Top 7 Unusual Sports to Try in Munich

Underwater hockey match © Ingmar Janßen-Holldiek
Underwater hockey match © Ingmar Janßen-Holldiek
Photo of Roanna Mottershead
22 March 2017

Though Germany’s football team might be well-known, Munich has more of a reputation for maß lifting than sports. But appearances can be deceptive: as well as being just an hour or two from the Alps where you can go skiing, paragliding, or rock climbing, there’s also a whole host of sports you can try in Munich. From underwater hockey to roller derby, here are seven of the most unusual.

Underwater Hockey

Yes, you read that correctly. To compete in this rapid underwater game you’ll need a snorkel, a 30 cm stick, and some fins — guys, be prepared to dust off your speedos as well! Much like ice hockey, players have assigned defending or attacking positions marked by the colour of their swimming cap and continually switch with a so-called “flying change” depending on where the weighted puck is. Underwater, however, players can’t call out to one another, so teams need to be in sync and anticipate when other players will need to come up for air. Munich takes this sport pretty seriously with a dedicated club, the Munich Marlins.

Underwater hockey match | © Ingmar Janßen-Holldiek

Ice Freestyle

Ever wondered what would happen if figure skaters started breakdancing? Ice Freestyle is the answer! Many Müncheners grew up skating and small groups of young people are beginning to combine their skating and dancing skills. You have to be more than confident on the ice to take up this hobby; skaters specialise in jumps and tricks — everything from headspins to leaping over their fellow freestylers. Visit the Eis- und Funsportzentrum in München Ost to see them in action.
Staudingerstraße 17, 81735 München, Germany, +49 89 63019147.

Irish Hurling

This traditional Gaelic game is alive and well in the city, thanks to a group of Irish expats who started playing in the Englisch Garten in 2001 and formed the Munich Colmcilles. The game has elements that are similar to rugby, basketball, and hockey. Players use a wooden stick called a hurley to dribble by bouncing the sliotar (a small ball) on the stick, with the aim of hitting it into the goal for three points, or between the rugby-style posts for one point. You’re also allowed to hold the ball for a maximum of four steps.

Irish hurling in action | © Irish defence forces by 2.0 / Wikicommons

Kayak Polo

This combines two of Germany’s passions — handball and time on/by a lake. Played on a flat stretch of water, two teams of five compete to score in their opponent’s goal two metres above the water! As well as being a skilled kayaker, players need to be able to maneouvre quickly and be accurate when throwing the ball. Be warned — this is no gentle paddle on the lake: although paddles with more rounded edges are used, players will still need helmets, some body protection and face-guards for when play gets rough.

Roller Derby

Fast, furious and strangely addictive to watch, roller derby sees teams of women battle to score points by racing around a track on roller skates. This is not a sport for wimps: it’s full contact as each team’s “jammer” tries to fight their way through the opposition’s “blockers” in an attempt to score. More than a sport it has its very own culture with players adopting a roller derby name, such as “Germanatrix” and “Pina Collider”, and even taking a derby wife. You’ll find the Munich Rolling Rebels and Municorns fighting regular bouts against international teams.

Roller derby bout | © Munich Rolling Rebels

Dragon Boating

This sport is becoming increasingly popular around the world, and Munich is no exception. The boat itself is similar to a canoe, but longer and wider to accommodate the 16 rowers and a drummer who dictates the pace. With just one oar each, paddlers must pick sides, often ending up with one very muscly shoulder as a result! Each year, Munich hosts the Alpenland Drachenboot-Cup at Lake Chiemsee where local teams, such as the Bavarian Kongs, fight it out to be the quickest and take home the prize.

River Surfing

Map View
River surfing in Munich
River surfing in Munich | © Martin Falbisoner / Wikicommons
The edge of the Englisch Garten opposite Bruderstrasse is home to one of Munich’s favourite and most unlikely pastimes — surfing! As water thunders out from beneath a small bridge, lines of surfers wait patiently on either side of the bank for their turn. Surfers need to jump off the bank and onto their board, as well as making sharp turns to avoid the river walls — that’s why you’ll find Munich surf shops selling small boards with kevlar protected edges. Even in Munich’s bitter winters you’ll find people tackling the waves, and Eisbachwelle is strangely mesmerising.