TV & Movies

15 Of The Biggest Sport Documentaries To Watch On Netflix

By Morgan Reardon
15th Jul 2021

Naomi Osaka sits on the side of a tennis court

Netflix houses a number of huge documentaries on some of the biggest athletes, teams, races and sporting scandals that have ever existed in our big world. To give you more game time we've scoured the highs and lows of the juggernaut streaming service for the most-gripping sport docos there are.

Here are all the best sport documentaries to watch on Netflix

Naomi Osaka 

This intimate three-part series takes us inside the life of one of the world’s best tennis players, Naomi Osaka. With unprecedented access, you’ll follow Osaka during a historic two years in which she works on her game but also begins to find her voice. Whether she’s defending her grand slam titles—while wearing masks in defense of Black lives—mourning the unexpected loss of mentor Kobe Bryant, or finding her independence, the challenges Naomi faces on a personal level begin to align with those in the public sphere.

Last Chance U

If you loved Friday Night Lights then put Last Chance U to the top of your must-see list. Diving deep into the highly competitive world of collage football in the US, Last Chance U follows elite athletes with difficult pasts who turn to junior college football for a last shot at turning their lives around and achieving their dreams. Each season—Netflix has five for you to binge watch—follows a different junior college team. Prepare for all the feels. 

The Last Dance

In the fall of 1997, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls began their quest to win a sixth NBA title in eight years. But despite all Jordan had achieved since his sensational debut 13 years earlier, “The Last Dance,” as coach Phil Jackson called it, would be shadowed by tension with the club’s front office and the overwhelming sense that this was the last time the world would ever see the greatest player of all time, and his extraordinary teammates, in full flight. The Last Dance is without a doubt one of the best sports documentaries on Netflix.

The Speed Cubers

We love this one because unlike most sports documentaries, The Speed Cubers doesn’t center around a mainstream sport. Set within the quirky, competitive world of speedcubing, this is the story of the rivalry/friendship between the two best rubiks cubers in the world—17-year-old Max Park and 23-year old Feliks Zemdegs. Feelgood and joyus, this is one out of the ordinary sports docos that you need to watch. 

CounterPunch

CounterPunch brings to light the true stories of a number of young boxers determined not only to turn around the fate of the industry, but to also make sure their names end up in the firmament alongside the most remembered and revered champions. Following the journey of three boxers (all at different stages of their career), the doco shows their discipline, sweat, heartbreak and triumph, and how unrelenting the journey is to get there.

The Playbook

While most sports documentaries are about the players, The Playbook is all about coaches and the rules they live by to achieve success in sports and in life. Through emotional and in-depth interviews, each coach reveals the critical moments in their personal lives and careers that ultimately helped form their coaching philosophies. Some of the incredible coaches featured include the Los Angeles Clippers' Doc Rivers; two-time FIFA World Cup-winning coach Jill Ellis; one of the most decorated football managers of all time, Premier League’s José Mourinho and Serena Williams’ famed tennis coach, Patrick Mouratoglou.

Losers

Losers is bite-sized (eps are just 30-minutes long), sports docuseries which examines our complex relationship with failure. We live in a winner take all society where losing is laughed off, dismissed and shamed. But what do we miss when we turn our back on the lessons that failure gives us? Season One of Losers takes the viewfinder of sport to deeply examine these attitudes and subverts the very psychology of losing. 

Pelé

This doco tells the story of iconic footballer Pelé, his quest for perfection and the mythical status he attained. As well as unprecedented interview access to Pelé, the film includes astounding archive footage and interviews with legendary former team-mates including Zagallo, Jairzinho and Rivellino. The story looks back at the extraordinary 12-year period in which Pelé, the only man to win three World Cup titles, went from young superstar in 1958 to national hero in 1970; a radical yet turbulent era in Brazil’s history. 

Rising Phoenix

Rising Phoenix tells the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games. From the rubble of World War II to the third biggest sporting event on the planet, the Paralympics sparked a global movement which continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, diversity and human potential. Hit play and don’t look back.

Athlete A

Athlete A follows a team of reporters from The Indianapolis Star as they investigate claims of abuse at USA Gymnastics, one of the nation’s most prominent Olympic organizations. Two years later, an Olympic doctor is behind bars, the US Congress is demanding answers and hundreds of incredible survivors are speaking out. This doco, though shocking (and arguably not for everyone) reveals one of the most toxic cultures that was blatantly allowed to thrive within elite-level gymnastics.

The Dawn Wall

In January, 2015, American rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson completely captivated the world with their effort to climb The Dawn Wall, a seemingly impossible 3000-foot rock face in Yosemite National Park, California. The pair lived on the sheer vertical cliff for weeks but for Tommy well, The Dawn Wall meant a whole lot more than just a “big climb”. At the age of 22, he was taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan, shortly after, he lost his index finger in an accident, but resolved to come back stronger when his marriage fell apart, he escaped the pain by fixating on the extraordinary goal of free climbing The Dawn Wall.

Ronda Rousey Story: Through My Father’s Eyes

When Ronda Rousey became the first female UFC champion, she achieved more than athletic glory — she realized her late father’s belief that she would make her greatest dreams come true. The Ronda Rousey Story: Through My Father’s Eyes follows Ronda’s inspiring journey to superstardom, weaving revealing interviews with dynamic fight footage to create a portrait of a remarkable and fearless woman who overcame all odds to become a symbol of strength, hope, and female empowerment.

Formula 1: Drive To Survive

We know — the world of racecar driving is definitely not for everyone but hear us out. This docuseries (which now spans two seasons) is a gripping, high-octane insight into one of the biggest racing comps in the world (which is a mammoth multi-billion dollar industry). It goes into the world of Formula 1 driving, behind the families, the teams and the drivers in the ultimate fight to be number one. The best part? There's three seasons to binge. 

Icarus

A little left of centre but none the list very worthy of this list, this documentary takes a closer look into one of the most controversial athletic scandals in history—doping. Filmmaker, Bryan Fogel, who also has a keen interest in cycling volunteers himself as a human guinea pig to test whether he can complete a successful doping regimen without being detected by the sport’s intense drug testing procedure. He invests in the help of a Russian scientist — Putin’s most wanted whistle-blower to help cheat the drug test, uncovering insights about the biggest scandal in sporting history. 

The Game Changers

If you’re keen to get around one of the most hyped documentaries right now, hit up The Game Changers. Directed by the Oscar award-winning Louie Psihoyos (who you know from The Cove), and produced by Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron, this revolutionary new film delves into everything you need to know about meat, protein and strength. We won't say you'll be an avid plant-based eater by the end of this one, but by god, you'll never look at meat the same again.

Need more to binge? Check out the latest in entertainment here.

Image credit: Netflix

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