Top 20 Best Sports Anime Shows of All Time

By Louie Fecou
Published: January 15, 2023 (Last updated: 4 weeks ago)

We discuss the Top 20 Best Sports Anime Shows of All Time. Keep this anime list handy for the best recommendations.

Sports Anime is an incredibly popular genre, and it may surprise you to know that nearly every sport you can think of will have a corresponding Anime. Whether it is basketball or skateboarding, you can no doubt find one that covers the subject, and with that in mind we thought about bringing you the Top 20 Best Sports Anime Shows you must watch.

Top 20 Best Sports Anime Shows of All Time

20. Baby Steps (2015)

Eiichirou Maruo is a hardworking guy who joins his school tennis club over concerns about his health. While he is there he meets Natsu who loves the sport and is at his happiest when he plays. When he sees the joy and enthusiasm that Natsu has, he changes his approach to the sport, slowly realizing that it may fill in the gaps he feels in his life.

IMDB Rating 5.9/10

19. Prince of Stride Alternative (2016)

Stride is a fictional sport that is a mix of free running and parkour. Nana Sakurai enrolls in the Honan Academy, with the sole purpose of joining their Stride team. However, when they get there, they find that the club has disbanded as the members have pretty much given up. Nana and his close friend Takeru decide that they will try to rejuvenate the club and bring Stride back to the Academy.

IMDB Rating 6.5/10

18. Days (2016)

Tsukushi Tsukamoto doesn’t seem cut out to play football. He’s not particularly athletic and a bit clumsy and his personality seems to attract bullies. Surprisingly, though, the bullying actually allows him to develop some skills. After being rescued by Jin Kazama, he is invited to a futsal match. It turns out that Tsukushi has been building up his speed and stamina by running away from bullies. While he doesn’t know how to play football yet, his survival instincts turn out to be just what he needs to succeed in his high school’s football club.

IMDB Rating 6.6/10

17. The Knight in the Area (2012)

Soccer is the sport at the center of this series, and we follow the story of brothers Kakeru and Suguru. Suguru manages to make it to a professional level in the youth league, but Kakeru has to take on a managerial role, although his heart lies mainly in playing. He decides that he must work harder than ever to try and reach his goal, and with the help of an old friend Nana, he puts his heart and soul into becoming the player he knows he can be.

IMDB Rating 6.8/10

16. Free! Iwatobi Swim Club (2013)

The swimming team is at the heart of this drama featuring a high school swim team. It follows four friends that take part in a swimming competition before leaving school and moving on. Later they get back together in a tale of rivalry and competition that makes this one of the best-loved sports Anime of all time.

IMDB Rating 7.4/10

15. Prince of Tennis (2001)

Ryouma returns to Japan from the US with the goal of turning the world of tennis on its head. Ryouma is a prodigy but finds it difficult to compete as he is just a first-year player, and not highly regarded by the middle school team. The story follows the struggle of the twelve-year-old player and the matches he must win if he is to finally be accepted.

IMDB Rating 7.4/10

14. Eyeshield 21 (2005)

Sena Kobayakawa is an ace basketball player, but he does not want anyone to know this, Sena is a quiet and shy boy, and often feels the brunt of the school bullies. It is due to this that he learns how to move quickly, and this talent helps him become a player in the school’s American Football team which is in need of new talent. However, the team managers do not want the other teams to know who their new player is, so they supply him with a helmet and dark visor that will conceal his identity, and they name him Eyeshield 21. Humor and good characterization help elevate this Anime although the animation is sometimes criticized.

IMDB Rating 7.7/10

13. Yowamushi Pedal (2013) 

Sakamichi Onoda is an otaku who bikes from Chiba to Akihabara on a bicycle to pick up anime merchandise. When the school’s bike team sees his ability, they want to recruit him. Onoda has little interest in the sport, but once he gets into the way of the team, he finds a new love for the sport and eventually decides that his goal is to win the Inter-High. this high-octane cycling drama is an edge-of-the-seat thrill ride and has a high feel-good factor too.

IMDB Rating 7.7/10

12. Inazuma 11 (2008)

Here is another story of a soccer team that is nearly at the end of its run, with the team on the verge of dissolving. Mamoru Endou is determined to hold things together though. He is the captain of the team and in a last-ditch attempt, he tries to enroll the aid of  Shuuya Gouenji, an incredibly skillful player to help turn the team around. However, Shuuya has given up on playing, so it looks like the team’s last chance is hanging by a thread. This Anime is aimed at a younger audience but don’t be fooled, this has great characters and is extremely motivating.

IMDB Rating 8.0/10

11. SK8 The Infinity (2021)

“S” is a secret and incredibly dangerous skateboarding event that takes place in an abandoned mine. “Beefs” or fights during the event are commonplace, and the skaters don’t mind getting involved. Set in Okinawa, this is an exciting and thrilling Anime that follows high school student Reki who is a huge fan of “S”. When his new friend Langa joins the race, he is noticed by Adam, the founder of “S”, who is amazed by the new racer’s ability. The dynamics between the characters help this fast-paced story, giving it depth and nuance. Skateboarding fanatics will love this series.

