Olympic sports in NYC: An A-Z guide of where to play (SLIDE SHOW)

Want to try some Olympic sports? Here's our rundown of the places where you can try almost every Olympic sport—including basketball, soccer, swimming, volleyball and more—in New York.

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  • Archery

    Try your hand with a bow and arrow at a free Urban Park Rangers class. Equipment is provided and you’ll get tips on how to hit the wooden-post target safely. There’s an official archery field at Willowbrook Park (Eaton Pl at Richmond Ave, Staten Island; 718-967-3524, nycgovparks.org/parks/willowbrookpark), but the next gratis program is on September 15 (11am–1pm). If you’re raring to catch up to top Olympic archer Im Dong-Hyun from South Korea (who’s legally blind, by the way), opt for the next Rangers archery class at Inwood Hill Nature Center (Inwood Hill Park, enter at 218th St at Indian Rd; 212-304-2365, nyc.gov/parks; Aug 11 at 11am). Visit nyc.gov/parks/rangers for a complete list of archery programs.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Archery guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Archery
  • Badminton

    Photograph: © Getty Images

    Learn the ways of the shuttlecock at New York City Badminton, with locations in Manhattan and Queens. The club’s main location in Flushing (132-63 34th Ave between Collins Pl and Prince St, Flushing, Queens; 646-271-3228, newyorkcitybadminton.com) offers both private and group lessons to nonmembers of all ages and skill levels (ten lessons $100). Once you’ve figured out what you’re doing with that racket, head over to one of the Manhattan locations for open play ($27) at Humanities High School (351 W 18th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves, seventh floor; Tue 6:30–11pm) or at Robert Wagner Jr. High School (220 E 76th St between Second and Third Aves; Wed, Fri 6:30–10:30pm).—Jeremy Winograd

    RECOMMENDED: Badminton guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Badminton
  • Basketball

    On July 29, the ballers from Team USA tip off in their first game against the French. This year’s collection of NBA stars may not be the 1990 Dream Team, but then, neither are you. Prove us wrong and show you’ve got game at the 92nd Street Y’s free tryout of its rec league at “Redeem Team” pickup basketball. The session features referees and official scorekeeping, and is part of the uptown Y’s Olympics Week (July 30—Aug 2), a chance to try out free classes. 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts. (212-415-5729, 92y.org/maycenterolympics). July 30 5:30-8pm; free. R.S.V.P. requested.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Basketball guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Basketball
  • Beach Volleyball

    Brooklyn Bridge Park reopened its three regulation-size sand courts this summer. While the organized can reserve courts for $25 through brooklynbridgepark.eventbrite.com, the majority of the time, the courts are free and first-come, first-served. The park runs a series of gratis public clinics every week (Wed, Thu 3–6pm; Fri 4–7pm) and Big City Volleyball (bigcityvolleyball.com) organizes coed four-on-four tournaments every month and league play (prices vary, see website for details). Pier 6, Atlantic Ave at Furman St (718-222-9939, brooklynbridgeparknyc.org). Daily 6am–10pm; free.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Beach volleyball guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Beach Volleyball
  • Cycling

    Originally built for the 1964 Olympic trials, the Kissena Velodrome continues to host high-speed bike races and club cycling. Take advantage of the classes and public track times, when races are not in session; you’re also free to BYO bike. Note that only fixed-gear bikes are allowed on the track and registration at bikereg.com is required to enter a race. Kissena Park, Booth Memorial Ave and Parsons Blvd, East Flushing, Queens (kissenavelodrome.info).—Sarah Idacavage

    RECOMMENDED: Cycling guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games


    Cycling
  • Decathlon

    Photograph: Mark Jenkinson

    Let’s be honest, no one dives straight into this grueling ten-sport discipline unless they’re members of a gym already. However, the 92nd Street Y is offering a diverse workout as part of its Olympics Week (July 30—Aug 2), a series of free fitness sessions. The circuit training includes cycling (ten minutes on a Spinning cycle), three three-minute sets of shadowboxing and ten laps of the indoor track. 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5729, 92y.org/maycenterolympics). Aug 2 at 8:35pm; free. R.S.V.P. requested.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Track and field guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Decathlon
  • Equestrian

