Dutch Sports Vocabulary #1 Best Guide

Before we get to Dutch sports vocabulary, we should clear something up first. You’ve probably cheered for The Netherlands in the Euro Cup or World Cup and possibly even during the Olympic games and didn’t even know it. That’s because The Netherlands is also referred to as Holland. Both countries are one and the same and they speak Dutch!

Your first lesson is going to be about how to say sport or sports in Dutch. Interestingly enough, there is only one word for both, and get this – it’s sport and the Dutch (as they’re called) love sport!

In fact, if you’re new to the country the best and quickest way to make friends is to join a sports club. After learning about the most popular sports in The Netherlands below, you can get a better idea of what sports to try.

Let’s get going and learn some sports vocabulary in Dutch!


The Most Popular Sports In The Netherlands

If you’ve ever watched Holland play in any international competitions such as the FIFA World Cup finals, you’ve likely noticed that bright orange is the color of choice for teams and spectators alike. This is interesting because their country’s flag is red, so why do the people of The Netherlands like orange so much?

It’s because orange is literally part of the Dutch royal family’s name; the House of Orange-Nassau. The founding father of The Netherlands was a gentleman named William of Orange and today, the color symbolizes national unity and pride.

  1. Football (soccer) – voetbal
Soccer in Dutch

What is the national sport of The Netherlands? You probably guessed; it’s football! People are so fanatic about soccer, it’s practically a religion. Not only do millions of people play football, but they watch on TV in droves, and have hundreds of football clubs around the country.

It is the most popular sport in The Netherlands and while they are very good at it they hold a very special place in World cup history. Sadly the Dutch hold the record for playing the most World Cup finals without ever winning the tournament.

  1. Field Hockey – Veld hockey
Popular sports in Dutch

The Dutch are known the world over as the ones to beat at field hockey. They have been world and Olympic champions numerous times. The Dutch women’s national field hockey team is the most successful team having won the World Cup (The Women’s FIH Hockey World Cup) six times! Also impressive is the men’s team which has won The Men’s FIH Hockey World Cup three times and the Olympic games twice.

  1. Tennis – Tennis
how to say sports in Dutch

While tennis is typically reserved for the wealthy, that hasn’t stopped over 600,000 Dutch from playing it! Tennis’ popularity roared because of Tom Okker’s success. He was one of the Dutch’s most successful tennis players. He was champion from 1964 to 1968 and earned the title of the greatest ever doubles player the sport has seen. Okker was so good he was nicknamed “The Flying Dutchman”.

  1. Volleyball – Volleybal
Sports vocabulary in Dutch

Seeing volleyball on this list may come as a surprise, but it’s really popular – even beach volleyball too! Children are introduced to the sport in gym class and many go on to enjoy the sport as a hobby or professionally. While the national team hasn’t had great success compared to nations such as Brazil, it’s still a popular game within The Netherlands.

  1. Cycling – Wielersport
Cycling in Dutch

When many people think of The Netherlands, they think – bicycles! Yes, bikes are everywhere and everyone seems to cycle everywhere. It may be in their blood!

The Dutch are known to be professionals at the velodrome aka track cycling. The Germans and Dutch are nearly always neck and neck at the finishing line. It’s a popular Dutch sport, especially during the summer Olympics.

The men recently won Olympic gold and set an Olympics record for speed.

6. Golf – Golfen

golf in Dutch

Like in many westernized nations, golf is a popular pastime. It has given birth to two excellent players named Joost Luiten and Christel Boeljon. Luiten has won four European Tour events and Boeljon has won events on the Ladies European Tour four times.

Many look up to them and are forging their own way in the sport, but it largely remains popular within the retiree community.

  1. Gymnastics – Gymnastiek
Most popular sports in Dutch

Gymnastics is a popular sport among the youth, especially young women due to the women’s national gymnastics team. They consistently place in the top 10 at international competitions including the European Games and the European Championships

  1. Ice Skating – Schaatse
speed skating in Dutch

The two most popular sports within this realm are speed skating and figure skating. The Dutch are excellent speed skaters with Thomas Krol winning the most sought-after speed skating competition award – the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 2022.

In figure skating, Sjoukje Dijkstra, has won the World Championships three times.


Let’s Learn More Dutch Sports Vocabulary

Other sports in Dutch

Of course, the sports listed above aren’t the only sports the Dutch play. You may be wondering if basketball is big in The Netherlands, or is cricket popular? While not as popular as the sports mentioned above, the Dutch do enjoy them too!

So here’s a listing of other sports Dutch people enjoy playing too.

Horse ridingPaardrijden
Table tennis (Pingpong)Tafeltennis


Ten Sports Unique To The Netherlands

Sports in Dutch

Here is a collection of The Netherlands’ popular sports that you’ve likely never even heard of! You won’t hear of any world championship or Olympic history for these sports, although there are quite a few Dutch players that will be happy to teach you the rules of these traditional sports.

1. Paalzitten – Sitting

This one just cracks me up! There’s an actual sport where the goal is for people to compete to see who can sit on the top end of a pole the longest! The record stands at over 90 hours and this sport was featured on at least one of the seasons of the reality show Survivor.

2. Fierljeppen – Canal Jumping

Fierljeppen actually stands for far jumping and the goal is to use a pole to help you get across a canal. Essentially you jump onto the pole and control your fall onto the other side of a canal.

3. Korfbal – Think Basketball, Netball, Handball, & Kickball Mixed Together

Since the Dutch invented korfbal, over 70 countries now play this sport and it’s even a recognized sport at the World Games. Essentially, the goal of this sport is to get a ball into a hoop that’s 3.5 meters above the ground by any means possible.

4. Sjoelen – Dutch Shuffleboard 

It’s said that every family has one of these game boards hidden away in their attic. In a highly competitive and addictive game, the aim is to get 30 pucks through slots to earn points.

5. Kaatsen – Handball

This Dutch sport is essentially handball, or “tennis without rackets” as someone else hilariously puts it! It’s one of the oldest ball games in the world’s history.

6. Beugelen – Dutch Croquet

Once only a sport for the monarchy, beugelen has now made its way down to the masses and has grown in popularity. It’s a mix between croquet and boules in that you use a wooden bat (like a cricket bat) to knock a really heavy metal ball through a wire hole.

7. Klootschieten – Throwing Balls Really Far!

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. You take a ball, you throw it as far as you can, and you celebrate! The record for the furthest thrown ball is actually quite impressive; over 106 meters!

8. Elfstedentocht – Canal Skating

The Dutch love skating! For this sport, all that’s required is a frozen canal. Well actually, about 200 km of frozen canals. This competition or race takes place annually in different sports around the country.

9. Marathonschaatsen – Skating Marathon

Think running a marathon but on skates! This sport takes place indoors around an ice track where men complete 125 laps and women 80 laps.

10. Tegenwindfietsen – Cycling Against The Wind

I can just imagine the cyclist’s faces as the strong wind blows onto their faces! There’s even a Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships that is televised each year.


Learn More Dutch Today!

After studying Dutch sports vocabulary and learning about some new and fun-sounding sports, head on over to Ling App to learn more!

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