1. 'Free! '
'Free!' revolves around Haruka Nanase, a tsundere high schooler who loves swimming, and only swims free. When his childhood friend/ relay teammate Rin Matsuoka returns from Australia, Haru and and two other boys, Nagisa and Makoto started the Iwatobi Swimming Club in hope of racing Rin once more. This is not simply an anime about swimming; it’s about struggle, friendship, and passion. The plot is quite simple, but the character development is simply amazing. You will cry, you will laugh, you will blush (since the whole series is fanservice). You should also watch the second season, “Free! Eternal Summer”, and the OVA for both seasons. Have fun crying!
'Haikyuu!' is one of the most popular ongoing sports anime as of now. The reason why the series is so successful is probably because it’s so relatable; there’s no superpower or magic and everyone on the team has their own struggles, and works hard to win. The plot focuses around Shoyou Hinata, and Tobio Kageyama, the first year duo who are complete opposites. Kageyama is a volleyball prodigy who specializes in setting, while Hinata has a natural ability for jumping high, and hopes to become the ace. 'Haikyuu!' Second Season’s also worth looking into, with the introduction of brand new characters and a deeper focus on the growth of Hinata and Kageyama. Haikyuu! is hilarious, realistic and highly entertaining series- 10/10 should watch.
3. 'One Outs'
Tokuchi Toua is not only a genius pitcher- he’s also a gambler. After being discovered by a professional baseball player, he joined Lycaons as an official player. However, the team’s owner and Tokuchi signed a secret contract: he gets 5 million yen for every out pitched, but has to pay 50 million for every run he gives up. Tokuchi defeats team after team, and overcomes each and every single plan the owner comes up with against him. Although it’s an anime about baseball, the actual baseball doesn’t contribute much to the series. Instead, what’s so good is the psychological tension, and the mind games between players. Definitely something to start watching if you are into the drama/psychological genre.
4. 'Prince of Tennis'
This anime centers around 12-year-old Ryoma Echizen, an arrogant tennis prodigy who quickly made the Seigaku Tennis Club as a first year. Together, Ryoma hopes to win the National Middle School Tennis Championship with his teammates. The series is clearly biased as its protagonist wins game after game, continuously makes comebacks and almost never loses to anyone. Regardless, it is worth-watching, and has plenty of funny moments you won’t want to miss. If you plan to watch 'Prince of Tennis', be careful not to stay up until 5 AM, since episodes tend to end mid-game. There is also a second season, along with several OVAs.
5. 'Yowamushi Pedal'
'Yowamushi Pedal' is quite typical- it’s about Onoda Sakamichi, an anime otaku who happens to be a talented cyclist. Two other fellow first year cyclists, Naruko and Imaizumi, convinced Onoda to join the school’s cycling club after seeing him riding up a hill effortlessly. It’s fairly cliche: a nerdy kid discovered by the “cool kids”, and trains to win the National tournament. If you’ve never really thought cycling’s a cool sport, you definitely should watch this anime. It praises hard work, willpower, and nerds. Enough said?
6. 'Kuroko no Basket'
'Kuroko no Basket' is awesome. Period. When high school first year Kagami Taiga returned from America and joined Seirin Basketball Club, he met Kuroko Tetsuya, another player who’s almost always invisible, due to his weak presence. Together, they become the “shadow and light” of Seirin in hope of defeating Kuroko’s old teammates, the Generation of Miracles- a group of 5 players with extraordinary talents. Besides the excellent plot, Kuroko no Basket's focus on individual characters makes it even better. There are laugh out loud moments that will send you rolling on the floor, and heartfelt episodes that will crush you into tiny pieces. However, there are matches that last up to 6 episodes which sometimes makes it hard to keep up with. Anyone who’s getting into sports anime HAS TO watch Kuroko no Basket. There are 3 seasons, and an “Extra Game” manga sequel. The third season’s OVA will be released this December.
7. 'Diamond no Ace'
Chances are, if you’re not fond of baseball, 'Diamond no Ace' will make you. The on-going series introduces us to Eijun Sawamura- a talented first year pitcher who has little knowledge about baseball, but is extremely flexible and talented. He was scouted by Seidou High School and became friends with Satoru Furuya, a right-handed pitcher who’s known as a living legend in the world of high school baseball. 'Diamond no Ace' has a great flow of intensity, and will constantly keep you on edge. This series, along with Kuroko no Baske, are considered musts for people who are new to the genre. The latest episode, “The Ace’s Instinct” is released on November 16.
8. 'Hajime no Ippo'
Ippo Makunouchi was a just shy high school kid who got picked on when an old boxer rescued him while being beaten up. Ippo was brought back to a gym owned by another boxer, Kamogawa, to be bandaged. However, after he started releasing anger onto a sandbag, the boy’s talent for boxing was immediately recognized. Kamogawa eventually agreed to train Ippo, and make him a boxing champion. Unlike many sports anime that focus on strategies and winning, Hajime no Ippo is funny, heartwarming, and emphasizes character development despite its violent theme. Hajime no Ippo is quite old, compared to other anime on the list. However, there’s something very charming about the drawing style, as it fits perfectly with the story’s spirit.