Extreme Sports? Extreme Insanity! — a Talking Points lesson for English reading and speaking


What is an extreme sport?

Are there any extreme sports in your country? What do people think of them?

Do you think extreme sports should be banned? Why/why not?

Extreme Sports? Extreme Insanity!

There was a time when extreme sports meant skiing or surfing.

Maybe mountain climbing or white-water rafting.

But by today’s standards, these sports are considered tame.

These days, more and more people are becoming addicted to the thrill of extreme danger.

Take the new sport of urban free climbing.

This is hugely popular in Russia where climbers find a high-rise building and climb it. With no safety equipment.

There are countless videos you can see online of young daredevils going to the top of a skyscraper. Then making a video of themselves as they climb the antenna at the very peak. Or skip along the very edge of the building hundreds of metres in the air.

Using no safety equipment and no ropes, these extreme climbers manage to get to the top of many famous skyscrapers around the world.

They then upload their photographs and videos to social media websites for their thousands of followers.

Why do they do it?

For the sheer thrill of it. They live for danger.

While people in the past enjoyed playing football or a game of tennis, today’s sports enthusiasts want something with a lot more excitement. They need to feel the adrenaline rush of doing an activity that puts them in danger.

Another popular extreme sport is BASE jumping. This involves jumping from a fixed structure with either a parachute or a wingsuit and flying to the ground.

BASE stands for the four kinds of fixed objects that the person can jump from: building, antenna, span and earth. Span is usually a bridge. Earth is usually in the form of a cliff edge or a mountain.

It is extremely dangerous, and people die from doing it.

But that doesn’t seem to stop the rapid growth of the sport.

In professional parachuting, it is advised to open the parachute from a minimum height of just over 900 metres.

But in BASE jumping, that is not always possible.

Hence the danger.

Social media has played a big part in the popularity of extreme sports. We can see many videos on sites such as YouTube, for example, that show the nerve-tingling situations that these enthusiasts get into.

There are even videos of people having serious accidents or falling to their deaths. Because of this, there is much debate over whether some of these extreme sports should be banned.

Many of the urban free climbers and BASE jumpers are engaging in their chosen sports against the authorities.

With no safety regulations in place and no professional team to advise them, should these people be allowed to indulge in these activities?

Incredibly, BASE jumping is not illegal in many places. The only illegal thing the people are doing is trespassing on private property.

And there are more and more videos online of people plummeting to their deaths.

Is this really a sport?

Or are we just entertained at the idea of people possibly dying?

Nonetheless, these sports are gaining in popularity.

Reading Comprehension Questions

What are the traditional extreme sports the article mentions at the beginning?

Are these sports still believed to be exciting today?

What kind of sports do people want to do today?

What is the first example of modern extreme sport that the article mentions?

Is this sport popular in Russia?

What do people do in this sport?

Do they use safety equipment?

How can people see these Russian climbers?

Do they go to skyscrapers?

Where do the climbers post videos?

What is the second extreme sport the article mentions?

How do people play this sport?

What does BASE stand for?

What does span include?

What does Earth include?

Do people die from playing this sport?

Is this sport becoming more popular?

What is the minimum height to open a parachute?

Which website shows a lot of extreme sports videos?

Are these sports illegal?

Essential Vocabulary

extreme sports



mountain climbing

white-water rafting

by today’s standards





urban free climbing

hugely popular


high-rise building

safety equipment










social media





adrenaline rush


BASE jumping

fixed structure




cliff edge

the rapid growth





nerve-tingling situation







private property




Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:


Notebooka small book with pages of blank paper that students use to make notes when studying.

I left my notebook at home so I was unable to make any notes in my English class.”


Discussion Questions

What are extreme sports?

How would you define extreme sports?

What makes extreme sports ‘extreme’?

Have you ever tried any extreme sports?

If so, which ones?

Would you like to try any extreme sports?

Why/why not?

Which ones have you tried?

What kind of extreme sports are popular in your country?

