Alternative team sports in Shanghai

Get fit and have fun with the city’s quirky sporting activities
Alternative team sports in ShanghaiChessboxing at Aboro Academy
First published on 18 Aug 2014. Updated on 18 Aug 2014.
Time Out round up some of Shanghai's non-mainstream sporting activities to get involved in. Get fit and have fun with some of the many alternative sports clubs in Shanghai including chessboxing, slam ball, underwater hockey and more


What As its name suggests, Chessboxing is a combination of the two disciplines – you attempt to outsmart your opponent on the chessboard and beat the living daylights out of them in the ring. A full match has 11 rounds and the first starts with chess moves, before alternating with boxing until the end. There are short breaks between chess and boxing, and you only need to beat your opponent at either before becoming the victor. Sound easy? Let’s just say you’d be struggling not to move your bishop sideways after taking an uppercut. Heavy on the machismo, Chessboxing could very well be the ultimate sport to determine the perfect human who has both brains and brawn, to form a Mars colony. Here on earth, the player who racks up the most points in a month during chess practices gets a bottle of whisky.

When There are chess practices every Thursday and Sunday at Time Passage, the cosy, laidback bar on Caojiayan Lu, just off Huashan Lu. Boxing practices are held almost every day at two affiliated places – the Aboro Academy on Changhua Lu in Jingan and Longwu Kungfu Centre on Maoming Nan Lu (near Julu Lu). A combined chess-cum-boxing sparring session is held every Sunday at the latter.

How to join All you have to do is fill in the contact form on the website. Joining the club is free, but those interested in boxing lessons need to sign up for a membership with either of the two gyms. Alternatively, you can opt to pay a drop-in fee of 100RMB per class at Longwu Kungfu Centre. 

Where Time Passage 183 Caojiayan Lu, near Huashan Lu. See full address details 
Longwu Kungfu Centre 1 Maoming Nan Lu, near Julu Lu. See full address details
Aboro Academy Suites S6-8, Second Floor, Anken Wellness Centre, 667, Changhua Lu, near Anyuan Lu. See full address details

Dodge Ball

What A game where you throw balls at your opponents. Yes, it’s that simple. Of course, there are quite a number of rules to the game, like how you’re supposed get off the court when you’re hit, or how the thrower is the one ejected instead when his opponent manages to catch the ball, but it’s basically just as you saw it in the Ben Stiller film. There isn’t a dodgeball club per se in Shanghai, but the guys at the Allianz Jinqiao Arena and ASAS can help you hook up with like-minded enthusiasts looking for some action. Allianz Jinqiao Arena hosts a dodgeball league that was recently created after organisers realised that hurling balls at strangers before knocking back a few drinks after was a great way to unwind following a tough week in the office. In addition to dodgeball, the Allianz Jinqiao Arena hosts leagues and tournaments for football, cricket, softball, netball and lawn bowls. During the winter months it also hosts baseball, hockey, lacrosse, and Ultimate Frisbee sessions. ASAS’s league is held at Cages Shanghai.

When Anytime you want to play.

How to join Court rentals at Arena are priced at 300RMB per hour (weekdays) and 450RMB per hour (weekends).

Where Allianz Jinqiao Arena No. 29, Lane 2622 Jinqiao Lu, near Biyao Lu. See full address details

Gaelic Football

What A little bit of everything (football, basketball, rugby) mixed into one highly athletic game. Gaelic football is a highly popular traditional Irish sport that requires players to kick, bounce and hand-pass a leather ball before scoring in the opposing team’s goal or between upright posts. Founded in 2002, the Shanghai Gaelic Football Club is one of the most organised sporting clubs in the city and it boasts having a diverse mix of players from different nationalities. They pride themselves in being more than just a sporting establishment, as they have a keen focus on the social side of things too. The club also provides free professional training for children.

When Training sessions are held every Tuesday (8-10pm) and Saturday (1-3pm) at Luwan Stadium and the Shanghai Rugby Football Club respectively. The club even has a free bus that takes members from The Camel Puxi to SRFC at midday on Saturdays.

How to join You get to attend a few training sessions for free before deciding if you want to sign up with the club, which starts at 400RMB for a non-playing social membership. There are various membership plans available which offers a great deal of flexibility. 

