So, don’t be afraid to try something new and discover your hidden talents!


Trying new sports and being part of a team provides many developmental benefits for middle schoolers. Team sports teach cooperation, leadership, and communication skills while individual sports emphasize self-discipline and time management.

Consider your child’s interests along with the most popular and accessible options at their school to find the best sports fit. As long as they’re staying active, building friendships, and having fun, any sports can set them up for success during the middle school years and beyond.

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