Flag football, Ultimate Frisbee and more sports clubs and leagues

Relive your glory days with our roundup of social sports clubs and leagues, like flag football, Ultimate Frisbee and softball, or try something new.

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Change up your routine and get fit at a sports lesson or with an intramural league using our guide to where to play social sports like flag football, Ultimate Frisbee, or once spring rolls round again, baseball and softball. Of course, if you're just looking to get up off the couch and make some new friends, we also have options for joining a Skee-Ball team.

RECOMMENDED: Fitness guide to NYC

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    Flag football
    What’s the most fun part of football? If you answered “helmet to helmet contact,” then that’s a 15-yard penalty and a concussion, mister. If you answered anything else, NYC Flag Football (ultimaterec.com) might be for you. A seven-on-seven no-contact league and an eight-on-eight contact-blocking league (both men only) are offered. Teams play on weekends on Randalls Island during the fall and spring seasons, and move to East River and Riverside Parks for the winter sessions. The skill level ranges from intermediate to very high—one former NFLer has even played. However, the group will be expanding in the near future into two divisions to accommodate other skill levels.

  • Photograph: Winston Suntaree

    Ultimate Frisbee
    Not nearly as filthy as its acronym suggests, Manhattan Ultimate Disc (manhattanultimate.com) is one of the sport’s premier NYC organizations, offering a competitive league for committed disc hawks and a recreational option for beginners looking for a more relaxed vibe. This fall, matches will take place in three parks in Manhattan and the Bronx. To play for the season, you’ll have to obtain a waiver from MUD and the national organization USA Ultimate (usaultimate.org), and pay a registration fee ($TBA).

  • Photograph: Erik Pendzich

    Baseball and softball
    Decades ago, when Ebbets Field still stood and the Dodgers ruled Flatbush, Brooklyn was one of the baseball capitals of the world. And though pro batters no longer swing for the fences in Kings County, there are a couple ways you can help uphold the borough’s storied legacy. For 48 years, Brooklyn’s Baseball Club (brooklynsbaseballclub.org) offered collegiate-level training and a league that welcomes everyone from teens to seniors. The club briefly folded in 2010 due to lack of interest but returned this summer, hopefully for good. If you find yourself overpowered by fastballs, try the lobs at Williamsburg Softball League (williamsburgsoftball.com), Brooklyn’s most convivial co-ed slow-pitch beer bracket. Featuring 16 coed teams sponsored by local bars, games start in April and run through mid-September at McCarren Park and are often followed by a few rounds of drinks at a nearby joint.

  • Photograph: Mike Chin

    Basketball
    Whether you’re the next LeBron or are more suited to join Harlem Globetrotter fall guys the Washington Generals, there’s a place for you somewhere in the 420-team, 40-division N.Y. Urban Professionals Basketball League (nyurban.com). The organization mounts three eight-game and one 12-game season a year for men and women ($1,299/team, $129.90/person) and draws up rosters based on skill level, determined at preseason scrimmages. Games, made up of 24-minute halves, take place weeknights at more than a dozen Manhattan gyms. If you need to get in playing shape, take part in the league’s ongoing pickup sessions at Brandeis High School (145 W 84th St between Amsterdam and Columbus Aves; Mon–Fri 7–8:30pm, 8:30–10:15pm; Sat, Sun 9:30–11:15am, 11:15am–1pm; $8).

  • Photograph: Yanina Yanovitsky

    Multiple sports
    Both Zog Sports, pictured, (zogsports.com/nyc) and NYC Social Sports Club (212-929-5353, nycsocial.com) offer a plethora of casual leagues for your pleasure. Between the two of them, you’ll find opportunities to get into a game of everything from soccer and volleyball to dodgeball and the glorious beer drinker’s pastime of cornhole. United Social Sports (855-752-9877, playuss.com) is also a fun option aimed at twentysomethings looking for action in Wiffle ball and bocce, and bar-friendly games like Skee-Ball. There may not be the same focus on postgame drinking at Chelsea Piers, but the complex offers just about any sport you could think of, as well as NYC’s only amateur adult ice-hockey league.