    Photograph: © Getty Images

    If you’d rather practice your Olympic sport while sitting down, make your way uptown to the Riverdale Equestrian Centre in Van Cortlandt Park. It’s open every day except Wednesday for private lessons in English Riding (which is the preffered style of the Olympics) for all skill levels. Just make sure to wear long pants and boots with a one-inch heel. Van Cortlandt Park, W 254th St at Broadway, Bronx (718-548-4848, riverdaleriding.com). 30 minutes $55, one hour $100, helmet rental $5.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Equestrian guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Equestrian
  • Fencing

    Photograph: LeRoy Shepherd Photography

    It may seem old-fashioned, but fencing is a surefire way to get a workout in while feeling like a swashbuckling badass. For the real deal, check out the Fencers Club—it’s the sport’s longest-running organization in the country and three of its athletes have qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The summer session at the New York Fencing Academy just started, and adults can try out one-hour beginners classes, 90-minute intermediate classes, two-hour competition classes or 30-minute sessions to improve footwork. Fencers Club, 229 W 28th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-807-6947, fencersclub.com). Introductory memberships start at $170. • New York Fencing Academy, 2896 W 12th St between Neptune and Surf Aves, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-996-0426, fencenyfa.com).—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Fencing guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Fencing
  • Gymnastics

    Photograph: © Getty Images

    Roll, jump and flip your way through the Recreational Gymnastics classes at Chelsea Piers. It offers beginner and beginner-intermediate sessions that cover basics from handstands to handsprings. If you have backflips and back layout somersaults covered, the elite class can help you master multiple twisting somersaults and more complicated tumbling sequences. Pier 60, W 21st St at the Hudson River (212-336-6000, chelseapiers.com). $20–$28.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Gymnastics guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Gymnastics
  • Handball

    No, this isn’t the sport played against walls. (If you haven't heard of European handball, think of it as a mix of soccer, basketball and dodgeball.) New York City Team Handball Club has men’s, women’s and coed groups that are perfect for people of all skill levels. The new season starts in September, but first timers can try out the game for free before then at either of this season’s remaining sessions (July 21, 28 6–9pm; membership $300; free for first-time visitors). Locations vary, visit newyorkcityteamhandball.com for more information. Season starts Sept 1; $300.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Handball guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Handball
  • Hockey

    Pick up sticks and head to Columbia University’s Baker Field for the North East Field Hockey Association’s (nefha.org) biweekly coed field hockey pickup games. All skill levels are welcome, but you need to provide your own equipment (shin pads, mouth guard, hockey stick) and bring a white and a dark tee. You’ll meet members of the New York City Field Hockey Club (nycfhc.com) and Greenwich Field Hockey Club (greenwichfhc.com) there, who both host pickup games too. They’re two very social organizations with a lot of expats, so accompany them to a bar afterward to find out more. 533 W 218th St at Broadway. Tue, Wed 8–10pm; $10.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Hockey guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Hockey
  • Individual medley (swimming)

    Photograph: © Getty Images

    Practice your backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle at Asphalt Green, where the 50-meter Olympic-size pool is open every day (Mon–Fri 5:30am–10pm; Sat, Sun 8am–8pm; $35) for lap swimming. Private lessons are available for those who want to improve their stroke, and the AGUA Masters Swim Team gives beginners a chance to learn alongside more advanced swimmers. 555 E 90th St between York and East End Aves (212-369-8890, asphaltgreen.org). Private lessons: 30 minutes $65, one hour $130.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Swimming guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Individual medley (swimming)
  • Judo

    Photograph: Jussi Nukari / Rex USA

    Start sparring in no time at Oishi Judo, led by founder and seventh-degree black belt Shiro Oishi, who still teaches most of the club’s sessions. Group-class packages are offered in increments of 20, 50 or one-year unlimited, and one-on-one instruction is also available. Oishi Judo, 547 Greenwich St at Charlton St (212-966-6850, oishijudo.com). Packages $450–$1,800, private lessons $150–$200.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Judo guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Judo
  • Kayaking