IMDB Rating 8.1/10

10. Major (2004)

Here is a baseball story that centers around Gorou Honda who wants to become a baseball star just like his father Shigeharu was. However, his father is struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife and caring for his son. An elbow injury nearly ruins his career, but his determination and drive inspire young Gorou to fight his way to the top of the junior leagues. Heartwarming and motivational, this family-orientated sports drama has everything.

IMDB Rating 8.1/10

9. Ace of Diamond (2013)

Eijun Sawamura has a unique style of pitching that is spotted by a talent scout that makes him an offer to join the prestigious Seidou High School baseball team. His team encourages him to go, even though they know it will be a great loss to them, However, when he gets there, he realizes that the other members of the team are even more talented than he is, and he must struggle to prove to them that he can be the best.

IMDB Rating 8.2/10

8. Captain Tsubasa (2018)

11-year-old Tsubasa Oozora is obsessed with soccer and dreams that one day he will play for Japan in the World Cup. To try to get this dream off the ground, he moves with his mother to Nankatsu City, renowned for its superlative elementary school soccer program. It is while he is there that he meets some of his best friends and some of the most powerful enemies he could have imagined. This highly-rated soccer Anime is a well-loved story that has been around since the eighties.

IMDB Rating 8.2/10

7. One Outs (2008)

Toua Tokuchi is a gambler, trouble is, he is also a skilled baseball player and he’s more interested in making money than playing the sport. At first, he does this through a modified version of baseball called One Outs. Hiromichi Kojima of the Saikyou Saitama Lycaons notices his skill at the sport, and he tries to scout Toua for his team. Tokuchi signs up with the Lycaons under an unusual contract: he gets 5,000,000 yen for every out he pitches, but loses 50,000,000 yen for every point he gives up. This mix of baseball and life on the edge gambling makes this a gripping and mind-bending story.

IMDB Rating 8.3/10

6. Kurokus Basketball (2012)

Tetsuya Kuroko was the incredible sixth player in a middle school basketball team that defied the odds, producing three perfect seasons in a row. The players, known as “The Generation of Miracles” would move on to high school and join other teams. Tetsuya is now a freshman at Seirin High, a new school with an amazing, yet barely noticed team. He wants this team to become champions, but the obstacles that stand in his way are his old teammates. This Anime comes highly recommended and even if you are not a fan of the sport, this story will still inspire you.

IMDB Rating 8.3/10

5. Yuri!!! On Ice (2016)

After a terrible loss, Yuri Katsuki gives up on ice skating for good. However, when Victor Nikiforov sees Yuri performing, he flies to Japan to help him regain his love for the sport again and to coach him for the next event. As Yuri and Victor spend more time together, they find that they are falling in love. The stylish animation and choreography lift this series to a higher level, and the relationship between the two skaters is believable and adorable. With a nail-biting final act, this is high on our list.

IMDB Rating 8.3/10

4. Run With the Wind (2018)

Kakeru, who was once an elite runner at high school, is chased for stealing food. He is rescued by a Kansei University student Haiji, who is also a runner. Haiji persuades Kakeru to live in the old apartment “Chikuseisou” where he plans to organize with fellow residents to enter Hakone Ekiden Marathon, one of the most prestigious races in Japan. Kakeru soon finds out that all of the residents except for Haiji and himself are absolute beginners. This character-driven comedy drama uses the running theme to explore the nature of the relationships and situations of the ensemble cast.

IMDB Rating 8.4/10

3. Slam Dunk (1993)

Hanamichi Sakuragi has a reputation that he doesn’t want due to a fiery temper. His height would make him a great basketball player though. but he really does not enjoy the sport. However, when a girl named Haruko Akagi tries to recruit him to the school’s basketball team he changes his mind and finds he is an incredible player. Ultimately, he comes to love the sport – and his team. With some great humor and a fun premise, this series unfortunately remains an unfinished classic.

IMDB Rating 8.7/10

2. Haikyu (2014)

Here is the first mention of Volleyball on our list, and this tale follows some familiar beats with the Karasuno Volleyball Team and their journey to victory. A real sports Anime favorite, this is a classic and much-loved series that sees the underdogs coming out on top. Great characters and genuine respect for the sport put this in our top three.

IMDB Rating 8.7/10

1. Hajime No Ippo (2000)

Makunouchi Ippo is no stranger to being bullied. After being attacked quite badly he is found by a boxer named Takamura Mamoru who takes him back to his gym to recover. Once his strength returns, Takamura encourages him to attack a punching bag with his bully’s photo on it. This not only encourages him to defend himself, but it also awakens a love of boxing itself. With stunning animation, interesting characters, and a real uplifting triumph of the spirit feel, this is currently our top choice on the list. Don’t miss this one sports fans.

IMDB Rating 8.8/10

Do you have any other recommendations for Best Sports Anime Shows that should be in this Top 20? Let us know!

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