  • Photograph: Ben Shyman/Asphalt Green

    Triathlon
    Test your endurance limit with the Asphalt Green Triathlon Club (212-369-8890, ext 2272; agtri.com). Whether you’re a first- or longtime iron man, AGTC will interview you about your athletic background before putting you through the gauntlet with rigorous swimming, biking and running training, as well as teaching you proper warm-up and cooldown techniques. Workouts for the club’s 300 committed members take place in Central Park (meet at Engineer’s Gate, 90th St and Fifth Ave), at Asphalt Green’s Aqua Center (1750 York Ave between 90th and 91st Sts) and at the club’s new Battery Park City location (212 North End Ave between Murray and Warren Sts).

  • Badminton
    Try your hand at a glorious ninth-grade phys-ed staple. New York City Badminton (646-271-3228, newyorkcitybadminton.com) will show you how this weird amalgam of tennis, volleyball and flying doilies is done during group lessons with top-of-the-line instructors—including former Olympic coach Chibing Wu—at its home base in Queens (132-63 34th Ave between Collins Pl and Prince St, Flushing, Queens; group lessons Mon 7–8pm, 8–9pm; 12 lessons $300, 24 lessons $500). The organization also hosts three open sessions every week at two Manhattan locations (Humanities High School, 351 W 18th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, seventh floor; Tue 6:30–11pm • Robert Wagner Jr. High School, 220 E 76th St between Second and Third Aves; Wed, Fri 6:30–10:30pm • $27). The practices attract various skill levels, but the atmosphere is generally loose and recreational, and as long as you show up ready to play, a club manager will find you a partner.

  • Photograph: LeRoy Shepherd

    Fencing
    Coney Island is famous for many things—the beach, the Cyclone, hot dogs—but at the rate the New York Fencing Academy (2896 W 12th St between Neptune and Surf Aves, Coney Island, Brooklyn; 718-996-0426, fencenyfa.com; membership starts at $40/month) is churning out youth-circuit champions and national-team stars, south Brooklyn will soon be synonymous with swashbuckling épée and foil fencing. Fortunately, the 3,000-square-foot gym—complete with six fencing strips (not to mention free Wi-Fi)—offers membership and training to current and aspiring masters of the blade. Sign up for beginner, intermediate or competitive classes, or show up to biweekly open fencing (Wed 5–7pm, Sat 4–6pm).

  • Photograph: MetroSoccer NY

    Soccer
    Offering league play in four boroughs, Metro Soccer NY(metrosoccerny.com) has all your bases covered (oh, wait, wrong sport) with five-versus-five through nine-versus-nine men’s and coed leagues. More than 140 teams participate in weekly games in several divisions organized by skill level (though most are for experienced players). Even so, spots fill up quickly, so hurry if you want to register for the fall league (start dates range from now through Sept 26). Meanwhile, NYC Soccer Collective(nycsoccercollective.net) is the only organization to offer coed 11-versus-11 in Manhattan. The seven-versus-seven divisions are popular as well. The league at Chinatown’s Nike field tends to be highly competitive, while the Thursday games at Pier 5 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, pictured, and Friday sessions at Pier 40 are more relaxed—so careful with that crazy scissor kick you’ve been working on.

  • Photograph: Aparna Wilder

    Field hockey
    Columbia University’s Baker Field (533 W 218th St between Park Terr East and Park Terr West), an Astroturf oasis on the northern tip of Manhattan, is home to the New York City Field Hockey Club (nycfhc.com). If you’re just starting out with this kind of hockey, or haven’t played in a while, your best bet would be to join the casual coed pickup sessions (Wed 7:30–9:30pm; $10, bring your own equipment). The group has men’s and women’s teams that compete in the eight-team Northeast Field Hockey League. The experience level on the roster is generally high, so if you played Division II or III in college, it’s worth trying out.

  • Synchronized swimming
    Manhattan Plaza Health Club’s resident team, WaterWorks, makes this graceful Olympic sport look easy, but take a class (482 W 43rd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; 212-563-7001, mphc.com; level one 7:15–8pm, level two 7:45–8:30pm; members free, nonmembers $15, day pass $35, membership starts at $89 plus registration fee $195 [waived in September]) to find out how exacting, and enjoyable, it can be. Gotham Syncro (freewebs.com/gothamsynchro) also helps water babies achieve Vulcan-like synchronicity with fellow swimmers at weekly classes (open to men and women) and recreational sessions at locations in Manhattan (John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 899 Tenth Ave at 59th St; Sundays starting Sept 22; contact gothamsynchro@gmail.com for schedule) and the Bronx (APEX Center at Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Blvd between Briggs and Valentine Aves, Bronx; Thu 7–8:30pm, starting Oct 3). After gaining experience at a nine-week beginner class, you could move up to the club’s competitive program.

