5 Hardest Sports to Go Pro In [ANSWERED]

Some sports are hard to play but easy to go pro. Others are easy to play but hard to go pro in. I looked over the data and figured out which sports are the hardest to go pro in.

What is the hardest sport to go pro in? Basketball is the hardest sport to go pro in. Followed by Football, Baseball, Hockey, and finally Boxing. .008% of high school basketball players turn pro, a number far lower then the preceding sports.

Continue reading to learn more about the hardest sports to go pro in.

1. Basketball

Basketball is the hardest sport to go pro in. Unless you’re above 6 foot 3 inches, then there is a very small (get it… cause small in height too…annnddd the article goes on) chance of you making it pro. This is a very height dominated sport that leaves small people behind. Imagine if Isaiah Thomas was 6 inches taller, he would absolutely dominate. He is 5 foot 9 inches and he still manages but there is a reason why there are only TWO players under 6 feet in the NBA (2018 data).

Anyways, enough about height. Of 541,054 high school basketball players, only 47 of them would turn pro. That is .008%. There is also a low barrier to entry, allowing for more people to play the sport which leads to more competition for the top spots. All it takes is a ball and a local basketball court to practice your craft.

The great Charles Barkley once said “a 200 pound guy with no ass is gonna have a tough time in the NBA” (Conan O’Brien Podcast). Take that for what it is but I feel it is somehow related for those with no ass. A little more related, he also remarked how “the 11th or 12th guy on an NBA team that is sitting on the bench is probably a good player. They were probably a great college player and best on their team. Showing how hard it is to get a starting position”. ESPN ranks Basketball as the 4th most difficult sport to play.

2. Football

Football, not to be confused with soccer for our European readers out there, takes the number two spot for this topic. The degree of difficulty mixed with the physical constraints make it a very difficult sport to become a professional. According to the NCAA, out of 1,093,234 High School football players, only 255 of them will make it pro. Which is a .02% chance of a high school football player making it to the big leagues.

Football is similar to basketball in terms of its physical constraints. A small low weight player will not have the same advantages as a larger player. Of course this varies from position to position. More often then not, the larger player will beat the smaller player in fighting for limited roster spots. ESPN ranks football as the 3rd most difficult sport to play.

3. Baseball

Baseball is the third hardest sport to become a professional player in. If you’ve ever seen a professional baseball game up close then you realize just how fast those pitchers can throw. Realizing that, you also see how incredibly difficult it is to hit one of those pitches. For reference, A 100-mph fastball takes roughly 375-400 milliseconds to reach the plate.

It takes 300 to 400 milliseconds to blink your eye……… So the ball literally reaches the batter in a blink of an eye. Of course the brain needs time to process the pitch giving the batter milliseconds to make the decision to swing or not. This difficulty is why it is very slim to make a professional roster and compete for your spot. Out of 482,629 high school baseball players, 638 of them become professional ball players. That is .13% chance of becoming professional. ESPN ranks baseball as the 9th most difficult sport to play.

4. Hockey

We’ve all ice skated before, its not easy. Now try that with 220 pound men chasing you. The eye hand coordination and endurance needed to compete at the highest level makes hockey the 4th hardest sport to become a professional player in.

In fact, even when you’re born plays into your chances of going pro. In a study published by PLOS ONE, professors found that players born in Jan-March are more likely to be drafted than players born later in the same year. So its easy to say that even the season you are born in puts you at a disadvantage or advantage in this sport. In mens ice hockey, 60 out of 35,393 high school hockey players will turn pro. Which is a .17% chance. ESPN ranks hockey as the 2nd most difficult sport to play.

what is the hardest sport to go pro in

5. Boxing

One of the reasons boxing made the list is because of the degree of difficulty. ESPN ranked Boxing as the number one most difficult sport. Boxing is simply the most demanding sport. It takes on average 118 amateur fights for top boxers to reach a professional debut. Keep in mind that is for top boxers who won a majority of those amateur fights. The hardcore conditioning for boxing and focus needed to fight at the top level is what makes boxing the fifth hardest sport to become a professional in.


If you would like to find out what the five easiest sports to go pro in are, click this link

This article is not about the actual degree of difficulty for these sports. If that were the case then boxing would be number one. Instead it is about how hard it is to become a professional player in these sports. Thank you for reading and please subscribe if you would like to be notified about new articles.


  • “Most Difficult Sports.” ESPN, ESPN Internet Ventures, www.espn.com/espn/page2/sportSkills.
  • Gaines, Cork. “Chart Shows Just How Hard It Is to Become a Professional Athlete.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 13 Mar. 2015, www.businessinsider.com/chart-professional-athlete-2015-3.
  • Sean Quinton Seattle Times sports producer Published March 31, 2017. “Don’t Blink: The Science of a 100-Mph Fastball.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, projects.seattletimes.com/2017/mariners-preview/science/#:~:text=A 100-mph fastball takes,eye takes 300-400 milliseconds.&text=The two work with college,to the fastest of fastballs.
  • Cornelius, Emily. “How Hard Is It to Make It to the NHL?” HuffPost, HuffPost, 11 Nov. 2014, www.huffpost.com/entry/how-hard-is-it-to-make-it_b_5803634.
  • Shortboxing. 2020. How Long Does It Take To Become A Pro Boxer? Data From TOP Boxers | Shortboxing. [online] Available at: <https://shortboxing.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-become-a-pro-boxer/> [Accessed 12 June 2020].