In which sport is there the least/greatest disparity between a professional and an average layman?

From a **skill **perspective, that is, not about physical size or height - in any sport, an average layman (with little experience in the sport) would be utterly outmatched by a professional player of course, but in which sport is the difference the starkest? (and also, the sport in which there is the least disparity?) Asking about specific positions, too.
My WAG would be hockey; not only do you have to be excellent at skating (which 99% of people aren’t,) but you also need great command over your stick and how to send the puck accurately with it.

A runner-up would be basketball; most average people, under real pressure, can’t make a basket from any meaningful distance to save their life, whereas the NBA pros sink three-pointers one after another with ease any time they are left wide open.


I’d say hockey and basketball are among the easiest sports for a layman to play. I haven’t worn a pair of skates in 30 years, but I don’t remember it being that difficult a skill to learn. And I’m pretty sure my 3 point shooting average is better than Shaq’s.

Now a gymnastics routine with bodyflips and tumbles, or swinging around on the rings - I wouldn’t know where to begin.

F1 would be right up there. An average person would hardly be able to get off the grid and barely manage a lap without tanking it.

But to be honest, any sport performed at the very highest level is so far removed from the capabilities of the average human as to be akin to magic.
I’ve played 11-a-side football for nigh on 40 years and I’ve been pretty talented in my time…I’ve played with some pros of fairly modest levels and they are almost superhuman compared to me.


Least? I’ll say curling.

Baseball. I challenge anyone to get into the batters box and try to hit an 95mph fastball.

Joe Schultz:

Ski jumping maybe? You’re not going to actually kill yourself if you try to play basketball against Lebron James.

The smallest disparity, I’d go with bowling. There’s an absolute highest score possible in bowling, and a serious amateur (like, the best bowler at your office) can hit that perfect score sometimes. But even the top pros don’t always, or even often, bowl a perfect 300 (if they did, there’d be no point in tournaments).

The majority of people do not actually know how to ride a horse, so the difference between “Average” person and a professional jockey is basically 100%.

Are we assuming the average layman can swim well enough not to drown? Otherwise, various swimming sports come to mind - maybe water polo since you need to do other things as well. Speaking of polo, I’m assuming that in various equestrian sports a layman wouldn’t be able to get the horse to do anything at all, and might have problems staying in the saddle. Which brings up rodeo as another sport where the layman could easily get him (gender reference chosen deliberately) self killed.

These questions are always fun. And there are two different levels to this - what’s the actual definition of “layman”? Is it your average Joe off the street, or is it someone with a passing knowledge/ability? Because as RickJay pointed out - your average person doesn’t know how to really ride a horse. But even then, someone who’s taken a few riding lessons is still never going to even resemble a jockey.

I’m curious what the gap would be for various shooting sports (skeet, archery, etc.).

So I think polo gets top marks among team sports - not only do you have to manage a horse, something most people have no idea how to do, you also have to hit a small ball with a long stick, and that doesn’t even get into the most basic questions of tactics.

I was going to say bowling for the least disparity. What about darts? Really good amateurs are really good, and pros miss all the time similar to bowling.

Sports where competitors compete side-by-side will be much easier for a novice to compete against a pro. For sports like golf, bowling, swimming, archery, etc. No matter how good a pro is, the amateur will still be able to compete at their own level since the pro won’t be able to impede the amateur. Sports which are head-to-head will be much harder for an amateur to have a chance. The pro will be able to overwhelm the amateur. So along those lines, I would say that fighting sports would have the most disparity. A laymen going against a pro sumo wrestler, boxer, MMA fighter, will have no chance and the match would be over in seconds.

Exactly. Professional sports have become so highly evolved and its top participants so finely tuned that the “average person” would be obliterated in any competition.

To answer the question, however, I would say that soccer would be the least difficult. I think professional tennis would be the most difficult. I’m a pretty good player for an “average person”, but any of the top 25 women in the world would obliterate me.

That was going to be my answer as well. I really don’t enjoy watching men’s tennis, because I can’t even comprehend how fast those serves are. It’s such a different game than women’s tennis, which more closely resembles the pace and flow of an amateur game. And even then, I know my knees would buckle 2 points into a match.

I’ll second gymnastics. How many people posting in this thread are confident they could perform even a simple cartwheel?

I was thinking golf for the easiest. Some amateur players sometimes just have an incredible round.

Curling is a lot more difficult than one might think, however, occasionally amateurs can also curl a 100% game, or close to it.

There are some sports where I don’t even know how they do it. Gymnastics, pole vault, diving come to mind.

Boxing has got to be a nightmare for an amateur up against a pro.