25 Athletic Plays That Don't Seem Possible

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIJanuary 23, 2013

25 Athletic Plays That Don't Seem Possible

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    Some plays in sports leave you sitting there with your jaw open, your hands in the air and that silent scream coming out of your mouth.

    Sports are filled with those kinds of plays—from basketball to football and soccer to ice hockey; heck, from table tennis to mixed martial arts.

    It's what makes sports so incredible, so enthralling and so addictive.

    In this list, you'll find 25 of the most athletic plays of all time—none of which seem possible to achieve, but we're clearly watching them happen right in front of us.

    Obviously, this list is somewhat subjective, but I've tried to include as many different sports as I could.

    If there's one that you think deserves to be on the list, let us know in the comments section below—and perhaps even provide a link so that the rest of us can join in being amazed.

Honorable Mention: Jonathan Baldwin

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    Just missing the cut here is Jonathan Baldwin's behind-the-back catch for the Kansas City Chiefs—perhaps made more incredible for the fact that Matt Cassel actually completed a pass.

    Seriously, though. Receivers now have no excuse for dropping the football when guys like Baldwin show that you can still make the play with a defender in between you and the ball.

25. Connecticut Frisbee Player

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    Time to kick off this list with a little bit of frisbee action. We're with Connecticut and Philadelphia here when a Connecticut player makes one incredibly brilliant hustle play.

    Further proof that you should never say die. Not unless there's a fat lady singing somewhere.

24. Dwyane Wade

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    Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade makes his first of two appearances on this list with a spectacular spin and layup against the Washington Wizards.

    How he got this play to fall is still beyond me—especially when it seems that all he was trying to do was get the play off before the shot clock expired.

    I guess this is one way to do it.

23. Michael Jordan

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    Michael Jordan is a legend—if you don't know that by now, then you really need to start reading some more about basketball.

    And whilst there are a number of plays we could include from the great man, we again turn our attention to some great hustle play—keeping the ball alive and somehow finding an open man.

    Shame that it only counted for one assist.

22. Beer Guy

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    This is a man who has his priorities straight.

    Chilling poolside at the 2011 Home Run Derby, this guy recognizes the huge hit sent his way and springs to life, making an incredible catch whilst falling into the pool.

    But the best part? He not only held onto his beer cup, but kept the cup above the water and saved any liquid from falling out of it.

    Tell me that's not the very definition of "athletic."

21. Steve Young

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    How Steve Young doesn't go down here is beyond me.

    How he isn't tackled at the 40, the 35 or the 30 also still befuddles me every time I watch it.

    It's just an incredible play from an incredible man, I guess.

20. Santonio Holmes

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    Few man can claim to have won a Super Bowl. Even fewer can claim involvement in the game-winning touchdown.

    Still fewer can attest to pulling off an incredible play to do so.

    Santonio Holmes is one of those guys, as seen in Super Bowl XLIII.

19. Diego Maradona

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    When he actually decided to use his feet, Diego Maradona was simply mesmerizing.

    This goal against England in the semifinal of the 1986 World Cup was voted as the goal of the century—something that's easy to see once you appreciate the significance and the brilliance of the goal.

    Arguably the most iconic goal of all time.

18. Manute Bol

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    We head back to the NBA here, where we witness this incredible 20-second passage that features Manute Bol blocking his name into the history books.

    Not one, not two, not three, but four blocks in a row make this one of the most remarkable athletic plays coming on the defensive end of the court and an obvious inclusion into this list.

17. Dwyane Wade

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    If Dwyane Wade's first appearance on this list showed an incredible touch, this one shows some serious speed, acceleration and aggression.

    Considering that Wade is giving away a good six inches to Oklahoma City's Kendrick Perkins, this dunk truly is one of the more athletic basketball plays in recent history.

16. LeBron James

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    Sticking with basketball for just one more play here, LeBron James jumps his way into the athleticism books with this incredible finish over John Lucas. And when we say over, we really mean over.

    You've almost got to feel for Lucas here; he probably didn't even see it coming.

    Which is a shame really, because, from here, this is one sweet-looking slam.

15. Michael Hussey

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    Changing sports for a minute here to cricket, where Australian Michael Hussey pulls off one of the most incredible catches in the history of the game.

    Sprinting to his left, Hussey extents at full stretch and reels the ball in with his wrong hand to pick up a momentum-changing wicket for his country.

    And for all you baseball guys out there thinking this was no biggie, just remind me again where his glove is.

14. Ortege Jenkins

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    I remember yelling very, very loudly the first time I watched Ortege Jenkins "leap for the lake" and score one of the most amazing touchdowns in history.

    I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

    In fact, somebody out there right now is probably still yelling at the ridiculous nature of this touchdown. I'm completely sure of it.

