Vocabulary - types of sport and verbs to describe exercise

Spanish footballers celebrating winning trophy

El fútbol (football) is hugely popular in Spain and the country is home to some of the world's biggest and most successful clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid. The national team does pretty well too! Some well-known Spanish personalities from other sports include Rafael Nadal (tennis), Fernando Alonso (Formula 1) and Pau Gasol (basketball). Here are some different sports to get you started:

el alpinismoclimbing
los artes marcialesmartial arts
el atletismoathletics
el baloncestobasketball
el boxeoboxing
el ciclismocycling
el críquetcricket
el esquískiing
la equitaciónhorse riding
el fútbolfootball
la gimnasiagymnastics
la nataciónswimming
el patinajeskating
el piragüismocanoeing
el tenistennis
la velasailing

You may also refer to el deporte (sport), el ejercicio (exercise) or la actividad física (physical activity).

The key verbs that are used to talk about sport are jugar (to play a sport), practicar (to practise/do/take part in a sport) and hacer (to do). It is important to know how to use these in the past, present and future tenses:

jugué al tenis (I played tennis).juego al tenis (I play tennis).voy a jugar/jugaré al tenis (I am going to play/I will play tennis).
practiqué el atletismo (I did athletics).practico el atletismo (I do athletics).voy a practicar/practicaré el atletismo (I am going to do/I will do athletics).
hice la natación (I went swimming).hago la natación (I go swimming).voy a hacer/haré la natación (I am going to go/I will go swimming).

Other useful verbs for talking about sports are:

andar/caminarto walk
bailarto dance
correrto run
escalarto climb
esquiarto ski
ganarto win
ir al gimnasioto go to the gym
marcar (un gol)to score (a goal)
montar a caballo/en bicito go horseriding/cycling
nadarto swim
participarto participate
patinarto skate
perderto lose
saltarto jump

You may also want to say how often you take part in certain sports:

a menudooften
a vecessometimes
de vez en cuandofrom time to time/once in a while
todos los días/cada díaevery day
dos veces a la semanatwice a week
cada semanaevery week

These young people are posting on social media about how much sport they do.

A runner on a laptop screen


Juego al tenis regularmente con mis amigos, pero odio el boxeo porque es muy violento. También voy al gimnasio cada día.


Después de mis exámenes, me gustaría aprender a practicar los artes marciales porque me fascinan. Es importante hacer deporte entonces me gusta correr diariamente y también monto en bicicleta cada fin de semana.


Tengo que admitir que no hago mucho deporte. Solamente practico el atletismo una vez a la semana en el colegio y voy al polideportivo para nadar de vez en cuando.


Read the social media posts, note two sports that each person does and say how often they do them. Write your answers in English.


SportHow often
goes to the gymevery day

Be careful as Paco mentions el boxeo (boxing), but does not say that he boxes, in fact, he says that he hates it!


SportHow often
cyclingevery weekend

Lana says that she wants to take up martial arts after her exams, she does not say that she does this sport.


SportHow often
athleticsonce a week
swimmingfrom time to time

Jordi says no hago mucho deporte (I don't do much sport) but make sure that you look for the correct answers in what else he says.