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The Most Popular Sports in Poland: Including Traditional Polish Games

The Most Popular Sports in Poland: Including Traditional Polish Games

The 3 Most Popular Sports in Poland: Including Traditional Polish Games

Poland has a diverse and rich sporting history - but what are the most popular sports in Poland? Read on to find out!

a group of men cheer and hold a volleyball trophy

The Polish volleyball team celebrate a victory

Traditional Polish Sports

Traditional and regional Polish sports like Palant, Kapela, Kulanie Kulotka, Pierścieniówka and Ringo all dominated the sports scene before modern sports like football became popular.

Although not played at tournaments or broadcasted on big screens, these traditional sports were games that kids enjoyed playing in their spare time or during holiday breaks.

The versions and rules may slightly differ depending on the region - and some people still play these fun traditional games today.


Palant is similar to modern-day baseball, as it is played with a wooden stick and a rubber ball.

The goal is for players to hit the ball, run to the finish line and back to the nest while the other team tries to distract the running player by hitting them with a ball.


Kapela is not to be mistaken for the Polish folk dance with the same name!

This sport is a local Polish sport originating from the Kociewie region, involving a duel between two players where one acts as a Kapelamaster in the centre, wearing a hat and building a stone chapel, while the other players try to knock down the chapel with wooden balls.

These players must avoid being hit by the thrown hat, with the roles changing whenever the chapel is successfully rebuilt and someone is hit.

The sport was considered extinct on a global scale, but recently some regions are showing interest in it again.

Kulanie Kulotka

Kulanie Kulotka is played using a flying disk with a wooden stick in the shape of the board. The goal is to toss the wooden disk across the finish line of the opposite team.


Pierścieniówka, also known as ringnetball, is a traditional Polish team sport invented in the 1930s.

Similar to basketball and volleyball, players must throw a ball through three holes in a net, with dynamic gameplay. This sport has the potential to become a national game in Poland.

The History of Sport in Poland

Poland’s sporting history is rich and diverse, despite the many obstacles that Polish athletes have faced throughout the years.

The Nazi Era

Sporting championships were illegal for Poles during the Nazi era, and many remarkable Polish champions died during the war or at the hands of Nazis.

This includes Bronisław Czech, Helena Marusarzówna, Janusz Kusociński, Józef Noji and Dawid Przepiórka.

Even though sports competitions were illegal, some sporting events were still held in Nazi camps. Records show that Polish Prisoners of War organised the 1944 Olympic Games at the Woldenberg camp.

Sports Under Soviet Rule

After the war and during Soviet Union rule, the Polish sports scene was reconstructed as a state-controlled sports system.

This meant that the government controlled sports and used them as a means of promoting socialist values.

The Soviet Union provided support and resources to athletes, leading to success in disciplines such as track and field, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling and canoeing.

However, state interference, doping scandals and the neglect of certain sports for ideological reasons were also prevalent.

After the Fall of Communism

The period following the fall of communism in 1989 brought significant changes and greater autonomy to Polish sports.

Since then, the sports scene started to grow and some of the most popular sports from Europe inevitably increased in popularity on the Polish sports scene, too.

The Most Popular Sports in Poland

A recent study by Statistica showed that the popularity of sports in Poland has been relatively consistent.

The study compared sports popularity between 2019 and 2021 - and three sports stood out as the top sports in Poland during this time.

1. Football

  • Ernest Pohl is one of the greatest Polish footballers ever

  • Over 400,000 licensed football players in Poland

  • In 2021, Poland co-hosted the UEFA Euro

Football is the most popular sport in Poland, and it is even unofficially considered the national sport of the country. In fact, this sport is one of the most popular sports in the world!

In 2019, 71% of Poles said they like football. In 2020, that number increased to 72% while in 2021 it fell to 68%.

The number of licensed football players in Poland is over 400,000, but this number is much larger when you consider those who play it recreationally.

Football viewership is also typically in the millions.

The Poland National Football Team has enjoyed success on the international stage, including winning the 1972 Olympic Football Tournament and finishing as runners-up in 1976 and 1992.

They have made nine FIFA World Cup appearances, with notable achievements including a third-place finish in 1974 and 1982.

The Polish junior team has also made its mark, securing high placements in tournaments such as the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

In 2012, Poland co-hosted the UEFA Euro, which prompted the construction of new stadiums and brought the tournament to various popular cities.

Additionally, Poland hosted the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, held across six Polish cities, with Ukraine emerging as the champions in the final match.

