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Improbable Sports Skills
Doing sports in awesome yet impossible ways.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-06-03 05:26:29 sponsor: tryourbreast edited by: DAN004 (last reply: 2014-11-12 03:18:06)

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In Real Life, sports are not so entertaining as it seems. Top-class players may have different styles among them, but that's all. The sport mainly works in terms of either My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours or strategic play, or team play, or all three.

In fiction, however, especially if the whole plot is about a certain sport that exists in Real Life, expect it to become Mundane Made Awesome. The characters will have some special moves somehow reflecting to their characteristics, being improbably awesome while defying physics and common sense. If the sport involves a ball that doesn't break while using these moves, you'll wonder what that ball is made of in order to survive all kinds of overkilling shoots done to the ball. These skills has power proportional to one's will, so expect the protagonists to beat much stronger opponents by David Versus Goliath very frequently.

Or just be simple - using sport skills that's improbable or impossible in Real Life.

Appears a lot in Shōnen anime or comic. Fighting Series involve this a lot, since fighting is a sport if rules are enforced. Usually paired with Tournament Arc. Involves a lot of Calling Your Attacks, and There Is No Kill Like Overkill (at least in relation to what they actually needed to do). Can be easily justified if the player are using their superpowers to play sports.

Compare Fictional Sport, where in this trope it's about players who plays a Real Life, mundane sport using improbable skills, and compare Blood Sport, where in this trope the sport itself isn't deadly; it's the players who hold deadly sport skills. Also compare Martial Arts and Crafts. See also I Know Madden Kombat, the inverse of this trope (using non-combat sport skills in combat situations).


Examples

Advertising
  • An anti-steroids PSA features a soccer player breaking the laws of physics.
  • In this commercial for All Sport energy drink, by 2044 basketball hoops are 20 feet tall, courts are 100 yards long and the basket moves around randomly to make the game harder. After everyone started drinking All Sport the game just got too easy.

Anime and Manga
  • Played for laughs in Azumanga Daioh, during an impromptu soccer game between Yukari and her class. Sakaki is shown moving to intercept Yukari, as the latter charges upfield with the ball. Then casually steals the ball as she literally walks past her!
  • Captain Tsubasa, where we have soccer player protagonists who shoots football that follows any arbitrary curve, shots that blows the goalkeeper away and hurts who blocks it, and such. And here enters the Super Great Goal Keeper, or S.G.G.K. - who holds the legend that no shoots outside the penalty area can score a goal from him.
  • In Eyeshield21, American football becomes one - a Magnificent Bastard who always outsmart other teams, runners who are rumored to have lightspeed (or to be accurate, 50 yards in 4.2 seconds) with improbable counter-attacks to stop players from blocking them, pass receivers who run backwards even faster than most people, and catch long-range passes without looking at the ball.
  • The Prince of Tennis is full of this - we have players who can perform instant serves, lightning-fast reaction speed, shots that always hit your wrists, or even take away your five senses during a play. The protagonist? A Game Breaker which can use his sixth sense to play tennis while copying everyone's special moves, and is unbeatable even when he suffers from memory loss.
  • Bleach anime episode 205. A number of Soul Reapers use their natural shinigami and zanpakuto abilities while playing a game of kemari.
  • In the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's A's manga, Nanoha, Fate and co are playing dodgeball. Predictably, Fate uses her supersonic flight and Super Reflexes to her advantage. But Nanoha's friend, the Passionate Sports Girl Suzuka Tsukimura, surpasses her by showing superior reflex; she manages to Catch and Return the ball that Fate throws at her, and making Fate unconscious in the process.

Film
  • Shaolin Soccer did this by putting Kung Fu in soccer. In short, a bunch of superhumans playing soccer, and using Tai Chi as the stronger goalkeeper shot, blowing away all 11 players plus the goal post.
  • The Ultimate Game of basketball is this in Space Jam, wherein Elmer Fudd can dunk, lardbucket Stan Podolak can sink a shot while buried under five Monstars, and Michael Jordan can reach the rim from the half-court line. Of course, since the game is being played in the cartoon universe, the Laws of Physics and the Rules of Basketball are reduced to suggestions.
  • Baseball film The Scout has an utterly ridiculous scene in which Steve Nebraska 1) pitches a perfect game (possible) 2) by striking out every batter, 27 in total (ridiculous, as no pitcher has ever struck out more than 20 batters in a game and more than 15 strikeouts is pretty uncommon) 3) on the minimum 81 pitches (about a billion times more unlikely than the 27 strikeouts).

Literature
  • The Death of Discworld is The Ace at pretty much every sport or game he tries his hand at. Because he's Death. However, when he takes a stab at being human in Reaper Man, he has to learn how to be bad at things, and so becomes impossibly bad at them, which takes a great deal more skill than being merely good.

Live-Action TV
  • In The Greatest American Hero, Ralph goes undercover as a pitcher in a baseball team. He uses the supersuit to throw pitches at well over 100 mph.

Video Games
  • Touhou has a fan-game called Touhou Soccer, i.e soccer in Touhou style. Everyone uses overpowered skills, which usually don't involve kicking the ball, to play soccer - from dribble, tackle, passes, shoots, saving, while you can even use danmaku to stop opponents going further by invoking a foul. And by overpowered, see it yourself. Probably the most exaggerated example ever seen.
  • Inazuma Eleven has elementary school kids playing football and throwing bona fide Elemental Powers and other supernatural stuff around like no tomorrow.
  • In Final Fantasy X, The Jecht Shot is this in-universe for the sport Blitzball (some mixture of rugby and soccer and played underwater). It involves bouncing the ball off the goal post (or a defender's face) and swimming up to kick the rebound into the goal with a lot of spinning thrown in.

Western Animation
  • Played straight in Avatar: The Last Airbender, which has Azula, Zuko, Mai, and Ty Lee dominate an opposing team in a volleyball match with gravity defying stunts and trick shots. Including one instance where Ty Lee lands on top of the net and strikes a pose, after acing a shot, and another where Azula roundhouse kicks the ball in midair, at about twenty feet above the court! The shot scorches the net and is the game winning point.
  • The Boondocks The Red Ball episode culminates in a showdown between Huey and Ming, that has him airbend the ball, then roundhouse kick it at her, in the exact same fashion as the above example. Ming returns fire by kicking the ball hard enough to set it ablaze, and breaks her shin! You can see it here.
  • Speedster Mercury of Filmation's Space Sentinels amuses himself by playing one-man baseball. He throws the pitch (a fastball, of course), then runs to the plate ahead of the ball to bat it toward the outfield. Mercury then circles the bases multiple times before once again arriving ahead of the ball to catch it. "You're out!" he declares, though not before the scoreboard has recorded 46 runs.
  • One episode of Hanna-Barbera's The Harlem Globetrotters had the titular basketball team boast that they could beat their opponents blindfolded. The antagonists took them up on that boast, forcing the team to play sightless. Somehow, Team Mom Granny was able to use a fresh-baked apple pie swung around on a fishing line to guide the players around the court, and clue them in to the hoop's distance and direction. The Globetrotters' accuracy remained phenomenal.
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