13. AB de Villiers

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    Turning back to cricket for one last time here, South African AB de Villiers pulled off one of the most incredible run-outs in history with this play against Australia.

    For those that aren't quite sure, see that line there? De Villiers has to get the ball to hit the stumps before the batsman crosses that line to get him out.

    Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not when you're tumbling around and can't even manage to see the stumps because your own body is in the way.

    Not that it stopped De Villiers at all.

12. Trevor Sinclair

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    Trevor Sinclair netted one of the greatest overhead goals of all time when he pulled off this insane play against Barnsley back in 1997.

    To get that high off the ground while still hitting the ball with such accuracy and precision to find the back of the net simply doesn't seem possible.

    For most humans, anyway.

11. Alexander Ovechkin

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    Few goals exist in the National Hockey League that are more iconic and remarkable than this particular effort from Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin.

    There was just no way that he should have been able to keep his eye on the net and backhand it into the slight angle that he had. No way in the world should this have happened.

    It just doesn't seem possible.

10. Anthony Pettis

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    Time to change sports entirely and head towards some mixed martial arts.

    And yes, commentator, I did see that.

    Over and over again.

    An incredible running superkick off the cage gives Anthony Pettis superb position in the fight, though full credit to his opponent, Benson Henderson, for not getting knocked out cold.

    I know I certainly would have—simply from amazement.

9. Rene Higuita

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    Back to soccer again, where we witness the infamous Colombian keeper Rene Higuita and his incredible scorpion kick to deny a long-range attempt on goal.

    The fact that Higuita did this in an international match against England at Wembley Stadium proves just how insane he truly is.

    Though, what some call insane, you can often just call incredible. Especially when Higuita actually saved it.

    There's not much you can ask for other than that.

8. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    This remarkable goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic against Ajax just doesn't seem possible.

    How he fakes and then outfakes and then re-fakes and then double-fakes and then under-fakes and then finishes into the bottom corner of the net just doesn't seem right.

    Even for Zlatan, a man who has a word in the dictionary named after him simply because of his skill.

    So I guess it's okay to make words up when describing this goal after all.

7. Marshawn Lynch

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    Ever wondered why Marshawn Lynch's nickname is "Beast Mode"? 

    It's because of plays like this one, where approximately one billion New Orleans Saints defenders fail in their attempt to bring down the Seattle running back.

    The fact he did this in prime time in a playoff game to seal a huge upset victory made what was an already ridiculous play even more incredible.

    #BeastMode defined.

6. Masato Akamatsu

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    Some things in the world genuinely seem impossible.

    Though, after watching Masato Akamatsu's gravity-defying catch on top of the wall, I'm not really convinced that anything is impossible.

    Easily the most ridiculous catch in baseball.

5. The Air Up There

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    Tony Hawk completely revolutionized skateboarding when he completed the first-ever 900. 

    Streetballer "The Air Up There" did a similar thing to basketball here with this ridiculous 720 dunk that really puts to shame anything that's ever been done in the NBA's slam dunk competition.

    Seriously. How is this possible?

4. Brian Kownacki

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    I always wonder what was going through the head of the players involved in this play.

    I wonder what was going through the head of Brian Kownacki when he rounded third base and saw that he was going to be tagged near the home plate.

    I wonder what was going through the head of the umpire when called the runner safe.

    And I wonder what was going through the head of the catcher when he realized that he had been completely and utterly schooled by Kownacki.

    A truly unbelievable play.

3. Vince Carter

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    Inside the top three now, and it's time to have a look at Vince Carter's incredible dunk.

    With just a couple of steps, Carter's dunk became immortalized in basketball lore as one of the greatest and most remarkable plays in history.

    Considering that Carter comes up to Frédéric Weis' shoulders when standing side by side, it's kind of understandable why this play is so remarkable.

    Physics says it should be impossible; Vince Carter proves otherwise.

2. Jerome Simpson

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    We've all seen it a gazillion times, but Jerome Simpson's touchdown flip simply has to be considered one of the most ridiculously athletic plays of all time.

    The Arizona Cardinals seem to have absolutely no idea how it happened, and the Cincinnati Bengals players don't really know what just happened either, judging by their reaction.

    All they know is something incredible just happened in front of them, which is basically all we can really say about this play as well.

1. David Wetherill

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    Out of all the athletic plays on the list, David Wetherill's diving table tennis shot at the 2012 London Olympics is the greatest of them all.

    See, every other player on this list is able-bodied and has two working legs.

    Wetherill has one, and yet he still pulls off a shot like this, then falls to the ground in a heap as a result.

    There's commitment, and then there's incredible, but this shot is greater than all of that.

    It has to be considered among the most ridiculous plays in sporting history as it is, without doubt, an insanely athletic play that just doesn't seem at all possible.

    Everything else kind of pales in comparison.

    Agree? Disagree? What are the most athletic plays in sport?

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