Several ancient ritualised arts are Keralite in origin. These include kalaripayattu—kalari ("place", "threshing floor", or "battlefield") and payattu ("exercise" or "practice"). Among the world's oldest martial arts, oral tradition attributes kalaripayattu's emergence to Parasurama. Other ritual arts include theyyam and poorakkali.
Cricket and football are the most popular sports in the state. Two Kerala Ranji Trophy players gained test selection in recent years. Sreesanth, born in Kothamangalam, has represented India since 2005. Among other Keralite cricketers is Tinu Yohannan, son of Olympic long jumper T. C. Yohannan. Kerala also now has a team in the Indian Premier league called Kochi Tuskers Kerala. Notable Kerala footballers include I. M. Vijayan, C. V. Pappachan, V. P. Sathyan, and Jo Paul Ancheri.
Other popular sports include badminton, volleyball and kabaddi. Among Kerala athletes are P. T. Usha, T. C. Yohannan, Suresh Babu, Shiny Wilson, K. M. Beenamol, M. D. Valsamma and Anju Bobby George. Volleyball is another popular sport and is often played on makeshift courts on sandy beaches along the coast. Jimmy George, born in Peravoor, Kannur, was a notable Indian volleyball player, rated in his prime as among the world's ten best players.