Where Luwan Stadium 128 Zhaojiabang Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu. See full address details
Shanghai Rugby Football Club Zhangyang Bei Lu, near Wuzhou Avenue. See full address details

Hash House Harriers

What An activity for running enthusiasts with a drinking problem. But this isn’t quite Alcoholics Anonymous. Instead, it’s a social network that is steeped in history – it was started in 1938 in Malaysia by a group of British colonial officers who wanted to foster camaraderie through running and copious amounts of beer. The activity starts when a group of ‘hares’ lay a trail for other members, playing the ‘hounds’, to follow. Upon reaching the end of the trail, members get to socialise, drink and generally have lots of crazy fun. We hear you may have to perform an initiation ritual when you first join (like drinking beer from your muddied shoe after the run) so if this sounds like your kind of activity, turn up for their weekly Sunday runs. 

When According to Elvo, a group member, these guys run ‘every Sunday at 4pm without fail, regardless of rainstorm, hailstorm, thunderstorm, sunstorm, sandstorm, beerstorm or whatever storm.’ Be prepared.

How to join Just turn up at the location stipulated on the website. There is no membership fee but you should chip in for all that beer you’re going to be chugging. 

Where Running locations change every week, so contact the club for more information.



What Commonly known as the ‘art of movement’, parkour is widely thought to have been popularised by the 2001 Luc Besson film Yamakasi. The objective of this discipline is to traverse obstacles in a fluid and effective manner, without the use of any tools. Martino Chen, a Shanghai parkour practitioner, says the sport was birthed here in 2009 when a group of enthusiasts came together. In 2012, the same group of people then started Link Parkour, a well-equipped gymnastics facility for interested followers to get proper guidance and safe training. It now has a core team of 10 instructors, with about a dozen students having signed up for courses. For a more casual group, you’ll usually find parkour practitioners at Xuhui Riverside most weekends.

When Classes are only held during the weekends – indoor lessons on Saturday and outdoor ones on Sunday.

How to join If you’re already well versed in parkour and want to become an instructor with Link, you just need to pass a test. Those looking to sign up for classes can turn up for training on the weekends. The indoor class package of 10 classes costs 1,500RMB, while the outdoor package of five classes is 400RMB per month.

Where Link Parkour Level B1 Yoga Club, No. 91, Lane 268 Pingji Lu, near Gu Mei Lu. See full address details

Slam Ball


What Now everyone can dunk like LeBron James. Played on a typical basketball court but with two trampoline areas on either side below the baskets, Slam Ball is a relatively new sporting craze in Shanghai. The scoring system is similar to regular basketball but dunks are worth three points, in addition to shots made outside the three-point arc. There isn’t a league in Shanghai just yet, but Slam Ball Asia is working hard to form one. Right now, dozens of players from several Shanghai colleges are undergoing a training programme helmed by experts from the US, and once enough of them achieve the right level, it’s game on. If you’re looking for a non-committal experience, you can rent the court for 150RMB per person per hour. 

When Anytime; or see summer camp details below

How to join If you’d like to hone your skills, the summer camp is from Monday 4-Friday 29 August for 3,088RMB. 
Where Slam Ball Asia 646 Jianchuan Lu, near Hujin Highway. See full address details

Underwater Hockey

What Invented in England in 1954, underwater hockey is pretty similar to regular hockey, except for the fact that you’ll need to be really good at holding your breath in a pool. Instead of a regular stick, underwater hockey players use a short bat or pusher that looks like a blunt dagger, and they wear fins instead of spikes. The Shanghai Azures are a fun-loving bunch of people who get together most Sundays for some underwater action, and they’re happy to welcome anyone comfortable with wearing a diving mask and a snorkel. Set up three years ago by a Colombian and Singaporean, the group’s training sessions usually comprise three parts – a warm up swim, swimming while wearing hockey gear and working on basic skills, and playing a practice game. 

When Every Sunday, from 1pm.

How to join Simply turn up for a Sunday session. There is no membership fee, but participants should contribute to the lane rental fee, which ranges between 50-100RMB per person depending on how many people turn up. 

Where Shanghai Sports School 176 Shuidian Rd, Hongkou district, near Hua Yuan Lu. See full address details




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