2020, to say the least, was a difficult year. The last many months have been unprecedented for each one of us around the world. Covid-19 has kept us indoors and forced us to reassess our sports/fitness goals. Needless to say, these have been testing times. 

Ratan Tata once said, “If history teaches us anything, it’s that in these challenging times new opportunities will arise”. 

Taking a cue from the quote, at Decathlon Sports India we have embraced this challenge and engaged with Indian sports enthusiasts with online sports events and coaching classes through an initiative called Allforsport. Thanks to Covid-19, today these have become mainstream activities.

The pandemic has completely changed the way people practice sports. The fitness enthusiasts who once loved sweating it out to burn the calories, today find themselves trapped within their houses with masks on their faces. The sports lovers can no longer relish a competitive game outdoors whenever they want to. 

So, we decided to analyze the behavior that people have adapted to with their sports habits since the lockdown. To begin with, let’s consider the activities people loved to engage in before the outbreak took place.

Top 10 sports preferred by the Sport users before the lockdown

Allforsport Practice Data as of April 2019 to Feb 2020

It's not a surprise that Cycling and Running were among the top sports preferred. Covid-19 brought about a ton of obstacles to people interested in them because they are essentially outdoor sports in nature. But were those the only sports that people had difficulty practicing? Of course not. Any sport which required people to step outdoors went on a dry run post-March. 

Listing down some of the challenges people faced in practicing our top sports during the lockdown : 

Cycling : 

Cycling is already a popular sport in the cities, opted by many not only to adopt a more fit and healthy lifestyle but also because more people are now environmentally cautious and choosing cycling as a mode of transportation. During the lockdown, cycling was a luxury that we couldn't afford. Not everyone has a stationary bike or a home trainer accessible to do virtual cycling rides. Even if some did, it's fun initially but the experience just isn't real. Cycling isn't just about peddling the wheel but also savouring nature alongside. Covid-19 put a full stop to cycling.

Running : 

Followed closely is running, another popular sport enjoyed by many. Running as a sport is easy and affordable. During the lockdown, those that could afford treadmills ran inside their houses. However, the outdoors was missed. 

Yoga : 

The only sport with almost zero impact (in terms of practice) during the lockdown! Of course, physical yoga classes were canceled and suffered a hit but a lot of them were replaced virtually. 

Bodybuilding : 

Yes, flexing in the gym was missed by all but being locked down indoors didn't bring a complete halt to the practice. Those that had dumbbells and barbells in their house continued but those who wanted to purchase could not get them delivered. Nevertheless, the passionate bodybuilders found a way and lifted whatever they could find at their houses to improve their muscle strength. 

Badminton : 

An addictive sport for many. We love the speed, intensity & reflexes this sport demands of us. As the streets were empty, most of us practiced this sport right in front of our houses and had fun with our family but missed the vigor with which we generally play in the courts. 

Fitness Cardio : 

Another sport most of us picked up during the lockdown. Sticking to HIIT, and Tabata was among the easy options. 

Cross Training : 

Online crosstraining sessions and pre-recorded videos were fun initially however the enthusiasm didn’t last long. 

Trekking : 

One of the biggest impacts of the lockdown was on Hiking and Trekking. Decathlon held online trekking workshops to keep the enthusiasts engaged. People organized staycations at home and their terraces with tents laid out just to get the feel of camping. 

Football : 

Dribbing, juggling, shooting practices at home were common (ignoring a few broken home items here and there and the havoc created) we missed the beautiful game on and off the field. 

Cricket : 

Not just a Sport but a Religion for many of us as we know. Neither could we flaunt our batting skills nor watch our favorite cricketers smash a few sixes. 

To conclude, almost every sport had challenges but sports enthusiasts found a way to overcome and stay fit. At Decathlon, we looked at this challenge as a good problem to solve.

The Hustle : 


How we rose to the challenge of uncertainty and engaged with Sports enthusiasts through a myriad of Online events and needless to say, Decathlon did its very best to deliver the products online with only one or two stores open for a few days.

Top 5 sports practiced and purchased during the peak lockdown (April):

During the peak lockdown, almost all Decathlon stores were closed, minimal online delivery was in place, as you see below except for Kids Karate, we saw a correlation between AFS & Decathlon.in in terms of sports practiced and the products purchased. 

Note : Allforsport is an initiative by Decathlon offering sports events, workshops and coaching classes.

 We didn't conduct Online carrom events :D, but people did buy carrom boards to play with their families and friends

However in May, at AFS the focus was on Yoga and Fitness, Zumba, Dance, etc. The online sessions for fitness were at their peak in May. Example One hour fitness (HIIT, Tabata, Zumba) events for a span of 4 days was a huge hit in Mumbai with over close to 2000 users registering for these events, however on our online website, the purchases were not only around Fitness products but we also saw a surge in the consumption of cycling and running products as people were getting ready to access the outdoors soon. 

Top 5 sports practiced and purchased during the peak lockdown (May)

Top 5 sports practices practiced & purchased post-peak lockdown (June to December) :

As soon as there was an ease in the lockdown, Running and Cycling were back: virtual challenges for running and cycling really picked up as people started participating. They would run/cycle whenever and wherever they felt comfortable and posted their daily records to win certificates and medals as an acknowledgment of their participation and completing the given challenge. While outdoor sports started picking up, we didn't see Yoga (the Lockdown Super Sport) waver in performance at all. It was still at the top spot as expected.

What was interesting in the post-peak lockdown period was that people or rather sports lovers started coming out and shopping in our physical stores following all social distancing protocols and we also saw a huge jump in online orders, as well as soon a delivery, began. This shows that even if sports goods weren't deemed essential, to keep up with the virus, maintain immunity, and stay fit, doing different activities is essential. 

Big Hitters :

This did not come as a surprise but outdoor sports missed out in a big way during the lockdown. Just when swimming and watersports season was beginning in March, we were faced with the lockdown so these sports suffered in a big way. To name a few more from the Decathlon point of view, the Covid crisis has had a huge impact on the below sports 

Hiking, Trekking, Swimming, badminton, Football, Cricket

Lesson Learnt : 

  • Kids and Online Sessions don't go well. We'd assume kids instead prefer to go out and play in the company of their friends in the fields and the mud. Trying to tell your kids to sit in front of the laptop/tablets or a phone to attend an online Karate class or a dance class or a basketball/football drills is tedious.

As the pandemic continues to still be around, we would like all the Indians to stay safe and pick up a sport to boost their immunity 

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