What are the risks of extreme sports?

What is an ‘adrenaline rush’?

Have you ever had an adrenaline rush? What caused it to happen?

What is the attraction of extreme sports? Why do people want to do extreme sports?

Do you think we should allow extreme sports?

Which ones are acceptable? Which ones unacceptable? Why do you think so?

Have you seen any videos of extreme sports online? How do they make you feel?

Are extreme sports a danger to other people? How so?

What should the authorities do about extreme sports such as urban free climbers? Should they allow them to do it? Why/why not?

Let’s Ride, Bro!

Take a look at the list of extreme sports below.



scuba diving





street luge

waterfall kayaking

bungee jumping


ice diving


white water rafting

rock climbing

sky diving


First, define what each of the sports are.

Write two or three sentences to describe clearly what each extreme sport is.

Now, decide which ones you would like to try.

Give very clear reasons why you would like to try these extreme sports or not.


Finally, try to think of a new kind of extreme sport.

  • What equipment does this sport require?

  • Where can people play/do this sport?

  • Is it legal/illegal? Is this part of the enjoyment of the sport?

Write an introduction to this sport.


This is a debate activity.


Divide the class into two groups of equal numbers.

Choose one person to act as chairperson of the debate. The chairperson must ensure there is order during the debate. Plus, they must make sure that everyone has the chance to speak.


Team A

You are a group of extreme sports enthusiasts.

You live for danger and you love the thrill of jumping off high buildings or going surfing on a huge wave.

You don’t believe you are putting anyone else’s life in danger and you think it is your right to live your life as you please.

Extreme sports make you feel alive!


Team B

You want to put a stop to extreme sports.

You think that it is only a matter of time before someone dies — and you cannot allow that.

You think that extreme sports put other people’s lives in danger as well as the participants.

People do not have the right to do what they want. There must be rules in place in society and you would like people to obey these rules.

Have respect for your own life — as well as others!


The Situation

The city is a resort by the sea.

There are many high buildings, and this has attracted many urban free climbers to the city. They climb the buildings and make videos that they post online.

This has attracted even more extreme sports enthusiasts.

Now there are BASE jumpers who like to jump from the high buildings.

Not only that but there are surfers in the sea. And the waves are very high. Sometimes there are storms and the sea can become very dangerous, but still, the surfers appear to ride the next wave.

Something needs to be done!

Before someone loses their life!


In your teams, take some time to prepare your lines of argument and what you want to say in the debate.

When you are ready, begin the debate!


This is a creative writing exercise.


Try to write a poem. The poem can be in any style you wish.

The title of the poem is




Write your poem as if you are in the middle of doing an extreme sport. It can be any of the extreme sports in this lesson.

For example, maybe you are bungee jumping.

You have just jumped off a bridge very high off the ground. And your poem describes the feeling that rushes through your body and your mind as you fall to the ground.

In your poem, think about all your senses — sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.

Try to write about all your feelings in your poem.


When you have finished your poem, read it out loud in front of the class.

Ask your classmates and teacher for feedback.

You can download the full lesson plan by clicking the link below!

You can also join my mailing list by clicking the link below. I will send you new guides, articles and lesson plans when I publish them.

4 thoughts on “Extreme Sports? Extreme Insanity! — a Talking Points lesson for English reading and speaking”

  1. It is a great topic for discussion as well as a reading and/or writing lesson. The topic is interesting even if you don’t do sports at all. I don’t do any sports but my niece and her husband jump from buildings with a parachute. They belong to a group that does it in different parts of the world. Go figure!

  2. This is a brilliant subject to use as an ESL tool. I have male students from the ages of 12 to 19 and I know that it will enthral and keep their interest while learning a lot of new vocab….. even considering trying one of two of the activities. Many grateful thanks.

    1. Hi Deb! Many thanks for telling me this. I am always glad to hear that my lesson plans are useful for teachers and students. Hope it goes well in the classroom!

Leave a Reply