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

  • We don’t want to play ball with anybody who doesn’t have a good track record.

Strike out

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

  • We had every chance of winning, but by making a few stupid mistakes we struck out on the deal.

Locker talk: gossips, rumors

Game plan: plan of action

  • Do you think that we have the right game plan?

A real contender

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

  • He is a real contender for the post of CEO.

Not up to scratch: not having the right qualities

  • He was hoping to succeed to the post of CEO, but the director board felt that he was not up to scratch. (= The director board felt that he didn’t have 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.

  • It was his tendency to procrastinate that put him in a no-win situation.

Stall for time

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

  • If we stall for time, we will put ourselves in a no-win situation.

Get to home

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

  • If everything goes as per our game plan, we will get to home without much difficulty.

Take the ball and run

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

  • If we can convince them that we are competent enough to win the contract, we should be able to take the ball and run.

Call the shots

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

  • He may be the boss in the office, but at home it is his wife who calls the shots.

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

  • If winning this contract is really important to you, you must play with a full deck.

Second stringers: less important workers

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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