    Photograph: Oliver Renck

    Well done, pedant, kayaking is indeed a subdisclipine of canoeing. And while there are plenty of free kayaking options, break out of the usual paddling area with Manhattan Kayak Company’s Fun in the Sun tours. A brief lesson on techniques precedes setting out on the Hudson River for an hour-long tour. For a little more excitement, check out its New York After Dark ride, where you can take in the city lights before ending the evening with a drink at the Frying Pan. Pier 66, Twelfth Ave at 26th St (212-924-1788, manhattankayak.com). Single class $40–$225.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Canoeing guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Kayaking
  • Long jump (track and field)

    Photograph: Sue Pearsall

    If you’re serious about the discipline, become a member of the Central Park Track Club New Balance and join ten other athletes in the long-jump program. Interested parties are encouraged to attend practices to meet fellow jumpers and coaches, but if you do decide to sign up, you’ll be joining a designated USA Track and Field Elite Development Club. Annual dues are $125 (student or hardship $50), but college students can enjoy a free summerlong membership. See centralparktc.org for more information.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Track and field guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Long jump (track and field)
  • Modern Penthalon

    Photograph: Cavan Pawson / Evening Standard

    Your best bet for trying this all-round combo in New York is to schedule your own daylong modern pentathlon. Start at the New York Fencing Academy (see Fencing), book it to the Riverdale Equestrian Centre (see Equestrian), fit in a swim at Asphalt Green (see Individual medley), then run to Westside Rifle & Pistol Range (see Shooting) before the final sprint to the finish line—in this case, your couch.

    RECOMMENDED: Modern pentathlon guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

    Modern Penthalon
  • National Olympic Committee

    Photograph: Gareth Copley

    Here’s to the U.S. body that helps fund and develop our athletes, and gets them to the games. It also offers a handy directory of athletic clubs by discipline at teamusa.org. New Yorkers in particular should also give thanks to Team USA for failing to land the 2012 bid for NYC. Can you imagine the influx of tourists? It doesn’t bear thinking about it. Finally, we’re lucky to have an institution with the publicity nose to set up photo ops like this one, featuring Team USA gold-medal-winning wrestler Henry Cejudo grappling with a Viking in front of York Minster in England, proving we dominate nations and people from different spaces and times.

    RECOMMENDED: Date these Olympians

    National Olympic Committee
  • Olympic musing

    Photograph: Joe Klamar (AFP/Getty)

    If your preferred athletic discipline is standing and musing, check out the exhibition “Olympic Portraits” by photographer Joe Klamar at powerHouse Arena. Klamar eschews the glossy, stylized portraits of Olympians and takes a more candid—and to our minds—more interesting approach. 37 Main St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-666-3049, powerhousearena.com). July 27–Sept 4; free.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Photographer Joe Klamar’s Olympics portraits (SLIDE SHOW)

    Olympic musing
  • Pommel horse (gymnastics)

    Photograph: © Getty Images

    Bored of flipping around on the ground? Get up into the air at Chelsea Piers. In addition to floor classes, it also gives gymnasts a chance to test out their skills on all Olympic apparatuses, like the pommel horse as well as parallel, uneven and high bars; balance beam; vault; and rings. Pier 60, W 21st St at the Hudson River (212-336-6000, chelseapiers.com). $20–$28.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Gymnastics guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

     

     

    Pommel horse (gymnastics)
  • Quadruple sculls (rowing)

    Work up to sculling (rowing with two oars per person), by starting with sweeps (where each rower has one oar) at Row New York. What started as a community-outreach program for NYC youth has expanded to include rowing classes for those over ten. Boats push off into the Harlem River from Manhattan’s Peter Jay Sharp Boathouse as well as Flushing Meadows–Corona Park’s Meadow Lake. It focuses on four- and eight-person sweep rowing as well as quadruple and octuple sculls, and is open to all skill levels, as long as you can swim. 10-27 46th Ave between Vernon Blvd and 11th St, Long Island City, Queens (718-433-3075, rownewyork.org). Packages $100–$500.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Rowing guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Quadruple sculls (rowing)
  • Shooting

