Traditional Sports in Spain
Language Resources

Traditional Sports in Spain

If you ask people to think of a typical Spanish sport, most people will think of soccer. But the truth is that in Spain we also have typical, traditional sports with a lot of history behind them, and which, unfortunately, many people have forgotten about. Here are some examples:

Caliche murciano (caliche from Murcia): This sport gets its name from the wooden cylinder placed on the ground that must be knocked over with pieces of metal called “moneos.” Usually coins are placed on top of the caliche. The distance between the knocked down caliche and the coins determines the points won by the player.

Harri-jasotze: This is a traditional sport from the Basque Country in which stones of different weights and shapes are lifted. There are four categories based on the shape of the weights: cylindrical, rectangular, cubic or spherical. It became very popular thanks to the sportsman Iñaki Perurena from Navarre. 

Loita galega (Loita from Galicia): This literally means “Galician fight” and is being saved from oblivion by different cultural and sports associations in Galicia. Its peculiarity comes from the fact that you have to take down your opponent using only your skills, without hitting him. Interestingly, there is a mixed form of the sport in which a man faces a woman which, in the past, was thought to be a form of flirting.

Valencian pilota: This is a sport, many centuries old, in which two opponents or two teams compete by throwing a ball against a wall with their bare hands, while the opposing team uses the ball’s momentum to return the serve in order to stay in the game. There’s controversy about this game because many think that it is very similar to Basque pelota.

Picota: This is a sport from Aragon that reminds some people of baseball, although it’s played individually. The player has to pick up the “picota” (a piece of tapered wood) from the ground with the help of a bat and then hit it with the bat before it hits the ground again. The same process is repeated three times and the player who has hit the “picota” the farthest wins.

Tiro de reja (plowshare throw): This is a throwing sport that comes from Castilla-La Mancha in which the person who throws a plowshare the farthest and with the best form wins (the plowshare is the part of the plow that breaks up the earth).

Vela Latina Canaria: The origins of this sport are unknown although many think it comes from the mythic guanches, the original inhabitants of the Canary Islands. The sport revolves around regattas in which small boats with enormous sails, which oblige crews to use their technical skills to make sure the boat doesn’t capsize and in order to take advantage of the wind, race.  

Verdadera destreza: This is an ancient discipline that could be placed in the category “European martial art.” It is a form of fencing based on modernizing various types of military fencing used in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today it is fairly popular because of the new surge in books and shows set in the golden age.

Now that we’ve told you about some of these important and fascinating sports, we hope you’ll go out and discover them and join in the fun!