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Andy Prest: A definitive ranking of the coolest plays in sports

These are the plays that stun you with their skill, audacity and surprise
Bicycle kick GettyImages
The bicycle kick goal has to be near the top of any list of the coolest plays in sports.

October is a great month for sports.

It’s the only time of year that all of the Big Four North American leagues are in action, with hockey and basketball starting up, football in full swing and of course, the MLB playoffs cooking all month. Heck, even soccer is at it, all over the world. Our Canadian men’s national team just went down to Mexico and earned a point at Estadio Azteca for the first time since 1980. That’s ... amazing. That’s like winning a race against a dolphin in the ocean.

With all these sports on the go, you see a lot of amazing things, which led me into a debate that I figured I should just settle right here, right now: What are the coolest plays in sports? Not the cliché great plays, like hitting a game-winning homer, or the amazing but fairly common, like an alley-oop dunk. I’m talking about those plays that are so outlandish in their skill, rarity, and audacity that they make you jump out of your chair in delighted, incredulous surprise. Let’s jump right into the list and you’ll see what I mean.

Last place: The “lacrosse” goal in hockey. Yes, it’s surprising, and takes a lot of skill and audacity, and that’s why it’s on the list. It’s just ... kind of weird, no? Doesn’t it look kind of like cheating? Or something? You picked the puck up with your stick and threw it into the net? I dunno. Congrats?

10: The triple play. Also rare and exciting, and takes a lot of skill. But you also need a lot of luck, usually, to pull it off, as in the ingredients all need to be set out for you in just the right spots before you can make one. Lots of double plays actually look prettier, don’t they?

9: The long shot soccer goal. I love these. There’s something really impressive about seeing a player 40 yards out from goal, or more, take a look up and decide, ‘I’m going to have a crack from here.’ Some strikes of the ball are so clean you could serve Sunday dinner off them.

8: The end-to-end rush. Now this is a hockey play I want to see. The buzz in the building just grows and grows as one hockey player somehow skates through five hockey players and then finds the back of the net. Jaw-dropping.

7: The football toe-tap catch. You know those football catches, especially touchdown catches, in which the receiver must drag or tap a toe down onto the green turf just before flying out-of-bounds into the white turf? Yeah, those are always awesome.

6: The outfield assist. Sometimes a baseball player will make a throw so hard and accurate and long that you need to watch it over and over and over to take in the fact that an out was made from a player standing 300 feet away. And the play ends with a tag at the base, which just takes the excitement to another level. Not all outfield assists are amazing, but some of them are. You know it when you see it.

5. The Simone Biles. We’re skipping most individual sports here, because doing a world record pole vault or nailing a quadruple salchow may be exciting, but you’re not stunned when it happens. But the jumps that gymnast Simone Biles does? Stunning. Google it.

4: The fake punt/field goal. “It’s a fake!” the announcer yells, every dang time. So much fun.

3: The blocked dunk. Yes, a slam dunk can be very cool. But you know what play makes you spring out of your seat? Yup, the blocked dunk. The defender sees the attacker cocking back a jam and says, “Oh, we’re about to have an air fight.” Electric.


2. The bicycle kick. So here we have a game that usually ends with maybe two or three total goals, often less, and you’re telling me someone is going to score one of those goals by tracking a ball with their back to the net, leaping into the air and then swing that takeoff leg into the air and kicking the ball backwards over their head like some kind of sweaty ninja? Yes, please.

1. Stealing home. The audacity of it. The chutzpah. It’s never not thrilling. Text all your friends: “Did you see that!?!” It just doesn’t get any cooler than sneaking/racing home when the pitcher is standing right there, 60 feet and six inches away from the plate, holding the ball like a goomba.

That’s my No. 1. Disagree? I’d love to hear about it. What did I miss? Slide me a response if you’ve got an opinion. Make sure you slide hard though – it’s going to be a close play at the plate!

Andy Prest is the sports and features editor of the North Shore News. His lifestyle/humour column runs biweekly. [email protected]