    Photograph: Michael Kirby Smith

    It’s a damning indictment of America that for all our pro-gun big talk we still do not reliably bring back the gold. To make matters worse, China cleaned up in Beijing. Show them who’s century it is with a “New to Shooting” package at Westside Rifle & Pistol Range. After a 20-minute gun-safety primer, you’ll take a 10/22 semiautomatic rifle to the range. 20 W 20th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-929-7287, westsidepistolrange.com). Mon–Fri 9am–9pm, Sat 9am–5pm, Sun 9am–3pm; $65 (includes instruction, use of a rifle, 50 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition and targets). Shooters must be 21 or over and submit information for a background check at westsidepistolrange.com. Return visits within three months are $35 plus cost of ammunition and targets.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Shooting guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Shooting
  • Soccer

    Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    If you’re still making outdated references to bending it like Beckham (who, despite being involved in the London 2012 bid, was not included in Team GB), your soccer technique probably needs some work. Try Ball Skills ($95) by 510 Soccer (510soccer.com), a four-session course that includes drills and scrimmages. For regular games, sign up at soccernyc.org, a free hub for a number of different groups and teams, many looking for last-minute ringers, as well as one-off games and one-day tournaments.

    RECOMMENDED: Soccer guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Soccer
  • Swimming

    Photograph: Ric Kallaher

    There are plenty of city pools to practice your stroke (start with the Olympic-size lanes at Astoria Pool), but get pro tips at 92nd Street Y’s Master Olympian Swim Workout during the institution’s Olympics Week (July 30—Aug 2). An instructor will work to improve the group’s techniques with interval training, races and timed drills. 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5729, 92y.org/maycenterolympics). July 31 8:30–10:30pm; free. R.S.V.P. requested.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Swimming guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Swimming
  • Synchronized swimming

    If you’d like to try to learn how to perform this graceful aquatic dance, sign up for Gotham Synchro’s beginners’ program. You must be able to swim 15 yards without stopping, and be comfortable in the deep end and underwater. John Jay College, 899 Tenth Ave at 59th St (freewebs.com/gothamsynchro). Summer beginners’ program runs Aug 5–Sept 9; five lessons $300 (includes annual membership to U.S. Synchro).—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Synchronized swimming guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Synchronized swimming
  • Table Tennis

    Photograph: Tony Hung

    The Chinatown home of the New York Table Tennis Federation closed last year, but reopened in two locations in Manhattan and Queens under the new moniker American Asian Cultural Center of Tribeca Table Tennis Club. As before, there’s the chance to be schooled in group lessons and really schooled during open-play sessions. 292 Henry St between Grand and Pitt Sts • 133-31 39th Ave between College Point Blvd and Prince St, second floor, Flushing, Queens • nyttf.com • Times and prices vary, see website for details.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Table tennis guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Table Tennis
  • Tennis

    If you want to play like the pros, try the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Thwack balls in the same spot as Nadal and the Williams sisters at the public courts run by the United States Tennis Association. The center features 22 outdoor and 12 indoor hard courts, as well as four clay ones under a climate-controlled bubble, so play can continue in extreme heat and rain.

    Pro tip: If you have a city tennis permit and your scheduled game here is rained out or otherwise interrupted, the USTA will let you reschedule for a later date at no extra cost. Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Flushing, Queens (718-760-6200, ntc.usta.com). Mon–Sat 6am–midnight, Sun 6am–11pm; $20–$65 per hour.—Amanda Angel

    RECOMMENDED: Tennis guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Tennis
  • Triathlon

    Photograph: © Getty Images

    Do you have what it takes to be an Ironman (or -woman)? Become one of the 500-plus members of the Asphalt Green Triathlon Club to find out. The organization includes some pro members, but welcomes triathletes of all skill levels. Members receive up to 13 weekly workouts in various locations that are tailored in intensity to each athlete. To see what you’re letting yourself in for, go to Hudson River Park the evening of August 11 to see the competitors run the final leg in the NYC qualifying round for this year’s Ironman U.S. Championship, the first Ironman race to take place in a major metropolitan area. By evening, triathletes will have completed a 2.4-mile swim (launching from a barge in the Hudson River at 6:50am), a 112-mile bike ride along the Palisades Parkway in New Jersey and a 26.2-mile run. If you volunteer to help out with Asphalt Green’s aid station, you can sign up on site for next year’s race. 555 E 90th St between York and East End Aves (212-369-8890, agtri.com). Membership fee $599.—Jeremy Winograd

    RECOMMENDED: Triathlon guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Triathlon
  • Volleyball