  • Photograph: Paola Bereti

    Team handball
    The mission of the nonprofit New York City Team Handball Club (nycth.com) is to spread the gospel of this popular European sport—it’s like soccer, but the ball is thrown instead of kicked—so beginners are welcome to join the organization’s twice-a-week practice sessions (Park West High School, 525 W 50th St between Tenth and Eleventh Aves, fifth floor; Sat 3–5pm • 424 Leonard St at Bayard St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; Tue 8–10pm starting late September). The first session is free; after that, a $350 (tax-deductible!) annual membership fee applies. Players are divided into teams based on skill level, then compete in matches once a month against other teams from the tristate area.

  • Photograph: Harry Pocius

    Rowing
    Fulfill your lifelong dream of cruising along the Harlem River (well, it must be somebody’s dream) with Row New York (Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse, 3579 Harlem River Dr at Eighth Ave; 718-433-3075, rownewyork.org). Pick up the basic skills in a stable barge or racing shell at a single weekend-morning learn-to-row session (Sun 15, Sept 21 8am–noon; Sept 29, Oct 5, Oct 20 9am–1pm; $75), before graduating to the four-week level two program (Mon, Wed 6–7:30pm; $320; Oct 7–30) and, finally, private double or quad sculling lessons (by appointment; $200/hr). Still, it will be a while before you’re ready to share a boat with the club’s competitive rowers, who train intensively for regional regattas.

  • Wrestling
    The ancient Greek sport of wrestling is not quite the same as professional wrestling—there are fewer sparkly costumes, for one. Twin Towers Wrestling Club(917-416-7777, twintowerswrestling.com) will show you the differences at biweekly practices at the Hamilton Fish Rec Center(128 Pitt St between E Houston and Stanton Sts; Tue, Thu 6:30–8:30pm), where one-on-one instruction is offered to newbies. The sessions are open-mat, recreational affairs, and since about 20 people show up on any given night, you won’t have trouble finding a sparring partner who’s willing to work with you at a beginner level. Membership in the club itself is free, but an NYC Parks Recreation Center membership is required to enter the facilities ($100/year, $50/six months).

  • Lacrosse
    New York Lacrosse Club (meetup.com/newyorklacrosse) is a recreational Meetup group that offers friendly, light-contact pickup play for all ages and skill sets. Unfortunately, the frequency of its games has dwindled recently due to diminishing availability of field space around the city, so sign up on the website to be notified when it’s time to break out the ball and stick.

  • Photograph: Table Tennis via Shutterstock

    Table tennis
    Wang Chen Table Tennis (250 W 100th St between Broadway and West End Ave; 212-864-7253, wangchenttc.com) offer lessons ($60/hr) for those just starting out or looking to refine their stroke. The coaches include founder and U.S. Olympian Chen and decorated junior circuit champion Max Wang. Membership ($20/month) will allow you open-play access during normal club hours (Mon–Fri 3–10pm; Sat, Sun 11am–10pm), which is also open to nonmembers for $8 per hour. However, the big draws are the weekly tournaments, held every Saturday at 7pm (members $10, nonmembers $15). They consistently attract myriad players of different skill levels, so don’t stress too hard about your prowess. Just remember: The ball goes over the net.

     

Photograph: Alex Strada

Flag football
What’s the most fun part of football? If you answered “helmet to helmet contact,” then that’s a 15-yard penalty and a concussion, mister. If you answered anything else, NYC Flag Football (ultimaterec.com) might be for you. A seven-on-seven no-contact league and an eight-on-eight contact-blocking league (both men only) are offered. Teams play on weekends on Randalls Island during the fall and spring seasons, and move to East River and Riverside Parks for the winter sessions. The skill level ranges from intermediate to very high—one former NFLer has even played. However, the group will be expanding in the near future into two divisions to accommodate other skill levels.


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