The only team sports with more than two teams I can think of is relays in track and field and swimming like 4x100m and 4x400m.

However I wonder if there is a full sport on its own that is played by more than two teams at the same time. A ball sport perhaps ? That would be quite impressive in terms of strategy and richness.

If it doesn't exists is it because it would create too much incentive for temporary alliance to defeat other teams before duelling each other ?

For this question I don't consider that individuals helping each others in races like the teams in cycling to be actual teams. There is only one winner at the end.

  • I would add for your question at almost the same time?
    – gbianchi
    Commented Aug 31, 2012 at 0:01
  • 2
    Wikipedia has an entry for Three sided football. But rather than being a "full sport" as stipulated by you, this seems more like a political-philosophical demonstration game.
    – user1564
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 17:17
  • 1
    Voting to close as too broad - other than the accepted answer, this is a good example of why list type questions don't work well on Stack Exchange.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 7:37

7 Answers 7


I think you need to distinguish two separate attributes here: First, there are team sports, meaning multiple individuals work together, vs. individual sports. And second, there are sports where the participants react to each others' actions vs. sports where the participants' performances are each measured on some objective scale and the best performer wins.

As you pointed out, there are many team sports, in my sense, involving more than one team: track relays, swim relays, ski relays, team golf, team gymnastics, etc. You can basically take any individual sport and make a team sport like this out of it. But those are all sports where each performance is measured separately.

But what your question was really aiming at, I think, is that there are apparently very few "mutually reactive" sports involving more than two parties. This applies to both team sports and individual sports. For example, individual sports such as tennis are normally played between two parties as well.

There are some activities where you have multiple individuals all playing against each other, especially if you are willing to stretch the definition of "sport" a bit:

  • most card games
  • most board games
  • some billiard variants
  • some leisure table tennis variants
  • computer games
  • WWE ;-)

For some card, board, and computer games, you can also have more than two teams playing against each other, but here you're getting quite far away from sports.

I would also add

  • long distance running
  • bicycle racing

and similar sports (e.g., cross-country skiing) because the importance of drag and/or pacemaking (rabbits) causes the participants to react to each others' moves, as opposed to just individually running as fast as they can, as in short distance running. Each of these can be done in teams, not only as relays (more common in running, skiing), but also with all participants going at the same time (as is typical in cycling).

Bicycle racing is a bit of a special case, because only one individual wins. But they have teams, and the team's goal is to have one of their guys win, so it's almost the same thing. Biathlon used to have team races where all four individuals from a team went at the same time, but the teams did not all start at the same time but were timed separately. Speed skating has a team race, but the teams are at the opposite ends of the track, so they do not interact. Short-track speed skating has relays, so the team does not cooperate within itself. There might not be a crystal-clear example of what you are looking for. But you could plausibly organize one, like a street race (marathon, say) for teams.

Looking at those lists and thinking about it, I think the reasons why there aren't many clear examples of sports involving more than two teams playing against each other are mainly practical. First, there are reasons of geometry. Normally, opposing players and teams will face each other. If you have more than two parties, you are very limited in what you can do. Second, there are reasons of safety. Most sports in this category involve balls, because that's how players play off each other, and if you have balls flying at high speeds in all directions, it could become dangerous. Also, player contact will be dangerous if it is likely that more than one player can touch, tackle, or hit you.

The best way to do this, then, is with sports that are slow, turn-based, and work well with a flexible or circular player arrangement. The racing examples fit this as well, because the movement of the participants relative to each other is usually slow, safe, and flexible. Or you escape from geometry and safety constraints by using computers.


Motorsport often fits this scenario - i.e. one team with multiple "players" (drivers) on track competing against many other teams and specifically in the case of Formula One, there is a teams' (Constuctor's) championship that they are playing for.

  • 1
    Maybe even more so "Le Mans" 24 hour race in France, where each team consists of three drivers. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 20:13
  • Surprised no one went for boat races/yachting/crew as well. Variations on these themes Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 22:24

There is a game I played in primary school that we call 'Rob the Nest'. This is the only thing I can think of that satisfies all the criteria

It is team game
Multiple teams (usually 4) play simultaneously and there can be only 1 winner
Players need to react to the actions of the opposing players

This is not a 'race', it is a game like football etc where the goal isn't measured by some objective criteria, but by outperforming your opponent in attempting to complete certain actions.

The rules of the game (as I remember them) go like this:

A hoop is placed in the centre of a square field and a number of small balls (e.g. tennis balls) are placed inside it. Four hoops are then placed at four corners of the field. Players are divided into 4 teams and begin the game standing behind their teams assigned hoop.

The aim of the game is to get a certain number of the balls into your hoop. The game is started with a whistle and players run to the centre to pick up balls and return them to their teams hoop. Only one ball can be carried at a time.

Players are allowed to go to other teams hoops to steal balls from them (hence the name of the game).

I can't remember how many balls there where, probably around the same number as there are players. I also can't remember how many balls you had to have in your hoop at a given instant be win. Probably around 1/3 of the total number of balls or so.

The game is very dynamic as you have to keep an eye on all 4 'nests' to make sure no one is building up too many balls (or 'eggs'). To win you needed to stay under the radar and accumulate eggs in a short space of time before anyone noticed.

From Googling around I see variations of this game in which players holding a ball can be 'tagged' forcing them to drop it. I don't remember playing with that rule, but there are probably many variants given that this is mainly a game used to burn off the excess energy of small children so that they will be docile enough to recite their times tables afterwards, rather than being an organised sport.


Maybe golf when you play foursome or fourball?? they are not playing all at the same time, but that's because how the field is made. At least they are all playing one after another, and in groups.

They all are playing against each other.


There is a variant of basketball called "twenty-one" which uses a single net. From personal experience it works well in a 2v2v2 scenario. There's a soccer version utilizing a single small goal as well. I've seen the soccer type scaled up to 4v4v4 and still work. These variants are often used as training, helping players deal with being outnumbered during possession and dealing with rapid changes of scenario. Having a single goal is key, as it largely prevents the "gang-up" problem you would see in a situation where you had three teams and three goals.

Another real-life example which stretches your definition of "same time" is a Major League Baseball game played in 1944 which featured three teams.

In the realm of fiction, there was a game depicted in a Where's Waldo book called (I think) "The Great Ball Game," where four teams compete to throw balls with their respective team color into a single central pit.

  • I have played basketball on several continents at all kinds of levels and I have not even heard of yet see a game of 21 or variant being played with teams. I am calling you out on even having played 21 if you think it would work in a 2 vs 2 vs 2 environment. Please tell me how this would work? (Also if you have 6 guys who want to "team up" obviously they would just play 3 vs 3)
    – Coach-D
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 21:32
  • >These variants are often used as training, helping players deal with being outnumbered & rapid changes of scenario.
    – DeeDee
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 22:11
  • @Coach-D youtube.com/watch?v=rLIove28lrQ
    – DeeDee
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 17:16

Many forms of Motorsports (e.g. LeMans, F1, MotoGP), all fight for Constructors Championships, which to the team/manufacturer are more important than the more glorified Drivers Championship.


I played Kiball in middle school, and that involves 3 teams of 4-5. The main objective is to not let the massive ball touch the ground. You get a point if one of the other teams drops the ball. Just google search Kinball because it's kind of hard to explain

  • I was not sure whether using Kiball and Kinball is because of a typo or because of two alternative spellings. (My guess is that it is most likely a typo, but to be on the safe side, I did not edit Kiball to Kinball. And also, Wikipedia article suggest the thirds possible spelling Kin-Ball.)
    – Martin
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 5:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.