    If you’re not keen on getting sand in your shorts playing beach volleyball, strap on kneepads and try an indoors game during 92nd Street Y’s Olympics Week (July 30—Aug 2). 1395 Lexington Ave between 91st and 92nd Sts (212-415-5729, 92y.org/maycenterolympics). Aug 1 8:30–10:30pm; free. R.S.V.P. requested.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Volleyball guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Volleyball
  • Water polo

    Are you a little upset that your varsity-level days are behind you? Check out the masters water polo team at Asphalt Green, where former college players compete in local tournaments. Beginners beware—the three weekly practices in the Olympic-standard course will probably be a bit out of your depth. 555 E 90th St between York and East End Aves (212-369-8890, asphaltgreen.org). $75 per month.—Sarah Rammos

    RECOMMENDED: Gymnastics guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Water polo
  • XMB (BMX spelt backwards)

    New York City has three dedicated parks with mountain biking and BMX trails: Highbridge Park in Washington Heights, Cunningham Park in Queens and Wolfe’s Pond Park on Staten Island. Every spot has beginners’ trails; to take a tour contact Dawson Smith (dawson@nycmtb.com), cofounder of the New York City Mountain Bike Association (nycmtb.com). Smith notes you’ll need a wide-wheeled bike and a helmet. If you’re currently riding a fixie, Tread Bike Shop (225 Dyckman St between Payson and Seaman Aves; 212-544-7055, treadbikeshop.com; $8 per hour, $30 per 24 hours) rents bikes next to Highbridge Park, and Peak Mountain Bike (42-42 235th St at Prospect Ave, Douglaston, Queens; 718-225-5119, peakmtnbike.com; $10 per hour, $50 per 24 hours) can supply a ride to take to Cunningham Park.—Jonathan Shannon

    RECOMMENDED: Cycling guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    XMB (BMX spelt backwards)
  • Yachting (erm, sailing)

    Photograph: Top Photo Group / Rex USA

    Learn to sail on one of Atlantic Yachting’s J24 sailboats, which perform much like those raced in the Olympics. Group or private lessons are available through the end of October, and people who take to it quickly can try to qualify for the American Sailing Association’s Basic Keelboat certification. If you’d rather not take the wheel, it has boats and crews available for private charter. Hudson River Park, 79th Street Boat Basin, W 79th St at the Hudson River (212-518-4604, atlanticyachting.com). Lessons $375–$1190, charters $390–$890.—Sarah Rammos  

    RECOMMENDED: Sailing guide to the London 2012 Olympic games

    Yachting (erm, sailing)
  • Zog sports

    Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    One of NYC’s biggest rec groups organizes leagues for Olympic sports such as basketball, hockey and soccer, and just plain awesome sports like cornhole, Wiffle ball, dodgeball and more. Players can join as a team or on their own, and there are leagues for every skill level. Visit zogsports.com for more information.—Jonathan Shannon

    Zog sports

Archery

Try your hand with a bow and arrow at a free Urban Park Rangers class. Equipment is provided and you’ll get tips on how to hit the wooden-post target safely. There’s an official archery field at Willowbrook Park (Eaton Pl at Richmond Ave, Staten Island; 718-967-3524, nycgovparks.org/parks/willowbrookpark), but the next gratis program is on September 15 (11am–1pm). If you’re raring to catch up to top Olympic archer Im Dong-Hyun from South Korea (who’s legally blind, by the way), opt for the next Rangers archery class at Inwood Hill Nature Center (Inwood Hill Park, enter at 218th St at Indian Rd; 212-304-2365, nyc.gov/parks; Aug 11 at 11am). Visit nyc.gov/parks/rangers for a complete list of archery programs.—Jonathan Shannon

RECOMMENDED: Archery guide to the London 2012 Olympic Games

Once every four years, the majority of us are reminded that there's more to sports than just baseball, football, basketball and hockey. If the London 2012 Games have sparked your interest in sports such as, say, synchronized swimming, water polo or handball, you're in luck. We've found places for you to try out almost every Olympic sport, and thrown in a few humorous entries for good measure. With your help, we can make Viking wrestling an Olympic event by 2016.


RECOMMENDED: London 2012 Olympic Games guide


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