Sports Idioms


Sporting events have given birth to a number of idiomatic expressions. Sports idioms are particularly common in American English. They can be quite confusing for speakers of English as a second language. In this lesson we will learn about some of the most popular sports idioms. Most of these are difficult to understand. But because they are very common in daily usage it is well worth learning them.

Play ball

To play ball is to do business with

Strike out

To strike out on a deal is to fail on it.

Locker talk: gossips, rumors

Game plan: plan of action

A real contender

A real contender is a person with a very good chance of winning

Not up to scratch: not having the right qualities

A no-win situation

When you are in a no-win situation, you have absolutely no chances of winning. This is an idiom derived from baseball.

Stall for time

To stall for time is to delay information or a decision. Origin: American football

Get to home

To get to home is to complete the desired action. Origin: baseball

Take the ball and run

To take the ball and run with it is to move in the right direction. Origin: American football

Call the shots

To call the shots is to make the decisions. Origin: basketball

Jockey oneself into position

To jockey yourself into position is to move into a good position so that you have good chances of success. Origin: horse racing

Play with a full deck

When you play with a full deck you have all the qualities and abilities necessary for winning. Origin: cards

Second stringers: less important workers