There are many great Polish football players, including current Barcelona striker Robert Lewandovski.

Some of the most famous Polish footballers include:

  • Ernest Pohl

  • Kamil Glik

  • Grzegorz Krychowiak

  • Łukasz Piszczek

  • Wojciech Szczęsny

  • Kazimierz Deyna

  • Grzegorz Lato

  • Kacper Kozłowski

  • Łukasz Fabiański 

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2. Ski Jumping

  • Stefan Hula Jr. is one of the most famous Polish ski jumpers

  • Poland has 10 Olympic medals in ski jumping

  • Poland came second in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup 2023

Right behind football is ski jumping, which even surpassed football in popularity in 2021 with 70% of people in Poland stating it as their preferred sport.

Interestingly, the popularity of this sport comes from viewership rather than participation as Poles enjoy watching the sport but there aren’t that many Poles who actively participate in it.

Ski viewership is the only sport that comes close to football. However, when Polish athletes do play this sport, they are great!

In 2023, Poland (with 1150.5) placed second in a FIS Ski Jumping World Cup team competition in Zakopane, southern Poland, falling behind Austria by only one point.

The same year, the Polish duo Piotr Zyla and Dawid Kubacki won first place in the Super-Team competition of the men's ski jumping World Cup in Lake Placid (USA).

Ski jumping is Poland’s most successful Olympic sport. Out of a total of 23 medals and seven gold medals, 10 of the medals and four of the gold medals have been in ski jumping.

The athletes Kamil Stoch and Adam Malysz have absolutely dominated at the Olympics, both having won four medals each. Out of these medals, Stoch won three golds in 2014 and 2018.

Some of the most famous Polish ski-jumping players include:

  • Stefan Hula Jr.

  • Maciej Kot

  • Wojciech Fortuna

  • Piotr Żyła

  • Justyna Kowalczyk

  • Dawid Kubacki

  • Piotr Fijas

3. Volleyball

  • Poland won a gold medal at the Volleyball World Championship

  • Poland won a gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics

  • Bartosz Kurek is a famous Polish volleyball player

Volleyball is the third most popular sport in Poland.

64% of those questioned in 2019 liked volleyball, with a slight increase to 67% for 2020 and 2021. Volleyball is both popular in viewership and participation.

Since Poland started competing in volleyball in the early 1950s, they have become a powerhouse in the sport and one of the world’s top volleyball nations.

The 1970s undoubtedly marked a golden era for Polish volleyball, with memorable victories and outstanding performances that brought pride to the nation.

It was during this period that the country achieved some of its finest results in volleyball.

In 1974, the Polish team secured a well-deserved gold medal at the World Championship, showcasing their exceptional skills and teamwork.

Two years later, at the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, they once again triumphed by clinching the gold medal.

In addition to their achievements on the global stage, Poland also enjoyed a remarkable streak of success at the European Championship.

From 1975 to 1983, the Polish team claimed an impressive five consecutive silver medals, demonstrating their consistently high performance against strong European opponents.

Today, both the men’s and women’s national teams do exceptionally well on the world scene.

The men’s volleyball team is ranked as first in the world, while the women’s team is ranked 12th according to FIVB rankings.

The talent of Poles in volleyball is clear at the Olympics too, with three medals (one gold and two bronze). 

Some of the most famous Polish volleyball players include:

  • Łukasz Żygadło

  • Bartosz Kurek

  • Piotr Nowakowski

  • Krzysztof Ignaczak

  • Michał Kubiak

  • Paweł Zagumny

  • Marcin Możdżonek

  • Michał Winiarski

  • Mateusz Bieniek

What Are the Other Most Popular Sports in Poland?

Behind the top three most popular sports, other sports also dominate the sporting scene in Poland.

Athletics ranks closely as the fourth most popular sport, enjoying the popularity of over half of Poles, with 52% and 55% in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Handball follows closely as the fifth most popular sport, with 49% of people in Poland stating that they liked handball in 2020. Many great handball players come from this country.

Athletics, particularly during the Olympics, garners significant interest among the Polish population, both for playing and spectating.

Poland's national handball team has been competing internationally since 1958, achieving second place in the 2007 World Championship and fourth place in the 2010 European Championship.

Additionally, other popular sports include motorcycle speedways, boxing, mixed martial arts, basketball and Formula One.

Have you played any of these sports? Do you follow Polish sports? Tell us in the comments!

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