Best sports anime is a niche sub-genre of anime but shows like Ping Pong The Animation and Haikyuu are among the best ones ever. Here's the top 10 ranked.

If you think the sports anime genre is boring, then you probably never watched a decent sports anime. A good sports anime is like a well-written drama, but with sports involved. The characters need to be interesting with different motivations and rich backgrounds that make you want to cheer or boo them. The animation has to be some of the best to make the sports interesting and fun to watch.

So here are ten sports anime we think have strong characters, well-done drama, and great animation.

1. Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club (2013 – 2018)
Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club is centred on the story of a high school boys’ swimming team. When gifted swimmer Haruka Nanase reunites with his childhood friends in high school, they work together to bring the school’s swim club back to its former glory whilst mending broken relationships.

The anime series focuses on friendship and bonds between characters, so you can expect to see lots of character and personal development.

We can’t all get in the water in the midst of a pandemic, but we can at least watch pretty boys swim and glisten in a pool. It is the perfect refreshing series to get started on – just in time to beat the sweltering heat that comes with summer.

2. Kuroko’s Basketball (2012 – 2015)
One of the more popular sports anime alongside Haikyuu!!, Kuroko no Basuke is a longer series with 75 episodes so you can binge to your heart’s content. It tells the story of a high school basketball team trying to make it to the Interhigh Championship, an annual high school basketball tournament.

Although naysayers have noted that the use of supernatural powers in a sports anime is unrealistic, fans have praised the series for seamlessly weaving magical elements into basketball moves.

Unlike typical sports animes where the main character wins unconditionally, the protagonist, Tetsuya Kuroko, and other characters meet strong opponents. They struggle, fail, and rise up to challenges. The series will keep you on your toes, which makes the characters’ success all the more satisfying to watch.

Karasuno High School takes on the challenge to be Japan’s number one volleyball team. Their two new recruits - Hinata and Tobio - are the keys to this newly revived team's success. However, there will be many obstacles that will test their skills and friendship. Will they be able to break through the tall walls in front of them?

Haikyuu!! Second Season is a top class sports anime. Witnessing the dizzying skills and moves of each character will inspire you to try your hand at volleyball too!

4. Hajime No Ippo
Ippo Makunouchi is a gentle, quiet High School student who is frequently bullied. He wants to become a better person and fight back. However, he's never been good at fighting -- that is until a boxer named Takamura Mamoru saves him from bullies and introduces him to the brutal world of boxing. Training to be stronger, Ippo goes through many hardships to reach his goals.

Hajime no Ippo is an amazing anime featuring growth, grit, and spectacular action. It might just knock you down and take your breath away.

5. Megalo Box
"To be quiet and do as you're told, that's the cowardly choice." These are the words of Junk Dog, an underground fighter of Megalo Box, an evolution of boxing that utilizes mechanical limbs known as Gear to enhance the speed and power of its users. Despite the young man's brimming potential as a boxer, the illegal nature of his participation forces him to make a living off of throwing matches as dictated by his boss Gansaku Nanbu. However, this all changes when the Megalo Box champion Yuuri enters his shabby ring under the guise of just another challenger. Taken out in a single round, Junk Dog is left with a challenge: "If you're serious about fighting me again, then fight your way up to me and my ring."

Filled with overwhelming excitement and backed by the criminal syndicate responsible for his thrown matches, Junk Dog enters Megalonia: a world-spanning tournament that will decide the strongest Megalo Boxer of them all. Having no name of his own, he takes on the moniker of "Joe" as he begins his climb from the very bottom of the ranked list of fighters. With only three months left to qualify, Joe must face off against opponents the likes of which he has never fought in order to meet the challenge of his rival.

6. Chihayafuru
Chihaya Ayase, a strong-willed and tomboyish girl, grows up under the shadow of her older sister. With no dreams of her own, she is contented with her share in life till she meets Arata Wataya. The quiet transfer student in her elementary class introduces her to competitive karuta, a physically and mentally demanding card game inspired by the classic Japanese anthology of Hundred Poets. Captivated by Arata's passion for the game and inspired by the possibility of becoming the best in Japan, Chihaya quickly falls in love with the world of karuta. Along with the prodigy Arata and her haughty but hard-working friend Taichi Mashima, she joins the local Shiranami Society. The trio spends their idyllic childhood days playing together, until circumstances split them up.

Now in high school, Chihaya has grown into a karuta freak. She aims to establish the Municipal Mizusawa High Competitive Karuta Club, setting her sights on the national championship at Omi Jingu. Reunited with the now indifferent Taichi, Chihaya's dream of establishing a karuta team is only one step away from becoming true: she must bring together members with a passion for the game that matches her own.

7. Ookiku Furikabutte (Big Windup!)
Here comes another sport that’s a big staple in the anime world. I say staple because it’s one of the most used sports in anime next to basketball. And that sport is baseball. So, taking the number nine slot is Ookiku Futikabutte, also known as Big Windup!

This show seemingly starts off as a slice of life anime. But then, as it gradually picks up, the tension starts to burst. That being said, the show sets you up for a big windup! And that’s a good thing if I must say. The series is realistic yet very exciting. You'll find yourself rooting for the characters.

8. Hajime no Ippo
With a sport as popular as boxing, there had to be an anime that’s centered on the sport. And there is, we have the boxing anime Hajime no Ippo.

Hajime no Ippo shows boxing at its finest. You’ll see many boxing moves in this show that you never thought existed. This series will show you that boxing is a lot more than frantic and random punches. This show teaches us the importance of perseverance and diligence throughout the action and drama of the story.

9. How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift?
Since How Heavy Are The Dumbbells You Lift is an ecchi anime that thrives on fan service and "bro-science" humor, it may not befit everyone's taste. But, for anyone who has been in the pursuit of bodybuilding or regular fitness, the comedic stylings of this one are enough to entertain. The central character of the series is gluttonous high schooler Hibiki Sakura. When her expanding waistline begins to concern her, she decides to turn her life around and joins a gym. But, at every step, she must conquer insurmountable and often hilarious odds to stick to her fitness journey.

10. Prince Of Tennis
Premiering way back in the mid-aughts, Prince of Tennis drifts away from the typical sports anime narrative. Instead of focusing on an underdog character, it tells the story of a star player, Ryouma Echizen. The young boy joins the Seishun Gakuen Junior High School after moving to Japan from the West.